E-books for kids are now free – with an NC library card

The N.C. Kids Digital Library now offers free e-books for library users across the state.
The N.C. Kids Digital Library now offers free e-books for library users across the state.

Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the state legislature last year, library users across North Carolina now have free access to 3,700 e-books and other online materials for kids.

Library officials announced the launch of the N.C. Kids Digital Library on Wednesday. The project was led by the State Library and the N.C. Public Library Directors Association with money set aside by legislators in last year’s budget.

Here’s how it works: Go to and log in using a library card number from one of the state’s 85 library systems. You’ll then be able to browse a collection of 3,029 e-books, 689 audiobooks and 37 streaming videos – all intended for kids from preschool age to fourth grade.

About 300 of the titles are available anytime, while users might encounter a waiting list to read the others – copyright rules require libraries to limit the number of people who can access a specific e-book at the same time. The system lets users borrow five items at a time, with borrowing periods ranging from a week to three weeks.

The e-books can be read using an app called OverDrive that’s available on smart phones, tablets, computers and various electronic devices.

A check of the collection Wednesday showed lots of popular titles available, from “Harry Potter” to “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” to “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Library officials say the new service will improve kids’ access to literature and educational resources.

“Having these resources available through the public libraries – which are open year-round and hours schools aren’t open – mean we’re available to assist students when schools are not open,” Jennifer Sackett, vice president of the N.C. Public Library Directors Association and director of the Lincoln County Library, said in a news release.

North Carolina library users already have access to e-books, magazines, newspapers and other materials for adults and teens through the N.C. Live service. And individual library systems, including Wake County, offer e-book collections of their own.