Berks County Public Libraries expand digital collection with ARPA funds

The Berks County Public Library System recently purchased 864 new eBook and eAudiobook titles which were added to the countywide digital collection on OverDrive.

The newly acquired titles represent the first of two significant purchases to increase the number of electronic materials available using federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

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The library system received approximately $100,000 of ARPA funds which were made available through the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Office of Commonwealth Libraries (OCL) to support long-term work and library recovery in Pennsylvania.

“The library directors met and discussed the best application of ARPA funds. Where did they see a need? What would serve as a long-term benefit to the community?” said BCPL System Administrator Amy Resh.

“They considered a number of factors and ultimately decided the community would receive the most benefit by expanding our shared digital collection with permanent titles.”

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While interest in digital content resulted in a year-over-year increase in digital circulation for Berks County cardholders prior to 2020, pandemic-related closures directed many avid library patrons along with new users to further explore the digital library collection.

In 2019, nearly 112,000 books were borrowed through the OverDrive platform. That number increased by more than 50% the following year, resulting in over 175,000 checkouts of electronic materials, and in 2021, Berks County cardholders consumed nearly 182,000 digital titles.

Stephanie Williams, the deputy administrator and outreach services coordinator for BCPL, curated the list of digital titles that would further develop the collection, focusing primarily on diverse experiences and themes in literature.

“We’ve increased the number of books available in our digital platform over the last several years, but patrons are hungry for more,” said Williams.

“The ARP funds will go a long way to helping grow our already robust collection of electronic materials. We’ve added books for various audiences so that patrons will be able to browse more than 28,400 titles to find something they can enjoy and connect with.”

eBook and eAudiobook readers alike will find titles by new and favorite authors such as: Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim, Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà Lai, How to Draw Manga! by Tadashi Koda, The Butler by Danielle Steele, and the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.

Berks County Public Library cardholders can borrow these and other books on desktop or through the Libby app for mobile devices and tablets. Instructions on getting started with your library’s digital collection are available online at:

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