Tech Guide

How to borrow free audiobooks from your local library on your phone

Key Points
  • You can borrow books and audiobooks from your public library right from your phone.
  • You can read and listen to them without stepping inside for a physical copy.
  • All you need is a library card and an app named Libby. Here's how to use it.
Sitting in traffic

Two things can help pass the time during a long commute, especially if you're driving: podcasts and audiobooks.

The latter can cost about $15 a pop from Amazon's Audible unless you pay for a subscription.

One place you might not have thought to look, however, is your local library.

You don't even have to visit the library. So long as you already have a library card, you can borrow audiobooks from an app and play them right on your phone. It works for regular books, too, in case you want to read on the go.

Get started by downloading and installing the app Libby for iPhone or Android, then open it.

Open Libby and search for your local library.

Sign in with your library card.

Now you'll see a screen with all sorts of books you can borrow or place on hold. Look for the ones with the headphones icon, which means it's an audiobook.

I also recommend tapping "New in audiobooks" or "Popular in audiobooks" since it shows some you may have heard about.

Even though audiobooks are digital files, libraries treat them like any other book, stocking limited "copies" and allowing only one person to check out each copy at any given time. So, depending on the size of your library, how popular a title is, and how many audiobooks are stocked, you may see really long wait times.

If it says borrow, tap "borrow" and you can start listening right away.

You typically have 14 days to listen to it before it expires and gets "returned" to the library for other users to check out.

That's it! You can use the same steps to download a book to your phone, too, or send off to a Kindle if you own one and link it to your account.

Are audio books the new e-readers?