Do you know that you are able to borrow eBooks from Singapore's National Library Board... and that there are more than 3.5 million titles in 4 languages at that??? I cannot believe I took so long to find out, but I'm happy to say it has really been a hassle-free way for the monkies to get hooked onto reading, especially since they are able to search for the books themselves and borrow them effortlessly!
Don't get me wrong - the eBooks are not going to replace the hard copy books at home any time soon. Rather, I see the eBooks as an alternative and complementary way to allow the monkies to read more. The electronic way is especially useful when it comes to travelling. Instead of having to lug many many books onto the plane or in the luggage, all I have to do is to borrow the titles from the eLibrary and I have more than enough eBooks to keep them entertained.
Each ebook lasts for 21 days and the beauty of the system is the ebook will automatically expire after that so there are no fines to worry about for overdue items! Plus, I save the trip of travelling down to the library.
So how does one get started on borrowing eBooks from NLB?
Firstly, you need to be a Singapore National Library member AND have a myLibrary ID. If are already a NLB member but do not have the myLibrary ID, you can sign up via online HERE.
If you are NOT a NLB member at all, you must first sign up to be one before having a myLibrary ID. Annual membership is free for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents but the latter will be charged a one-time registration fee of $10.50. Singaporeans can immediately sign up via online while PRs and foreigners have to head to the nearest NLB library to sign up.
Next, download the e-reader app onto your mobile devices.
There are two e-reader apps, depending on the language of books you wish to borrow. OverDrive is for English language books. Download from iTunes for Apple devices or Google Play for Android. Apabi is for Chinese language books.
I have only used OverDrive so far and once the sign-up and download processes have been completed, using the app is a breeze. Open the app, swipe the right menu to search for 'National Library Board Singapore' under My Libraries and add it to the menu.
Once added, tap on it and it will bring you to the main page of National Library Board Singapore. Log in with your myLibrary ID and password and you are good to go!
Click on the 'Browse Children's' tab at the main header and you will be able to browse both fiction and non-fiction books recommended for kids.
You can also filter the book selections by using the various filters on the left side of the screen, either by format type, subject, publisher or reading grade level.
You can also run a search of the eBooks you want at the top right hand corner of the screen. Notice the icon on the top right corner of each book thumbnail in the picture below?
The black book icon represents an eBook while a headphone icon represents an audio book. If the icon is light grey, it means that eBook is not currently available for borrowing, but you can choose to put it in your waiting list.
Tap on the desired eBook to view more details, and click on 'Borrow' to complete the process.
Did you notice the 'Available Formats' column on the right hand side of the screen in the above screenshot? There are 2 main formats available for each eBook - OverDrive Read and EPUB eBook. The former format can only be read in your browser, which means you need to have an internet connection in order to read the book.
If you wish to read the book OFFLINE, search for eBooks that come in the 'EPUB eBook' format which allows you to add the eBook into the OverDrive app so that kiddos can read the eBooks on a flight, on a roadtrip or basically anywhere in the world!
To access the added eBooks offline, click on the icon on the top left of the screen to bring up the main menu and tap on 'Bookshelf'.
All the eBooks that you had borrowed and available for offline reading will be here!
One can borrow up to 6 digital titles from Overdrive and another 6 digital titles from Apabi eBooks. But from now until 31 January 2016, NLB is doubling the number of ebooks that one can borrow. That's 12 eBooks each from Overdrive and Apabi!
Of course, not every hard copy book at the library has an eBook version but I would say the selection is pretty adequate... plus the chances of borrowing a popular eBook is much higher! There is no way I will stop bringing the monkies to the neighbourhood library but borrowing eBooks via a mobile device offers an alternative if you are short on time. With some of the eBooks incorporating multimedia elements such as video and sound, it is a fantastic way to get the young ones interested in reading.
And best of all, everything's FREE!