ebook Tips and Tricks: Getting Started on Libby

There are so many advantages to ebooks. I have grown to prefer them to print books in recent years due to their ease of use, adaptability, and convenience. I understand, however, that it can be daunting to try ebooks.

Over the next couple of blogs, I’d like to dedicate time to the ebook app Libby. Today I’ll focus on a general how-to for getting started with Libby, and tomorrow I’ll start getting into some reading tips.

First of all, you might notice that I sometimes use Libby and OverDrive interchangeably, or refer to both at the same time. That’s because you have access to the same content through both. OverDrive is the classic ebook app, and may be the only option compatible with older devices. Libby is a newer app made by the same company. You can use whichever one you like. I personally prefer Libby and recommend it if your device is compatible. I find that it is easier to set up and navigate.

The first step, of course, is to download the Libby app from your app store. Now you’re ready to begin!

Getting Started

When you first open the Libby app, you will be asked if you have a library card. Select “yes.” (If you don’t have a library card or can’t find your card, email me at vquist@plumcreeklibrary.net and I can set one up for you.)

Next, you will be asked to find your library. Enter your zip code and you will see Tracy Public Library (or your nearest library) come up under “Plum Creek Library System.” You can also search by library name. Select that and go to the next screen.

Next, you will be prompted to add your library card number. Enter your card number first. Then, you will be asked to enter your PIN. Your PIN is the last four digits of your library card number. On the next screen, you will see your card. You can rename your card at this point. This is a good idea if you have multiple family cards entered into the same app. I usually have two cards attached to my Libby account, so I name them after the family member who is associated with the card. Tap “next,” and you are ready to look for books.


That’s it! You are ready to get reading.

On the bottom left of your screen, you will see “Library.” Click on that to browse our catalog. There is a lot to explore here, including curated collections, new materials, and more. If you see headphones on a title, that means it’s an audiobook. Once you find a book you want to check out, tap “Borrow.” If it’s already checked out by someone else, it will say “Place Hold” instead. More on that later.

When you check something out, you will be asked how long you want to check it out for – 7 or 14 days. Choose whichever suits your reading pace.


On the Shelf, you can see everything you have checked out. If you have multiple cards entered into Libby, you will be able to see what is checked out on all of them.

The default setting is to download all titles automatically. If you don’t want them to automatically download, you can change the download rules. Tap on “Actions” and then “Change Download Rules.”

Books automatically return and disappear from the shelf once the checkout expires. If you finish the book before the expiration date, you can return it early. Tap on “Manage Loan,” then “Return Early.” You do not have to return a book early if you are finished with it and there are other people waiting, but I generally do as a courtesy.

Some titles may be available for renewal. Just like when you check a book out in person at the library, an ebook can be renewed if no one has it on hold. When you get close to book’s expiration, you will be asked if you would like to renew it if the option is available.

When you tap on a book to read it, you can select whether you would like to read it on Libby or Kindle. Books checked out on Libby can be downloaded and synced on multiple devices.


You can place holds on ebooks, just like you place holds on physical materials. When you come across a title that is already checked out, you’ll see “Place Hold” instead of “Borrow.”

On the right, there is a small calendar. If you tap on that, you can see how long the approximate wait time will be.

If you tap on “Place Hold,” you will be taken to another screen. Here, you can change which card you would like to place the hold under if you have multiple cards. Otherwise, select “Place Hold.”

If you don’t want the hold right away, you can suspend the hold until the desired date. A new feature has been added that allows you to delay checking out your hold after it becomes available to you. You can select the amount of time you would like to delay delivery of the hold. By doing this, it lets the next person in line have the book, but you will stay at the top of the queue. When the book becomes available after your selected date, you’ll be the first to get it.

To see which books you have on hold, tap on “Holds” when you are in the Shelf.


Libby has a feature that allows you to “tag” books. There are three standard tags: one that looks like a stack of books, a thumbs-up, and a thumbs-down.

I think of the stack of books like that stack we all have by our favorite chair or on our bedside table. I use it as a “to-be-read” list. You can tag books that you want to read later on so they are easy to find. The other two tags can be used for rating books you like or don’t like. If these aren’t enough tags for your taste, you can add others.

To add a tag, just tap on “Tag” next to a title, and then select the desired tag.

If you’re thinking about giving ebooks a try, I hope this will help you get started. Tomorrow I’ll talk about reading settings.

As always, if you have questions, please email me at vquist@plumcreeklibrary.net

Happy reading!