Military members and their families can access free ebooks and audiobooks through the various digital libraries available to each service. As you can imagine, this is one of my favorite military resources! I happen to have an account with the Navy, Air Force, and Army libraries (all of which were freely offered to me as I tried to get an Army library account while my husband was working on a Navy base. Yay for joint bases!) For those of you not in the service and still reading this post, don’t despair – there’s a good chance your library participates in OverDrive. Check the site to see if your library system is included. My library here in Virginia Beach is on, and so is my mom’s in Indiana and my mother-in-law’s in Massachusetts. You can transfer books you’ve checked out on OverDrive onto your Kindle (not available for all books), tablet, or phone, and I think you can also read them in your browser. I use the OverDrive app on my iPad to do the majority of my reading – you’ll need a free Adobe ID in order to read any books in epub format.
Log on to your Navy Knowledge Online (NKO) account (or ask your spouse to do so) and go directly to the NKO – E-Library – Audio & Ebooks page. Click the OverDrive button that says “Download” located at the top right of the page. (These directions are taken from my Navy OverDrive login page; if there are any errors, I apologize – I can’t confirm them myself because I don’t have an NKO account.) Here is the tutorial to take you through each step. The Navy has a huge selection of ebooks and audiobooks available to check out. I use the OverDrive app on my iPad to read books (you will need a free Adobe account to do this). Currently, you’re allowed to check out up to 10 items and have 10 items on hold.
Air Force Library:
I know the least about the Air Force Library system. I was emailed a login to the site after contacting a librarian at Ft. Eustis about an Army library account. I did find this handy reference for how to set up an account if you have an @us.af.mil email address. The Air Force collection seems to be the smallest of the three, although I did find some books I was looking for there that weren’t on any other sites. You’re allowed to check out up to 5 items and have 5 items on hold.
The Army Library is my favorite, mainly because they order a lot of books in advance of their publication date, which means less wait time for me to get new books in my hands. If you are deployed or geographically separated from an Army library (like I was), go here to get an account. Otherwise, I believe you need to go to an Army library in person (yes, I know that’s kind of a pain, but do it – it’s worth the trouble, they have a fantastic catalog). It’s possible there’s a way to get to OverDrive through your Army Knowledge Online account, but I can’t find those instructions. You’re allowed to check out up to 10 items and have 10 items on hold.
I’m sure all the branches have multiple resources like the Army does, but you’ll have to go dig them up on your own. Here is a great page listing all the eResources and research tools available to you if you have an Army library account. I haven’t had great luck with OneClickDigital, either in ease of use or content, but do take special note of the Mango language resources as well as Zinio, which gives you access to many different magazines for free.