Libraries worldwide break records to meet demand
In 2022, digital book lending grew significantly due to innovations that high-performing public libraries, schools and other institutions used to serve their readers. These efforts resulted in record circulation of digital books, with ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and comic books each greatly contributing to year-over-year growth, according to industry leader OverDrive.
During the year, readers borrowed 555 million ebooks, audiobooks, digital magazines, comics and other digital content, a 10 percent increase over 2021. This record circulation led to another milestone: Readers have checked out a total of 3 billion digital books from public libraries, schools and academic libraries in the OverDrive network since the first ebook checkout in 2003. Data was reported by OverDrive, the leading digital reading platform for 88,000 libraries and schools in 109 countries worldwide, and creator of the award-winning Libby and Sora reading apps.
2022 digital book lending records from the OverDrive global network:
- Total digital checkouts from libraries and schools: 555 million (+10% over 2021)
- Libby app checkouts grew 30 percent, and millions more readers installed the app (+42%)
- Sora app checkouts grew 10 percent, and a record number of school systems (4) borrowed 1 million digital books through the Sora app
- Ebooks borrowed: 331 million (+4%)
- Audiobooks borrowed: 191 million (+17%)
- Magazines borrowed: 32 million (+38%)
- Comics and graphic novels: 33 million (+18%)
- Digital books borrowed by students from the classroom through Public Library CONNECT: 4.8 million (+3%)
- Ebook and audiobook holds/wait listed: 214 million (+13%)
- Public library systems achieving more than 1 million digital book checkouts: 129 public library systems in seven countries (+7%)
- Includes one system over 10 million digital book checkouts and 61 other systems over 2 million checkouts (full list available soon).
- Top titles in 2022 (see list of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines)
Many factors contributed to 2022’s record growth in digital usage.
Demand for Diversity
- OverDrive continued its advocacy work to provide fair, flexible and reasonable content access models. These include onboarding more publishers in a variety of models, offering more subscription plans for simultaneous access for ebooks, audiobooks and “all-in” packages for comic books and graphic novels.
- Introduced the OverDrive Max access model allowing libraries to purchase in bulk and meet on-demand campaigns, book clubs, surges in title interest, etc.
- OverDrive has donated more than 16 million digital copies since 2019 through Community Reads, digital book clubs and other reader programs
- More than 14,000 libraries held their own local digital book club in 2022.
- Supported innovative libraries that increase “Access for All.”
- St. Louis County Library (MO) provided area seniors with connected GrandPad tablets preloaded with Libby (browser-based version) to access the library’s curated high-interest digital collections.
- Pioneer Library System (OK) launched a series of solar-powered park benches offering open Wi-fi and access to curated digital book and magazine materials.
- Added 1 million new digital titles and 73 new content partners to the largest catalog of digital books for institutional channels
- New “Libby Extras,” unique content that entertains and educates, available for public libraries included Craftsy en Español, Stingray Classica, Ground News, Kovels.com, Method: Financial Literacy and Method: Academic Success.
- More than 4,000 magazines titles available as part of the all-in package for public libraries included US Weekly, The New Yorker, HELLO! magazine and more. Schools can access 50 always-available educational and recreational magazines including National Geographic Kids, TIME for Kids, The Week Junior and more.
- OverDrive’s Diversity Audits provided an analysis of digital collections’ cultural representation by comparing the library’s collection to award lists and current popular and historic content, all selected and reviewed by OverDrive’s staff librarians.
- Partner librarians then received a breakdown of their content by format and circulation as well as recommendations to fill identified gaps most efficiently.
- Libraries accessed more content and maximized their budget by reaching more readers through affordable access models including OverDrive Max.
- New Libby “Shelf Talkers“ feature provided a new space for each library to showcase their curatorial expertise and knowledge through personal notes to patrons within the Libby app. They librarians to connect with readers by recommending titles, providing interesting facts about a title or author, showing curators’ personalities and adding more library-specific flavor to their Libby collection.
A full set of Most Popular title lists can be found here.