Download free audio books from your local library

One of the things I love about my local library system is its Digital Books Program. With a valid library card and my computer, I can download eBooks and audio books from my library’s collection and onto my computer, PDA, or iPod. The files expire after a couple of weeks, but can be renewed the same as a library book. There is no charge, at least at my library, for using this service.

The downloading digital book program isn’t available at every library, but it is definitely worth exploring if it is. To learn if your library offers this service, you can search here for locations in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore and the U.K. There are a few libraries not listed on this search engine, so if it comes up empty be sure to double check with a visit to your local library’s website.

17 Comments for “Download free audio books from your local library”

  1. posted by Liz Smith on

    Unfortunately, the system our public library uses is not compatible with ipods. Be sure you check that out before you get all excited about the wonderful titles available!

  2. posted by David Reber on

    Thanks for the reminder. A friend of mine was telling me about this feature for the library system on the other side of the state line but I was positive it wasn’t offered in my library system. Your post reminded my to review the on-line library catalog and you know what? They do offer it!

  3. posted by Meags on

    Our library says that it is not compatible with iPods either but certain titles can be burned onto CDs so I would assume that it would be a few steps to just rip those tracks into an iPod friendly format.

  4. posted by Marianne on

    I was very excited about this when I first heard about it until I learned that the audio books are only Windows compatible. As a Mac user I have to get books on CD from the library, rip them and then load them to my iPod which takes a little longer than I’d like.

  5. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Marianne — You can download Windows Media Player onto your Mac for free:

    Also, if you have VMWare Fusion or Parallels Workstation, you can access files in Windows formats on your Mac.

    No need for a trip to the library!

  6. posted by Donna on

    Thanks for this information. I’m having surgery in January and have been told that I won’t want to be holding the weight of regular books so audiobooks are recommended. Perfect timing for me and my library actually offers this. Thanks again.

  7. posted by Beth on

    Great tip! Also, if your library doesn’t have an e-audio program – many smaller libraries don’t, as they’re very expensive to set up – ask about reciprocal borrowing privileges. In many areas, networks of libraries allow residents of one service area to get a card with other libraries in the network. In Colorado, for example, the entire state is linked this way – so you can get a Denver Public card even if you live in a tiny prairie or mountain town two hundred miles away, and use all of their online services.

  8. posted by Alderete on

    @Erin: Windows Media Player for Mac has been discontinued by Microsoft. It may run today, but further development is not in the cards. Furthermore, it doesn’t handle some of the newer DRM formats, which are only compatible with WMP on Windows. (I don’t know which library systems this might affect.)

    While I applaud libraries’ efforts to reach more patrons in more ways, and I know librarians want to help their patrons, I don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayer money to invest in systems which are incompatible with all platforms except Windows, and which are incompatible with the dominant (75% market share) digital audio player.

    Instead, it makes a lot more sense to purchase more audiobooks on standard Audio CDs, which are compatible with a much, much broader range of playback devices. I would politely and respectfully recommend that prospective or frustrated patrons politely and respectfully let their libraries know this.

  9. posted by Jasi on

    we’re new to this neighborhood and our library isn’t in the best part of the county. i didn’t know that this service existed. totally excited to try it out. great post. thanks for the heads up.

  10. posted by amber on

    thanks so much for this post. my library has both regular ebooks and electronic audio books. what a great idea! i have no idea if they’re ipod compatible, but i would just read them on my pc either way…so it works for me 🙂

  11. posted by Paul Begley on

    This is a great idea, but the DRM used by the regional libraries in NJ makes it useless.

    I have an engineering degree, Microsoft, Cisco, and other professional certs and have been working with PC’s since 1982. If I could not get it to work, It’s pretty much useless.

    I appreciate the concept, but I believe DRM is fundamentally flawed.


  12. posted by Brian on

    I agree with the others. I live in Phoenix, which has a sizable digital library system. But I use Macs and I had nothing but headaches trying (unsuccessfully, I might add) to download and read the books I checked out. It’s unfortunate, really.

  13. posted by Diane on

    Instead of questioning Library’s choice of digital material you might want to question Apple and their proprietary software. I have avoided ipods- to expensive, battery replacement questionable.

  14. posted by Matt on

    Hi Diane,

    I support your choice not to use an iPod but it is the library’s proprietary software which is the issue. iPods are proprietary, yes, but they will play DRM-free mp3s, the least proprietary of formats. DRM has been shown to be a failed restrictive system. Vast majority of CDs are non-DRM (including audiobooks as noted!) and all major music labels are now publishing online MP3s without DRM as well. Microsoft is on the losing side of history here.

  15. posted by elysa on

    Very excited about this, thank you for sharing Erin. I looked the list and there is one in my area. I will have to check it out and possibly be able to cancel my Audible account. (ps I posted this on twitter – why are you not on twitter?)

  16. posted by elysa on

    PS- I realize this post is a year old, that’s what makes it even more fun to republicize 😀

  17. posted by Unclutterer » Archive » Bringing your bookshelves back to order on

    […] try to think of these places as an extension of your personal collection. Also, now that so many libraries have free audio books to download, using the library is in some ways more convenient than a personal […]

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