Online Resources for Library Lovers

Woman reading on a tablet

Patrons of public libraries, rejoice! There has never been a better time than now for those who frequent their local libraries to enjoy the many online perks that come with having a library card. With spring in full swing and summer not too far off, it’s a great time to bask in the warm weather while reading an e-book in a hammock or streaming your favorite musical artist when you’re out on a walk. 

Here are some of the best—and free—apps to explore, whether you’re a bookworm, film buff, music geek (like me), or someone with eclectic interests and tastes. Search for these wherever you download apps, as most major app stores carry them. 


A member of Overdrive’s family of apps, Libby works with about 90 percent of the library systems in North America, according to Overdrive CEO Steve Potash. It can be downloaded as an app (compatible with Apple, Amazon, Google, and others) or accessed online at

Once you’ve downloaded the app or are visiting the web version, all that is required is your library card number (and PIN, depending on your library system), and you can enjoy browsing through thousands of titles available in a variety of media: digital editions of magazines, e-books, audiobooks, and read-along books for parents and children. 

Love Richard Rohr? Just search for him by name, and you’ll find a number of e-books of classics such as Breathing Under Water and the audiobook versions of favorites such as In the Footsteps of St. Paul. Some titles have a waitlist, but there is so much that is immediately available that it’s easy to stock up on other content while you wait. 


Three years ago, Overdrive acquired Kanopy, a video streaming service that boasts a far-reaching catalog of foreign films, classics, documentaries, children’s movies, and new releases of more popular fare. Depending on your library system, you get a set amount of “tickets” each month, which you can use to “rent” (for free) movies and TV shows, which usually require one or two tickets each. You then have a set amount of time to watch your rental (typically, 72 hours). 

Kanopy includes curated collections of film and television, including the Criterion Collection and releases from the film company A24. Learn more at

Hoopla—and More 

Can’t find what you’re looking for in Libby or Kanopy? There are lots of other free resources out there to explore. Hoopla makes it easy for users by including books, audiobooks, movies, and music all in one place. 

A quick search for Ronald Rolheiser, for example, brought up a sizeable list of audiobook titles from the celebrated author, such as the audiobook version of The Passion and the Cross. Also worth checking out is Freegal for streaming music and Creativebug, which provides tips and lessons for arts and crafts enthusiasts. 

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