News & Politics  |  Things to Do

Libraries Closed for Covid? You Can Get Free E-Books Instead of Paying for Kindle

How public libraries lend digital books and movies in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

Washingtonian is keeping you up to date on the coronavirus around DC.

As DC-area public libraries announce extended closures, they are still offering many books and other media for free online. Here’s how to access what’s available:

Step One: Find your county’s library site
Here are a few major ones:


Step Two: Follow the steps to sign up online for a library card

Unless you already have one.

Step Three: Find out what’s available online

Most DC-area public libraries offer online databases, e-books, audiobooks, magazines, and movies and entertainment. There are also online games and puzzles through platforms like ABCmouse and BookFlix that you can access through your library’s website that offer educational entertainment.

Step Four: Download the necessary apps

Most local libraries use apps like OverDrive for downloading books. You’ll need to download the app on your phone and connect it to your local library using your library card information. From there, you’ll have access to hundreds of books from classics to new releases. Fair warning: there might be a waitlist if you’re looking to read the hottest new books.

Streaming platforms and apps you might have access to through your library include Hoopla, Kanopy, and Acorn TV. It’s the same deal: connect through your county’s library website, download the apps, and enjoy on a digital device. Most rental platforms allow unlimited watches during the borrowing time period but limit how many titles you can check out monthly.

Don’t forget, a lot of classic books are in the public domain and free to download on your preferred e-books app if you don’t have easy access to a library.


Emma Francois is an editorial fellow at Washingtonian covering everything from food to fashion. She graduated from Georgetown University and has previously worked for USA Today, the Georgetown Voice, and the Chautauquan Daily.