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Libraries Get Creative With E-Books And Other Online Offerings

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

And now time for a short public service announcement about your public library.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Libraries across the country are closed due to the coronavirus, but that doesn't mean books aren't circulating. Nearly all public libraries these days offer e-books, audiobooks and magazines that you can borrow online.

CHANG: More than 10 million e-books and audiobooks went on loan just last week, up 30% from a year ago. That's according to OverDrive, the largest digital platforms serving libraries. Topping the downloads are classics like Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" and the much more current "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas.

SHAPIRO: To access these collections, you do need a library card. But if you don't have one, don't worry - many libraries are offering registration online. And there are a number of library systems around the country that offer nonresident library cards for an annual fee.

RAMIRO SALAZAR: Public libraries, we're used to serving. I mean, that's our DNA.

CHANG: Ramiro Salazar is president of the Public Library Association. He also heads up the San Antonio Public Library System. As tense as things are right now, Salazar says librarians are getting creative about how to serve their communities. Many are running online book clubs, doing virtual story hours, even offering homework assistance.

SALAZAR: It's going to be a new reality for us. And I suspect that, yes, that there will be a connection - a greater connection with public libraries. I think that will result from this experience.

SHAPIRO: As every "Harry Potter" fan knows, when in doubt, go to the library. Or in this case, these days, have the library come to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN WILLIAMS' "HEDWIG'S FLIGHT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.