How to borrow e-books from the National Library Board

Photo illustration of a person looking at NLB's e-book page on a desktop computer. These e-books have rocketed in popularity.
Photo illustration of a person looking at NLB's e-book page on a desktop computer. These e-books have rocketed in popularity.PHOTO: ST FILE

E-books have rocketed in popularity with Singaporeans, according to the latest figures from the National Library Board (NLB). 

The number of e-books borrowed from the library has almost quadrupled in the past five years, reaching five million last year. 

If you are wondering how to access the library's electronic resources, here is a quick guide. 

It is a bit fiddly when you start out as you have to create an online account as well as download and install apps in order to read the e-books. But after the initial hassle, you can access more than 3.5 million titles in four languages. 

1. Create a myLibrary ID at the National Library Board's website

This service is for NLB members, so you may need to sign up for membership first before accessing it. Annual membership is free for Singaporeans and permanent residents but the latter will be charged a one-time registration fee of $10.50. 

The online account is activated immediately using a one-time password sent via SMS, so you will need a mobile phone to register. 

You can read e-books online immediately. 

2. Download an e-reader app

You will need to download an e-reader app if you want to read your books on your mobile devices. These apps allow you to download the e-books so you can read them offline. The e-books will be automatically deleted after three weeks. 


There are two e-reader apps which support NLB's digital loans. 

OverDrive is for English language books. Download from iTunes for Apple devices or Google Play for Android. Once you have downloaded OverDrive, you need to go to the app's menu and add the NLB under My Libraries in order to access the collection. 

Apabi is for Chinese language books. Download from iTunes for Apple device or this website for Android. 

3. Log in to NLB's website

After you have created your myLibrary account and downloaded the apps, you need to log in to the NLB website to start borrowing items. After you have borrowed items, it will take a couple of minutes for the items to show up in the apps. You can then download and read your e-books. 

The e-books account is great for voracious readers. You can borrow up to 12 items in the e-books account, in addition to eight physical items from the libraries. 

The children's e-books are a good way to introduce kids to reading via devices as some of the titles include multi-media elements such as video and sound.