Overdrive FAQ

OverDrive FAQ

How do I sign into OverDrive? / How do I access OverDrive?

OverDrive powers the CW MARS Digital Catalog. You can access the digital catalog by going to cwmars.overdrive.com.

You can sign into OverDrive with your CW MARS library card.

  1. Go to cwmars.overdrive.com
  2. Click Sign In located in the top right.
  3. Make sure your library choice displays as CW MARS Patrons.
  4. Enter your CW MARS library card number, (without any spaces or dashes).
  5. Enter your CW MARS My Account password.
  6. Click Sign In.

Click here to reset your password.

CW MARS OverDrive Login Page Image

How do I access the CW MARS Digital Catalog from OverDrive's Libby app?

  1. Download the Libby app for iOS or Android and open it up. When asked if you have a library card, click Yes.
  2. Then click I'll Search For A Library.
  3. On the next page, type in CW MARS and select CW MARS from the list.
  4. Click Enter Library Account Details.
  5. On the next page, enter your CW MARS library card number, (without spaces or dashes) and click Next. Enter your CW MARS My Account password. Click Sign In, then Next. You can now search the CW MARS Digital Catalog.
Step 1: Select you have a library card
Step 1
Step 2: Search for library
Step 2
Step 3: Select CW MARS
Step 3
Step 4 and 5: Enter barcode
Steps 4-5

For more help with Libby, check out OverDrive's Libby help guides available here.

What are the lending policies for OverDrive titles?

ebooks, audiobooks and magazines can be borrowed for 7, 14 or 21 days. The default is 14 days.

streaming video can be borrowed for 3, 5 or 7 days. The default is 5 days.

Patrons can change the default by logging into their account settings at cwmars.overdrive.com

Patrons can borrow up to 10 titles at a time and place up to 10 holds. Magazines are always available.

Some titles may have set lending times that are different than the defaults.

Can I access OverDrive content without a library card number? (OverDrive Instant Digital Card)

Sign UP for an IDC Prompt

Yes. Although we generally encourage patrons to visit their local library to receive a physical card, we understand this isn’t always possible.

OverDrive allows access to the CW MARS OverDrive collection through the Instant Digital Card (IDC).

Instant Digital Cards are for patrons who can not get to the library right away. It most cases, they are a temporary measure for accessing OverDrive.

We hope you will visit your local library and turn your Instant digital card into a full library card when given the chance. This will give you access to additional local e-content and physical materials.

See Can I obtain an OverDrive Instant Digital Card if I already have a Library Card below for more details.

Can I obtain an OverDrive Instant Digital Card if I already have a Library Card?

We strongly discourage signing up for an Instant Digital Card if you already have a Library Card number from a CW MARS library.

Pros of a Physical Card

  • Access to physical material from across CW MARS and the state.
  • Access to other networks' OverDrive catalogs through LEA (see What is "LEA"? below for more details).
  • Access to Statewide Databases.
  • Access to databases and additional e-resources provided by your library.
  • Uninterrupted access to your OverDrive lending history. If you have a library card, you will not be able to access loans, holds, etc linked to your library card when signed in with an IDC.

If you have trouble logging in with your library card number, call or email your local library before signing up for an IDC. They can help with card renewals and answer questions if you are blocked. If you have forgotten your password, you can reset it using this link.

How do I obtain an OverDrive Instant Digital Card (IDC)?

When you access the CW MARS OverDrive collection, either through the website or the Libby app, you will be prompted to log in. If you do not have a library card number, click to get a free one instantly using your mobile number.

You will be asked for your mobile number. This is required for access.

A one-time code will be sent via text message to ensure only someone in possession of the mobile device can use the number to register.

Using your name and mobile number, OverDrive will then look up your address using a third-party service. A Date of Birth may also be required in some instances. OverDrive does not store DoB.

If the address associated with your mobile number matches a zip code in your library’s service area, OverDrive will provide you access to the CW MARS digital collection.

Instant Digital Cards expire within one year. You can visit your local library to sign up for a full library card and extend your access.

Enter Mobile Number Prompt

Note: Your name, address, and mobile number may be shared with your local library. Your library may use this information to reach out to you and invite you to come in for a full library card.

How do I sign in with an OverDrive Instant Digital Card?

You will use your mobile number to sign into OverDrive.

Sign in with Mobile Number Prompt

Why was I unable to receive an OverDrive Instant Digital Card?

  • You used a non-US cell phone number. The lookup feature only works with US mobile numbers.
  • The phone number was not registered to an address in the CW MARS service area.
  • You used a phone number already registered to an IDC. Only one digital card can be registered per mobile number.

Where are my notifications in OverDrive/Libby?

OverDrive Hold Notification Example

In OverDrive...

Click the bell icon in the top right. OverDrive will notify you when a hold is ready to borrow.

See My hold is ready to borrow. What now? below for more information.

In Libby...

To manage notifications, click the Libby icon in the top right, and then Manage Notifications. Here you can decide if you want to be notified...

  • When a hold becomes available
  • When a loan is about to expire
  • When a loan has expired
  • And more!

Notifications are device-specific, so you can set your notification preferences for each device you use Libby on.

After swiping a push notification, you will be taken to your Reading Journey for that title, which displays any previous interactions and activity you had with that book (notes, highlights, time read, etc.).

Libby - Manage Notifications Screen
Library Notification Example

My hold is ready to borrow. What now?

If you received a notification, open the notification in OverDrive or Libby, (see Where are my notifications in OverDrive/Libby? above for more information). Or go to your Holds list.

You will have a three day grace period to perform one of the following actions:

  1. Borrow the title.
  2. Suspend the hold by selecting Deliver later. This option passes the title to the next person in line while maintaining your place on the waitlist. Once your desired suspension period is over, your hold will reactivate, and you'll be able to borrow the next available copy.
  3. Cancel the hold by clicking Remove hold.

If no action is taken within the three day grace period, the hold will automatically be suspended as a one-time courtesy for 7 days. If no action is taken a second time, the hold will be cancelled automatically.

Why does CW MARS only own one copy of an ebook when there are so many holds on it?

Several publishers have recently announced changes to their lending terms that restrict libraries’ ability to purchase materials. We are not always able to purchase a title (or extra copies of a title), even when we know there is high demand for it. In the meantime, we probably have the title you want in a different format, or we are happy to help you find other, similar authors or titles while you wait. Contact your local CW MARS member library for assistance.

What publishers have placed restrictions on content, and what are the restrictions?

Blackstone Publishing placed a restriction on libraries in July 2019, requiring that libraries must wait to purchase select Blackstone eAudiobooks for 90 days after the books have been released to the public.

Macmillan Publishing also announced that as of November 1, 2019, libraries will be permitted to purchase only one eBook copy of newly released titles for the first 8 weeks the book is available to the public. After 8 weeks, libraries may purchase additional copies. During the 8 week embargo, patrons may see long holds queues and wait times for these titles.

What are libraries doing about publisher restrictions on econtent?

CW MARS libraries have joined many other libraries across the country in objecting to these changes. In a recent letter to John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan Publishers, CW MARS libraries expressed their dissatisfaction with the new terms.

What can readers do about publisher restrictions on econtent?

Library users are encouraged to contact the publishers directly to voice their opinion about these changes and their impact on reading.

Blackstone Audio: libraryservices@blackstoneaudio.com | Macmillan Publishers: elending.feedback@macmillan.com

Join the campaign and sign the petition to demand #ebooksforall at ebooksforall.org

Why doesn’t my library own more eBooks?

The price that libraries pay to publishers for eBooks is higher than the price charged to consumers. In many cases the publishers charge the library more than the cost of a print copy. We purchase titles on a weekly basis as budget allows.

How do you decide what content to purchase?

Content in our digital collection is demand driven. We purchase requests for new titles submitted by our patrons. We also purchase additional copies of high demand titles to keep holds queues down when budget and publisher rules allow.

Why doesn't my search return any results?

Check the spelling to see if that is causing your search to not find results. The search results will return titles that are in the catalog and/or that are available in OverDrive, but not owned by your library. Some titles are unable to be purchased due to publisher restrictions or titles only being available to individuals and not library networks. Sometimes we will be unable to purchase additional copies of titles due to publisher restrictions (this happens around movie releases or promotions).

Can I donate ebooks I have purchased to the library?

Under current copyright and digital rights restrictions, you are unable to donate eBooks to the library for other patrons to use.

How do I request a title to be purchased?

Image showing location of Recommend option

Titles available to buy in OverDrive but not yet purchased by CW MARS can be requested for purchase.

Titles not in our digital catalog will display a Recommend button. Click this button to request the title for purchase.

If enough patrons request the title, it will be added to the digital catalog, and you will automatically be added to the waiting list once it becomes available.

What is "LEA"?

LEA logo

LEA stands for Library ebooks and audiobooks.

Massachusetts Library Networks are collaborating to bring you LEA, a new and innovative way to gain access to more eBooks and audiobooks. Powered by Overdrive, LEA makes it possible for you to search for eContent in all Networks regardless of your home library.

With LEA, you can access eBooks, audiobooks, and more from libraries across the Commonwealth using your phone, tablet, or eReader. There are 345 partnering libraries with an estimated collection of over 350,000 eBooks and audiobooks!

If you don't see the title you're looking for in the CW MARS Digital Catalog, use your library card to sign in to another Library Network and find it there. Information on borrowing material from participating libraries is discussed below.

How do I borrow and manage material from LEA Partner Libraries in OverDrive?

  1. Click the desired library network above. Or from cwmars.overdrive.com, click Partner libraries at the top of the screen.
  2. Click Sign In on the partner library's Overdrive page.
  3. Select CW MARS Patrons from the library dropdown.
  4. Enter your CW MARS library card number (without any spaces or dashes).
  5. Enter your CW MARS My Account password.
  6. Click Sign In.
  7. Browse and peruse the partner catalog as you would our digital catalog. Borrow materials and place holds.


To view and read your items from each network, you will have to log into the network's OverDrive collection and go to My Account. Currently combined loan and hold shelves can only be found on the Libby app - more information below.

Some titles and formats are not eligible for sharing.

Holds placed at partner libraries will be filled after holds placed by home network patrons.

How do I borrow and manage material from LEA Partner Libraries in Libby?

Ensure you are signed into the Libby app with your CW MARS library card. For help with this, return to the top of this page.

  1. Click the Libby icon in the top right of the app. Select Add A Library.
  2. Search for a participating network (Boston Public Library, CLAMS, Minuteman, NOBLE, OCLN, or SAILS) and click the network's entry.
  3. You will be taken to that network's OverDrive catalog. Scroll down until you see a section to add a library card for the network. Click I'm Visiting From Another Library.
  4. Choose CW MARS from the dropdown.
  5. Enter your CW MARS library card number, (without any spaces or dashes). Click Next. Enter your CW MARS My Account password and click Sign In.

You can continue to add partner libraries using this same method.

Step 1: Add a library
Step 1
Step 2: select another network
Step 2
Step 3: Select that you are visiting from another library
Step 3
Step 4: Choose CW MARS
Step 4
Step 5: Enter Barcode
Step 5

To change which network's catalog you are browsing, select the Libby icon in the top right of the app. Choose the desired network catalog to browse. (Image 1)

In Libby, material borrowed from CW MARS and all other partner libraries you have added to the app will display on a unified shelf. (Image 2)

Notice how each partner library network has a distinct set of brand colors. If you click on the brand colors next to an item on your shelf, you'll see more information about the loan and owning network. (Images 1-3)

Image 1
Image 1
Image 2
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Image 3
Image 3

Where do I send feedback about OverDrive?

All comments, feedback, and suggestions should be directed to your local CW MARS member library.