In a Nutshell: Public libraries are no longer limited to connecting with readers solely based on the physical books and materials that exist within their walls. OverDrive is a company focused on putting electronic reading, audio, and video materials into the hands of learners all over the world. Its Libby app puts electronic materials from the local library into users’ electronic devices of choice. And its Sora app, which is designed for K-12 learners, offers similar accessibility but is designed for the needs of students, parents, and teachers. The resources available through OverDrive can help people struggling with debt in a myriad of ways. Whether they are looking for material on financial literacy, furthering their education, or changing careers to seek higher pay, they have access to a world of knowledge through OverDrive.
Well over half of U.S. residents are in debt — some data shows numbers as high as 80%. The exact numbers vary depending on how studies are conducted, but there’s no doubt that debt is a real problem in the U.S.
While being in debt doesn’t automatically mean someone is struggling financially, the stark truth is that millions of Americans are struggling.
And debt becomes a very real problem when it goes from being a manageable financial obligation to a burden that results in living paycheck to paycheck, turning to predatory payday lenders, or simply giving up and not paying bills at all.
Studies have shown that overwhelming financial debt can have a ripple effect through a person’s life. It leads to higher levels of stress, which is not only bad for mental health but can also increase tensions between friends and family members. Debt-related stress can even manifest in physical ailments.
There are a number of ways to tackle debt. Broadly speaking, the most effective methods revolve around education.
Folks can learn about financial literacy from the experts and adopt a plan to reduce their debt. They can take a new career path that may result in higher pay. Or they can continue to advance on their current career path.
Each of these avenues requires some kind of educational component. And the most motivated people can take education into their own hands by turning to the offerings of a company like OverDrive and its library reading app Libby.
We recently spoke with Adam Sockel, OverDrive’s Integrated Marketing Specialist, to learn more about the innovative company’s commitment to supporting libraries and how it leverages technology to put books into the hands of people across the world.
OverDrive is a Leading Digital Reading Platform for Libraries and Schools Around the World
OverDrive was founded by Steve Potash in 1986. While the digital realm looked very different in those days, the company was built around the concept of innovation and has evolved deftly over the decades.
“(Potash) was an attorney, and they had gotten tired of carrying around legal briefs and loads of paperwork, and he thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way,’” Sockel said. “So it basically began by digitizing legal briefs onto floppy disks.”
Potash’s wife happened to be a librarian, and she connected Potash to some libraries in the Cleveland area. The libraries were impressed with Potash’s efforts and this connection would prove invaluable to OverDrive and help lead it to where it is today.
Sockel said the libraries recognized the value of digitizing written documents and making them widely available to people. Today, OverDrive is the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools around the world.
“We are dedicated to creating ‘a world enlightened by reading’ by delivering the industry’s largest catalog of ebooks, audiobooks, and other digital media to a growing network of 65,000 libraries and schools in 84 countries,” according to the company.
With OverDrive, libraries and educational institutions can extend their reach beyond physical walls to offer anytime, anywhere access to ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and streaming videos.
Libby Works Across Devices and Features a Vast Range of Titles and Subject Matter
OverDrive maintains a number of programs aimed at putting educational materials into the hands of anybody who wants them. One component of these efforts is a suite of apps aimed at various audiences.
Libby is the app that makes it possible to borrow and read ebooks and audiobooks from your local public library for free.
“We originally had an app called the OverDrive app,” Sockel said. “Several years ago, we did a very big survey of our users and library partners and asked them what they wanted the OverDrive app to be, if it could essentially do anything. All of the incredible feedback we received from partners and users all around the world helped in the creation of the Libby app.”
The OverDrive app still exists and is used by many, but the Libby app offers a greater level of convenience, usability, and accessibility.
“The Libby app is such a simplified process,” Sockel said. “In one step, you can find your local library and find the content they have. And you can get started immediately as long as you have a library card.”
For potential users who don’t have a library card, the Libby app offers in many markets the Instant Digital Card service, said Sockel, which can help get a new user a library card in seconds. Many libraries that don’t participate in Libby’s Instant Digital Card program still offer similar services, so barriers to gaining entry to the Libby app are few.
Basically, if you’re trying to get out of debt and want to access ebooks on financial literacy or continuing education, and they are available through your local library, Libby can help you get them.
“Brought to you by your local library and built with love by OverDrive,” the Libby app proclaims on its website. “Warm, personal, and easy to use, Libby is great for users of all ages.”
And lest anybody still think of local libraries as stodgy, old-school, institutions solely focused on physical books, Libby is proof that times have changed.
With Libby, users can not only access a wide selection of electronic materials from their libraries, but the material is accessible across numerous electronic devices. It even syncs your bookmarks, notes, and reading progress. Users can listen in their cars via Bluetooth, ApplePlay, or Android Auto.
Users can even download material to access offline or send ebooks from U.S. libraries to their Kindle.
Sora is OverDrive’s App that Focuses on K-12 Education
If you’re a regular reader at BadCredit, you likely know that we are advocates of educating people on financial literacy from an early age. And OverDrive meets this audience as well with its Sora app.
“In addition to Libby, we also have a K-12 app called Sora,” Sockel said. “The reason we created Sora is from a privacy standpoint. Libraries care a whole lot about privacy, which is great. And if a 12 or 13-year-old reader is borrowing content through their school library, the school and the parents might want to know what that is. So we can show them those types of things.”
Sockel said Sora doesn’t necessarily offer a lot of school textbooks, but it does provide an array of nonfiction content about various subjects.
“We have a ton of ebooks and audiobooks for reading and ELA, as well as for STEM and other subjects,” he said. “In addition to borrowing the biggest bestsellers, you’re also going to find all sorts of children’s books — both fiction and nonfiction — for all reading ages.”
Many students use Sora for book reports, such as finding nonfiction content about a specific scientist or a moment in history, Sockel said.
Educators can also use Sora to boost accessibility and convenience for themselves and their students.
“Are you an educator interested in how Sora can make an impact on reading and learning at your school or district?” Sora asks on its website. “Learn about free books through Sora.”
Financial literacy and education are critical to helping people avoid debt. Accessing reading materials for free from the public library or school can go a long way towards meeting that goal.
“Using Libby or Sora is an easy way to access useful digital materials 24/7 anytime, anywhere,” said Sockel. “And the best part is: it’s free!”