OverDrive Overview

ODWhat is OverDrive?

OverDrive is a service the library subscribes to in order to provide 24/7 access to downloadable e-books, audiobooks and videos. Public library cardholders in Albany and Rensselaer counties are eligible to download from OverDrive. OverDrive titles can be enjoyed on computers, e-readers, mp3 players, and mobile devices.  They are returned automatically, so there are never late fees! While some downloadable titles appear in our standard library catalog, this information is not always up-to-date. For real-time holdings and availability, visit our Digital Collection page.

Patrons often need help not only with the OverDrive service, but with the basic operation of their devices.  While library staff cannot be expected to know everything about every device, it is up to us to know the basics of operating these devices now that we are providing library services that are used on them.  When you are approached with device questions, remember that there are several resources available to assist you in finding answers you do not already know.  In general, it is best to have the patron “drive” the device while you provide verbal directions.  This not only eases our liability, it also helps the patron learn to use the device and the OverDrive service in a meaningful way that is more likely to be remembered.

Competencies for This Module

  • Know the default lending periods of e-books/audiobooks and streaming media, and how to change them.
  • Know how to use OverDrive Read (including saving progress and bookmarking), and the difference between that and downloading e-book titles.
  • Know which file formats will work on which devices (Example: audiobooks do not work on e-readers, magazines must use the Nook App.)
  • Be able to demonstrate both browsing and (advanced) search methods for finding items.
  • Know where to go to troubleshoot OverDrive issues.
  • Complete the quiz on circulation parameters and file formats.
  • Be able to explain the difference between signing into your library account and signing into an OverDrive One Account
  • Be able to explain the difference between the remote bookshelf and the app bookshelf. [ed. 12/21/15: OverDrive renamed the remote bookshelf “checkouts” to minimize confusion.]

The Basics

  • Check out up to 10 digital titles (audiobooks, e-books and videos combined) at a time.  Magazines do not count against this total.
  • Choose your lending period of 7, 14, or 21 days for e-books and audiobooks.  Streaming video checks out for 3, 5, or 7 days. Default lending periods can be changed by clicking the account icon account on the digital collection page and signing in using a library card number.
  • E-books can be returned early. Audiobooks and videos can only be returned early from certain devices. Titles are automatically returned on the due date, but of a file was downloaded, it remains on your computer/device until manually removed.
  • Titles labeled “Borrow” are available for immediate checkout. Some titles require you to sign in to find out if they are available to you. Otherwise, you may place a hold and receive email notification when your title is ready for download. Phone notification is not available. After notification, the download will be available for 2 days.
  • Click the ribbon under any item to add it to your wish list. Click again to remove it from your wish list. Log in to your account using your library card number to view your wish list.
  • If you would prefer not to download any software or files, some e-books and audiobooks are available for checkout to read in your browser. Just select “OverDrive Read” or “OverDrive Listen” as the format at checkout.  OverDrive Read print-friendly instructionsOverDrive Listen print-friendly instructions. Streaming video does not require any downloads. [ed. 12/21/15 – Added references to instructions for OverDrive Listen.]


OverDrive Cheat Sheet – The high points at a glance. [ed. 12/21/15 – WMA audiobooks are no longer available – disregard references in PDF]

  • E-Readers – Black and white devices used primarily for consuming e-books. May have a rudimentary internet browser.  These devices cannot stream video and most are not compatible with audiobooks. Kindle and Sony e-readers need no additional software to enjoy OverDrive e-books. Nooks and other basic e-readers require download to a PC and transfer to the device via Adobe Digital Editions.
  • Mobile Devices –Includes Android, Blackberry, iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, Windows Phone, Kindle Fire, and Nook Color/Tablet.  These devices can stream video as well as downloading e-books and audiobooks. Use the OverDrive Media Console app for all content unless OverDrive READ/LISTEN is preferred method.
  • Desktop Computers – Audiobooks are enjoyed using OverDrive Media Console, and e-books can be used with Adobe Digital Editions or OverDrive READ/LISTEN. These devices can stream video.
  • Other Devices – Includes iPods and MP3 players that can play audiobooks downloaded to a computer and transferred via OverDrive Media Console for PC or Mac.
  • To see a list of supported devices, visit the OverDrive Device Resource Center.

Browse and Search

There are three basic search methods to find titles in OverDrive: browse, simple search, and advanced search.  To browse, see the categories in the gold ribbon:

browseAfter a category is chosen, the search can be refined by options available in the left menu:


To conduct a simple keyword search, type into the search box in the upper-right corner of the page:



Warning:  results from simple search are often overwhelming and not always relevant. 

If you are looking for a specific title, author, subject or format, I would suggest skipping the box and clicking the “advanced search” link beneath it.


Search tips:

  • When entering a title, try putting it in quotes to improve accuracy.
  • For authors, enter the first name first, last name last, all in quotes.
  • If you have a specific format in mind (audio, video, Kindle, etc.), use the format dropdown menu to narrow your search.
  • Following a search, users have the same options to refine the search as when browsing.

Accounts and Bookshelves

Unfortunately, OverDrive’s own terminology contributes to patron confusion.  The first stumbling block for patrons using mobile devices is that they have two separate bookshelves.  There is the bookshelf they see when logged into our digital collection page, which I call the remote bookshelf.  This displays items that have been checked out by the patron, but not necessarily downloaded.  They also have a bookshelf in the OverDrive Media Console app which contains downloaded items.  I call this the device bookshelf.

There are also two kinds of OverDrive accounts a patron can have.  On the digital collection site, a patron can log in to their account using a library card number.  Our patrons all have this account by default.  There is a second kind of account that patrons using mobile devices can create using a personal email.  This optional account will allow the patron to sync content across devices.  For example, if patrons want to download an item to both an Android phone and an iPad, logging into optional account on both will allow the patron to switch devices and pick up reading or viewing where they left off on the other device.  The other function of an OverDrive One account is as a substitute for an Adobe ID in the newest version of the app.

App Versions

The latest version of the app can be installed on Android versions later than 3.2. This version is simply called “OverDrive” (they dropped the “Media Console”).  The main differences in the app are the location of the menu button (moved from bottom to top left of screen) and the ability to use an OverDrive One account in place of an Adobe ID.  Older Android devices will still install the earlier version of the app.  Our pamphlets show screen shots of the new version, while the Android module in this program references the older version.  This is because the library’s Android device runs the older version.

Apple devices need iOS6 or later to use the latest version of OverDrive.  Kindle and Nook tablets use an app that is similar to the older version, with the menu button at the bottom of the screen.

Overdrive legacy mobile handout [added 12/21/15]

Tutorials and Help


Complete the quiz here:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6BPNNC6

Please note that not all quiz answers can be found on this page.  Some will require logging into OverDrive and testing.


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