Chicago Libraries Are Still Open Online: Here’s How To Download Free Media Through CPL

Charli Renken Charli Renken

Chicago Libraries Are Still Open Online: Here’s How To Download Free Media Through CPL

“The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.” – T.S. Eliot

Chicago public libraries may be closed as part of the Stay at Home ordinance, but that doesn’t mean access to free media is gone with it. Chicagoans can still download free ebooks, audiobooks, movies, and more through the Chicago Public Library’s online resources. Here’s how to access this incredible free service.

Online resources are available for free to anyone with a Chicago Public Library card. Don’t have a library card? Not to worry, you can still get one online!


Photo by James Tarbotton on Unsplash

There are many ways to download books from the CPL. The two main options are through your web browser on the CPL website or through an app on your phone. Tou can even download library book right onto your Kindle! Here’s how:

CPL website

If you don’t have a smartphone or prefer to read on a computer, it’s easy to download books off the CPL website. Simply log on at chipublib.overdrive.com with your library card number and pin (initially your ZIP code) and search for the book you want. Once you find your book, select “borrow” or “place a hold.” You can even have most ebooks sent directly to your Kindle if you prefer by clicking on the Kindle tab at the top of the screen.

When you check out an ebook, you have the option of borrowing it for 7, 14, or 21 days. If the ebook you want is checked out by someone else, putting a hold on it will notify you of when the ebook is available to you.

Library Apps

You can also download library books from a number of smartphone apps like Overdrive, Libby, or Hoopla. If you’re only going to read ebooks, we recommend Libby, but if you want to access other media, Overdrive is your one-stop-shop for ebooks, audiobooks, movies, TV, comic books, and more.

Searching for and borrowing books is about the same on the app as it is online. Look up the ebook you want, borrow or place a hold, and start reading!



You don’t have to subscribe to Audible to listen to books online. The library has free audiobooks that can be just as easily downloaded through apps and on the CPL website. Simply download the app or log on to Overdrive, Libby, RBdigital Audiobooks, or Hoopla! The same principle applies for these resources; search for your book, borrow or put a hold on it, and download it when available!

Audiobooks are great to listen to while doing chores, going for walks, running, commuting (only if you must), and working out (inside).


Movies and TV

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Did you know you can download free movies and television from the library? You totally can! On Overdrive, open the Collections tab and click on “Videos” to find several different genres of film and television. On Hoopla, click on “Browse” and select movies or TV, search for what you want, and borrow or place a hold.



Magazines can be borrowed online through Flipster or RBdigital Magazines. The borrowing process applies with magazines; log on with you Library Card and PIN, search for your magazine, then borrow or place a hold on what you want.

Language Services

You can learn a new language online for free through CPL, too! Simply visit mangolanguages.com/find-mango, type in your zip code and select Chicago Public Libraries. From there, select Mango (or Little Pim for ages 3-6) and create a free account or log in as a guest. There are 50+ different languages to choose from including specific dialects of languages, Cherokee, and even Shakespearean English!

Public school students can also access Mango Classroom for free during school closures amid the coronavirus outbreak. Thanks, Mango!


Other Online Resources

The CPL has a variety of different public resources available for free online. Take free courses on computer skills, search for jobs, get homework help through Brainfuse, research public records, and more! Check out chipublib.org for more information and resources.


Feature photo: @bandatzmaru

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