app talk: Check out the Harris County Public Library app – and free books, music, and audiobooks

San Jac’s library has many of the books you need, and transformed spaces that makes collaboration and study easier than ever. Still, the free apps from Harris County Public Library (HCPL) are available on iTunes and Google Play, and a worthwhile addition to your Android tablet or iPhone.


If you qualify for a library card  (proof of your Harris County mailing address is needed when you apply), the HCPL app will help you make the most of your time in the library. It makes it easy to not only search the library catalog, and renew your books, but also place requests for favorite books and DVDs. If you’ve always wanted to read a copy of “Twilight” – but not pay for it – this app will allow you to reserve a copy, or “get in line” behind other patrons. (The app will tell you, for instance, that if you want to read John Green’s recent best-seller “The Fault in Our Stars,” there are 18 copies available and 541 other patrons waiting to read it.)

HCPL Mobile also features a eMedia section letting you search through their online, virtual collection. If you have space to download additional apps – HCPL has partnered with Overdrive and OneClickdigital, to make it possible for you to  remotely check out audiobooks and print books. The available formats include Amazon Kindle, Adobe EPUB, OverDrive Read, MP3, or Windows Media Audio format. The Overdrive Media Console app and OneClickdigital  eBook and eAudio app are also both available on Google Play and iTunes as free downloads; eBook can be used on the Kindle Fire, and eAudio can also be used with the Nook, or downloaded to a desktop computer. 

overdrive                                   oneclick

There are limitations; some books shared by the library exist in only one or two formats, and not another; if you’re used to reading a Kindle-formatted book, but if the book you want is in EPUB, you may have to download a different app to read it, such as the Aldiko Book Reader.

Still, if you enjoy reading, or listening to, the latest book, the HCPL apps are a surprisingly robust method of connecting with your local library.