09/20/2013 07:24 EDT | Updated 11/20/2013 05:12 EST

Free e-magazines now offered by Toronto Public Library

Library card holders in Toronto now have access to hundreds of popular digital magazines — including MacLean’s, National Geographic and Rolling Stone — all for free.

Working with a distribution service called Zinio, the Toronto Public Library has launched a catalogue of over 300 digital titles that people can access free of charge on their computers, smart phones and tablets.

“You have unlimited access, there are no fines, no need to place holds, and there’s a wide selection of magazines to choose from,” Vickery Bowles, director of collections management at the library, told CBC News.

To access the service, users need to have a valid library card. They also have to register two different accounts — one with the library’s website and one with Zinio, a service that distributes digital magazines.

“When you download [a digital magazine] it looks just like the magazine you would have in print,” said Bowles. “So it has all of the cover art, and the photographs and visuals, and all of the ads and all the articles.”

Bowles says the catalogue offers many Canadian titles, including House & Home, Chatelaine and Canadian Business. There are also special interest titles available, such as Car & Driver and Runners’ World, for people with specific hobbies.

Although only current issues are available at any given time — the library doesn’t offer back issues — there are no restrictions on how many titles can be downloaded at once, and the content stays on their device indefinitely.

Bowles says that the service also benefits magazine publishers. “It gives them an opportunity to reach audiences they might not be able to reach,” she said.

“What’s so wonderful about digital is it extends access and gives more options for access to the printed word.”