This guide helps you understand how library e-books work and how to access them.
Where you can find e-books
The best place to find individual e-books is LibrarySearch Digital. This shows you only the Library's digital resources, which include most of our e-books.
Have a look at our e-book collections as well, because:
- a few of our e-books are not included in LibrarySearch
- e-book collections are great for browsing, especially for books within subject areas.
Read online or download
Choose Read online rather than Download to make sure as many people as possible can access our books.
For some e-books, the number of people who can access them at the same time is limited. Downloading is like borrowing a book. While it's on your device it won't be available for anyone else to use, even while you're not reading it.
If you can't work online, you can download the e-book to your own device. You may need specific software or an app, for example:
- Adobe Digital Editions - software for PCs and Macs
- BlueFire Reader - app for tablets and smartphones.
Download e-books to a PC or Mac
When you download e-books from some providers to a PC or Mac, you will be asked to download e-reader software, for example Adobe Digital Editions.
Opening an e-book on multiple devices
To read the same e-book in Adobe Digital Editions on multiple devices you need to an Adobe ID (signing up is free). Each device must be activated using the same Adobe ID.
When you download the book, it creates a .acsm file in the ‘Download’ area on your computer. When you open this file you will see a pop-up window that says 'Authorize Your Computer'.
- Set the ‘eBook Vendor’ dropdown to Adobe ID
- Enter your Adobe ID and password
- Click Authorize
Do not tick ‘I want to authorize my computer without an ID.’ It would tie the book to the device and you wouldn’t be able to access it on other devices.
When you open the e-book on another device you need to sign in with the same Adobe ID again to authorise the new device to access the book.
If you have tied the e-book to one device by authorizing without an ID you need to erase the authorisation from the device:
- open Adobe Digital Editions
- from the ‘Help’ menu choose Erase Authorisations.
Downloading e-books to a tablet or mobile
On iOS and Android devices you need the Bluefire Reader app, which is free from the App Store and Google Play. You need an Adobe ID to use Bluefire Reader.
Printing from e-books
Most e-books will only allow you to print from the 'Read online' view, not from a download. For copyright reasons you can usually only print 10% or one chapter, whichever is the greater.
There are sometimes restrictions to reading and downloading library e-books depending on the publisher.
Limited user access
For some e-books, the number of people who can access them at the same time is limited. When this limit is reached, you'll be able to preview the e-book for 5 minutes or sometimes be given the option to be 'added to a queue'. You'll get an email when the e-book becomes available.
Don't choose the option to buy a copy.
Time limits on downloads (1-3 days)
Sometimes downloading an e-book is a bit like borrowing a physical book: only a limited number of people can download an e-book at the same time, so short download periods mean the book will be available to as many people as possible.
Find out all the ways you can get in touch: