Overdrive FAQ

OverDrive FAQ

Do I need a Library Card Number to access the CW MARS Digital Catalog?

To access the CW MARS OverDrive Digital Catalog, a library card should be obtained from your local library.

Your local library can also help locate your number if you may have forgotten it of if you are unsure if you have a card. If you have forgotten your password, you can reset it using this link.

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.

Should/Can I sign into OverDrive with my mobile number?


In March 2020, we temporarily enabled the ability to sign up for OverDrive without a library card through a mobile number, which created something call an Instant Digital Card (IDC). This service was discontinued in June 2020, and all the IDCs are now expired.

Instead, you should use your existing library card number. If you do not have a library card, you can contact your local library. Your local library can also help locate your number if you may have forgotten it or if you are unsure if you have a card. If you have forgotten your password, you can reset it using this link.

A Library Card also allows...

  • 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. Loan, holds, etc, that occurred under an IDC will NOT be available when signed in with your library card.

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.

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 at the bottom of the screen, and then Settings. From the Settings menu, click 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

  • When new titles are added by an author or new issues are available for a magazine.

  • 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.

OverDrive Hold Ready to Borrow

How do I access magazines in OverDrive/Libby?

In November 2020, the CW MARS e-Magazine collection expanded to include 3,000+ titles, including up to 3 years of back issues. In January 2021, OverDrive updated their magazine discovery tools to make it easier than ever to access specific issues, including the latest. Magazines of the same title will now appear in a unified format, with access to back issues from a single page.

  1. Search for the magazine you'd like to read by title, i.e. Veranda.

  2. A single entry will appear for the magazine.

    • In OverDrive, the magazine will appear as the latest issue. Click on the issue cover. (Image 1).

    • In Libby, a carousel-esque view will appear. Click the middle issue to view the latest issue. (Image 3).

  3. The magazine's unified page will open. Click Borrow to borrow the latest issue.

To view past issues...

  • In OverDrive, from the magazine's unified page, click Select Another Issue, and choose your desired issue from the dropdown. (Image 2).

  • In Libby, you can either:

    • From the carousel-view, click on another cover to view the recent past issue. (Image 3).

    • From the magazine's unified page, scroll down the page until the list of past issues appears. Click the desired past issue. (Image 4).

OverDrive Magazine Search List
OverDrive - Image 1
OverDrive Previous Issues Display
OverDrive - Image 2
Libby Magazine Search List
Libby - Image 3
Libby Previous Issues Display
Libby - Image 4

The magazine format is very small on my mobile device. Is there an easier way to read the articles?

Yes. Many magazine titles offer a way to read articles in a more mobile-friendly format within Libby. When you get to an article you'd like to read, pause on the page for a moment, and a Read The Article button should appear at the bottom of the screen. Click the button, and the article will emerge in a new pop-up, now formatted for your screen. Scroll through the article to progress. Click the Down arrow at the top of the pop-up once you're ready to return to the magazine.


  • If multiple articles appear on a page, you'll be able to select which one to open.

  • You can customize font size and lighting using the "Appearance" dialog.

Libby Read the Article Button
Libby Article View

I received an email that a hold was ready to borrow, but I cannot find the hold. What happened?

You may be trying to pick the item up from the wrong network or with the wrong card. Alternatively, the hold may have been automatically cancelled.

Ensure you are using the correct library card

  • Is your Libby app connected to multiple library cards? Did you sign up for an Instant Digital Card but already have a library card? Do you have a Boston eCard? You'll need to make sure you are signed into OverDrive with the SAME account you used to place the hold. If you have multiple accounts, try signing in with the other accounts to see if the hold appears.

  • Hint: At the bottom of the notification email, you may see a note: "This email is intended for the library account ending in: [last four digits]". The number will refer to the last four digits of the library card used to place the hold. (If the hold was placed under an IDC, the last four digits will be from your phone number.)

Make sure you are in the correct Digital Catalog

  • Check the email for details that may help. Who is the sender of the email? If the email came from a cwmars.org domain, then you need to make sure you are in the CW MARS digital catalog. If you are using a LEA Partner Library, the sender email will be from another domain. Make sure you are in the correct catalog to pick up the hold. For more information on partner libraries, see What is "LEA"? below.

Check to see if you waited too long to borrow the hold

  • Remember that you will only have 3 days to borrow a hold once it becomes available. After that, it will be suspended as a one-time courtesy for 7 days. If no action is taken a second time, the hold will be cancelled automatically. If the email is older than 10 days, there is a chance the hold was cancelled by the system.

How do I update my email address associated with OverDrive?

You can update your email address associated with OverDrive through one of the two methods below:

Method 1: Through an open hold

      • Note: This method requires an open, unavailable hold. If you do not have any holds at the moment, place a title on hold. It can be cancelled after the email address is updated.

    1. Sign into the CW MARS Digital Catalog in a web browser, (this cannot be done through the Libby app).

    2. Click on My Account in the top right, and then select Holds.

    3. On any open hold, click on Edit Email. This will appear underneath the cover art.

    4. Enter and confirm your new email address. Click Submit. This will update the email address associated with the chosen hold as well as future holds.

    5. If you have additional open holds, you will have to edit the email address on those, as well, if you'd like to be notified for them.

Method 2: Through the LibbyApp website.

    1. From a web browser, go to libbyapp.com, (this cannot be done through the Libby app).

    2. If not currently signed in, follow the steps to sign in. The process will be similar to signing into the Libby app on a mobile device.

    3. Click the Libby icon at the bottom of the screen.

    4. If you have notifications, they'll appear on the top. Click through them until you see a notification card that reads Manage Notifications. Click on this link.

    5. On the Manage Notifications screen, scroll to the bottom until you see a link that reads "Fix this?" or "Change this?". Click this link.

    6. Enter your new email address and click Next. The email address associated with Libby will be updated.

    7. Optionally, update your notification preferences as desired. Note that Libby offers more email notification options than OverDrive. The chosen email address will be used for all preferences marked "Email Notice".

Note that an email address updated using Method 2 will not connected to the email address in Method 1. Because of this, it is possible to have one email address attached to holds in OverDrive and another attached to notifications in Libby. Please keep this in mind if you are still receiving notifications at your old email address.

I was asked to verify my card when picking up a hold in Libby, and now I'm stuck in a sign-in loop; what do I do?

If you receive a message stating that you need to verify your card and are unable to borrow the loan after verifying, you should be able to fix this using one of two methods:

  • Patrons experiencing this loop sometimes report a second CW MARS card attached to the account with the same number. Un-linking the additional card may help.

    • Click the Libby icon at the bottom of the screen.

    • Go to See Library Cards under CW MARS.

    • Click on Actions on one of the cards, and select to Remove Card. Restart your app and try to borrow the item.

    • If this doesn't help, you can remove both cards, restart the app, and add the correct card back. Note that if you remove both cards, you may lose your place in your audio and books.

  • Alternatively, you can uninstall and reinstall the app. Downloaded items will be removed from the device when the app is uninstalled, but they will stay attached to your card. Once the app is reinstalled, you can re-link your card to the app, and you loans and holds will return. Note that you may lose your place in your audio and books.

I am getting errors in the OverDrive/Libby app. How do I fix them?

For example, you received an error stating "Session Expired", and signing in again does not resolve the error.

The easiest fix is to uninstall and reinstall the app. Downloaded items will be removed from the device when the app is uninstalled, but they will stay attached to your card. Once the app is reinstalled, you can re-link your card to the app, and you loans and holds will return. Note that you may lose your place in your audio and books.

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 at the bottom of the screen. Select Add 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. You should see a section to add a library card for the network. If you don't, scroll down until it appears. 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 browse a partner library's catalog, click the Libby icon at the bottom of the screen. Choose the desired catalog to browse, (Image 1).

You can also search a library's catalog by clicking the spyglass icon in the bottom left. Click on the library card icon near the top of the screen to choose the catalog in which to search, (Image 2).

Availability for a specific title across all added networks can be seen by clicking the library card icon next to the title from your search results or by clicking the library card icon next to Borrow on a title's record, (Image 3). From the pop-up, click a library's entry to borrow or place a hold on the title in the selected catalog, (Image 4).

Material borrowed from CW MARS and all other partner libraries you have added to the app will display on a unified shelf, (Image 5).

If you click on Manage Loan next to an item on your shelf, you'll see more information about the loan and owning network, (Image 6).

Choosing a partner library catalog.
Image 1
Searching partner library catalogs.
Image 2
Checking availability at partner library catalogs.
Image 3
Borrowing titles.
Image 4
Unified shelf.
Image 5
Borrowed title information.
Image 6

I am using an older version of x device. Am I still able to use OverDrive?

As of October 30, 2020, the OverDrive app and OverDrive websites no longer work on many older devices, (i.e. devices that do not support TLS 1.2).

Additional information from OverDrive...

[This] is most likely to affect Android devices that cannot upgrade to at least Android version 5, including early Kindle Fires, early Samsung Galaxy tablets, and Kobo Arc devices (all of which were released in 2014 or earlier). Based on our analytics, usage of these devices has been declining and currently accounts for approximately 0.5-1% of users across all OverDrive libraries. Most devices that don't support TLS 1.2 are also no longer supported by their manufacturers, cannot access other modern apps and websites, and currently offer a substandard experience with many apps and websites, including your OverDrive service.

To keep using the OverDrive app and OverDrive websites, affected patrons will need to either update their device's operating system (if possible) to a version that supports TLS 1.2 or switch to a device that supports TLS 1.2. Users can also choose to only update their device's browser to a version that supports TLS 1.2, which will allow them to use OverDrive websites in their browser (though they won't be able to use the OverDrive app). Users of early Kindle Fires and other ereaders that don't support TLS 1.2 will still be able to read library ebooks that are delivered or transferred to their Kindle Fire or ereader from a supported device.

Current Libby users on Android devices should not be affected, as Libby’s minimum system requirements were already raised to Android 5 in June 2020.

Where do I send feedback about OverDrive?

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