Get Your Nerd On: The Internet Archive Just Made 1.4 Million Ebooks Available

31 March 2020
Books, Lockdown, Coronavirus, Covid-19, Coronavirus Outbreak, Self-care, Self Isolation, Lifestyle, Pandemic
Image: Warner Bros/Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

If you’ve had enough of streaming services and binge-watches, it might be time to peruse the virtual shelves of the National Emergency Library

For some of us, reading is a part of our daily routine. Whether it’s during the work commute, a lunch break, or just prior to lights-out, a good book is a comfort we spare no time getting stuck into. Realistically speaking however, we’re not all MS Readathon-readers here. And for the majority, it’s likely that finding the time to sit down and read something other than a newspaper is a luxury our time doesn’t necessarily afford. It’s the reason our nightstands tend to accumulate a lot of dust, with that novel we were gifted at Christmas staying put for months on end as we average 5 pages every few weeks.

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Thankfully, in times of social-distancing and isolation, there are really few other options out there. Sure you have Netflix and other streaming services, but when you tire of watching the same movies for the third time and can’t quite handle another binge-watch – at least not emotionally – the idea of reading becomes somewhat alluring.

Finally, the luxury we never thought we had is here in abundance. Time. So much time. Time to learn a new language, pick up a new hobby, and read something other than the news headlines detailing the COVID-19 pandemic.

As most of the world now find themselves in shutdown, with teachers and students now forced to learn remotely, The Internet Archive, a non-profit organisation known for creating the Wayback Machine, has digitised over 1.4 million books for free as part of the National Emergency Library.

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It’s a project aimed at making remote learning efforts easier as the books now available have been donated by educational institutions and libraries.

As Vice reports, the book titles are largely from Open Library, “another Internet Archive project, that have had their waitlists removed. Unlike a typical lending library, multiple users can access a single digital copy of a book at the same time.”

A statement from The Internet Archive’s website reads, “Internet Archive’s mission is to provide ‘Universal Access to All Knowledge’. We believe this is an extraordinary moment in time that requires assistance at a scale that we are able to provide. Suspending waitlists will put books in the hands of people who need them, supporting emergency remote teaching, research activities, independent scholarship, and intellectual stimulation while universities, schools, training centres, and libraries are closed.”

And if you thought this was just open to US residents, think again. Despite what its name suggests, the National Emergency Library is free and available to anyone with an internet connection, not just US residents. It will run until June 30, or until the national emergency of COVID-19 ends – whichever comes last.

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To peruse the list of available titles, visit openlibrary.org


Via GQ Australia