DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — In this digital age, where time is a valuable commodity, readers may not have time to visit their local library and sign up for a library card. But new technology has recently become available that will allow people living in the service area of Lake Agassiz Regional Library to register online and get near-instant access to the library system's catalog of popular e-books and audio books.

Residents of Becker, Clay, Clearwater, Mahnomen, Norman, Polk and Wilkin counties can now get an Instant Digital library card and begin borrowing popular e-books and audio books in under 30 seconds. Users just need to visit larl.overdrive.com, or download the reading app Libby, and sign up with their cellphone number.

"This service will enable individuals who are not current library card-holders to instantly access our extensive collection of downloadable e-books and e-audio books from the comfort of their home," said Liz Lynch, Lake Agassiz Regional Library regional director.

"A digital card user would not have access to our printed book collections or research tools," said Hillary Stevens, the library system's regional marketing coordinator, "but it's a really great option for someone who exclusively downloads e-books and e-audio books."

People who already have a physical library card can access Lake Agassiz's digital library using their card number.

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Named to PC Magazine’s Best Free Software of 2019 and one of TIME's Best Apps of 2018, Libby connects first-time users and experienced readers with the popular digital collections of libraries. These tailored collections offer e-books and audio books, including bestsellers and new releases, in a variety of topics. Readers of all ages can select from virtually every subject ranging from mystery, romance, children’s, business and more.

Lake Agassiz Regional Library patrons can also listen to audio books, at home or on the go. In addition, many libraries offer top-selling magazines that are available with no wait lists or holds. Libby provides an easy way to access e-books, audio books and magazines, together on one app.

By entering their cellphone number via Lake Agassiz Regional Library’s website or through Libby, a secure verification service connects the user’s name and phone number to a physical address. If that address is within Becker, Clay, Clearwater, Mahnomen, Norman, Polk or Wilkin counties, users can instantly begin borrowing thousands of e-books and audio books for free from the library’s digital collection.

"As long as their (cellphone) billing address is within our service area, it should work," Stevens said.

The new patron’s cellphone number doubles as their card number, allowing access to a Lake Agassiz Regional Library’s OverDrive-powered digital books. Patrons interested in borrowing actual books and other physical library resources may visit a nearby branch to sign up for a full-service card.

"Of course we’re hoping people want to come into our libraries and get a full-service library card," Stevens said, "but this is a great option for people who are too busy (to stop in) and are just looking for those digital items."

Libby is compatible with all major-brand computers and devices, she added, including iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows. With Libby, U.S. readers can also send what they are reading to their Kindle devices and apps. All titles will automatically expire at the end of the lending period and there are no late fees. Readers can also download titles onto Libby for offline use.

Register now

To sign up for an Instant Digital Card and enjoy e-books, audio books and more, visit larl.overdrive.com or download Libby, the award-winning, one-tap reading app from Rakuten OverDrive. All you need to begin accessing this service is your cellphone number.