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Good news! I can borrow this book (or audiobook) from the library instead of buying it. (This particular book, though: worth owning.)

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Wait! Stop! Before you order that copy of David Benioff's City of Thieves from Amazon (a book I highly recommend), check to see if it's available at your local library. Because free!

Oh, I know what you're saying: You don't have time to visit your library's website or load up one of the e-book-borrowing apps (as described in how to get free e-books from your public library) and do all that manual searching.

Good news: No extra time required. Library Extension immediately shows you if any given book is available at your local library. It's available now for Chrome and Firefox.

The Next Chapter is a multipart series that examines the changing role of libraries in a connected world. 

James Martin/CNET

Once it's installed, you activate the extension by selecting your library and any available e-book services. At my library, for example, the extension was able to connect with not only the regular catalog, but also Hoopla and OverDrive. You can add multiple libraries if you wish, a good idea if your library is part of a network.

From there, anytime you browse at an online bookstore like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads or even Audible (yep, it works for audiobooks, too), Library Extension will appear with library availability information for any selected book.

Better still, one click is all it takes to visit the associated library or e-book service page, where you can then borrow the book or get on the waiting list.

I've only just started fiddling with Library Extension, but I'm already head over heels in love with it. If you love saving money just as much as you love to read, this is definitely a tool worth having.

Originally published on April 10, 2019.
Update, April 16: Adds Firefox availability.

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