Borrow from your local Public Library using Libby

Borrowing from the library without going to the library!

Takealot paperback, R169

Kindle version, R125

Borrowing it for free on my iPad, Priceless✨


Last Saturday I went to my local library to see what’s good in the world of publicly funded reading spaces and to check in on a project I’m running there (future blog post!). There, a very helpful librarian checked my card to make sure it was still valid and updated my contact details. Then she suggested that I try out an initiative where I can use my library card to borrow ebooks via a mobile app called Libby. Libby, I found, is an awesome way to read on your mobile device. Here’s how…

What I used

  • iPad (6th gen) on iPadOS 14.6
    • Screenshots will show my iPad but Libby is available on Android and Web as well.

The Process

Step 1 – Library Setup

You’ll need to go to your local public library, follow their process to get a barcoded library card and then ask your librarian to register you for the ebook service. Since I had a library card already, I only had to wait four days for my library card to have access to Libby. YMMV

Note that I’ve only found KZN, GautengEastern Cape and Free State Public Libraries to be supported. If you live outside these four provinces, your local library will be able to give you the latest information on whether they support this service.

Step 2 – App Installation

Click here to access the Libby website with links to the Play Store and App Store. Install it (or access the Web App) and go to the next step.

Step 3 – App Setup

On first open, Libby will ask if you have a library card. Choose Yes:

Then I’ll Search for a Library:

Depending on your location, type in your province or relevant search term and click on it:

Click Enter Library Account Details:

Enter your library card number (and, depending on your province, a pin code) and then Sign In:

If your card isn’t activated yet (or if you type in your card number incorrectly) you’ll see the following. Try Again to retry.

If your card is accepted, you’ll see this. Tap Next to start borrowing!

Step 4 – Borrow and Enjoy

The app is pretty straight forward to navigate but if you’re having trouble, this excellent video goes over the interface and features in depth:

Post-Setup Summary

I’m super excited that our public libraries have implemeted this. The app looks awesome and works well. Switching between my iPhone and iPad is easy because it syncs progress perfectly between them. The only downside (for me) is that KZN Libraries only has 2000 books 😢 vs Gauteng (10000) and Free State (14000) and you can’t access another province’s books without having a library card from that province (I tried!). Looking on the bright side, it’s 2000 more books than I had access to before!

The Future

Libraries have always held a special place for me and I’ve much preferred the process of borrowing and returning vs just buying books. Now, with COVID-19 impacting our ability to visit libraries, borrowing in this manner is probably the future. I look forward to more books being added to KZN Libraries on Libby or I could just move to Bloemfontein to get access to the Free State collection 😉. Now, back to my reading…

If you have any questions/would like to share your experience with Libby or public libraries, please leave a reply below. To get an email when I write another post, please click here to subscribe. Thanks for reading!

(Featured image remixed from the Libby website)

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