Last Updated: Aug 15, 2020     Views: 89845

Getting Started | Libby Checking Out | Kindle BooksPlacing Holds | Renewing | Returning | Adobe Digital EditionsRequirements | Service Alert for MacOS UsersHelp 

Getting Started

Please watch this short, informative video if you are a first-time user of the Libby app by OverDrive

If you're new to OverDrive and digital borrowing, consider using Libby OverDrive, a user-friendly app for borrowing digital books and audiobooks from the library's OverDrive collection. The Libby app is available for free from your device's app store. 

What do I need to use OverDrive?

  • Tablet, smartphone, PC/Mac computer, Kindle device, or MP3 device (for eAudiobooks)
  • San Francisco Public Library card number and email address (to place holds).
  • Patience — it may take a few attempts to access your first eBooks and eAudiobooks, especially if you're new to digital borrowing. 

You may also use our library catalog to borrow OverDrive titles. After you have checked them out, be sure to use the OverDrive app, Libby app, or OverDrive website to access your checkouts.

NOTE: If you experience problems with the OverDrive or Libby app, you may access OverDrive from a web browser. After checking out items, use the Read now in browser or Listen now in browser option.

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What is Libby?

Libby is a reading app for borrowing digital books and audiobooks from the library's OverDrive collection. This free app, created by OverDrive, is available for Android, iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod touch), and Windows 10 devices. Libby is highly recommended for those new to borrowing eBooks and eAudiobooks.

Here are the steps to install and use the Libby app.

  1. Install the Libby app from your device's app store.
  2. Open the app and find San Francisco Public Library. You can also search for the library by name, city, or zip code.
  3. Browse the library's collection and borrow a title. When prompted, sign in with your 14-digit library card number and PIN.
  4. Borrowed titles appear on your Shelf and download to the app automatically so you can read them when you're offline.

From your Shelf, you can

  1. Tap Start Reading or Start Listening to open a title.
  2. Tap the cover image, then Send to Device to send a book to Kindle.

If you can't get Libby on your device, you can try using the original OverDrive app. For more help, visit

You may also access Libby from your Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge browser at

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Checking Out

How do I check out titles from OverDrive?

Click on a title's cover. If the title is available, click "Borrow." If you are using the Libby app, your title should load immediately. If you are using the OverDrive app, go to your "Loans" page and select a download format. Your title will now start loading. Go to your "Bookshelf" to access your title. 

For more information about checking out and downloading titlles, visit the OverDrive Digital Help page.

How long is the lending period for an eBook or eAudiobook?

The lending period is 21 days for an eBook or eAudiobook. You can adjust the checkout time to 7 or 14 days if you don’t need the full 21 days.

How many titles can I check out at once?

You can check out up to 25 titles at one time. These are not counted against your physical materials limit.

What is the OverDrive Read/Listen format?

It is a format that allows you to read or listen to OverDrive titles in most web browsers.

How do I get an eBook on my Kindle?

Libby gives you to option to read your ebook in the Libby app or send it to your preferred Kindle device. See these detailed instructions on accessing library ebooks on a Kindle reader.

Can I listen to OverDrive eAudiobooks on my iPhone, iPad, or iPod?

Yes. If you have an iOS device (iPhone/iPad/iPod touch), you can borrow and download audiobooks directly using OverDrive's app for iOSWindows | Mac

If you're using a non-Apple MP3 player (like a SanDisk or Sony device), visit the OverDrive Help page for instructions specific to your player.

Can I use Audible with my Kindle Books?

No, Kindle Books checked out from the public library are not compatible with Audible.

Can I keep my eBook checkout history? 

Unfortunately, the Checkout History or Borrowing History function that you can set up with your library account would only contain the list of physical materials (i.e. books, DVDs, CDs, etc.) you’ve checked out / returned (if you have it turned on). Because eBooks can be checked out from various eBook vendors, our library catalog, which is connected to your library account, is not currently capable of retrieving this data; hopefully in future upgrades of our library catalog this will be possible.

In OverDrive’s website, there is mention that some versions of the app will contain a history of your checkouts (unless you had uninstalled and reinstalled the app). If you had checked out Kindle-formatted eBooks from OverDrive, you would be able to see a list of your checkouts from your Amazon account (if you haven’t deleted them). Please look in "Manage Your Content and Devices" within your Amazon account. 

Why can't I read this PDF eBook in the OverDrive app?

Unfortunately, PDF eBooks are not supported by the OverDrive app. If you've borrowed a PDF eBook from the library, you can download it to the free Adobe Digital Editions software on a Windows or Mac computer, then transfer it to a compatible eReader.

Will you be adding more titles to the OverDrive collection?

We purchase hundreds of titles every week. Newly added titles appear at the top of the OverDrive website.

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Kindle Books

The Libby app gives you the option to send your ebooks to your preferred Kindle device. For detailed instructions on how to borrow Kindle Books from the library, see the "How to get Kindle eBooks from OverDrive." OverDrive eBooks can also be read on all Kindle devices or by using the free Kindle apps available for Windows/OS,  iPhone/iPad (iOS), Android, and other mobile devices. Check out the Kindle How-To videos to find out more. You can also find useful information at the Amazon Help Page on how to checkout and download Kindle compatible eBooks.See the eBook Software Requirements Chart for more information.

Placing Holds

How many holds can I place at one time?

You can place up to 25 holds at one time. These are not counted against your physical materials holds.

What do I do when I receive notice that my hold is ready?

Be sure to read the instructions given in the email. Go to the link provided in the email and proceed to check out the item. Once you receive the email, you have 72 hours to check out your holds item before it expires and is given to the next patron on the holds list.

If it’s a digital title, why is there a waitlist to check it out?

This is the model publishers negotiated with OverDrive so that libraries could provide access to digital titles. As a result, borrowing digital titles is similar to checking out physical books – one copy at a time per patron. If another patron has already checked out a digital title, you may put a hold on it.

What is Hold Delivery?

Hold Delivery allows you to get available holds redelivered up to 180 days later. Replacing automatic hold checkout, OverDrive introduced this feature to help ebook users better manage their hold items. For more information about Hold Delivery, please see What happened to OverDrive's automatic checkout of holds?

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How do I renew my title?

The option to renew a title becomes available three days before the title is set to expire. Renewing puts you in line to borrow a title again once your first checkout expires. Please click here for more information on how to renew.

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Returning Titles Early

How do I return an eBook or eAudiobook early?

Although it's not necessary to return your title early, you may return it if you like. Otherwise, the title will be returned automatically at the end of the loan period.

Kindle. To return Kindle formatted eBooks, go to the Manage Your Kindle area of the site. For more information on borrowing Kindle books from the library, check out the Public Library Books for Kindle page.

EPUB. If you used Adobe Digital Editions to access your eBook, right-click on the title and click Return Borrowed Item.

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Adobe Digital Editions

If you choose not to use the OverDrive or Libby app, you will need the Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) software installed to access eBooks borrowed from the OverDrive collection. Here are instructions for installing ADE on a computer

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Technical Requirements

OverDrive eBooks can be read on most eBook readers, smartphones and tablets that support the EPUB format. There are many eBook readers and devices compatible with OverDrive that allows you to check out and download eBooks from the San Francisco Public Library at no cost. For more information on specific devices check out OverDrive’s Compatible eBook Devices web page.

Mac OS

OverDrive for Mac is no longer supported or available for download from Mac users will no longer see the option to download borrowed audiobooks from their library or school's OverDrive website. As an alternative, users can listen to audiobooks in their web browser on their Mac. Once you borrow an audiobook from your library's website, choose the Listen now in browser option. Or, you can listen to audiobooks in your web browser using Libby.

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Service Alert for macOS Users:

OverDrive has reversed its decision to eliminate the download option for MP3 audiobooks on computers running macOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) through 10.14 (Mojave). The download option should be restored by October 2, 2019. Until this access is restored, you may use this workaround using the Firefox browser.

However, users who upgrade to the newest macOS Catalina will not be able to download and transfer MP3 audiobooks from OverDrive. Read more about this change in service. 

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Help Topics

I'm using Libby with SimplyE, but my checkouts and holds are not syncing. What happened?

If you are using the SimplyE app to manage your ebook account, then we recommend that you do not use Libby. SimplyE was meant to be used independently of Libby and other ebook apps.

Who do I contact if I have a question or problem?

For the quickest response, please use our eBooks Help Online Form and include as many details as possible regarding the issue you are experiencing. If it is a technical problem, please include any error messages you received and details about your computer (e.g., Mac/PC, operating system, version of browser used, etc.) You may also ask for help from a librarian at your local library or call (415) 557-4400 for assistance.

How do I close my OverDrive account?

To close your OverDrive account, follow the instructions on this page: How to close an OverDrive account.

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