Thinking About Library E-Book Etiquette in the middle of the night…now with Bonus Tips!

black tablet computer behind books
Photo by Perfecto Capucine on

With the growing number of library closures, more people may be accessing their library’s online resources, possibly for the first time.  A small, positive effect of devastating times and the current call for social distancing.  E-books are a virus free alternative to physical library books (wondering just how many days it has been since someone licked their finger to turn that page makes me want to shudder).

While a post about e-book etiquette may seem unnecessary or a bit of a no-brainer (I fleetingly thought of titling this post “E-book Etiquette for Troubled Times,” but that made the topic seem incredibly frivolous), courtesy and caring for each other even in these small, seemingly insignificant ways is increasingly important.  I’ve shown several members of my family how to access library e-books over the years, and I thought I’d throw my top suggestions out to you here.  These are suggestions are based on experience using my library’s Overdrive.

If you are able to, choose “read in browser” instead of downloading.  If you download, the book will remain on your device until the end of your check-out period, whether that is 7, 14, or 21 days.  By reading in a browser, you keep the ability to return the e-book at any time.  This frees up a spot for you to check out one more title, and at the same time you’ve been considerate by making the e-book you finished available to more readers.

This leads to another suggestion for being a considerate library e-book reader.  If you have an unread e-book checked out and the return date is getting close, consider returning it if you know you won’t be able to finish it in time (aargh!) and there is a wait list.  Once you’ve returned it, you can put yourself back on the wait list and hope for better timing.  Note: If you are close enough to the return date for the “renew” option to appear, but there is a hold list, clicking on “renew” will give you the option to place a hold.  You can then decide if it would be a good idea to return  the e-book.  Returning it just might shorten your time back in the hold line.

Which leads to my third and final suggestion: manage your holds list.  Suspending your hold keeps your place in line while allowing you to better manage when you will check out the book.  If you run out of space or won’t be ready for a specific title any time soon, but don’t want to lose track of it, consider adding it to your wish list instead of your holds.

If you have access to a free digital catalog through your library, it really is a great alternative.  I’ve been using mine more over the past few years and one of the things I appreciate (though not without exception) is that they automatically leave my account when my check out time expires – I love the lack of late fees.

Have a helpful thought or suggestion to add about e-book etiquette?  Share it in the comments!

It’s almost 2am and I’m having trouble shutting my brain down, so I’ll just leave these here as well…

Bonus tip #1: If you do not find a book you are looking for with your first search, don’t give up yet.  If you’ve tried one way – author, series, title – try another.  Allow for human error – not all books will have the series, authors may be listed different ways, and there are typos.

Bonus tip #2: If there is an e-book you think your library should include in their collection, but they do not, you can suggest they purchase it.  In the meantime, if you are able to, consider purchasing your own e-book copy – you’ll be able to read it sooner and more often.  You’ll also be helping to support an author’s work.

Bonus tip #3: Post a review to your blog, to Instagram, Twitter, pin it on Pinterest, share it on Facebook… Make a TikTok?  Posting reviews, including reviews of books you read through the library, is a great way to show support for an author whose writing you enjoy!  It can be as simple as “I enjoyed this book.”






2 thoughts on “Thinking About Library E-Book Etiquette in the middle of the night…now with Bonus Tips!

  1. Great post and definitely relevant right now. I’m a big library ebook reader. You should see my wish list. Yikes it’s huge! I’m constantly culling out books that I may never get to. Thanks for posting!

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