Free Audiobooks + EBooks for Military Families DOD MWR Libby App, Harris County, & Overdrive | Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 79

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Military servicemembers and their dependents can access the entire DOD MWR Library at https://dodmwrlibraries.org/ and through the Libby App by Overdrive. This allows free access to audiobooks and ebooks that can be delivered to your Kindle.

Harris County in Houston Texas also allows all US military servicemembers worldwide access to their online library at https://hcpl.net/military-library-card/

Finally, your local public library probably also provides free access to audiobooks and ebooks through the Libby app.

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode #79 Links

Outline of Episode:

  • The easiest way to sign up and create an account with DOD MWR library
  • What can you do with the Libby App?
  • Harris County Public Library
  • Checking out your local library

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode #79 Transcript

[00:00:00] Spencer: This free MWR library through the Department of Defense is available to all service members and their families from all branches, and has a huge database of books and audiobooks, including the hottest new releases and timeless classics. It's an easy way to continue learning and growing. Whether you like reading on your Kindle or listening to audiobooks on the way to work.

[00:00:42] Jamie: Welcome back listeners. I'm Jamie. I'm here with Spencer, the founder of militarymoneymanual.com. Today we're going to share three ways to get free access to library databases for military members and their families.

First, we're going to talk about the DOD MWR library. Second, the Harris County Public Library, and third, your local library. You can use all of them to maximize your benefits too. And between these options, you'll likely be able to find any bestseller, military history topics, leadership, self-help, and even pop culture, magazines, movies, and music if you want that as well.

[00:01:14] Spencer: Yeah, Jamie, this is one of my favorite benefits of active duty service, and it continues at least for a couple of years after you leave active duty. My wife and I are still reaping the benefits of the DOD MWR library as a veteran right now. Authorized patrons of the DOD MWR library include active duty military, so that's the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, members of the reserve components, and the National Guard, retired military, including retired from the reserves and guard.

Medal of Honor eligible family members who are officially sponsored. So basically any dependents and DOD and Coast Guard civilians. So lots of opportunities there to become an authorized patron of the DOD MWR library. 

Jamie, what's the easiest way to sign up and create an account?

[00:02:02] Jamie: So you're going to want to go to the website, DOD MWR, like morale, welfare, recreation, DODMWRlibraries.org. And then once you're there, you click on “login” at the top right of the window, you'll be prompted to enter your DOD ID number, which is found on your CAC as well as your birthdate. And if they appear in the system, you'll be good to go. If not, you might be prompted to enter the last four digits of your social just to verify that you should have access to the system.

[00:02:35] Spencer: So pretty easy process to sign up for, which is one of the things that I really love about this because I used to have this system called Overdrive and it was a pain in the butt. You had to go in person and you had to download all these things and go to all these websites and type in, six-digit hex codes and everything.

But it's so much simpler now. So you just sign up DODMWRlibraries.org, and then you can go and download the Libby app that's available on Android, iPhones, Apple. Probably other products as well. 

What does that look like in the app store? Is it just Libby, Jamie?

[00:03:12] Jamie: It's the Libby app, but I think the official name might still be Libby by Overdrive, but they just got rid of the Overdrive support, so I'll look that up while we're talking. But Libby, and it's a really smooth app. Very easy to use. 

Yeah, it's still called Libby by Overdrive. And you can also use it online from your browser at Libbyapp.com if you prefer to have just a bigger screen or better keyboard or whatever.

And basically you can put books on hold, you can reserve books or audiobooks, and there's a lot of ways to use it. One of my favorite ways is to get a book and to send it to my Kindle, so you can link your Amazon Kindle account and from the Libby app when you check out a book digitally. Then you can send it to your Kindle app and it'll show up on your Kindle reader, your iPhone or Android app, Kindle app on your phone.

It makes it really smooth. And then if you do audiobooks, you can check out the audiobooks right in the Libby app, and then you can listen to them right in the app on your drive to work or while you're riding the train or going for a walk whenever you like to do your audiobooks.

[00:04:14] Spencer: Yeah, that's awesome. I'm just looking right now. In the last two or three years, my wife and I have borrowed 176 books.

We've placed holds on I think it says 124, but it's really great because you can go back and you can look at your history too. So let's see what I was reading. In February, I checked out a book about Benjamin Franklin, an autobiography. Then there are some David Baldacci books in here, that’s probably mother-in-law reading those.

And then Rick Steves Italy for Food Lovers. Mother-in-law is definitely planning a trip to Italy there. Here's January, here's some sci-fi books that I checked out. So the amazing thing about this is if it's available at the library, it's probably going to be available on the Libby app.

And like you were saying, Jamie they've made it really easy now to send it to your Kindle. So I've just pulled it up here. You just click borrow. And then once the book is actually borrowed, you just say, read with Kindle or send a Kindle, and then it's going to open up Amazon and it's going to link all through Amazon.

And then you just open up your Kindle, turn your airplane mode off, make sure you're connected to the wifi, and then it hit sync. And then the book will show up in your library and then you can download it to your Kindle. They've made it super easy. I've read a ton of books on this, and the one thing I really love is that you can do highlights.

And then you can export your highlights as well. And depends on the book. Sometimes they restrict it. I think 10% of the book can't be highlighted.

[00:05:38] Jamie: That's a lot though. I've never hit that limit.

[00:05:40] Spencer: Yeah. You know what I think on some books they make it even smaller, like 3%.

So I have hit that limit before. 

[00:05:46] Jamie: I was just looking at my history. And I've hit 168 books checked out and 137 holds over the years. And we're talking about anything from Dave Ramsey books, to my son will read Chronicles a Narnia or Harry Potter kind of stuff, to self-help for me. Marriage books, spiritual or religious topics, they literally have almost anything in here.

And you can also suggest a book to the library in the app. If the DOD library hasn't paid for it, you can ask them to consider adding it to their library, which is really cool.

[00:06:21] Spencer: That's great. Yeah, I really think that's a huge benefit. If you're deployed, get on the Libby app, download some books.

Make yourself better. You can even listen to The Military Money Manual. It's on audiobook there, so check that out. That's pretty cool. That's awesome. So that's the Libby app, Jamie. 

Then I just heard about this thing on Reddit the other day, the Harris County Public Library. So that's basically the county that Houston, Texas is in that offers a free library card to every single active duty service member who signs up.

So that's a tremendous benefit there. I read this on, I think it was R/Air Force on the Air Force Reddit. But if you're an active duty military personnel, you can download media from the Harris County database. It's very easy to sign up for a card. So if you're in Harris County, which I don't think there's a whole lot of bases there, you can just go pop into any public library and they'll give you a library card.

But they also have set up a website, so it's hcpl.net/military-library-card. Easiest way to find it is “Harris County Military Library Card”. Just google that and it'll probably be the first link and you can go on there and you can sign up on their page and they will even let you use an APO address or FPO address.

So that's a tremendous benefit, especially if you're deployed, if you're stationed overseas, you can access the entire digital Harris County Public Library database. And again, I think it's through the Libby app, is how they have it set up. But I'm not actually sure about that.

[00:07:58] Jamie: That's awesome. What a neat benefit.

And then the third one, Spencer, that we use a ton here is our local library. So the county that we're in has, I don't know, five or six branches and we go to, depending on where we're at in town, they'll be able to transfer books between branches and obviously the kids like to go in there and just pick out books.

And whether it's an 11, 7 or 3 year old, there's something for everyone including us. And honestly, I took my son on a road trip a couple weeks ago to a family event. And I checked out like a T-Mobile wifi puck for him at the library for free so he could have a hotspot in the car. And he plays Brawl Stars and Minecraft and Fortnite and these games and I don't always like to have to turn my hotspot on my phone on and off while I'm driving, so I just set it up for him. And our library provided that for free for the week. And that's a really neat benefit. 

The local libraries also have events and summer camps or reading kinds of events where you can pop in and they'll have someone read to you or your kids.

Story time is probably the word I'm looking for. So your local library is definitely something you're going to want to check out if you haven't dug into that yet. And usually they're free funded by your tax dollars to your local economy.

[00:09:07] Spencer: Fantastic. Yes, I love libraries. I am still a part of the Hawaii State Public Library system, so that's one tip that I'll offer is when you're using the Libby app and if you search for a book and either there's a wait list or it's not available at a library, you can very easily now switch between databases and you can search another database. So usually I start with the DOD MWR library. That one is pretty extensive, with some really great audiobooks available in there. And if it's not available there, or there's a long wait list, I'll switch to the Hawaii State Public Library system.

And again, if you're stationed in Hawaii, you can just go into any of your local branches and you can probably even sign up online now, but you can definitely go into your local branch and you can sign up for a Hawaii State library card. 

Growing your knowledge with reading on the journey to financial independence is so important. I know for myself, pivotal books early on in my career, like the Little Book of Common Sense Investing by Jack Bogle, Random Walk Down Wall Street, Simple Path to Wealth. These books really shaped my entire life because they've enabled me to save and invest in such a way that financial independence is not just possible, but was possible in a very short period of time.

And you can pick up a lot of these resources completely free through resources like the DOD MWR library, The Harris County Public Library System, and your local public library, so there's really no excuse. Get out there, sign up for these services, and download some of these audio books. Send some of these books to your Kindle.

You can save, I would say conservatively, probably thousands of dollars just on the cost of the book, but really just reading one book can pay back thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Or can increase your quality of life significantly. So don't wait. Go sign up for these services and get some of these books onto your Kindle or your audiobook.

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