City News

Sydney libraries get free, paperless books

Scientist and author Susan Greenfield. Photo: Rob Judges/Rex Features

In a boon for Sydney bookworms, e-books have arrived at City of Sydney Council libraries, with more than 1,000 titles across a range of genres now available to loan.

With no limit on how many titles can be borrowed, and no reservations required, the titles are available 24/7 and are automatically ‘returned’ when the borrowing period ends.

“Because they’re digital, e-books don’t take up shelf space, are instantly available around the clock, and automatically return when the two-week borrowing period is up,” said a City of Sydney spokesperson.

“Readers can also select their favourite font size and some devices can be read in the dark.

“When an e-book’s loan period expires after two weeks, the title disappears from the member’s online book shelf – meaning there’s no chance of an overdue charge.”

If a member hasn’t finished the e-book, they can simply re-download the title and it will automatically return to the last page they were reading.

The spokesperson said physical books would not be disappearing from the City’s nine library branches anytime soon but a gradual decrease in the City’s 400,000-strong hard copy collection would free up libraries for other uses.

“The City already uses its libraries for more than just books, with a regular series of workshops, talks, reading events and children’s activities.

“The Late Night Library program has also been an overwhelming success: more than 6,994 people have attended about 115 fun and thought-provoking events since it was established in 2011.”

To access the free, digital titles, library members must install the Blue Fire Reader application and visit the City’s online library catalogue, which can be found at

Popular titles since the service was launched in August include romance novel The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, The Abomination by crime writer Jonathon Holt and the classic Andersen’s Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen.

Science fiction novel 2121: A Tale from the Next Century by Susan Greenfield is the library service’s most downloaded book to date.


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