OverDrive Review

Before you take the fast lane onto OverDrive, you should slow down and read the signs.  Stay in cruise control, and we'll go over what's good and not-so-good about OverDrive.


  • Accessible in multiple formats — You can access OverDrive from their website on your desktop computer's web browser, or from their free app for mobile devices.

  • Join the club… it's free! — All that you need to access OverDrive is a valid library card or student ID.  You can create an OverDrive account, too, and you only need your name, email address, and a password for it.  No money, credit card details, or other financial information is required.

  • Lots of content available — OverDrive has over 2 million media files from over 5000 different publishers available.  They have audio books, e-books, videos, music, newspapers, magazines, and more!

  • The heavy lifting is handled for you — Most files on OverDrive can be accessed right in the system through OverDrive's built-in media players.  This means that you often won't have to download or install any extra programs in order to watch a video, listen to music, or read an e-book.  However, if you do have media player programs installed (such as Adobe Digital Editions or the OverDrive app), you can download files and enjoy them without having to log into OverDrive every time.

  • Always return on time — Files that you borrow or download from OverDrive will automatically delete or deactivate themselves when your lending period is up, so you'll never have to worry about late fees.  Plus, some items don't need to be returned at all!


  • Results may vary — Each network of libraries or schools has its own digital collection on OverDrive.  This means that certain collections will have particular items that other collections may not have.  Unless you have access to multiple collections at once, you may need to recommend that your school or library pick up a copy of a certain item that you want.

  • This may not compute — Certain items on OverDrive are only available for download in specific file formats.  This means that they may not work properly on certain devices; this has been noted to be especially true with Apple products.  You may need to simply view or listen to the item on OverDrive itself, or else request that your library find a compatible version.  Fortunately, you can modify your searches on OverDrive to only find items that are compatible with the devices that you own.

  • The clock is ticking — Like traditional libraries, OverDrive only lends most files to you for a certain length of time.  Once the lending period is up, these files are programmed to automatically remove themselves from your account, or — if you've downloaded them — to stop working on the services that you're using to access them.  If you wish to access them again, you must ask to borrow them again.

The bottom line: 8.5/10

OverDrive may not be as flashy a website as its name implies, but it does its job well.  It's easy to access, and has lots of different media content available that you can search for or browse through.  You can enjoy what you find right on OverDrive, or download a copy of a file and take it with you on another device or program.  Plus, OverDrive is completely free to use.  You won't be charged any money to access it or sign up for an account, and you will never be fined late fees because most items that you borrow will automatically return themselves when your lending time expires.

The main downside to OverDrive is that your choice of what you can enjoy — or how you can enjoy it — is limited by what titles your specific school or library chain has access to, or what formats of those titles are available.  And, like a real-life library, you can't purchase, own, or keep most content that you get from OverDrive; you can only borrow it.  The content will automatically delete itself from your account or stop working after your lending period is up, and you'll have to borrow it again.

Overall, though, OverDrive is a convenient tool for accessing resources at your local library from the comfort of your own home, without a whole lot of red tape or technological complications.  It's great for those who want to read books or watch movies for a certain amount of time and then return them, rather than have them hang around and take up space until one decides to get rid of them.