The 14 buildings in the County of San Luis Obispo Public Library system are shuttered due to the coronavirus, but many of the resources patrons love are now just a few finger-taps away.

Via slolibrary.org, folks can access free downloadable eBooks, audiobooks, streaming video, magazines, music, and online classes. All of these are accessible after filling out the online library card application. Remember to write down the number it gives you because that is now your library card.

“I think it’s working out great, considering the circumstances,” said Chase McMunn, assistant library director, County of San Luis Obispo Public Libraries. “Digital was already a quickly rising collection; it was getting more and more popular each year. We kind of looked at it almost like a fifteenth branch. Last year, it was actually our fourth busiest library.”

With the physical libraries closed, the numbers continue to increase. For March and April, the majority of which time was under stay at home orders, checkouts were three times higher than the same timeframe last year. Almost 2,000 people have registered for the e-card this year alone.

Recognizing the need for more digital resources, the Morro Bay Friends of the Library are helping to purchase new E-Book titles for the downloadable collections through a gift of $10,000 to the County of SLO Public Libraries.

“Using funds raised through book sales, the Morro Bay Friends of the Library traditionally support the local branch by sponsoring programs and purchasing materials, but this gift will benefit users throughout the county,” said Jude Long, the group’s publicity chair.

Almost all the digital resources work on Android or iOS devices or smart TVs and Kindle tablets. McMunn said most services should work on a computer on a computer as well.

The most popular online resources are Overdrive (home to over 1,000 titles available in eBook or audiobook format for use with an internet-capable computer or mobile device.), CloudLibrary (download bestsellers, classics, and more with an easy one-time login, one-click app), Kanopy (on-demand film streaming service), Hoopla (stream movies, music, television and more), and RBDigital (featuring digital magazines). The online Homework Help and Lynda.com classes are also highly successful.  

Readers should know that number of titles that can be checked out vary from service to service. Further, there is a limit as to how many people can check out a particular item at a time.

“For the books, the limit is just one person at a time can check out each title,” McMunn said. “So we might have several copies of a title, but each copy can only be checked out once at the same time. So you may have to wait. If there’s a really popular title, there might be a little bit of a wait on that.”

As for the future of digital libraries, they are here to stay.

“We anticipate investing more in digital materials,” McMunn said. “In the coming year, we will also continue to buy physical books and other AV (audiovisual) materials. But, we anticipate putting even more into digital because we think, for the time being, that’s still going to remain a really popular option, even when we’re able to open up and offer those traditional materials.”

People needing a little help with setting up and e-card or using online resources can call 805-781-5991 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. or 805-461-6161 from or 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“We were having some patrons that were, understandably, a little uncomfortable with digital materials and needed some guidance with some of these new things,” McMunn said. “In some cases, people’s families were able to help set them up. But we wanted to be there to walk people through the process.”

The following is a recent list of the 15 most popular eBooks people are downloading from the library’s CloudLibrary app:
“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens
“The Giver of Stars” by Jojo Moyes
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K Rowling
“Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng
“The Boy from the Woods” by Harlan Coben
“American Dirt” (Oprah’s Book Club) by Jeanine Cummins
“Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid
“Blue Moon” by Lee Child
“The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett
“Educated” by Tara Westover
“Long Range” by C.J. Box
“Becoming” by Michelle Obama
“A Minute to Midnight” by David Baldacci
“The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides
“Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate

“We also have a lot of really cool digital programs that we are getting ready to launch, including a series that highlights local farmers and food production, as well as mindfulness, online storytime, and so much more,” said Margaret Kensinger-Klopfer, coordinating librarian, youth services County of San Luis Obispo Public Libraries.

For more information and to keep up to date on programs, check out the County of SLO Public Libraries social media pages on Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram.