Audiobook Revolution

Audiobook Revolution

by Megan Klein-Hewett

Have you started using downloadable or streaming books and audiobooks in the last five years? If so, you are not alone! Whether you love the ease of access that digital books provide, or you’re a road warrior who’s always on the hunt for their next audiobook, the library’s Libby and Hoopla apps are great options for free access to digital books and audiobooks.

There has been significant growth in use of digital books and audiobooks over the last five years, in part due to the critical access that these services provided during the pandemic. Suddenly, people who had never borrowed a digital book or audiobook had cause to do so. Ames Public Library has seen an increase in use of both Libby and Hoopla. In fact, use of audiobooks on Libby has increased by 40% every year for the last five years. That number is staggering, and requires that the library shift the budget to meet these increased demands.

With Hoopla, the library pays each time an item is checked out. We have access to a large number of books that are always available, but don’t choose specific titles. Libby is more like a traditional library, in that librarians select items to be added to the collection. Even though they’re digital, copies of books are purchased individually, so you may have to wait until a copy is available. Each model has benefits, and different books may be available on each, but generally an audiobook on Libby is more cost effective than one borrowed using Hoopla.

You may have heard that Ames Public Library recently changed lending policies for the Hoopla app. Starting July 1, Hoopla is available only to residents of the City of Ames and rural Story County, and the checkout limit has changed from six checkouts per calendar month to four. This change will allow us to accommodate the increased interest and demand that we are seeing from the community, while still being good fiscal stewards of taxpayer dollars.

By moving additional funds to Libby, the library can provide more curated items, meaning a wider variety of items can be purchased while also making wait times shorter for popular items. We are excited to see so many people using the library both online and in person, and hope these changes make it easier to get your hands on the items you want to read and listen to!