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Source: Auckland Council

Aucklander Sarid Olvera Anzures, originally from Tulancingo in Mexico, downloaded an eBook on her phone this month, unaware she had just borrowed the 10 millionth OverDrive eBook from Auckland Council Libraries.

She was delighted to learn her selection had made history.

With Sarid’s eBook loan, Auckland has become the first library system in the Southern Hemisphere and the fourth library system in the world to reach 10 million checkouts in OverDrive’s history.

Councillor Alf Filipaina, Chair of the Parks, Arts, Community and Events committee says: “It’s exciting to be a city of people who love to read. It seems eBooks were very popular during our first lockdown and I hope they are helpful again as we support each other through this second Level 3 lockdown.

“We congratulate Sarid on being part of this awesome milestone,” he says.

The title Sarid borrowed was The Warmth of Other Suns: the epic story of America’s great migration by Isabel Wilkerson which tells one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

Sarid says: “I read e-books because it means I don’t need to carry a big book with me everywhere I go. I just need my phone and nothing else. I borrowed it to help understand the Black Lives Matter movement and know more about African Americans. I am an immigrant myself and believe that by understanding others I’ll understand my own process better.

“I feel fortunate and thankful to be the 10 millionth eBook user in Auckland. Having greater access to the library has increased the amount of reading I am able to do. Where I come from, there’s only one public library in the whole city and the selection of books is far behind what Auckland Libraries offer. It meant we had to buy books and sometimes we couldn’t afford them,” she says.

Auckland Council Libraries’ customers have checked out an average of 8040 OverDrive eBooks and eAudiobook every day so far this year, with 270,000 eBook and eAudiobook titles to choose from.

The top five e-issues from January to June 2020 in Auckland this year were:

  •  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone eAudiobook
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone eBook
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
  • Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds
  • Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic: A Comedian’s Guide to Life on the Spectrum.

Every Aucklander can sample eBooks. It’s a simple process to sign up for a library membership and eBooks return themselves automatically at the end of the loan period.

Catherine Leonard, Auckland Council Libraries’ Head of Content and Discovery, says: “Auckland Libraries is a place for all. We work to support, educate, engage, entertain and connect individuals and communities. It’s very special to know that Sarid, herself an immigrant, found a book that helped her understand a struggle in a different part of the world and see connections with her own experience.

“When the Black Lives Matter movement gathered extra momentum after the death of George Floyd in May, we knew it was important to acknowledge and stand in support of those affected and to help people see how this translates to our own Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities in Aotearoa.  We curated booklists on related topics, and these titles and many others have been extremely popular with customers keen to learn more, understand the history and issues raised, and listen to the voices of those with lived experience.”