The L.A. County Library announced Tuesday that it reached a record-breaking 3.1 million digital book checkouts via OverDrive in 2020, a 34% increase from 2019, making it one of the top 15 public library systems worldwide for total annual digital circulation.
The accomplishment illustrates the continued growth and importance of library digital lending of eBooks and audiobooks, especially in a year with building closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. The L.A. County Library is one of 102 public library systems worldwide that surpassed 1 million checkouts, according to the library.
The L.A. County Library has been providing readers 24/7 access to eBooks and audiobooks for several years through OverDrive and its Libby reading app. Reader interest and usage has grown every year, said Skye Patrick, library director.
“At L.A. County Library, we pride ourselves on removing barriers to access, and we are always working toward expanding and supporting our digital library, adding more content, and making it easier to find and use,” Patrick said. “The tremendous increase in checkouts of eBooks and audiobooks this year illuminates their growing importance to the people we serve, who want to be able to access library materials, wherever they are. This digital access has been especially important this year, when access to library buildings has been limited.”
The highest-circulating title L.A. County Library readers borrowed through OverDrive in 2020 was “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. The top- circulating genre — romance — represents the most popular in a vast catalog that also includes thrillers, mystery, biography/autobiography, and children/young adult.
Other top eBook titles borrowed through L.A. County Library’s digital collection last year include “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, “Educated” by Tara Westover and “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng.
Top audiobook titles borrowed through library’s digital collection in 2020 include “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J. K. Rowling and “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell.