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The Seattle Public Library Announces Record Three Million E-book and Audiobook Checkouts in 2019

#6 public library system worldwide in total digital circulation

The Seattle Public Library recently announced that they achieved a record-breaking three million digital book checkouts in 2019. This accomplishment illustrates the continued growth and importance of library lending of ebooks and audiobooks along with the creative ways the library has served its community with digital services. The Seattle Public Library is one of 73 systems around the world – including standalone libraries and consortia – that surpassed one million checkouts through Rakuten OverDrive, the leading digital reading platform and its award-winning app Libby (complete list here).

“We are thrilled by this record, but not by surprised by it,” said Marcellus Turner, chief librarian for The Seattle Public Library. “Seattle residents’ love for digital formats is only matched by their love for their public library.” Turned noted that in 2019, Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved a Library Levy Renewal that included funds for increasing the Library’s e-materials. “We now have more funds to continue to build outstanding digital collections.”

The Seattle Public Library has been providing readers 24/7 access to ebooks and audiobooks for several years. Reader interest and usage has grown every year, reflecting popular trends and interests both locally and across the country. In 2019, the highest-circulating title across both formats that The Seattle Public Library readers borrowed through OverDrive was Becoming by Michelle Obama. The top-circulating genre, thrillers, represents the most popular in a vast catalog that also includes fantasy, romance and children/young adult.

The top 5 ebook titles borrowed through The Seattle Public Library’s digital collection in 2019:

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  2. Educated by Tara Westover
  3. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  4. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
  5. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The top 5 audiobook titles borrowed through The Seattle Public Library’s digital collection in 2019:

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  2. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
  3. Educated by Tara Westover
  4. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  5. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Named one of Popular Mechanics’ 20 Best Apps of the 2010s and one of PCMag’s Best Free Software of 2019, Libby seamlessly connects first-time users and experienced readers with the popular digital collections of libraries. Readers may browse the library’s digital collection, instantly borrow titles and start reading or listening for free with a valid library card.

Readers in Seattle just need a valid library card to access digital books from The Seattle Public Library’s OverDrive-powered digital collection. Readers can use any major device, including iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ and Windows®. With Libby, readers can also “send to Kindle®” devices and apps [US only]. All titles will automatically expire at the end of the lending period and there are no late fees. Readers can also download titles onto Libby for offline use.

Visit https://spl.overdrive.com/ or download the Libby app to get started and borrow ebooks and audiobooks anytime, anywhere.

About The Seattle Public Library

The Seattle Public Library believes that the power of knowledge improves people's lives. We promote literacy and a love of reading as we bring people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community.

For more information, call 206-386-4636 or Ask Us. For ADA accessibility, please contact: leap@spl.org.

About Rakuten OverDrive

OverDrive is the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools worldwide. Named one of Popular Mechanics’ 20 Best Apps of the 2010s and one of PCMag’s Best Free Software of 2019, the award-winning Libby is the "one-tap reading app" for libraries. We are dedicated to “a world enlightened by reading” by delivering the industry’s largest catalog of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and other digital media to a growing network of 43,000 libraries and schools in 76 countries. Founded in 1986, OverDrive is based in Cleveland, Ohio USA and owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten. www.overdrive.com

Popularity by County

King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties each contributed over 1 million e-book checkouts through Overdrive in 2019. The Pierce County Library System reached its goal of 1 million checkouts (1,369,507) , Sno-Isle Library System (Snohomish County) had over 2 million (2,009,300), and King County Library System patrons checked out a whopping 5.6 million (5,678,572) e-books through OverDrive.