Robert W. Rowe Public Library

Contact: Patti Smith, Director


Robert W. Rowe Library offers a Free E-Book Service for All Illinois Residents: a Boon during Pandemic

Everyone in Illinois now has access to thousands of e-books and more, without the need of a library card. Public libraries statewide including Robert Rowe Library offer free e-books for the over 12 million Illinois residents and anyone else in the state, through a partnership between the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) and BiblioLabs. The e-book service, called BiblioBoard, has nearly 40,000 items available at any time to anyone in the state, and the items are always available.

The BiblioBoard service began in 2017 to help libraries offer additional e-resources to their users and to reach the approximately one million Illinois residents that live in areas not served by a public library. The pandemic has increased the demand for e-resources exponentially. Whether or not someone has a library card, people are affected when physical library buildings go through periods of limited or no access due to the pandemic, resulting in a bigger need for easy access to digital materials. 

A report published by RAILS, “The Impact of COVID-19 Related Closures on Library E-Content Usage,” shows that library e-book usage almost doubled in April 2020 from the average daily usage in the months prior to the start of the pandemic.

Potential users of BiblioBoard have easy access to available content through a link on the libraries website ( or by going to Content includes local community histories, self-help resources, cookbooks, classics with beautifully reimagined covers, kids’ books, community collections by RAILS libraries, books on equity, diversity, and inclusion, graphic novels, and much more.

Illinois libraries are much more than buildings. In addition to BiblioBoard, Rowe Library offers Eread Illinois and Overdrive for electronic books. Contact the library to find out more about our specific offerings.

The Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) provides delivery between libraries across a 27,000 square mile area, shared online catalogs, e-book services, continuing education for library staff, and other leadership services and support to academic, public, school, and specialized libraries in northern and western Illinois.  More information about RAILS is available at