How Digital Libraries Reinvigorated My Love for Reading

Between an internship, work, classes, and extracurriculars, finding “me time” is sometimes impossible at college. Especially as a Writing, Literature, and Publishing major, I’m often overwhelmed by tons of reading for my classes. It’s easy to forget that I’m in this major because I love reading so much—at times, I get stuck in the monotony of it. How am I supposed to find time to read for my own enjoyment when I’m constantly completing readings for schoolwork? I found my answer in the online world: digital libraries.

I was a huge library kid growing up. I was in all the summer reading programs, begging my mom to take me to swap out my finished books for new ones. But even though so many kids grow up loving their libraries, we often drift away from them when we become busy teenagers and, eventually, adults. It can be hard to find time to get to the library, find the book you want to check out, and commit to coming back in the near future to return it. I eventually started reading a lot of ebooks because they were so convenient, and as someone who doesn’t drive (yes, round of applause for me), it was easy to be able to quickly download a book when I finished my last one. Of course, this convenience did become a little expensive, and when I got to college, buying books for myself wasn’t a priority, and I didn’t have much room to pack physical copies from home. 

It wasn’t until a friend told me that she was borrowing ebooks from the Boston Public Library that I even realized libraries had this option. I did some research and learned that this was actually a widespread thing, and I could even borrow ebooks from my library back home. Game changer. At the touch of your fingertips, you have access to a wide variety of ebook titles and audiobooks that can be borrowed at any time, anywhere. If you have a Boston Public Library card, you have access to their digital collection already, but if you haven’t gotten the chance to get a physical card, you can get an e-library card that specifically allows you to borrow online titles, and the process only takes a few minutes. Nearly all libraries with digital collections use the OverDrive platform to host their online bookshelves, so you can link multiple library cards under one account. I also have my library card from my hometown set up on my account, so I can search both the BPL and my library in New Jersey for whatever I need.

Having free access to nearly any ebook I was interested in has made a huge difference in my attitude toward reading. I can browse the library while I’m on the subway, at the dining hall, or in bed. Plus, I always have whatever I’m currently reading right in my pocket on my phone. I can easily read during class breaks, on the elevator, or doing other basic tasks. The convenience is so helpful for keeping me reading at times when I normally wouldn’t be carrying a book. Carving out time to go to the library and search for an interesting title was once nearly impossible, but reading has become more accessible than ever.

From a more general standpoint, having digital libraries makes reading more accessible than ever. People who are constantly on the go or who don’t have the resources to get to their local library can now make use of everything libraries have to offer right through their phones or computers. While it’s always nice to stop into a physical library, the convenience of digital libraries is a blessing for people who can’t always make that trip.

So the next time you’re sad that you don’t have the time or money to pick up that book you’ve been eyeing, check out your digital library: chances are, it’s already waiting for you.

(photo credit to Frank Holleman, Unsplash)