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Using eBooks at UNC

How to locate, access, and navigate ebooks through the UNC Libraries collection


eBook Content

Palace Bookshelf is the ebook platform of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and provides access to ebooks that can be downloaded as EPUB files and read on a computer, mobile phone, and some e-readers.  

The majority of the DPLA’s Palace Bookshelf collection are titles which have left copyright protection. However, there are some more recent titles—particularly non-fiction—which are either open access or have been donated to the DPLA.



Palace Bookshelf is available free to everyone—even without a library card.

Users can access the platform for ebooks in two ways:

While a library card is not necessary to use this platform or checkout most material, adding a library in the Palace app will sometimes make more ebook titles available for checkout through the card holder’s library.


Finding eBooks - Searching & Browsing

Palace Bookshelf provides many ways to search for and identify ebooks. The search bar at the top of the page allows searching by author, title, or keyword. The homepage also features six major categories of books for the user to browse: Banned Books; Fiction; Nonfiction; Young Adult Fiction; Young Adult Nonfiction; and Children and Middle Grade. Clicking on any one of these major categories will direct the user to another page with many more specific genres and subjects depending on the major category selected where the user can browse more narrowly.

Palace Bookshelf (DPLA) Homepage (with use case diagram)


Borrowing and Reading eBooks

In order to read ebooks available on Palace Bookshelf, all you need to do is select the book from the search results or gallery on the homepage. There is no need to borrow or check out the material. You can download the title directly as an EPUB file. Some ebooks also have a MOBI or other additional file format available for download as well. There is currently no way to read an ebook on the Palace Bookshelf platform itself. Just be aware the ebook must be downloaded and then open and read on a device, not the website.

Returning eBooks

There is no need to return ebooks to Palace Bookshelf, once they are downloaded you can retain the EPUB or other file copy indefinitely.

Training and Tutorials

DPLA Frequently Asked Questions Page

Navigate to the DPLA FAQs Page to review instructions for getting started with the Digital Public Library of America. There are tips for troubleshooting common problems and FAQs. There is no specific help page for Palace Bookshelf, however they do provide a support email address to field questions and concerns about the service.