14 tips to increase OverDrive circulation

Did your library recently purchase OverDrive? Are you wondering how to promote it and increase your circulation? As with any pricey database, if patrons are not using OverDrive, it isn’t worth keeping. OverDrive is fantastic, but it isn’t cheap.

So it’s been about 4 1/2 months since we launched OverDrive in my grade 6-12 school library. As of today, OverDrive accounts for a whopping 30% of all our checkouts! Our students love that they can check out when the library is closed and that OverDrive is available no matter where they go.

Our OverDrive success did not come without a huge amount of promotion on my part. Here are some things I do to promote OverDrive in my school:

  1. I see English classes in the library every other week, and I do something with OverDrive every single time a class comes in. It may be as simple as booktalking a couple of OverDrive titles, or I may have the students all login to OverDrive and play around with it. If patrons access and login regularly, they are more likely to use it on their own.
  2. Download the OverDrive MARC records into your library catalog. Students won’t see the book is available if you don’t add it to the catalog. Downloading the MARC records from OverDrive is an easy and free process, so be sure to use it.
  3. I regularly remind students and teachers about the OverDrive app, Readability settings, and how to download using Read Offline if they are not using the app. We do this in classes mainly, but I also do it on-the-spot with individual students. The OverDrive’s interface is very intuitive, and the vast majority of students will know what to do once they get logged in.
  4. Purchase the hottest new titles on OverDrive. Promote how quickly you can get them. For me here in China, it takes me anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months to receive new print titles. But on OverDrive, I can receive new titles within a few hours. Sadly for me, a lot of new titles are not released internationally (I still have to order them in print from the USA), but if you are in the USA, you do not have that problem. OverDrive is always quicker than ordering new books or even purchasing from a bookstore. Ask your students for requests–what new books do they want? Make a point to get them quickly, and word will spread.
  5. When ordering, focus on fiction and graphic novels first. I have some narrative nonfictions and reference materials, but they are almost never checked out. My Big Nate and Tom Gates and El Deafo graphic novels, however, are always checked out with holds. New releases are the same way, particularly for paranormal romances and high-action sci-fi titles. Books made into movies–The Maze Runner, Divergent, Harry Potter, etc.–are also very popular on OverDrive. John Green books. Chris Bradford. The Warriors series. Always checked out.
  6. Create a scrolling powerpoint to show on a library TV or presentation screen. I have a full post here on what I include in my scrolling powerpoint. Try creating a short one to start out–maybe 10 slides–to remind students to use OverDrive and how to login. Put some OverDrive titles in the powerpoint to advertise what you have.

    Example of a scrolling powerpoint:

  7. Order additional copies of very popular titles on OverDrive. If someone wants a book and it is checked out, you can direct them to OverDrive. Right now, The 5th Wave is going like hotcakes in my school. I have 6 print copies that stay checked out. I do not need or want more print copies, so I bought two more on OverDrive. That’s two copies I won’t have to weed (or deal with disposing) when the popularity dies down.
  8. Got ipads? Install the OverDrive app on them. I used the library email address to create the OverDrive account (for the app install), but the students must still login using their own OverDrive login. I also put the app in the bookmarks bar at the bottom of the ipad screen to keep the app front-and-center.
  9. Give students time to use OverDrive regularly. When a class comes in, they have directions on my TV to either login to OverDrive or Destiny. This gets students on-task right away, and it ensures they know how to access both sites and how to login. I give them about 5 minutes to get there, then walk around to see who is having problems. As the year goes on, we have very few students who still cannot find the sites and login. This also ensures I do not overlook any new students who still need an account.
  10. Like you, students have a lot of passwords and websites to remember. Teach them how to bookmark (if you are BYOD) on their own computers. Show them how to create a “Properties” note in their bookmarks toolbar to write in their login information (see tutorial below). This will help them when they inevitably forget their login. For this tutorial, I used Windows/Mozilla Firefox. Mac computers will work differently.

  11. Give students time to download the OverDrive app and play with it. The OverDrive app is really user-friendly. The more they do it, the higher your OverDrive use will be.
  12. Promote OverDrive with your teachers and staff. I send emails out about once a month reminding staff how to login to OverDrive and booktalking a couple of interesting titles.
  13. Use OverDrive yourself! I am reading Elizabeth May’s The Falconer right now on OverDrive. I love it! I checked it out all the way in Malaysia, at the Kuala Lumpur airport. I had read my other two books on vacation in Bali and was headed home to China. When I booktalk this title with my students next week, you can bet I’ll be sure to include how, once I downloaded the title using airport wi-fi, I was able to read without an internet connection on the plane coming home.
  14. Be patient. If you promote it well, OverDrive use will increase. But it does take some time. For many patrons, this is their first time using an e-book. Because it is new, you will have patrons who say they “don’t like e-books.” If you asked me back in 2010 if I liked e-books, I would have strongly said NO. But once I bought an e-reader (to get ARCS from publishers on NetGalley), I slowly came to prefer e-books. It took a couple of years, but between NetGalley and OverDrive, I became so hooked on my e-reader that I now greatly prefer my e-reader over bulky print books that I can only read with good lighting.
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