Despite their somewhat stuffy image, libraries have generally embraced new technology, with public Internet access and library catalogs stored on computer databases the norm. The ability to search a catalog online means we no longer have to traipse down to the local library to see if a book we're after is available or not. Now bookworms won't even have to physically go to the library to actually borrow a book with the news that more than 11,000 local libraries in the U.S. are set to lend eBooks that can be viewed on Kindle eReaders and devices running the Kindle app.
To borrow an eBook, all you'll need is a library card - which I hope you already have - and an Amazon account - which if you have a Kindle, you probably already have. Head to your local library's website, find the book you're after and select "Send to Kindle" to check out the book. This will redirect you to Amazon.com where you'll need to log into your account, whereupon the book can be downloaded to your device via W-Fi or transferred via USB - there's no 3G support.
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Borrowed books, which won't just include out-of-copyright works like a similar Kindle book borrowing service at the British library, will function just like any Kindle eBook. Facebook and Twitter integration will work, while notes, highlights, bookmarks and last page read will synch across devices with Whispersync and remain backed up if you decide to borrow the book again at a later date or buy it. Aside from the ability to scribble notes in books to your heart's content without fear of recrimination, borrowing eBooks also means no more late fees for books you've misplaced.
The library lending system is powered by Overdrive, a distributor of digital content to 15,000 public and school libraries worldwide. More than 11,000 of these are in the U.S., which are seeing the rollout of the new service in BETA now. To see if your local library is one of them you can do a search here.