How ebooks and libraries help bring people together

"Libraries are a beacon for our future," says Steve Potash, Founder and CEO of OverDrive

If you enjoy reading The Big Issue magazine, chances are it’s because you love to read. Reading is one of the great equalizers in this world: no matter what types of books you read, we all share a love for the written word. With all the challenges facing the nation, reading can bring us comfort, and as the world around us starts to feel fractured, it’s reading that brings us together.

Reading is a lifelong love affair that often begins young and at the local library. Public libraries are the cornerstone of our communities. Along with providing reading materials, libraries also offer access to computers and free public wi-fi, unique programmes and classes for community members of all ages. Libraries make everyone’s lives better and impact cities on both an individual and community-wide level as they continue to adapt to emerging technologies. Libraries are a beacon for our future.

One of these technologies is ebooks. As the world’s leading digital reading service, my company OverDrive’s mission is “a world enlightened by reading” and we believe libraries can create such a world because they have the power to change lives and strengthen communities. Digital reading – which includes ebooks and audiobooks – breaks down barriers, allowing a library to expand beyond their four walls to reach marginalised members of a community and provide greater access to every corner of a city.

Through our work, OverDrive has supported community reading in the UK and around the globe. We help make ebooks available to readers participating in Cityread London and have our own digital book club, Together We Read, which connects readers all across the United Kingdom with the same ebook at the same time.

As champions of libraries and librarians, we are proud to be part of the mission led by Lord John Bird of The Big Issue, Nick Poole from CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) as they highlight the importance of public libraries. Funding for libraries is under threat, which is why reports like Public Libraries: The Case for Support are crucial. Libraries cannot and will not survive and thrive without the support of the people and government.

Since 2004, OverDrive has provided digital ebook and audiobook services to the UK and now partners with a growing list of 200 library authorities and schools. We offer the largest collection of bestselling and award-winning ebooks and audiobooks to more than 44,000 libraries and schools in 76 countries, including over 90 percent of North American public libraries overdrive.com.