Looking for a book? Google now tells you if it's at your library as an ebook

The new feature works with public library ebook systems.
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If you search for a book on Google, the results will now tell you if there's a free ebook version available at your local library.

Google rolled out the new feature this week. How does it work?

Search for a book on Google – like, say, What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, the debut novel of Minnesota author Lesley Nneka Arimah that just got nominated for a big award.

On desktop, scroll down and you'll see a "Borrow ebook" section right underneath buying options. (You'll need to punch in a ZIP code.)

If you're on mobile, you need to click the "Get book" tab – and again, you'll get nearby library ebooks along with purchase options.

Click the link and it'll take you to that library's digital page where you can sign in and get your book immediately (or place it on hold if it's popular).

You can read the book right on your phone, tablet, computer or sometimes ebook reader, so it can be pretty convenient if you don't want to wait.

A few drawbacks

New books are expensive – so being able to access them for free is obviously a plus (especially if you're a young adult, since you're more likely to read than others).

But the new feature isn't all-encompassing.

Google's library results tool is only for ebooks. It won't show you options to borrow a physical book at a local library, so if you prefer a hardback, you'll have to go to your library's specific site.

The tool also appears tied specifically to Overdrive (aka the Libby app) – an ebook system that's used by a lot, but not all, public libraries. It also means books you can get through other ebook collections (like the 3M Cloud Library) won't show up.

GoodEReader notes it's not clear if this is because there's some exclusive Overdrive-Google partnership, or if other digital library systems will ultimately be added.

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