Can't find your answer? Ask a librarian.
Library cards, account logins and PINs
During your COVID-19 quarantine, you can complete this application for a temporary Digital Access Card.
Complete a library card application and bring it to Lawson McGhee Library or any branch library with name and address verification.
Library cards do have an expiration date. If you receive a message that your card is expiring soon or has expired, contact us at (865) 215-8751 or visit us at any of our locations. We will need your library card number to update your account.
(Patrons that receive email notifications will receive a notice by email 30 days before the expiration of the library card. There is no other method of notification prior to expiration.)
If you have an Out-of-county card, you may send a check for the $40.00 annual Out-of-county fee—along with your library card number—to:
Lawson McGhee Library
ATTN: Circulation Department
500 W. Church Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37902
If your library card is lost or stolen, please report the loss immediately by calling the library at (865) 215-8751. You are responsible for all materials charged to your card prior to submitting a report.
Obtain a replacement card at any library location. Identification is required, and a $1 fee will apply.
The PIN (personal identification number) is your password to keep your library account secure. You can get a PIN by bringing your library card to the Lawson McGhee Library or a branch library (excluding McClung), or you can call (865) 215-8751 to get a PIN over the phone. Have your library card number available.
Go here to reset your PIN (use link in upper right corner, "I forgot my PIN"). If you have set an email address in your library account, you will receive PIN reset link in an email message. If you do not receive the email, please call (865) 215-8751. You will be asked several questions to verify your identity before we can make an account change.
The PIN reset will take effect for OverDrive, Kanopy, Lynda.com and Tutor.com. It will also take effect for remote database access. It will have no effect on accounts registered with a username/password on third-party services such as ILLiad.
You will have to change your PIN in the Hoopla app for your PIN reset to take effect for Hoopla. Contact the Sights & Sounds department at (865) 215-8714 for more information.
We send notices by mail or email. You can set up or change your email address in your online account. You can also call a library and request the change; have your library card number handy.
The address from which all our notices are sent is ; you may need to add this to your contacts to keep notices from being filtered by your email service.
In addition to notices by mail or email, you may register to receive pickup notifications by text message to your telephone.
- The only way to get a notice that your account is about to expire is to use email notification.
- The only way to get a notice that materials are due soon is to use email notification. The message will disclose your library card number and the titles.
- Text messages are sent only to notify that you have materials to pick up. The message does not say what the items are. It is generated within 2 hours after an item becomes available for you.
- If you pick up your items the same day you receive a text message, the system will not send the email or mail notice on those items. This is because those notices are generated the next day, at which time they are no longer waiting for pickup.
- If email notification is not configured for your account, we will mail notices for item pickup and 14 day overdues.
- If email notification is configured for your account, we will mail a notice for 14 day overdues.
For notices from one of our third-party services (such as OverDrive for ebooks or ILLiad for interlibrary loans), you'll need to sign in to the third-party site to change your email address.
If you've verified that your account is configured for email notification and that your email address is correct, your email system may be blocking the notices.
The address from which all our notices are sent is . If you can use this as your search and find one such message, you can mark it as not-junk, mark it as important or priority, or whatever your email system provides as a solution for this problem.
Even if you cannot locate any message from this address, you can add this address to your safe-senders list, contacts list, and/or address book (different email systems handle this differently).
In the catalog
It is up to you to maintain a list of items you've checked out, or that you want to check out.
Sign in to use the My Lists feature. (If you're in My Account, the My Lists feature is not present. Go to New Search and the My Lists feature is added to the blue bar.)
To add items to a list, first check that the list is active, then search the catalog for something to add, and use the "Add to My List" check box.
The list feature is handy for many purposes. You can create a "to read" list, a "have read it" list, and any other lists.
It's not "Mark"
When you click the Mark button for items in a search results list, you're creating a list which lasts only for the length of the current session (Marked Items).
- Only one bibliography of marked items can be maintained in an e-Library session, but you can have many My Lists.
- From a list in the My Lists feature, you can go to the details of an item in order to request that item. This is not available in Marked Items.
Other products with personal lists:
WorldCat includes not only our library catalog, but the catalog of thousands of other member libraries. From any item, if we own it, you can click the link that is our library's name and be taken to our website where you can reserve the item. If we don't own it, we can try to get it for you on interlibrary loan.
Create an account on WorldCat, and then you can search for an item and add it to a list. You can make your lists public or private, share them, and add your own comments and reviews. You can also subscribe to another user's public list, post on social networking sites, install a WorldCat browser tool, or use it with a mobile app.
You can make multiple lists in the NoveList database, and from any item in NoveList you can link to our catalog to look for the item.
Many readers who enjoy social networking use Goodreads (our catalog displays some Goodreads ratings and reviews). Create your own account and start making your lists, called shelves. Set up a book link to our catalog (through the My Account > Book links tab) so that you can go from an item in Goodreads straight to the item in our catalog. Join the library's group to discuss the books we select for programs.
Please ask a librarian if you have any questions about any of this.
About borrowing, returning, renewing, and overdues
You may check out up to ten items as a first time card user. After these items are returned, you may check out up to 50 items. (These limits do not apply to downloadables.)
Limits by format:
- 15 books on compact disc
- 15 books on tape
- 15 adult Blu-rays/DVDs
- 15 children's Blu-rays/DVDs
- 15 videotapes
- Music compact discs – 15 items
- Vinyl records - 15 items
- Playaways – 2 per adult card
- Launchpad – 1 per adult card
- Downloadables & Streaming
- Kanopy - 5 uses each month
- Hoopla – 5 uses each month
- OverDrive/Libby – 15 checkouts at one time
- Flipster magazines – no limit
You may have 25 items on hold, not including the downloadables services.
Most items are loaned for 21 days. Videotapes, DVDs, Playaways and Launchpads are loaned for 7 days.
A vacation stop is used when, for example, you've placed a hold on library material and don't want item(s) to become available to check out while you're unable to pick up within eight days. Since a vacation stop can be placed per item, some people use it to stagger their holds so that multiple books don't become available at the same time.
Items may be renewed three times except for materials on hold. It is not necessary to bring materials in for renewal.
You can request renewals by telephone during open library hours. Due to state confidentiality laws, you must provide your library card number for service by telephone.
To renew items online:
- sign in to your account
- click Review My Account
- use the checkboxes to select items
- click Renew Selected Items below the list
That depends on the format and how long they've been overdue.
VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express cards are accepted, but not gift cards. A 2.32% fee will be charged by the electronic processing company for each transaction; this fee does not go to the library or Knox County.
Payments using credit/debit cards will not be accepted over the phone or online. Payments must be made in person.
All material may be returned to any Knox County Public Library location. Bookdrops are available for after hour returns, but some non-book items should not be returned via bookdrop because they may be damaged.
Downloadable ebooks and audiobooks
Begin by reading the OverDrive Help information specific to the computer or device you'll be using.
You have three options. You can install the Libby app, install the OverDrive app, or simply read or listen in a browser directly from our Overdrive partner website. (Okay, technically you also have a fourth option of sending Kindle-compatible ebooks to a Kindle app, but since that's not everything, we suggest using one of the first three options.)
- Open the OverDrive app and follow the prompts to sign up for an OverDrive account and sign in.
- Use "add a library" and search by zip code to find Knox County Public Library, then add the library and connect to the library.
- Sign in on the website with your library card number and PIN. Search or browse, and borrow.
- Go to your Loans page and add the item to the app. Select ebooks in the EPUB format.
- Use the "Bookshelf" command in the app's home menu (the hamburger icon in the upper left) to find the book, complete the download, and begin reading or listening.
Steps 1 and 2 are first-time setup. Afterwards, you just open the app and tap "Add a title", then follow steps 3 through 5.
Just follow the prompts for setup. Once you are set up, you can use the Libby icon in the upper right to access options such as adding a new library card or getting help. Tap "Shelf" at the bottom to get to your loans, holds, and activity; tap "Library" to return to browsing the inventory. You'll see many ways to start browsing if you just pan (scroll), or enter a search at the very top.
Begin by reading the OverDrive Help information specific to the device you'll be using. While you can use the Libby app or OverDrive app to check out books in the Kindle format, it is not necessary and could be confusing.
Go in a Web browser (Silk, or another browser of your choice) to knoxcounty.overdrive.com and check out a book. The "Read now with Kindle" button sends you to Amazon.com, where you sign in to your Amazon account and click an orange button to deliver the ebook to your selected device. Then check your home screen to find the book.
Fire users can get the OverDrive app in the Amazon app store for use with the EPUB (and MP3 audiobook) format. If you enable the Google Play Store app on your Fire, you can install the Libby app from that store. Of course, there's always the option to read or listen in your browser, also.
Kindle reader that is not a Fire tablet:
You will use a Web browser (such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge); if your Kindle Paperwhite has an "experimental browser" option in the menu, you can try that. Check out an ebook from knoxcounty.overdrive.com. The "Read now with Kindle" button sends you to Amazon.com, where you sign in to your Amazon account and click an orange button to deliver the ebook to your selected device. Then you sync your Kindle reader on a Wi-Fi network (not a mobile network) to receive the book.
Using the Kindle format on a non-Kindle device
We recommend the OverDrive app or Libby app instead, but if you choose to use a Kindle app, use a Web browser to check out a library ebook from OverDrive. In the download step, select the Kindle format, sign in to your Amazon account, and deliver the ebook to your Cloud reader or registered device. Then sync your Kindle app to receive the book.
Begin by reading the OverDrive Help information specific to the device you'll be using.
- use a personal computer (cannot use library computers or other public computers; using a borrowed computer is tricksy)
- install Adobe Digital Editions software (for exceptions, see below)
- authorize the software with an Adobe ID or an OverDrive account
Very important: Do not download a library ebook to ADE software without authorizing the software first.
- sign in to your library account on the OverDrive site
- search or browse for ebooks
- borrow, visit your Loans page, and download the EPUB format
- open it in the Adobe Digital Editions software
- connect your ereader to your computer with the USB cable
- if you get a prompt to authorize your device, do so
- in Library View, drag the book icon on the right to the ereader icon on the left
- safely disconnect your device
- find the ebook on your device
See these transfer instructions specific to the NOOK GlowLight Plus. If you get errors, please contact Barnes and Noble for help.
Newer Kobo ereaders don't require Adobe Digital Editions. Here's how to get started.
Meet the Libby app for OverDrive downloadables. When opening the app, you’ll find Libby’s face in the top right corner, representing the options menu. Tapping that icon enables you to switch and add libraries and library cards. It also lets you select your reading options and, under “Explore the app…”, offers Learn Libby, highlighting app features through quick training animations.
You can give Libby a quick test run in a web browser by visiting libbyapp.com, but this isn't the best way to use Libby. It won't remember your library card between sessions.
Will the Libby app replace the OverDrive app? No. If you’re a current user of the OverDrive app and love using it, keep it. Whether you’re a new user or a current OverDrive app user interested in a new reading experience, give Libby a try.
Are all the same books available? Over 99% of the collection is on Libby, but not 100%. Just as some ebooks are not available in Kindle format, some ebooks are not in the OverDrive Read format, and Libby will show you only ebooks in the OverDrive Read format. You can search the OverDrive site outside of Libby to see everything we have regardless of format, then decide which app or reader to use based on the formats of a specific ebook.
Can I use both the OverDrive app and Libby at the same time? Yes, but we recommend using a specific title in one or the other for the best experience because the apps are not fully synced.
How will Libby users find Help and Support? Libby help is available at https://help.libbyapp.com and is also available via the options menu. OverDrive will provide direct support for the Libby app (but you are still welcome to ask us).
You will be using two accounts for downloadables: an OverDrive account to authorize the app, and your library account to check out titles. Here's OverDrive's explanation of the OverDrive account.
When you first launch the OverDrive app after installing it, you get two choices for authorizing the app with an OverDrive account: library card number, or an email address and password. We recommend the email address and password option.
Some app errors might be resolved by deleting and re-installing the app, in which case you will authorize the app again by signing in. You should use the same method—such as email address and password—that you used previously, if you want to be able to download books that were already checked out to you and downloaded before you deleted the app.
If you used Adobe Digital Editions on a computer
Open Adobe Digital Editions on your computer and go to Library view. See the book you want to return, in the right-hand column? Right-click on the book to see the option to return it.
If you got a Kindle ebook
Sign in to your Amazon account and go to Your Content and Devices. See the Actions button to the left of the title? Click that to see the option to return it.
If you use the OverDrive app
Open the app and go to the Bookshelf. Press and hold a title to display the return options.
If you use the Libby app
Open the app and go to the Shelf. Tap "Manage Loan" for the book you wish to return, then tap Return Early.
If you downloaded an audiobook to Overdrive Media Console
Windows: Open Overdrive Media Console and select the title you would like to return. Click the Delete button to display the return and delete options.
Mac: OverDrive Media Console for Mac does not currently support the return feature.
You'll see the Renew option for a title on your three days before it expires, as long as there are no holds. If the title has holds, you can't renew it, but you can request it again.
In the Libby app, find the Manage Loan button for the title in your shelf. That's where you'll find the option to renew (if available).
In the OverDrive site, go to the Loans page and find the title; look underneath the download buttons for the option to renew (if available).
This happens because our catalog computer system is not in real-time communication with the OverDrive system for the status of an item. When you find a description of a downloadable ebook or audiobook in the online catalog, the catalog says "1 copy available at Online Collection in Online" meaning that we own a copy, but the book may be currently checked out from OverDrive. The records in the catalog are meant to help people discover that we own downloadable copies, but if downloadables are all you are interested in, you are best served by using the e-media services directly rather than searching our catalog.
Downloadables are checked out through a different computer system from your library card account, although you sign in with the same card number and PIN. Sign in to OverDrive.
Did you get a replacement library card since placing the hold? If so, your OverDrive account was probably never switched over to your new card number. Ask a librarian to merge your previous library card number with your new number in OverDrive.
What is the date on the email notifying you that an ebook is available? Maybe the hold timed out. You get three days to borrow.
On your tablet or smartphone, install the Flipster app from your device's app store and then follow on-screen prompts.
Look closely at compatibility
Ereaders (also known as ebook readers or E Ink readers) have displays that resemble ink on printed paper. They're used primarily for reading ebooks. The Kindle brand of ereader is compatible with library ebooks only in the Kindle format*. Other ereader brands are EPUB compatible, so they will work with titles you might find through libraries and a wide variety of other sources but not with titles that are Amazon exclusives.
Kindle does not support the EPUB format. All of the Library's ebooks to date are either EPUB or PDF compatible, and most (but not all) of them are also Kindle compatible.
Tablets are hand-held computers with a color screen and the ability to run apps. All tablets—whether Fire or Apple or otherwise—allow you to use apps for reading ebooks in any format.
Buying one for your travels?
Think about the ease of loading library books onto the device when you're not at your own computer. With some E Ink models, you must side-load (via USB connector) library books from a computer that's been authorized to you (Digital Rights Management, DRM, being used to track the loan period and expire the book). This makes it difficult to get new library books loaded while you're traveling. Load up before you leave home.
Some models of Kobo e-readers allow you to borrow ebooks directly from libraries (more details), so there's no need for an authorized computer for loading library books.
The Kindle ereaders (with E Ink) allow you to sync over Wi-Fi for delivery of the book, but you have to perform the checkout in a Web browser. It can be any browser, though—phone, tablet, or computer. There's even an "experimental browser" built in on the PaperWhite.
Smartphone and tablet
If you use a tablet or smartphone for reading your ebooks, you aren't subject to any format limitations. You can load ebooks wirelessly any time, anywhere you have Internet connectivity. You can also use our RBdigital downloadable magazines, Hoopla and Kanopy streaming videos, and much more. There are some disadvantages: you may have eyestrain from screen flicker, the screen may be difficult to read in bright direct sunlight, they're not as comfortable to hold, and the battery runs out faster. And since they perform so many computer functions, you might be distracted from the reading you want to be doing.
*EPUB files that are not protected by DRM can be converted to a Kindle-supported format through the use of Calibre software. Library ebooks are DRM protected.
About compact discs, DVDs, tapes, or streaming video or audio
We now offer a selection of films on Blu-Ray, a high-definition disc format that offers a higher quality picture and better sound than standard DVD.
- Blu-Rays circulate just like our DVD collection, up to 10 at a time for 1 week
- Blu-Ray discs must be played on a Blu-Ray player
- Blu-Ray players also play DVDs
- Some of our Blu-Ray items are "combo" packages that also include a DVD copy of the movie
- Search using the term "Blu-Ray"; Blu-Ray-only packages have a call number beginning with BLU-RAY, while combo packages begin with call number DVD
We now offer a selection of 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays. These offer higher resolution, more vivid color, and greater contrast than standard Blu-ray. To take advantage of these discs you will need:
- 4K compatible Blu-ray player
- 4K TV
- High speed HDMI cable to connect the player and TV
- 4K players also play regular Blu-rays and DVDs
- Library 4K Blu-ray packages include a standard Blu-ray
- Search using the term "4K Ultra HD"
- Most packages also contain a standard Blu-ray version compatible with regular Blu-ray players
Check the disc to see if it is smudged or dirty. If so, use a soft, clean, lint-free cloth to gently wipe from the center of the disc to the edge. If the disc is scratched or still won't play, please notify staff when you return the item. We can repair most scratched DVDs and CDs.
Please alert circulation staff when you return the item. If you must leave it in a drop box, include a note with the item explaining the problem.
- Download the Lynda app from the Google Play Store or iOS App Store, or add it to your streaming device (Roku is not supported) or smart TV apps list
- Open the app
- Respond "ok" as needed
- Select - "Already a member?"
- From the top of the screen select "Organization"
- Under "Web Portal Type" - enter knoxlib.org and "Log on"
- Enter your library card number and PIN and "authenticate"
Wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) access for properly equipped laptops, tablets and other devices is available at all of our locations.
We have wireless printing.
Meeting room reservations are suspended indefinitely due to COVID-19.
Yes, there is a typewriter at Lawson McGhee Library in the reference area.
We don't offer notary service, but the Knox County Clerk's offices do, for a small fee.
Yes, at public libraries and several other government offices.
Some newspapers have a commercial arrangement for providing keepsake newspaper reprints, such as this NewsBank service for the Knoxville News Sentinel.
¿Ofrece la biblioteca de servicios para los Hispanohablantes?/ Does the library offer services for Spanish speakers?
Sí, la biblioteca ofrece libros, DVDs, música, y bases de datos para los hispanohablantes. Nuestra colección incluye los recursos para los adultos, los jóvenes y los niños. Si necesita ayuda para acceder a materiales en bibliotecas o recursos locales, pídanos.
Yes, the library offers books, DVDs, music, and databases for Spanish speakers. Our collection includes resources for adults, teens, and children. Let us know if you need help accessing materials in our collection or local resources.
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library of Knox County mails one high-quality, age-appropriate, new book to almost 18,000 children in Knox County each month, regardless of income, and at no charge to the families. Dolly Parton's Imagination Library of Knox County is a partnership with the Knox County Public Library, which administers the program for our county, the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation who matches each donation to Imagination Library at 100%, and the Dollywood Foundation who provides the infrastructure for the program and allows us to purchase the books at a highly discounted rate.
Our deep, rich research and interactive services
A library database is a searchable collection of information about published works or reproductions of the full content of published works such as magazine and newspaper articles, encyclopedias and other reference books. Unlike websites that are open to view by all, library databases are selected for subscription based on their quality, and only authorized library users may connect to the databases that the library pays for.
When you connect to a database using a link on the library's website, several technical things happen behind the scenes to get you access to the resources. You might be required to enter your library card number, which permits you a session with that database for a limited time. Maybe your earlier session with the database has timed out. Just go back to the library's website and follow the link again to establish a new session. If that doesn't work, close the window and start up your web browser (Edge, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) again. Ask a librarian if you still have trouble.
Some of the databases are provided to all Tennesseans by the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL). In most cases, the method that authorizes you to use these databases is not your library card number, but your location within Tennessee. Each database provided by TEL is noted in the database description with a link that takes you to the TEL website. If you have trouble using our link to one of these databases, you can try connecting to it from the TEL website.
Due to restrictions in licensing, these information services must be used in a library facility:
- Foundation Center products (fund raising; Lawson McGhee Library only)
- Ancestry.com Library Edition (genealogy; McClung only)
- American Ancestors (genealogy; McClung only)
- Tennessee Sanborn Maps 1867-1970 (genealogy; McClung only)
- FindMyPast.com (genealogy; any library location)
- American Physical Society journals (science; any library location)
Library apps, software and hardware available to you
Apps for your tablet or smartphone make it easy to search, get information, and download media.
There's a self-service scanner at Lawson McGhee Library optimized for scanning library reference materials, but you can also scan personal documents and photographs. Output your scans to a USB drive, Google Drive, email address, or to a mobile device via QR code. File types include quick PDF, searchable PDF, jpeg, RTF (editable text), and MP3. Scan a text document and output to MP3 to listen to the text read aloud using synthesized text-to-speech.
There's better scanning for documents, photos and other media in the Memory Lab. Reservations are required.
Yes, eligible patrons may use the Memory Lab by reservation.
Our computers run Windows 10 with the Edge and Chrome web browsers. Applications include:
- Office 2016: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher
- Gimp 2
- Paint 3D
Designated agent for notification of claimed copyright infringement: Myretta Black, Director, Knox County Public Library
500 West Church Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37902
Explaining features of the website
For improved accessibility, access keys are set for the main navigation menu and quick links to popular destinations in the site.
Knox County Public Library is committed to making this website accessible to the widest possible audience. If you are experiencing difficulty accessing any element of this web site, please let us know. Please describe the nature of the problem and the section where the difficulty was found. We will do our best to provide you with the information you require. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of the wonderful resources we offer are only for users of Knox County Public Library, not everyone in the world. Your sign-in authorizes you to use the resources, but your authorization can expire and then you'll be prompted to sign in again. Because these resources are on different systems, one single sign-in does not get you access to everything.
Saving your sign-in (and suggesting that information to you as you type) is a feature of the software that you use to access the site (the software is called a browser). You need to go into the settings of your browser to enable autofill (search the settings for "autofill"). Then you should be able to simply type 4 and your browser will suggest the rest of your number, and probably your PIN as well.
You will still need to type in your sign-in to access any other resource that your browser has not yet remembered. For example, your browser may fill in your library card number for your account on OverDrive, but not for access to Value Line. They are completely different systems.
We recommend that you use a password manager rather than browser autofill.
This site links to many different systems—your account and the catalog; downloadable books and magazines; databases and more. When a link goes away from this website, you'll see a tiny icon to the right of the link, indicating that it's an external link. That's your warning that you might want to open the link in a new tab so that it's easier to come back to our site after you finish using that resource.
To open a link in a new browser tab, computer users generally right-click a link for the context menu and users of handheld devices generally tap and hold the link. The wording of options in the menu will vary, but you may see open in a new tab, open in a new page, or open in a new window. Experiment to see what works best for you.
You might want to configure a setting for how your browser behaves when opening a new tab. For example, Safari users (iPad, iPhone) can set tabs to open in the background. Users of other browsers can also check their browser's app menu for settings to see what options there are.
Also, set a bookmark for the library's website in your browser, or a shortcut on your home screen (or desktop screen). Then you can quickly get back to using the library, no matter how far away you've roamed.
Need help with these suggestions? Ask a librarian and be able to tell us what device you're using and the name of the app (or browser). We'll do an Internet search for instructions and try to walk you through them.