• Mike Brown

What Can You Do with a Durham County Library Card?

Updated: Mar 30

Durham Magazine reminds us of ways the Durham County library system continues to provide services -- particularly to children -- even though the libraries remain closed to the public.


Over the past year, I've leveraged the library's online holdings like nobody's business. The Durham County Library subscribes to a lot of great services that are yours with only a library card.



The Durham Library's digital collections are rather staggering in their range. Be aware you'll have to download extra apps to your phone or tablet or TV devices. And pay attention to that table at the bottom of the Digital Collections page detailing each service's restrictions on loans and checkout periods; each service is different.


Don't get intimidated, though. Even if you think you're not tech-savvy, give it a try. Durham Library has a collection of video tutorials for many of their services. And, you can always call up the library support line or send an email asking for help on how to access or install these resources. They don't mind, really; librarians got into this field because they love helping people and answering questions.


Here's a sampling of what Durham County Library offers:

  • Durham County residents can get a temporary card online. You need a library card number and a four-digit PIN to unlock all the goodies hidden on the library site. Make this your first stop if you don't already have a card.

  • Use the web site's catalog to search for and reserve books and then reserve a time to pick them up. You can return books at any location at any time.

  • As the Durham Magazine post points out, there are lots and lots of online events for kids, and also events for adults ranging from book clubs to a Morning Crochet Club.

  • Download ebooks, audiobooks, graphic novels -- even movies -- from Hoopla.* Download the Hoopla app to your phone, tablet, TV device, and access using your library card ID and PIN.

  • Libby is another source for ebooks and audiobooks. Download the Libby app to your phone or tablet and access using your library card ID and PIN.

  • From Overdrive, borrow magazines like The New Yorker, Newsweek, The Atlantic, Cook's Magazine, Us, National Geographic, Popular Mechanics, knitting and craft magazines, Spanish-language magazines, health & fitness, sports, you name it. Hundreds of magazines, I tell you! Download the Overdrive app to your phone or tablet and access using your library card ID and PIN.

  • Other Movie & TV services: Acorn TV (British TV shows), IndieFlix, Just for Kids (educational shows).

  • If you like listening to lectures on history, art, science, health, literature, and more from some of the smartest scholars in the land, there are the Great Courses, via the RBdigital service.

  • If you want to learn how your new phone works, or graphic design, starting your own business, coding software -- whatever you desire -- there's LinkedIn Learning. Formerly Lynda.com, this is a fantastic service that is one of the best-kept secrets in librarydom. Tons of video tutorials on most any topic imaginable, though they're slanted toward business and consumer-level applications and interests. I used Lynda.com to learn more about my iPhone, how to edit a documentary I made in iMovie, and how to create accessible forms in Adobe Acrobat. A terrific, terrific resource for the self-starter.

  • Access to newspapers: The New York Times, Herald-Sun, News & Observer, and Wall Street Journal.

  • The Homegrown Ebooks Collection "contains more than 3,200 ebooks from a variety of North Carolina publishers. Includes popular and scholarly nonfiction, novels by well-known NC authors, and award-winning short fiction and poetry."

  • The library's Site Map goes on for ages! Scroll down to the "Find Materials" and "Research" bullets and marvel at how much quality info is available to you.

* Odd things about Hoopla: you can only borrow five Hoopla titles in a month and Durham County Library has a daily cap for total borrows by all its patrons. So, if you try to borrow a book at 11pm, you'll get an error message saying the daily limit has been reached. Definitely a weird thing, the first time I encountered it. The key here is to check books out as early in the day as possible. Yes, we live in the future, but even the future has limitations. Hoopla help here.

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