So You Think You Can Tech: Downloads at the Library

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Tech Tuesday#TechTuesday with E-Services

So you’ve navigated the Library catalog, searched its many tomes, and found your next great adventure. Joyous day! Only now you’re seeing half a dozen entries for the same book… Why does one title need so many entries? Some of them mention eBooks, others are eAudiobooks, and then there are just… books. Why is this so complicated? And what the heck is a Hoopla?! Well friends, if you have questions then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s journey through “Downloads at the Library.” It’s a whole new world to explore! And what reader doesn’t like adventure?

#What do you mean, downloads?

Have you ever downloaded anything from the Library? Even if you’ve never downloaded a thing in your life: Don’t worry! Think of this section as your road map. If you have, feel free to skip to the next section. If not, we’ll cover a lot of ground – start to finish. Here we go!

So broadly speaking, a download is something you are taking from the internet and placing on a device, be it computer, tablet, phone, or eReader. This taking can be a permanent thing, as is the case with items you buy or create. Or it can be a temporary thing – like in the case of Library materials. We won’t get into the highly nebulous and strange realm of digital rights here. Let’s just agree that items you check out of the library, be they physical or digital, have a set amount of time before you have to return them. But that pretty much comes with the territory, right?

Now when we are talking about digital downloads at the Library, we are mainly focused on four areas: eBooks, eAudiobooks, Videos, and Magazines. The latter two are their own beasts and we will focus on them in a later post. For now, let’s really drill into eBooks and eAudiobooks.


An eBook is a digital recreation of a book that you can read on your device. People read them on their phones, tablets, and computers. I prefer to read on a black-and-white eReader like a Kindle, Nook, or Kobo (to name a few). One of the biggest selling points for eBooks and why they are such a great experience for people with any sort of visual impairment is their ability to be scaled up for easier reading. So, you have the choice of a large print or a standard print book. And it’s lightweight. If you’re using a smartphone, you probably already carry it with you. And you don't even have to trek all the way to the Library if you don't want to!


Just as an eBook is a digitized physical book, an eAudiobook is a standard Audiobook converted to a format you can listen to on your devices. One caveat to this is, if you have a black-and-white eReader, you will need to make sure it can play eAudiobooks. Most cannot, so you will probably need to put them on a phone or something else. I prefer the phone, since I can then listen to it wherever I am.

#How do I find the downloads?

Broadly speaking, you can locate our downloads in two areas: the Library Catalog or inside one of the download services available through the Library. We will address both in turn, but let’s look at the Library Catalog first, since that is where most people start their search.

#The Library Catalog

When you go into the Catalog and find an item, you will be given several choices. These choices will be found beneath the title. So, if you’re looking for a particular format, that’s where you’ll find it. The ones we are referring to are: eBook, eAudiobook, Books, and Audio disc. Books and Audio disc are the easiest options to address. These are the standard, physical items you see when you walk into a building. If you can touch it, it is one of these. Where things get more interesting is eBooks and eAudiobooks. The most complicated part is just how many there are to choose from.

When you want a physical book, you can either walk into a branch and pick it up or you place a hold on it online (often so that you can have the item sent to your local branch from a different one). Either way, you are only going to one place. Downloaded materials have more options, and you can find them listed as Electronic Format.

#Electronic formats?

Yes. These formats will point you in the direction of which service you are using – in this case, OverDrive or Hoopla. So let’s look at those options in turn.

OverDrive is the oldest and largest of our e-collections. When you find an eBook with them, its Electronic Formats will be listed as: HTML, ADOBE EPUB, KINDLE. This means you can read in your browser, on any eReader, on any OverDrive/Libby App, and a Kindle. Please note: OverDrive is the only service that will allow you access to Kindle Books. eAudiobooks will be labeled with: MP3, and OVERDRIVE LISTEN. Most computers have the ability to play MP3 files.

Hoopla is our newest book and audiobook service. These are marked with HOOPLA E-BOOK. You will need the Hoopla app to read these. eAudiobooks for Hoopla will be labeled: HOOPLA AUDIO BOOK.

#You’ve mentioned apps a lot, what’s up with that?

We’ll get to that in a moment. Before then, let’s look at the other way to find a download, through the services themselves.

#The Digital Services

As you may have gathered from the Electronic Formats section, there are two services the Library uses to get digital content to you; OverDrive and Hoopla. Now you may be wondering, why two? Why not just one to make it easier? OverDrive is the primary source for eBooks and eAudiobooks. Hoopla was primarily acquired for their Video and Comic collections. However, it also came with its own eBook and eAudiobook collection. That this means for you the Patron is that you have more access to eMaterials!

To access the Digital Services, you go to the Digital Library part of the Library’s website. There you will find links to our OverDrive and Hoopla areas. Once in those areas you can perform targeted searches, filtering out all sources of materials other than either OverDrive or Hoopla.

#Sounds great! I just checked out a book in the Catalog and I’m going to read it!

Hold on a second. Don’t click that read button just yet. One of the calls we frequently get is from upset customers trying to access the books that they checked out through the catalog. Here’s the thing: the catalog is only there to find and check out items. If you want to access them (read or listen to them) then you need to also download the appropriate app.

#You mean the Library App right? I have that.

No, not that one. Sorry. The Library App, while good, will not let you read your eBooks and eAudiobooks. For that you need to download either the OverDrive/Libby or Hoopla apps. Let’s take a look at them.


The OverDrive app is an old favorite of mine. It will download to just about everything, including Kindle Fires. When you download the app, you will need to sign into your Library Account and then tell the app that you want the “Jacksonville Public Library” (from a list of area libraries). Once you do that, just press the “Add a Title” button to go to our OverDrive site and download your item.

Libby is a newer app from OverDrive. Please note: it will not work on Kindle Fires. Yet while it may not work on them, on everything else it is amazing! It is so much easier to use and I highly recommend it to anyone who is unsure about technology. Depending on your device, this may be the simplest option to get started.

Now if you want to read an eBook from OverDrive on a Nook or other non-Kindle or black-and-white reader, then you will also need to download Adobe Digital Editions. This program is required to convert the book into a format those devices can read. The steps involved in this process are rather long and I recommend them only for those who are extremely comfortable with technology. If you are having trouble, step-by-step instructions are listed on the OverDrive help page.


The Hoopla app requires you to create a Hoopla Account to access any materials on their platform. This account exists separate from your Library Account and any changes to one will not be reflected in the other. This is very important, since switching cards or changing Library Pins will break your Hoopla account. Once you are in and connected, though, any Hoopla item can be enjoyed in the app!

#Whew! That’s a lot. Dare I ask, is there anything else?

...Yes? But thankfully not today. This is enough information to get you started on your journey. So go forth daring readers and check these services out! And, if you have any questions, feel free to check out the specific help pages for OverDrive and Hoopla or email us at

Until next time: have fun, find adventure, and be safe.

The Jacksonville Public Library's E-Services Department is dedicated to helping users learn and master the technology needed in today's economy. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, join us for our online computer classes. All of our classes are free and open to the public.

John Carter

John Carter

Husband, Father, Digital Artist, and Teacher, these are but a few of the hats John Carter wears. If he is not at one of our many public libraries hosting a computer class or helping someone in an appointment you can find John working in his yard practicing hügelkultur, hidden away sketching and writing, making a pilgrimage to Disney World, or trying new recipes in the kitchen.

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