By: Adam Sockel, Marketing Communications Specialist 

Get A Library CardAt Digipalooza this past August, we announced a pilot program called Get A Library Card (GLC). This innovative service is the fastest and easiest way to a library card. Readers can sign up for a library card and begin borrowing digital content from their local library in under 30 seconds — all from their mobile device.

This process is both quick and safe. OverDrive uses a third-party verification service to connect the user’s name and phone number to a physical address and, if that address is within the participating library’s service area, they can begin borrowing titles from the digital collection instantly. The new patron’s cell phone number doubles as their card number and they have full access to their library’s OverDrive-powered digital collection. The library will be provided with each validated user’s contact information, including the mobile number, name and address that are used to verify their GLC eligibility. You can then use this information to invite them to sign up for a full library card.

The pilot program was soft launched with a dozen participating libraries, and, despite minimal marketing efforts pushing this service, more than 5,000 new library cards have already been issued via GLC. Users love the instant gratification of being granted access to thousands of free eBooks and audiobooks, and librarians love that we’re helping to connect them to new readers in their community. An unexpected but exciting discovery is that not only is GLC bringing new users to the library but it’s also reengaging with library card holders who hadn’t borrowed content in months simply by making the process easier for them.

Below is a short testimonial from Adri Edwards-Johnson, a staff librarian from the Pioneer Library System in Oklahoma:

“The reality is most people from school age on up are trained to remember certain numbers like their phone numbers but not necessarily their library card number. The technology that runs ‘Get a Library Card’ by OverDrive is making authentication for library services much smoother for both seasoned and newer users by allowing a cell phone number to be verified. This immediate access to digital content is a desire we often hear expressed from our customers.

In comparison to our existing ‘virtual library’ card process, we have found the new process to be faster for the potential reader and less time-consuming for staff on the back end. We’ve also been able to analyze both the new and existing readers utilizing this pilot feature and will be following up with those who have registered. This re-engagement will allow them to make use of the OverDrive collection and opens the door to introduce them to our other virtual services. In the future, the possibilities could include exploring integration into our ILS and even into our Pioneer Library System Connect mobile app. The method of using cell phone verification as a means to reduce barriers and increase access is a welcome addition to the array of library services for the modern user.”

If you’re interested in adding GLC to your OverDrive digital library, visit this page for more details and share your interest so we can follow-up with you after the pilot period.

3 Responses to “OverDrive’s “Get A Library Card” brings thousands of new users to the library”

  1. Vuyokazi Jamieson

    This sounds like one of the solutions I’ve been looking for. I’m a Boys College Librarian and I am challenged to be proactive everyday in exploring ways of engaging boys and getting them to love reading on digital platforms.
    Getting them to read physical books is hard enough but trying to engage them with digital reading is more of a challenge. Thank you for this great solution.

  2. Virginia

    This is a great feature. Our concern however, is that many of our patrons might have cell phone numbers from other areas (they may live in our community now, but have retained a cell phone number from living in another location). This will preclude them from being eligible to use our digital collection using GLC, right? This would be a barrier. Is there an immediate remedy that addresses this scenario?

    • Adam Sockel

      The mobile number being registered does not have to be issued from your state or region in order to be eligible for a card from your library. The phone number simply needs to be associated with a person and an address in your service area. This may or may not be the billing address of the cell-phone bill. And the area code of the phone number can be from anywhere in the US. As long as the person has documented their mobile number on public records in their name and associated with an address in your service area, we can issue them access to your collection. And of course, we always confirm that the user trying to register with a mobile number has possession of the mobile phone, too, by sending them a text message with a verification code