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this is how library apps work in Spain

Reading books on your mobile or tablet can be as simple and free as opening the applications that the Spanish library network offers in the app stores: eBiblio and Biblio Digital. With both it is possible access to the loan of books from the device and also to their reading.

With mobiles we can do almost everything, they seem devices that have no limits. From watching movies to listening to music; going through access to web pages and even teleworking. With so much versatility, Why not also use them to read books? There are many, but not so many, reading apps that offer access to a large number of current volumes legally and at no cost. eBiblio and Biblio Digital are two options to consider.

Both applications are official of the Spanish network of libraries. Depending on the autonomous community you have to use one or the other; although both give access to a similar book catalog, also to audiobooks (and movies). Anyone can use them as long as they meet a requirement: have a library card.

First steps: how to open an account in eBiblio and Biblio Digital

Biblio Digital Ebiblio Left, eBiblio; right, Biblio Digital

First things first: since the two applications in question belong to the municipal library network, You must have a library card to gain access to eBiblio or Biblio Digital. If you already had it, and depending on the Autonomous Community, you can start the registration process in the applications. Otherwise you should go to your nearest library and get your card. What’s more, Take the opportunity to sign up for eBiblio or Digital Biblio.

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The library network has two official applications, each one with support for certain Autonomous Communities. So, to know which one you should download, you must take into account the Communities for which eBiblio and Biblio Digital are compatible:

  • Digital Biblio: Catalonia.
  • eBiblio: Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Ceuta, Valencian Community, Extremadura, Galicia, Balearic Islands, La Rioja, Madrid, Melilla, Murcia and Navarra.

The eBiblio application was renamed Biblio Digital at the time that the library network developed a new app with another developer (Odilo is the company that was behind the old Biblio Digital and that develops Biblio Digital; De Marque, creator of the mythical reader Aldiko , is the current eBiblio developer). With the changes, the service has been notably deteriorated since loan failures are constant, the disappearance of the reserves and even of the books pending reading.

Both applications offer an excellent service when they work well since they give access to the digitized catalog of the libraries directly on the mobile or tablet. The apps are valid for Android and also for iOS: you just have to know the Autonomous Community to download one or the other.

Biblio Digital Ebiblio Left, eBiblio; right, Biblio Digital

Once you have the app that belongs to you on your device, and you already have a library card, you will have to sign up for the application. You only need to enter your card details and the password that the library has given you to access its digital services (Internet connection in the library itself, for example). In the event that you do not have this information, you will have to come to ask for it. There are also Communities that allow you to obtain the registration directly from eBiblio.

How does the book loan service work?

Biblio Digital Ebiblio Booking and reading a sample in the eBiblio app

Although the two applications have different names and developers, their operation and interface are very similar. And they maintain the classic mechanics of libraries: You can get a digital loan to read the book on your mobile or tablet during the time established for said loan (three weeks); as long as the book is available, just like a physical library.

Up to three weeks per loan and a maximum of four simultaneous books per person

The applications have a vast catalog of books; plus a selection of magazines, newspapers, movies and audiobooks. Through eBiblio and Biblio Digital you can access any of the titles, always following the following mechanics:

  • Find the book you want. To do this, you can let yourself be advised by the suggestions or search directly for the title or author in the search box, through the ‘Search’ tab.
  • Once the book is located you can reserve it or borrow it. Everything will depend on whether it is available or not: if ‘Lend’ does not appear, you must get in line and wait for your turn. To do this, click on ‘Reserve’.
  • All the books you have borrowed appear in the ‘My books’ or ‘Bookshelf’ tab. From there you can read them whenever you want: both eBiblio and Biblio Digital are a practical electronic book.
  • You have three weeks to read each book. Like a physical library, books are loaned for a limited time. This digital copy expires three weeks after receiving the loan; although you can return it before each title to avoid waiting for the next reader in the row. To do this, click on the three menu points of each book and on ‘Return loan’.
  • You have a maximum of four simultaneous books on loan. After the fourth book on your shelf, you must return the loan of one before accessing the next.
Biblio Digital Ebiblio From left to right: reservation, reservation list and loan. Digital Biblio

The operation of the loans is simple since, basically, it is identical to that of a traditional library. The eBiblio and Biblio Digital catalog has a limited number of digital copies circulating through readers on loan. For this reason, the most current books and bestsellers are more difficult to obtain, but it is only a matter of time. Once reserved, the reading turn comes at some point.

The best-selling and popular books are usually on loan, but sooner or later they are always released. You just have to reserve them and, while they are released, read other books with less demand. If they are very popular there will be no room for reservations

The e-book reader, soul of eBiblio and Biblio Digital

Biblio Digital Ebiblio eBiblio

So far we have seen that the two apps behave like a digital window to the library of a lifetime. But what happens when a book appears as a loan on the shelf? That the moment of turn digital pages with the built-in e-book reader.

Both eBiblio and Biblio Digital offer an adequate reading of the volumes on loan. Both applications allow you to customize the reading with different sizes and fonts, it is possible to vary the theme to adapt the experience to the light conditions and also save the reading point in order to return to the exact place where you stopped reading. You can also add notes and bookmarks and even look up words in the dictionary for which you don’t know the meaning. You just have to press and hold on the specific word (Biblio Digital offers the result directly, eBiblio Digital forces you to search for it among the options).

Biblio Digital Ebiblio Digital Biblio

Obviously, there is nothing like a tablet to read: its large screen makes reading much easier. Even so, the mobile is also suitable for the task, especially in those that have generous dimensions for the panel. And with an important detail: both Biblio Digital and eBiblio allow you to install the application on several devices at the same time. So you can read your books wherever you want; with your reading sync and bookmarks.

An endless catalog of entertainment at no cost

Biblio Digital Ebiblio 8 eBiblio

In times of pandemic, and with the difficulties that prevail in public spaces, having the library on the screen of the mobile or tablet supposes win a window anywhere in the world and without leaving home. You just have to choose the right book, open its pages and get carried away wherever the authors want.

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The apps offer books at no cost, even with a more than decent catalog of editorial news. It is true that the titles most in demand are those with the longest waiting list, but not for that reason they are impossible to read: you just have to wait. And while waiting there are thousands of other titles waiting, many of them better.

Biblio Digital Ebiblio Digital Biblio

Both eBiblio and Biblio Digital show notable problems: for a large number of users, apps often do not work, and neither does access to the network. At this point, administrations must be slapped on the wrist: with the excellent service they offer it is inadmissible not only that there is duplication of applications according to the Autonomous Community, also that the complaints of its users accumulate without being solved.

To access the reading of books, it is essential to have a library card and to register on the digital network. Afterwards, simply download the application that fits the territory of use: both offer a very similar experience, although we would say that Biblio Digital is above eBiblio.



Digital Biblio

Digital Biblio

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