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Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / RogerRabbit888

This ‘National Emergency Library’ is offering free online access to 1.4 million books

By
Huw Oliver
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UPDATE: The Internet Archive’s recent decision to offer unlimited access to its online collection has drawn criticism from the Authors’ Guild, which points out that it violates intellectual property law. For a collection of strictly public-domain works, head to the Project Gutenberg website.

Already demolished that stack of novels on your bedside table? Good news: you can now access more than a million books for free as part of a ‘National Emergency Library’ launched this week.

The Internet Archive, a non-profit organisation best known for creating the Wayback Machine archive, has removed waiting lists from its comprehensive library of digitised books and other materials donated by libraries and universities around the world.

Usually you’d have to join a queue before being able to ‘borrow’ anything from its collection. But now you can just dip into whatever you want, whenever. And you don’t have to live in the US, either: book-mad netizens the world over can access all 1.4 million of its PDFs.

From classic novels to hard-to-get academic textbooks, the collection is designed to help both students struggling with remote learning and readers deprived of access to local libraries. Some of the most viewed works right now include the likes of ‘Call Me By Your Name’, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, ‘The Secret History’ and ‘Dr Seuss’s ABC’. 

The library will close on June 30 or at the end of the US ‘National Emergency’ – whichever comes last. Here’s to becoming incredibly erudite over the next few months, hey?

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