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The Austin Public Library says these are the e-books readers checked out the most in 2020 – Austin American

Readers couldn't visit Austin Public Library branches for most of 2020, but the system's Libby app saw an explosion in books borrowed.

Everybody has coped with the pandemic differently, but many people are turning to books to escape lockdown boredom and stress. With library buildings closed to the public because of the coronavirus, 2020 was Libby’s year to shine. That’s the name of an app used by Austin Public Library that lets patrons check out e-books and digital audiobooks on their mobile devices. 

Electronic resources librarian Amy Mullin said that Libby and the library’s other digital lending platforms have increased in popularity over the last several years, a trend that’s accelerated during the pandemic. On Libby, readers checked out almost 1 million books from the Austin library in 2020, compared to about 600,000 in 2019 and 280,000 in 2018.

Mullin said the library received permission from Austin City Council in July to shift part of its print book budget to e-books to help keep up with demand and lower digital hold times on popular titles. E-books and digital audiobooks can only be checked out by one person at a time. 

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Another catalyst for Austinites’ increased library borrowing last year: interest in racial justice reading materials following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in May. As support for the Black Lives Matter movement swelled, many people sought fiction and nonfiction books dealing with race. 

Mullin said the library’s top ten list of borrowed books often includes titles published a year or two prior. It can take a long time for the library to fill all the holds on popular reads. During the pandemic, publishers have made some titles available to an unlimited number of library patrons for a period of time, she said, including the first “Harry Potter” book,

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