It seems like most of the news we hear about libraries lately is discouraging, with usage declining and funding being denied. Most people’s first assumption would be that it’s an expected consequence of how people use technology. As e-books and apps that let people obtain them in seconds spread, public libraries fall by the wayside as a way to access media. Right?

Not quite! It’s actually more likely than you think that you can do all of those things—check out e-books, audiobooks, graphic novels, and other media⁠—not by giving more of your money to Amazon for a subscription, but by using your library card, a public service that your taxes are already paying for, to sign into the many apps that public libraries themselves use. You get a wealth of information and entertainment, and library use statistics go up. If you haven’t checked whether you can sign in to these services with your local library card, this is your reminder to do so.

People are trying to get the word out about free library apps

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Image credits: vornietom

Image credits: vornietom

Maybe you’ve heard tips for using apps like Audible “like a library”—that is, returning audiobooks for a refund. But authors who list their books with the service aren’t a fan of people using it that way, as some have complained after reporting being fined by Audible for user returns. If you already use the app and you’re worried about returns, bigger publishers aren’t likely to notice if they’re hit by these fees, but think twice before you return indie authors’ releases.

An author shared why trying to play Audible isn’t a good idea

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Instead, try using all of these free apps that are the real deal

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If you get embarrassed when people ask you when was the last time you read a book, and your New Year’s resolution is to change that, don’t let lack of time or money stop you. Studies once found that while at least 90% of libraries in the US offered e-book lending, over a third of respondents either didn’t know whether their local library did, or thought that it didn’t. We hope that statistic is going down, because librarians’ dedication to giving everyone free access to information certainly isn’t any time soon!

Commenters gave their reviews of library apps, and other tips