Boston Public Library
eBooks & Downloadable Media

Our Collections

If you have never checked out and downloaded eBooks, audio, or video from the Boston Public Library before, please visit OverDrive Help to learn the basics and get any software that you may need.

You may access downloadable titles two ways:

BPL Online Catalog

BPL logo
  • Fewer steps to check out
  • Search both physical and digital titles
  • Manage all holds in one place

OverDrive Site

OverDrive logo
  • Complete catalog of titles
  • Limit searches by format or availability
  • Download necessary software

Now you can download titles without leaving our online catalog!

Frequently Asked Questions

What's different?

  • Now, when a downloadable item appears in search results, you'll see a Request this Download button. Click the button to check out and download (if the item is available) or place a hold (if it's not available).
  • Once you check out a digital item, the button will change to Download Now. Once you place a hold, the button will change to Cancel Hold.
  • It's easier to choose the correct format (Kindle or ePUB for Nook) and whether you want the eBook for 7 or 14 days.
  • You'll be able to see all of the digital items you have checked out or on hold, along with the physical books, CDs, and DVDs you have.

Why would I ever need to go to the OverDrive site again?

  • At this time, you can’t search by file format (Kindle vs. ePub, WMA vs. MP3) directly through the online catalog. If you want to limit searches to only a particular format, you still need to use the OverDrive search.
  • Help and troubleshooting. There is basic help for searching and downloading available directly through the catalog, but device-specific help and lists of supported devices are still best seen on the OverDrive site.
  • To download the software you need to view or listen to downloadable media.

Do I still need to download software?

Yes. Audiobooks, audio files, and videos still need to be accessed first through OverDrive Media Console. ePub books (for Nooks and other devices) still need to be accessed via Adobe Digital Editions. This software must be downloaded from the OverDrive site.

Kindle users do not need to download any additional software; this is not a change.

Can I download items at the library?

No, you must download your items to your personal computer. Borrowing eBooks and downloadables requires the installation of software that associates the loan with your computer or other device.

How do I check out an item or place a hold?

  1. Search for a title, author, or subject.
  2. When you find a title you want to borrow, click the Request this Download link.
  3. If the title is available, select the media type you want. For example, an eBook may be available as in both Kindle and Adobe ePUB formats. Next, select the loan period and click Checkout.
    (For more information about formats, please see the Overdrive Help Center.)
  4. If the title is not currently available, enter your email address, and then click Place a Hold.
  5. Once you check out an item, you can download it immediately or later. Just click on the Download Now button.

How do I see what I have on hold?

Under MyBPL, click on Holds. You'll see all of your holds, for both physical and digital items. The number of digital holds you can still place is shown at the top of the page.

Once an item becomes available, a Ready for Checkout button appears so you can choose the format and loan duration and check it out. Once you've checked out an item, it moves to the Checked Out page, whether or not the file has been downloaded.

Can I suspend a digital hold request in the online catalog?

Suspending a hold for a physical book, DVD, or CD in our catalog will prevent the request from being filled until you're ready to reactivate the request. At this time, you aren't able to suspend digital holds in our catalog.

You can now suspend digital hold requests on our OverDrive site. You can find instructions for suspending a hold in OverDrive Help.

How do I see what I have on hold?

Under MyBPL, click on Holds. You'll see all of your holds, for both physical and digital items. The number of digital holds you can still place is shown at the top of the page.

Can I cancel a hold on a digital item?

Yes! Holds on digital items can be cancelled the same way you cancel a hold on a book or DVD, as long as the item has not yet been checked out. However, you cannot suspend a hold on a digital title.

How will I be notified once my items are available to download?

You will still receive an email when a title is available to download, just as you have in the past.

Can downloaded items be returned like other items?

Many downloadable materials cannot be actively returned, but some may, depending on format and device. For more information, please see the OverDrive help center.

How do I see what I have checked out?

Like the Holds page, the Checked Out page now shows both physical and digital items. For downloadable items, the Download Now button appears whether or not the file has already been downloaded. The file type and size are also included in the display. The number of digital checkouts you can still place is shown at the top of the page.

Can I renew my ebooks or downloadable audio/video?

Digital files cannot be renewed in our online catalog.

It is possible to renew titles that you currently have checked out three days before they expire by visiting our OverDrive site. This actually means that you can place an advance hold before the title expires. You will still need to check out and download the item again.

To learn more, read these instructions.

Why does the catalog say that I "can't access digital resources with this account?"

If you have only just registered on the catalog and chosen a user name, check your email for the confirmation email. You need to confirm your email address by clicking the link in that message.

If you have already confirmed your address, make sure your account is in good standing. If you are unable to check out a physical book due to unresolved fines, you won't be able to download a digital book either.

If all else fails, email us so we can help troubleshoot the issue.