Why I Love the Libby App from Overdrive

Have you tried out the Libby app? It’s a library app for ebooks and audiobooks made by Overdrive and it’s so simple and fun to use (plus it’s free!). Give Libby by Overdrive a spin and enjoy all the free audiobooks and ebooks your library has to offer, right from your phone!

libby by overdrive

I started using Overdrive to listen to audiobooks on my phone from my library about five years ago, and it’s been one of my most used apps.

If you’re new to Overdrive, basically it’s a program that libraries can buy a subscription for to let their patrons download ebooks and audiobooks at home from their phones, tablets, or computers.

I wrote a whole post about how to use it here and I recommended it all the time.

Then, last summer, Overdrive released a new app called Libby.

I was curious, of course, about the Libby app and immediately downloaded it.

And I haven’t opened Overdrive ONCE since then.

I personally find the Libby app to be SO much user-friendly and streamlined, and I can’t imagine going back to Overdrive.

From everything I’ve read, Overdrive has no plans to pull the Overdrive app – the Libby app is just an easier way to access the same content (when I asked them about it on Instagram a couple of months ago, they said “Libby provides a simple, yet elegant, user experience for current and new users alike.” There you have it).

So if you use Overdrive and love it, you’re welcome to keep using it indefinitely.

But if you’ve never used Overdrive before or you are frustrated with the Overdrive app, I’d HIGHLY recommend the Libby app instead.

The Libby app reviews are through the roof, so I know I’m not the only one who loves this app (it has about 84,000 reviews averaging 4.7).

libby library app

Here’s why I love the Libby app:

  1. You can easily switch between library cards and libraries. This is the number one reason I love the Libby library app with all my heart. I added all my libraries (I belong to several, because we’ve moved so much) and then I could add multiple cards for each library. For instance, here in Arizona, I have a card for me, plus a card for each of my two big girls, and if I go to check something out and one of my cards is full, it just shows me my other cards right there and I can toggle in half a second to the other one. No logging in and out. It’s seriously the best thing ever.
  2. It doesn’t log you out. Overdrive DOES log you out and this made me nuts because my phone wouldn’t always save my library card numbers and then I’d have to go grab my cards from my wallet and re-enter them fairly frequently. Libby hasn’t logged me out of any of my cards in the year I’ve been using it. So much teeth-grinding avoided right there.
  3. You can send Kindle ebooks right to your Kindle. This is so handy when I check out eBooks on Libby and I just click to send it right to my Kindle (it also shows up on my Kindle app on my phone).
  4. When a book comes up on hold, it automatically is added to your shelf. This was so irritating to me on the Overdrive app because once I got the email notification that my hold was available, I had to log-in (crossing my fingers that I’d picked the right card on the first try – which happened never), and then add the book to my bookshelf. Now, when a book comes up on hold, no matter what library it’s coming from or which card I used to place the hold, it shows right up on my shelf.
  5. You can easily see your prior Libby activity. This means I can quickly see which books I’ve checked out in the past and re-place holds on ones I didn’t finish or get to.
  6. You can see how long the hold lines are. Every book, whether you’re just browsing or you’ve already placed a hold, shows you not only how long the hold lines are but how long you can expect to wait for your turn to come up, whether that’s three weeks or six months.
  7. Every book shows you if it’s available in another format. If I’m looking at an e-book, toward the bottom of the description, it’ll show me if my library has it as an audiobook as well. I love this feature.
  8. You can read or listen to a sample of any title without downloading anything or having it open in a new window. The sample is just right there in the app, ready for you.
  9. You can set it to automatically download your items or only download when you ask it to. Because I share my cards with my girls, I don’t necessarily want 300 Boxcar Children audiobooks automatically downloading to my phone, so I’ve set it to just download when I choose. It’s one click and then I have my books, without having to clog up my phone with their books!
  10. You can choose to stream if you’re on wi-fi instead of downloading. For all those people who’ve asked me about their audiobooks taking up too much space, this is for you! I haven’t personally had any problem with them taking up too much space on my phone, but it’s nice to have the option to just stream instead of downloading.

What doesn’t the Libby app have?

  1. It currently doesn’t have a wish list feature like Overdrive does. Although you can use tags to basically make your own wish list, so I don’t really miss it. And they are planning to make the wish list feature available soon and then you can save things in both Overdrive or Libby and
  2. It isn’t compatible with all devices yet. For instance, on our Kindle Fire, my girls still use the Overdrive app because Libby doesn’t work on it.
  3. You can’t yet request that your library buy a book for their Overdrive collection. This is my only real complaint about the Libby app, but they promise it’s coming soon.

A couple of questions about using Libby by Overdrive:

  1. Is there any reason to use both the Libby and Overdrive apps? I know that some people switch back and forth and the Overdrive app does have features that Libby doesn’t, but I exclusively use the Libby app now (except when I help the girls download something on the Kindle Fire).
  2. If you check something out on Overdrive, is it also checked out on Libby (and vica versa)? Yes! So I can see everything my girls have checked out whenever I log into Libby, which I like.
  3. Can I try out the Libby app without downloading it? Yes! You absolutely can which I think is so fun. Give it a spin on their page here – it’s a ridiculously powerful demo and is JUST like using it on your phone.

libby app

Overall, when I compare the Overdrive app and the Libby app, the Overdrive app feels to me like it was built for a desktop and then was kind of wedged into app format.

The Libby app, on the other hand, feels designed especially for use on phones and it’s just so smooth, streamlined and WAY user friendly.

If you haven’t tried it out, I highly recommend you give it a spin! It’s so clean and easy (and free).

And if you have other questions about either Overdrive or Libby, please ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!


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  • Reply Heather July 11, 2018 at 4:14 am

    This is so helpful because I use the overdrive app frequently and don’t have too many complaints about it besides getting logged out all the time! I am definitely going to download this tonight and try it and maybe make the switch!!!! 🙂

  • Reply Michele July 11, 2018 at 5:14 am

    I also have the Libby App on my phone and really like it. I loaded both mine and my husband’s library cards on it and it’s really nice to be able to see all our holds in one place and how they are progressing!

  • Reply Tanya July 11, 2018 at 5:18 am

    I just started using the Libby app and love it. I think you’re right about Overdrive being designed for the desktop and Libby being a “true” app. Great review of a great product!

  • Reply april July 11, 2018 at 5:29 am

    I downloaded Libby but I never use it – I am just so used to Overdrive that it feels pointless to learn a new app. I have only one library card and I have the number memorized though, so it’s not much hassle if it logs me out, which it doesn’t do often.

  • Reply Halie R Pullen July 11, 2018 at 5:44 am

    I absolutely LOVE the “new” Libby app as well. It’s so much easier, like you said, and just feels like a better experience in general. Last week, I got my each of my 11-year-old twin step-sons signed up for Goodreads & Libby in the same night, showed them how it all works, and they’ve been going nuts since. I feel so proud of them, and that we can share this love of reading together!

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw July 11, 2018 at 6:51 am

      Oh this is amazing!

      • Reply Christine Lambert July 15, 2018 at 6:36 am

        You mention Goodreads and Libby — are they integrated? I would love to have my “want to read” available in Overdrive when I’m searching for books, rather than toggling between the two.

  • Reply Paige Cassandra Flamm July 11, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Totally giving this a try because I have not loved the other overdrive app!

  • Reply Beth July 11, 2018 at 8:21 am

    I didn’t understand why I needed the Libby app, but you’ve convinced me to give it a try!

  • Reply Elissa July 11, 2018 at 10:09 am

    I love the Libby app for almost everything, but frustrated with one aspect. Like you, I have cards at multiple libraries; I like to check each library when finding a new book that’s on hold at my primary in case someone else has it available. If none of the three libraries have it, I place it on hold at all three libraries to see who can get it to me faster, and then cancel the holds of the ones I don’t use. Libby won’t let me search other libraries once I’ve placed an initial hold, and therefore I can’t put multiple holds on the same title at each library at which I’m a member. Hope that makes sense.

    But, I still use it (just go to overdrive to place multiple holds).

    Thanks for the hopeful review!

  • Reply Lydia July 11, 2018 at 11:13 am

    I use both apps. I would consider switching completely to Libby, but I don’t want to lose my wishlist (I hope it will automatically transfer to Libby when they add that feature 🤞). I like on the wishlist I can select “available now” and only see books I can borrow immediately.
    I haven’t really looked very hard, but I don’t think you can access the videos on Libby or set to just access the children’s stuff like on Overdrive. All that being said, I still prefer the ease and set up of Libby better. Oh! I know everyone is saying Overdrive logs them out, but I have stayed constantly signed in for like 2 years 🤷🏼‍♀️ Ok, this is super long, but I feel like this is the right place to voice my (mostly)love and hate(slight dislike) for Overdrive and Libby.

  • Reply JoLee July 11, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    I am a very devoted Overdrive user. I’ve been using it since before smart phones. I remember when they updated it so that you could put audiobooks from the site unto your iPod. I’ve been feeling pretty indifferent toward Libby. You almost had me convinced to try it until I read the 3 drawbacks. No wishlist and no ability to request books is a deal breaker for me. Let me know when they add these features, and then maybe I’ll try it.

  • Reply Sarah's Book Shelves July 11, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks so much for this! I’ve downloaded the Libby app, but don’t use it that much b/c I didn’t really see how it was any different than Overdrive. Now I see! I’m going to start using it more now!

  • Reply Ruth July 11, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Love the Libby app! Plus, such a cute nickname for library!

  • Reply Kortney July 11, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    I love Libby way more than Overdrive! However, I don’t think there is a way to edit the audio volume in Libby. Some of the audiobooks are so soft and I love to listen in the car and need them louder. Libby doesn’t seem to have any way to do that. Any suggestions? This was such a great post!!

  • Reply Rachel July 11, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    Is there any reason to use the app if you don’t listen to audiobooks? I use overdrive on my desktop computer a TON to get ebooks on my kindle. I’ve used the overdrive app just a handful of times to play audiobooks for my kids in the car, but that’s it. Is it worth downloading? Can I use it just for ebooks?

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw July 11, 2018 at 6:12 pm

      Yes, absolutely! I love that it sends my eBooks right to my Kindle.

  • Reply Noelle July 11, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    So helpful! I am downloading it right now.

  • Reply shannon July 12, 2018 at 7:59 am

    You’ve convinced me! I really dislike the clunkiness of the overdrive app, and my library webpage keeps advertising Libby, but I hadn’t realized how much smoother it is. Thanks for the review and recommendation!

  • Reply Anki July 13, 2018 at 10:42 am

    My primary experience with Overdrive was back in 2012/2013, before I had a smartphone. Getting audiobooks onto my iPod was a laborious process with frequent errors, so I basically stopped using it. I appreciated that the service existed, but it was just easier to read my print books and ebooks.

    I got the Libby app on my phone in December, and it has made borrowing audiobooks and ebooks from my public library *so* easy. Everything is in one place, downloading books is done in just a few clicks, and if I finish a book before the borrowing period is up I can return it (this was…not the case back in 2012). Now I am more inclined to borrow digital resources from my library. It would be nice to have a proper wishlist feature in Libby, though.

  • Reply Bridget July 13, 2018 at 11:23 am

    New to Libby.
    Can I switch to Kindle after the fact? Have started a book on the Libby app but now that I learned about Kindle possibility would like to change it if possible.

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw July 13, 2018 at 11:42 am

      That’s a good question that I don’t know the answer to!

  • Reply Lisa Soto July 13, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    I had no idea this existed. I’m so excited to try this out. SO EXCITED! Thank you.

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  • Reply Darlene July 15, 2018 at 6:21 am

    I have both the Overdrive and Libby apps, and I still use Overdrive more than Libby. I guess I just don’t like change 😉

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  • Reply Kate B July 16, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Mostly of what you mention as benefits without Libby–app not logging you out, Kindle books checking out directly to Kindle/Kindle app, seeing hold line lengths and available formats, listening to/reading samples in-app–are all things I do regularly with Overdrive. I wonder if any of those issues could be resolved by managing preferences in the app for a better experience!

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw July 16, 2018 at 2:11 pm

      It’s very possible! For me, the ability to use multiple library cards at multiple libraries without logging in and out makes for such a much better experience on my end that I really wouldn’t even consider using the Overdrive app anymore as my primary app.

      • Reply Kate B July 17, 2018 at 4:58 am

        And I’ve had multiple library cards on Overdrive, without having to log in and out, but you still have to toggle on the sidebar. I’ve never been able to toggle right inside your search/holds list/etc. It’s actually amazing that you tolerated Overdrive so long if you constantly had to be login in so many cards. Having to keep typing out card numbers sounds so annoying!

  • Reply Marlo July 23, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    I’m feeling very loyal to Overdrive because it took so long for me to love it and now it feels like I can’t let it go. I’ve downloaded Libby and looked at it a few times, but can’t quite make the jump. Toggling between multiple accounts might just be the push I need. Also, Overdrive intermittently logs me out, but I have a note on my phone which consists of all our library card numbers in one place. Then I never have to dig out my cards! With 5 kids, this has been a lifesaver. But maybe you don’t need that too with Libby. Anyway, adding my daughters’ accounts tonight!

  • Reply Dorothy July 25, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    My first choice is a physical book, but if I read an ebook Iactually prefer reading a book with Libby rather than my Kindle App. It is visually appealing and super easy to use!

  • Reply Rachel Dallaire November 27, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    I LOVE Libby and was so happy when they released it! I use Overdrive on the computer once a month to add new books to my wishlists and request books but otherwise I use Libby for everything else. It’s awesome.

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