Click here to skip to this page's main content.


 Hello!   Open Library is participating in our eBook lending program. Browse the growing lending library of over 250,000 eBooks!

Site Search

Site Search
Last edited by Jessamyn West
August 12, 2015 | History

Borrowing Books Through Open Library

Hardware and Software

How does borrowing a book work through Open Library?

The Internet Archive and participating libraries have selected digitized books from their collections that are available to be borrowed by one patron at a time from anywhere in the world for free. These books are in BookReader, PDF and ePub formats (and Daisy for the print disabled). You can choose which format you prefer as you complete the borrowing process.

BookReader editions may be read online immediately in your web browser. No special software is required.

Other Internet Archive loans are managed through Adobe Digital Editions, which you may need to download to manage your library of borrowed books.


How do I get set up to borrow books through Open Library?

Follow these steps:

  1. Sign up for an Open Library account
  2. Some ebooks require Adobe Digital Editions (This is where you can read the books you've borrowed, manage your current loans, or return books). Take a look at the screencast for installing Digital Editions.
  3. Get an account (If you create an Adobe account, you can access your library from a variety of locations. If not, your loans will be tethered to a specific computer or device.)
  4. Find a book to borrow
  5. If a BookReader edition is available, you can read it instantly online in your web browser. Other formats will require that you download a file and open it in Adobe Digital Editions
  6. Enjoy!

What books can I borrow? How can I find them?

The easiest way to find books to borrow is to jump straight to the eBook Lending Library which shows works which have editions that are available through the Internet Archive.

You can also use the search page and check the box that says "Show only eBooks" though this will also return results in DAISY format. You may also want to browse books in the Accessible Book subject facet.


Which reading devices can be used to read the eBooks borrowed through Open Library?

Internet Archive offers borrowable books in BookReader, PDF and ePub formats. BookReader editions may be read online immediately in any web browser. Downloadable eBooks are readable in Adobe Digital Editions and some other software platforms. Here is a list of supported devices on Adobe's website. ADE also provides support for Sony's Reader.


How many books can I check out at once?

You can borrow 5 books at a time from Open Library. Each loan will expire after 2 weeks and will automatically "return" at the end of that time period.


Can I return a library book early?

Sometimes. If you borrowed a BookReader edition, simply return it from your Loans page.

If you downloaded another type of ebook, you can return it if you borrowed it through Adobe Digital Editions for all versions except the iPad version. If you checked out your book with other software like Overdrive Media Console or Bluefire Reader, you will not be able to return your book early.

In Adobe Digital Editions, look for your "library". That's the book spines icon in the top left corner of the application (1). Once you're in your library, click on the menu for book you'd like to return which is behind the tiny triangle that appears by the book cover (2) and select "Return Borrowed Item" from the menu (3). This image will show you where to look.

[screenshot of Adobe Digital Editions library page]

You may also be able to right-click on your item and select "Return Borrowed Item" from the contextual menu. Here is a screenshot of this option.

If you used other software to access your book, you may not be able to return it early but the item will be automatically returned at the end of the loan period. Please contact us if you are having trouble returning your items.


How can I see which books I've checked out?

There's a page under your Open Library Account which displays all the books you've checked out at any one time -


Can I put a library book on hold?

Yes! We have a newly implemented waiting list feature. If you see a book that is checked out, you have an option to add yourself to a waiting list for that book. When the book is returned and available, you will get an email. You then have 24 hours to check the book out. If you do not check out the book before the 24 hours is up, it will be made available to the next person on the list. Please try out this feature and give us feedback about it. For now there is no way to tell where you are on a waiting list.


Where do I get Adobe Digital Editions?

You can download Adobe Digital Editions from It's free. If you are using a device that can not run Adobe Digital Editions, you still need an Adobe account. You can get one online here. An older version of Adobe Digital Editions can be found at this link.


How do I authorize Adobe Digital Editions? Who is my ebook vendor?

The first time you run Adobe Digital Editions, it will prompt you for authorization. This is completely optional and is not linked to your Open Library ID. If you do not want to set up an Adobe ID, check the box in the lower left where it says "I want to Authorize my computer without an ID" and click Authorize.

If you do want to set up an ID, click the "create an Adobe ID" link next to the eBook vendor line (which should remain set on "Adobe ID"). You can authorize your computer at a later date by going under the Help menu of ADE and selecting the "Authorize computer..." option.

screen shot of adobe digital editions authorization page Top

How can I add Open Library in overdrive as a library in Overdrive Media Console

You can't add Open Library as a searchable library in Overdrive Media Console. You just have to authorize it using an Adobe ID. Here are help files from Overdrive on how to do this.

What about using ereaders?

You can always read Open Library eBooks online in your browser with our BookReader. Most ereaders have software that is available for reading Open Library books. Below are some tips for using some popular ereader devices. Feel free to send us your feedback and questions.


Can I read or borrow books on my Kindle?

The procedure varies depending what model Kindle you have.

If you have a Kindle Fire, you will need to "sideload" an Adobe Digital Editions compatible application such as Overdrive Media Console to borrow modern ebooks. Here is a handout from one of our partner libraries explaining the process.

For older non-Fire Kindles, you can only read Classic Ebooks not borrow Lending Library books.


Can I borrow books on my Ipad or Android tablet?


New: Adobe Digital Editions is now available for Ipad.

You can read our books using our BookReader via your browser or by using a reader app like Bluefire Reader (Linux) or Overdrive Media Console (iPad) or Aldiko Book Reader or Overdrive Media Console (Android tablet). For more information on Bluefire, go to their site at Before you start, register an Adobe ID. You'll need to do this once. If you don't have one, create one at this page.

Here are some step-by-step instructions on using Overdrive Media Console.

1. Make sure you have downloaded and installed the free app "Overdrive Media Console" on to your iPad
2. Find a book you'd like to borrow; feel free to try a sample book that is small such as this one
3. Click on the "ebook" link under the "borrow" heading on the right
4. Log in if you have not logged in to Open Library
5. Choose one of the download options. Please note: Overdrive Media Console can not read PDFs.

Here are step-by-step instructions for Aldiko Reader

1. Download and install Aldiko Book Reader from Google Play Store.
2. Open Aldiko, Select Other Catalogs under the Get Books section of the menu.
3. Select My Catalogs at the top and tap New Catalog on the green bar at the top.
4. Create an entry for the Open Library using for the URL. Tap on the library and sign in.
5. When you have found a book you like, check it out. When the next screen comes up, select the pdf or epub version. You will then be prompted to enter your Adobe id and password. Your book will then download into Aldiko and you can open it and read it at your leisure.

The only downside to this process is that books can not be returned early via non-Adobe applications, so you'll just have to let them expire or we can return them early if you need to free up space on your loans list. Top

How do I borrow books to read on my Nook or my Kobo?

Here are instructions on how to do this from Barnes and Noble. See this blog post for instructions that are specific to Open Library. This post on the Kobo website gives information on how to borrow books on a Kobo. Top

History Created November 16, 2010 · 74 revisions

August 12, 2015 Edited by Jessamyn West added Kobo
June 5, 2015 Edited by Jessamyn West added stupid ipad link
March 12, 2015 Edited by Jessamyn West added ade for ipad
March 8, 2015 Edited by Jessamyn West Edited without comment.
November 16, 2010 Created by bookfinch Edited without comment.