Nashville Public Library's Digital Lending Is A Lifesaving Service

The COVID-19 pandemic has done much to reshape life as we know it, and while the vaccine seems to promise a return to a more normal way of living, not everything will shift back quickly. Some changes are likely to persist long after, and in some cases that’s a great thing.

Nashville Public Library (NASHVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY) has long offered great digital lending options—Nashville Public Library has been providing readers 24/7 access to ebooks and audiobooks for several years through OverDrive and its award-winning Libby reading app. Reader interest and usage has grown every year.

I have utilized borrowed audiobooks to pass long drives and grueling commutes. As the COVID pandemic made traditional borrowing impossible, many library patrons discovered this great service for the first time.

Recently, NASHVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY announced that it reached a record-breaking 1.9 million digital book checkouts in 2020. NASHVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY is one of 102 public library systems worldwide that surpassed one million checkouts (complete list here).

“NASHVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY takes great pride in helping our community and know how vital this service is during times of social isolation,” said Noel Rutherford, Material Services Manager at Nashville Public Library. “For those working or trying to educate their children from home, the digital information NASHVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY makes safely available are vital and a wonderful use of taxpayer funds.”

Long after COVID ends, there will be those in our community who may lack access to the physical resources of the library: those without reliable transportation, those who are medically unable to visit, and those for whom it might be dangerous to be in physical possession of a book.

Yes, possessing a book can be dangerous. Think about that LGBTQ+ or questioning teen who has no support at home, or who is afraid for their safety. They crave the opportunity to learn about the community or read books that are representative of their experience. Carrying around a copy of Love, Simon could mean literal homelessness or death. But thanks to this service at the library, it could be safely housed on an app in their phone, to read in spare moments. Access to free digital resources, like LGBTQ+-themed books and media, could be life-changing, or even lifesaving, for vulnerable members of our community.

A quick look at the list of the top LGBTQ titles borrowed digitally from Nashville Public Library in 2020 illustrates how important this access is, and will be in the future, to the community, and to those struggling in the closet.

Top 15 LGBTQ Titles Borrowed Digitally from Nashville Public Library in 2020

Overall, too, a look a the highest-circulating titles Nashville Public Library readers borrowed through OverDrive in 2020 illustrates how important this access proves to underserved and minority communities. Books and audiobooks include not only best-sellers like Where the Crawdads Sing, but also books like White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and Becoming by Michelle Obama.

The top 5 ebook titles borrowed through Nashville Public Library’s digital collection in 2020:
1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
2. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
3. Educated by Tara Westover
4. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
5. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

The top 5 audiobook titles borrowed through Nashville Public Library’s digital collection in 2020:
1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
4. Educated by Tara Westover
5. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

Readers in Nashville just need a valid library card to access digital books from Nashville Public Library’s OverDrive-powered digital collection. Readers can use any major device, including Apple(R), Android™, Chromebook™ and Kindle(R) (US only). Visit or download the Libby app to get started and borrow ebooks and audiobooks anytime, anywhere. And check out O&AN's recent reviews to get some ideas for LGBTQ+ books to borrow!

COVER Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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