Open Content Libraries
Information Age Education (IAE) is an Oregon non-profit corporation created by David Moursund in July, 2007. It works to improve the informal and formal education of people of all ages throughout the world. A number of people have contributed their time and expertise in developing the materials that are made available free in the various IAE publications. Click here to learn how you can help develop new IAE materials.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Copyright and Fair Use
- 3 Why Higher Education Faculty Aren't Using OER
- 4 An Example: Flatland, an Out-of-Copyright Book
- 5 Alexandria Digital Library
- 6 Bookshare.org for Students with Qualifying Disabilities
- 7 Cambridge and Oxford
- 8 Digital Public Library of America
- 9 Encyclopedia of Life: World Species Project
- 10 Europeana
- 11 Google Books
- 12 HaitiTrust
- 13 Internet Archive, San Francisco
- 14 Internet Public Library
- 15 Million Book Project
- 16 National Academies Press
- 17 National Science Digital Library
- 18 Online Books Page
- 19 Open Access Journals
- 20 Open Content Alliance
- 21 Open Educational Resources Center for California
- 22 Project Gutenberg
- 23 Questia
- 24 Smithsonian Institution
- 25 The Open Library
- 26 United Nations World Digital Library
- 27 U.S. Library of Congress National Digital Library
- 28 British Library Online Gallery
- 29 Resources
- 30 Links to Other IAE Resources
- 31 Author or Authors
Many millions of different books, articles, and other print materials have been published since the invention of writing. Some have been so completely lost that it is unlikely copies will ever be found. Many are out of copyright and thus could be made available as open source library materials. Many others are still in copyright, but are out of print and not readily available. There is a movement toward making some of these available on the Web. Of course, there also is a huge and steadily growing number of print materials that are commercially available.
There are a number of ongoing projects to make books and other library types of materials available on the Web. Some of these provide free access, while others charge to access the materials. The amount of free materials available is steadily growing.
This IAE-pedia page lists and briefly discusses some of the major free sources of information. Readers are encouraged to email [firstname.lastname@example.org] with suggestions for additions to this page. In many cases, the work in creating the collections listed below is being done by volunteers.
The Heart of the Matter
On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The following is quoted from Article 26:
- Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
- Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
This U.N. document does not speak to the quality of the education that is to be made available. Nor does it attempt to deal with details of what might constitute a good education.
This IAE Web page is based on two assumptions:
- That all people of the world are entitled to a free, good quality education. Good quality is to be determined by contemporary standards; however, it should prepare students to become and remain responsible citizens and lifelong learners who can adjust to life in a changing world.
- This education should be designed to empower learners by helping them gain levels of expertise in diverse areas that meet their own specific needs and interests, the needs and interests of their community, and the needs and interests of the world.
Toward Universal Access to All Knowledge
The following is quoted from the Abstract of a keynote presentation given by Brewester Kale at an April 14, 2009, conference. He is Director and Cofounder of Digital Librarian, and Chairman of the Board of Internet Archive. Retrieved 3/11/09 from http://net.educause.edu/content.asp?page_id=1020348&PRODUCT_CODE=WRC09/GS01&bhcp=1.
- Advances in computing and communications mean that we can cost-effectively store every book, sound recording, movie, software package, and public web page ever created and provide access to these collections via the Internet to students and adults all over the world. By mostly using existing institutions and funding sources, we can build this collection as well as compensate authors within the current worldwide library budget.
- Technological advances, for the first time since the loss of the Library of Alexandria, may allow us to collect all published knowledge in a similar way. But now we can take the original goal another step further to make all the published works of humankind accessible to everyone, no matter where they are in the world.
- Thomas Jefferson’s statement that "All that is necessary for a student is access to a library" may be an exaggeration, but access to information is a key ingredient to education and an open society. Will we allow ourselves to reinvent our concept of libraries to expand and to use the new technologies? This is fundamentally a societal and policy issue. These issues are reflected in our governments’ spending priorities, and in law.
Copyright and Fair Use
Howard, Jennifer (5/29/2011). What you don't know about copyright, but should. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 6/1/2010 from http://chronicle.com/article/What-You-Dont-Know-About/127706/?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en. This article is based on the insights and work of Nancy Sims. Quoting from the article:
- If Nancy Sims had to pick one word to describe how researchers, students, and librarians feel about copyright, it would probably be "confused."
- A lawyer and a librarian, Ms. Sims is copyright-program librarian at the University of Minnesota Libraries. She's there to help people on campus and beyond—both users and owners of protected material—understand their rights.
The article contains links to a number of good sources. In addition, it contains sound advice. Here is an example, quoted form the document:
- Fair use is complicated—but you can also call on the principle of "classroom use." Ask Ms. Sims for a quick working definition of fair use—when it's OK to use copyrighted material without permission—and she just chuckles. "There is no such thing as a quick working definition of fair use," she says. The shorthand she sometimes uses is that fair use "is the breathing space for freedom of expression within copyright law."
- What many faculty members don't realize, she explains, is that "fair use is not the only kind of noninfringing use" available to them. "The really important exemption that I talk to people about is the one called the classroom-use exemption." An instructor teaching students face-to-face in a nonprofit educational setting has a good deal of leeway to show them a lot of copyrighted material. For instance, "you can play a whole movie in class if you fit in the exemption category," Ms. Sims says. "And none of this is fair use."
Why Higher Education Faculty Aren't Using OER
It appears that higher education faculty are under utilizing open education resources (OER). The following artice addresses that issue.
- Stansbury, Meris (9/3/2015).eCampus News. Three legitimate reasons why faculty aren’t using Open Education Resources. Retrieved 9/4/2015 from http://www.ecampusnews.com/top-news/faculty-using-oer-376/.
Quoting from the article:
- Faculty across institutions aren’t using Open Educational Resources (OER)—and the few who are often don’t know they’re using them, says an industry report. And the main reasons why faculty won’t use OER has to with concerns about definition and copyright understanding.
- This data comes from a Babson Survey Research report that aimed to determine whether or not faculty (who chief academic officers, and faculty themselves, say are the main adopters of classroom materials) are using OER.
- After surveying a national sample of over 2,000 faculty members, the report highlights that 75 percent of faculty are unaware of OER. It also revealed that, if it were up to faculty, they’d be 67 percent unaware.
Click here for the ful report.
An Example: Flatland, an Out-of-Copyright Book
When I was a child, I greatly enjoyed reading Edwin A. Abbott’s book, Flatland. It is now out of copyright and the illustrated 1884 version is available free on the Web. Perhaps you remember this delightful book from your childhood. Quoting from the beginning of the story:
- I call our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space.
- Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows - only hard and with luminous edges - and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen. Alas, a few years ago, I should have said "my universe": but now my mind has been opened to higher views of things.
Alexandria Digital Library
Quoting from the website http://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/:
- The Alexandria Digital Library (ADL) is a distributed digital library with collections of georeferenced materials. ADL includes the operational library, with various nodes and collections, and the research program through which digital library architectures, gazetteer applications, educational applications, and software components are modeled, prototyped, and evaluated.
- ADL provides HTML clients to access its collections and gazetteer, and provides specific information management tools, such as the Feature Type Thesaurus for classing types of geographic features, as well as downloadable software code.
Quoting from the website http://www.bookshare.org/web/Welcome.html:
Bookshare.org Library Now Free to All U.S. Students with Qualifying Disabilities
- Memberships for U.S. schools and qualifying U.S. students of all ages including K-12, post-secondary and adult education, are now free, thanks to special funding from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Here's the announcement about the OSEP award. To sign up for Bookshare.org, please read more about student access.
- Bookshare.org believes that people with print disabilities deserve the same ease of access to books and periodicals that people without disabilities enjoy. The Bookshare.org library provides print disabled people in the United States with legal access to over 42,400 books and 150 periodicals that are converted to Braille, large print or digital formats for text to speech audio.
- Schools and students with qualifying disabilities in the United States have free access to Bookshare.org as of October 1, 2007, thanks to the generous support of the Office of Special Education Programs of the U.S. federal Department of Education. Use the code "OSEP" when signing up for Bookshare.org for either a subscription or Institutional Access account and we'll confirm your eligibility.
For more information, see the April 30, 2009, article from eCampus News.
There are a variety of other projects that promote free sharing of materials that fall into the general category of Assistive Computer Technology. See, for example, Alternative Media eXchange Database.
Cambridge and Oxford
Quoting from a 6/7/2010 document:
- The Cambridge University Library plans to digitize some of the most significant rare books and manuscripts in its vast collection thanks to a gift of more than $2.1-million from a British philanthropist.
- The donation, from Leonard S. Polonsky, will pay for the initial infrastructure costs of the ambitious project. Mr. Polonsky, executive chairman of Hansard Global, a financial-services company, said he hopes other donors will join him in the digitization project. He also said he is supporting a similar effort at the University of Oxford, which he says has yet to be announced.
ribed it as “Europe’s answer to the potential cultural dominance portended by Google.”
Digital Public Library of America
Geuss, Megan (4.21.2013). The Digital Public Library of America: Adding Gravitas to your Internet search. ars technica. Retrieved 4/26/2013 from http://arstechnica.com/business/2013/04/the-digital-public-library-of-america-adding-gravitas-to-your-internet-search/. Quoting from the article:
- One year ago, a group of professors, librarians, and futurists gathered in San Francisco to discuss how they would go about building a Digital Public Library of America. There were still many questions about the project, which had millions of dollars in charitable funding but hadn’t yet meted out a complete vision of its incarnation. The directors cited Europeana and Wikipedia as examples, but they weren’t sure how a digital library would tackle the problems unique to using published content in America. Despite the hurdles ahead, the founders of the DPLA promised at that conference that a live website would launch in April 2013, come hell or high water.
- The founders of the DPLA made good on their promise this week. The organization launched a website on Thursday that allows users to browse more than two million archived books, images, records, and sounds. The content comes from the libraries of institutions like Harvard University, the Internet Archive, and the Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco Public Libraries. The DPLA also makes an API available to anyone who wants to add access to this treasure trove to a third party application. [Bold added for emphasis.]
Search the DPLA collection at http://dp.la.
Encyclopedia of Life: World Species Project
Many people have been working on pieces of this Encyclopedia of Life project for many years. The current idea is to join forces and fill in the gaps. The goal is to create an encyclopedia of all earth’s 1.8 million known species. The information will be available free on the Web and organized to serve the needs of both researchers and students.
The Encyclopedia of Life project is representative of efforts to collect and organize the knowledge of entire disciplines. On a large project such as this, governmental funding and the cooperation of many organizations are a standard approach.
Quoting from a 10/22/2008 article in Spiegel Online International:
- A new online encyclopedia of European culture, called "Europeana," is set to debut in November [11/20/08]. It's a rival to the Google Library Project, but also something else—the start of a vast digital backup copy of what's in Europe's libraries, museums and national film collections.
- Not just a page with some facts and figures; the EU has plenty of those. What an EU commissioner has in mind is a rich digital encyclopedia of Europe's cultural heritage. "Europeana" is an ambitious project to digitize large portions of the continent's national libraries and put as much of European civilization as possible—books, maps, paintings, photos, films—online for free.
- The Web site at the moment just has a demonstration tour. But Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, has promised to have two million digitized "objects" available for full public browsing—in English, German and French—by November 20.
Here is a tidbit from the November 26, 2008, issue of The Wired Campus (The Chronicle of Higher Education):
- Too many people are excited about Europeana, a pan-European digital library, archive, and museum. Last week, when the project’s prototype Web site debuted, it got 10 million hits per hour — and crashed.
- With 27 countries participating, the online venture already has some two million digitized objects in its virtual collection, including not just books, newspapers, maps, and manuscripts, but also sound recordings, paintings, and even movies. The journal described it as “Europe’s answer to the potential cultural dominance portended by Google.”==Free Digital Textbooks==
Schaffhauser, Dian (08/01/13). Hunting the Whole Enchilada: 6 Excellent Sites for Free Digital Textbooks. THE Journal. retrieved 8/2/2013 from http://thejournal.com/articles/2013/08/01/hunting-the-whole-enchilada-6-excellent-sites-for-free-digital-textbooks.aspx.
The Google Books Library Project is working to digitize many millions of books. Quoting from their Website:
- When you click on a search result for a book from the Library Project, you'll see basic bibliographic information about the book, and in many cases, a few snippets – a few sentences showing your search term in context. If the book is out of copyright, you’ll be able to view and download the entire book. In all cases, you'll see links directing you to online bookstores where you can buy the book and libraries where you can borrow it.
The Google project is by far the largest of the digitization projects. Its current intent is to make perhaps 30 million books available in a full-text searchable format. This effort is contributing to an up-to-date analysis of copyright laws. There are huge numbers of books that are out of print and no longer generating royalties for their authors, but are still protected by copyright. It will be interesting to see whether the copyright laws will be changed to make such books more readily available to the public.
Here is a reference giving some insights into the Google project:
Schaffhauser, Dian (1/1/002008). Google Book Search: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly. Campus Technology. Retrieved 2/1/08: http://campustechnology.com/articles/57064/. Quoting from the article:
- FORGET EVERYTHING YOU BELIEVE about Google's book digitization project. Once you get past the freakishly high numbers bandied about, the two-dozen-plus distinguished institutions that have signed on, the legal paranoia and the ultra-ultra-secret processes and technologies involved-you'll find that Book Search (from the fifth most valuable company in America) is simply another high-cost effort that is simultaneously visionary and crude. It doesn't even have to succeed in order to impact the transformation of scholarship activities.
On 10/28/08 a short article appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education's The Wired Campus that says:
- Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers announced today that they had settled their longstanding legal battle over Google’s mass scanning of books. Under the terms of the deal, Google will pay $125-million to establish a Book Rights Registry, to compensate authors and publishers whose copyrighted books have already been scanned, and to cover legal costs. The settlement, which still needs court approval to go into effect, would resolve a class-action lawsuit brought in 2005 by the Authors Guild as well as a separate lawsuit filed on behalf of the publishers’ association. Publishers and authors argued that Google’s scanning of books for its Google Book Search program was a flagrant violation of copyright law’s provisions governing fair use.
- If approved by a judge, the accord would allow users of Google Book Search in the United States to see the full texts of books they can read only in snippets now. The deal would also have the potential to put millions more out-of-print or hard-to-find titles within the reach of readers and researchers. Institutions would be able to buy subscriptions so that their students and faculty members could have full access to complete texts. All public libraries in the United States would be given free portals for their patrons. (The settlement does not apply to the use of Google Book Search outside the United States.)
- Users without library or institutional access would pay a fee to preview the full text of a book. Google and the copyright holders—the publishers and authors—would share the proceeds from subscriptions and individual use. Authors and publishers could opt out of the program.
For a legal analysis of this agreement, see http://www.arl.org/pp/ppcopyright/google/index.shtml.
A 1/4/09 New York Times article available at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/05/technology/internet/05google.html?_r=1 mentions that Google has now scanned 5 million out-of-print books and 2 million other books. The following quote covers this and the legal settlement mentioned above:
- The settlement may give new life to copyrighted out-of-print books in a digital form and allow writers to make money from titles that had been out of commercial circulation for years. Of the seven million books Google has scanned so far, about five million are in this category.
Quoting from http://www.campustechnology.com/articles/68499 accessed 10/15/08:
- A group of the nation's largest research libraries are collaborating to create a repository of their digital collections, including millions of books. These holdings will be archived and preserved in a single repository called the HathiTrust.
- As of today, HathiTrust contains two million volumes and about 750 million pages, 16 percent of which are in the public domain. Public domain materials will be available for reading online. Materials protected by copyright, although not available for reading online, are given digital archiving services to provide a reliable means to preserve collections. Organizers also expect to use those materials in the research and development of the trust.
Search the HaitiTrust holdings by going to http://catalog.hathitrust.org/. As of 12/26/09, the holdings consisted of 5,171,506 volumes totaling 1,810,027,100 pages.
Internet Archive, San Francisco
The Internet Archive, San Francisco is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. It is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. "Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public."
- Over 1 Million Digital Books Now Available Free to the Print-Disabled
- Millions of documents from over 350k federal court cases now freely available
- Two Million Free Texts Now Available
Internet Public Library
The Internet Public Library is a public service organization and a learning/teaching environment founded at the University of Michigan School of Information. It is now hosted by Drexel University's College of Information Science & Technology. Quoting from a question and answer section of their website:
- What is the IPL?
- A good question. The IPL is many things:
- the first public library of and for the Internet community
- an experiment, trying to discover and promote the most effective roles and contributions of librarians to the Internet and vice versa
- a group of highly talented, creative, strong-willed people, working hard
The IPL project includes an Ask a Question feature through which trained professional librarian volunteers and graduate students in library science programs will respond to your question. Quoting from the website:
- How long will it take to get an answer?
- Once we have accepted your question, we do our best to answer it promptly. You will receive an answer from us within one week. If you indicate you need a response more quickly, we will try to answer it by that date.
- The IPL is not a good place to come if you need help right away. We are not a “real-time” service, and it takes us time to read, research, and respond to questions. If you need help right away, try your local library or some of the other resources listed on our site.
- What kind of answer will I get?
- IPL answers include resources you can use to learn about your topic, and they include a description of how we found those resources. We focus on finding authoritative, free sources you can access online. The IPL is not part of a physical library, so we don’t own books, magazines, databases, etc. That means we cannot send copies of materials such as articles or book chapters, but we may refer you to those materials and recommend you visit a local library to use them.
Million Book Project
The Million Book project at Carnegie Mellon was initiated by Raj Reddy. As of April 9, 2007, the project had exceeded its initial goal of digitizing one million books. Quoting from http://www.library.cmu.edu/Libraries/MBP_FAQ.html#current:
- Leveraging the $3,000,000 provided by the National Science Foundation for equipment and travel, the Million Book Project attracted international partners and matching funds exceeding $100 million U.S. dollars. To date the Project has scanned over 1.4 million books in China, India and Egypt, and made great strides in research areas relevant to large-scale, multi-lingual database storage and retrieval.
Quoting from a November 27, 2007, report:
- The Million Book Project, an effort led by Carnegie Mellon University to create an online library, has digitized 1.5-million books and made half of them freely available online, according to a statement released today by the university.
- Most of the scanning, digitization, and cataloging of the books takes place in China and India. Zhejiang University, in China; the Indian Institute of Science, in India; and the Library at Alexandria, in Egypt, are partners in the program. It is part of a growing movement to provide free academic material online.
National Academies Press
Over 4,000 books are available free online. Quoting from the website:
- The National Academies Press (NAP) was created by the National Academies to publish the reports issued by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council, all operating under a charter granted by the Congress of the United States. The NAP publishes more than 200 books a year on a wide range of topics in science, engineering, and health, capturing the most authoritative views on important issues in science and health policy. The institutions represented by the NAP are unique in that they attract the nation's leading experts in every field to serve on their award-winning panels and committees. This is the right place for definitive information on everything from space science to animal nutrition.
- Electronic (PDF) Editions
- We offer many titles in electronic Adobe PDF format. Hundreds of these books can be downloaded for free by the chapter or the entire book, while others are available for purchase.
National Science Digital Library
The National Science Digital Library (NSDL) was created by the National Science Foundation to provide free organized access to high-quality resources and tools that support innovations in teaching and learning at all levels of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.
Online Books Page
The Online Books Page of the University of Pennsylvania provides more than 25,000 free books available on the Web.
Open Access Journals
- AERA maintains a list of education-related, peer-reviewed open access journals. Quoting from the website:
- To the best of our ability to discern, we have included only links to electronic journals that are scholarly, peer-reviewed, full text and accessible without cost. We have excluded professional magazines that are largely not refereed, and commercial journals that may only allow access to a very limited number of articles as an enticement to buy. By restricting membership in this way on the list that follows, we hope to do what little we can to promote free access world wide to scholarship in education.
- The Directory of Open Access Journals. Quoting from the website on 2/19/2010:
- Welcome to the Directory of Open Access Journals. This service covers free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals. We aim to cover all subjects and languages. There are now 4,755 journals in the directory. Currently 1,880 journals are searchable at article level. As of today 357,159 articles are included in the DOAJ service.
Open Content Alliance
Quoting from the home page of the Open Content Alliance:
- What is the Open Content Alliance? The Open Content Alliance (OCA) represents the collaborative efforts of a group of cultural, technology, nonprofit, and governmental organizations from around the world that will help build a permanent archive of multilingual digitized text and multimedia content. The OCA was conceived by the Internet Archive and Yahoo! in early 2005 as a way to offer broad, public access to a rich panorama of world culture.
- What is in the OCA archive? The OCA archive will contain globally sourced digital collections, including multimedia content, representing the creative output of humankind.
- How can users find OCA content? All content in the OCA archive will be available through the website. In addition, Yahoo! will index all content stored by the OCA to make it available to the broadest set of Internet users. Finally, the OCA supports efforts by others to create and offer tools such as finding aids, catalogs, and indexes that will enhance the usability of the materials in the archive.
Quoting from a 9/28/07 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
- The Open Content Alliance, Brewster Kahle’s alternative to Google’s much-discussed book-scanning project, announced this week that it would digitize public-domain material from the 19 institutions in the Boston Library Consortium.
- The alliance was created in 2005 by Mr. Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, who has criticized Google’s digitizing project for scanning snippets of copyrighted texts and for tying material to its own search engine. Books scanned by the Open Content Alliance are public-domain texts that can be scanned in full and indexed by every search engine.
- Mr. Kahle and his corporate sponsors, including Adobe, Yahoo, and Hewlett-Packard, haven’t grabbed as many headlines as Google, but they appear to be making steady progress. About 40 institutions have signed on, and pages are being digitized at six scanning centers across the country.
Here is another good reference to the Open Content Alliance:
- Eschool News (Nov 12, 2007). Google's book scanning faces competition: Open Content Alliance triggers philosophical debate over access to digital material. Accessed 11/19/07: http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=50345;_hbguid=030eb01f-e4f0-461d-a3e7-c59096a4c9e8.
Open Educational Resources Center for California
Quoting from http://grou.ps/oercenter/:
- The OER Center for California provides support for community college educators to find, create, remix, use, and share openly licensed learning content. Together, as knowledge workers, we can learn to share...and share to learn.
There are more than 20,000 free books in the Project Gutenberg Online Book Catalog. A grand total of more than 100,000 titles is available at Project Gutenberg Partners, Affiliates and Resources. More than 50 books are available in each of these languages: Chinese, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog.
Listen to a radio broadcast discussing Project Gutenberg.
Read more than 5,000 books_for FREE. These are all books that are out of copyright. The list includes such classics as A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, and Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Here is information from an article published in Wired News on 2/4/10.
- "Gale, a division of Cengage Learning, announced that it had acquired Questia Media last week, with undisclosed financial terms. Questia, a subscription-based online information service, lets users access more than 75,000 books and millions of journal, magazine and newspaper articles; Questia Classroom is a course-management system tied to that online material."
The Smithsonian Institution is beginning to digitize its 137 million artifacts. It has made only a very small start, but the current director is committed to the task. See, for example, Smithsonian Education. This contains more than 1,500 "rich" educational resources that are keyed to state standards.
The Open Library
The Open Library is one step toward creating a virtual library "that makes all the published works of humankind available to everyone in the world." The vision of this project is to create free access to important book collections from around the world. Quoting from their website:
- The Open Library is built by librarians to create comprehensive collections with finding aids. Since The Open Library isn't limited to a single library's or librarian's selections, it represents many points of view. We can create new virtual collections that never existed in physical form.
- Ultimately, we would like The Open Library to include all books. But for the moment, a selective, collections-oriented approach will help us build a bibliographically coherent collection of immediate use to educators, researchers, and the public.
United Nations World Digital Library
The United Nations World Digital Library is a visionary project with a goal of making available a significant fraction of the totality of human knowledge. Quoting from its website:
- The World Digital Library will make available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from cultures around the world, including manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, architectural drawings, and other significant cultural materials. The objectives of the World Digital Library are to promote international and inter-cultural understanding and awareness, provide resources to educators, expand non-English and non-Western content on the Internet, and to contribute to scholarly research.
Planning for this project began in 2005. The project will draw heavily from the national libraries of countries throughout the world. It includes the 190 nations that make up the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Each will digitally archive their own records and make them a part of the World Digital Library.
U.S. Library of Congress National Digital Library
The United States Library of Congress is committing significant resources to build its digital collections. As of 2007, the National Digital Library contained about 11 million digitized documents. Quoting from the library’s 2003 long range planning document:
- The Congress of the United States has been the greatest patron of a library in the history of the world—mandating and funding the programs of this unique resource for knowledge on a nonpartisan basis for 203 years. The Library of Congress under its 2004-2008 strategic plan will continue to build on its historic mission, “...to make its resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations.” We are faced with the greatest upheaval in the transmission of knowledge since the invention of the printing press: the electronic onslaught of digitized multimedia communication. This strategic plan will guide the Library as it superimposes a new, networked digital universe on top of its traditional artifactual (analog) collections.
British Library Online Gallery
See http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/virtualbooks/index.html. This is a 30,000 item collection. Quoting from the website:
- Virtual books
- Use our award-winning 'Turning the Pages™' software to leaf through our great books and magnify the details. Just choose the volume you'd like to see from the lists below.
Carter, Dennis (8/19/09). Technology helps bring rare books back to print. eCampus News. Retrieved 8/19/09: http://www.ecampusnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?print&i=60249;_hbguid=c61341c8-66c4-42ef-9f24-1d418d91b689&d=top-news. Quoting from the article:
- Dozens of university libraries have made vast book collections available online, and University of Michigan library officials have begun selling hard copies of out-of-print books they have digitized in recent years--charging students as little as $10 per book.
- The university announced a deal with BookSurge, part of online retailer Amazon.com, in July. The pact will make more than 400,000 books available in soft-cover editions, including rare work such as Florence Nightingale's "Notes on Nursing," a book first published in 1898. The books will be available in more than 200 languages, and prices will range from $10 to $45, depending on the book's length.
- "This agreement means titles that have been generally unavailable for a century or more will be able to go back into print, one copy at a time," Courant said.
eBooks Search (n.d.). Free non-business textbooks Internet library. Retrieved 9/25/2013 from http://www.businessbookmall.com/Free%20Nonbusiness%20Books.htm#Education.
eClassroom News (5/1/09). Iconic texts still missing from e-libraries. Getting permission to release books in electronic format can be hard. Retrieved 5/1/09: http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/classroom-news/?i=58553. Note that this article focuses of books that have not yet been digitized for sale in electronic format. Quoting from the article:
- A growing number of schools are embracing books in electronic format, but many classic titles that have become staples of the English curriculum still aren't available as eBooks.
- Getting permission to release a book in electronic form can be as hard--or harder--than writing it: It took six years get J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy released in eBook format, more than half as long as Tolkien himself took to write all three books.
Foster, Andrea L. (5/21/08). Nonprofit library group will share book records with Google. Retrieved 6/18/08: http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=3021&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en. Quoting from the article:
- In an effort to increase the visibility of libraries’ holdings on the Web, Google and OCLC—formerly known as the Online Computer Library Center—have agreed to swap data. Under the arrangement, OCLC member-libraries that have made their holdings available via Google Book Search will share their bibliographic records with Google. And Google Book Search, which contains the digitized text of more than one million books, will provide links to WorldCat, the world’s largest bibliographic database. It is run by OCLC, a nonprofit group that promotes technology in libraries.
- Other groups, too, are trying to promote libraries holdings on the Web, including Open Library and LibraryThing.
Goth, Greg (2007). Digital libraries are taking form. IEEE Distributed Systems Online, vol. 8, no. 12, 2007, art. no. 0712-oz004. Retrieved 12/21/07: http://dsonline.computer.org/portal/site/dsonline/menuitem.9ed3d9924aeb0dcd82ccc6716bbe36ec/index.jsp?&pName=dso_level1&path=dsonline/2007/12&file=oz004news.xml&xsl=article.xsl&. Quoting from the article:
- “All the published literature of humankind in the next generation will be in digital form,” says Brewster Kahle, cofounder of the Internet Archive and one of the driving forces behind the nonprofit Open Content Alliance (OCA, www.opencontentalliance.org), an open digitization consortium. “And all the older materials that will be used by younger people—except for a very few—will be online. So, if we want something to be used by the next generation, it has to be online. That’s an understood premise. It’s now also understood that it’s not that expensive to get there.”
- “The technology for digitizing a book at beautiful quality is 10 cents a page,” he says. That cost covers optical-character-recognition digitization, compression, packaging in multiple downloadable formats, cataloguing, and hosting at redundant sites in North America and Europe for long-term digital preservation. It includes a PC interface that people can use to print from home. Alternatively, users can download, print, and bind through Amazon or similar book-binding vendor offerings.
Gormick, Lev (2/24/09). Lev Gonick: How technology will reshape academe after the economic crisis. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2/24/09:http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=3632&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en. Quoting from the article:
- One area where I predict fundamental change is the impact of open educational resources on the textbook market. Traditional textbook publishers have held an iron lock on the industry’s model for too long, and universities have been tacitly complicit of the system. In the Web era, however, this oligopolistic business practice is imploding.
- Indeed, the whole learning process is changing thanks to the Internet. First professors posted syllabi online and used e-mail to supplement their office hours. Then learning activities like classroom presentations were supplemented by student-published Web pages, searchable discussion forums, and collaborative wikis. In a curve that has only been accelerating these past 20 years, we now have an educational economy of information abundance confronting an educational delivery system that was built for a time of information scarcity. Colleges have shared some of their best teaching using new systems like Apple’s iTunes U, OpenCourseWare, and explosive content-creation activities underway in countries like India and China.
Howard, Jennifer (April 29, 2009). Snags hit Google settlement with authors and publishers, and antitrust worries rise. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 4/29/09: http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=3739&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en. Quoting from the article:
- It’s beginning to feel like Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, the case in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House that drags on, and on, and on. As speculation grows about the impact that the Google Book Search settlement will have on readers and publishers — will it result in a universal library or a worrisome monopoly? — an actual resolution of the case continues to recede in the distance.
- In the latest delay, reported by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, the federal judge in charge of the proceedings responded to authors’ pleas by giving them an extra four months to opt out of the settlement. They now have until September to take that step. The judge, Denny Chin, also bumped the date for a final hearing on the settlement from June to October.
Howard, Jennifer (10/6/2010). One step closer to a national digital library. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 9/25/2013 from http://chronicle.com/blogPost/One-Step-Closer-to-a-National/27491/?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en.
Intute (1/16/08). UK Universities Institutional Repositories search project. Retrieved 1/23/08: http://www.intute.ac.uk/blog/2008/01/16/uk-universities-institutional-repositories-search-project/. Quoting from the article:
- The Intute Institutional Repository Search of UK university research paper databases is to be launched in beta at the end of January. Content deposited in institutional repositories is growing, however as yet there is no comprehensive and easy way to search and retrieve this content. We believe that, in order to facilitate access to scholarly and educational material, this content should be widely accessible to the UK education community. In partnership with UKOLN http://www.ukoln.ac.uk at the University of Bath and SHERPA http://www.sherpa.ac.uk at the University of Nottingham, Intute has been commissioned by JISC www.jisc.ac.uk to develop a repository search infrastructure. This development aims to facilitate the discovery, access and retrieval of material. In doing so, we hope to raise the visibility of repository content and perpetuate the deposit of content.
Johnson, Richard K. (9/25/08). FREE OUR LIBRARIES! Why we need a new approach to putting library collections online. Retrieved 10/2/08: http://www.blc.org/news/BLC_summit_white_paper_9-29-08.pdf.
- This paper was commissioned by the Boston Library Consortium with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for distribution at the Universal Access Digital Library Summit on September 25, 2008, in Boston. Quoting from the paper:
- Long ago, mankind figured out that special kinds of public institutions are needed to preserve cultural heritage—libraries and museums. They’ve been a grand success, enabling successive generations to learn from and build on the record of man’s achievements and failures.
- But a momentous, ill-considered shift is now afoot that threatens to limit the public rights in the collections assembled and maintained, often at public expense, in libraries around the globe.
- Today Google and other businesses are scanning millions of books from the world’s great libraries and offering access to them on the Web. This conjures up the vision of a vast, free, Internet public library of accumulated knowledge. It seems like a marriage made in heaven—the union of corporate capital and enormous library collections, carrying knowledge into virtually every home and workplace.
- Unfortunately, it’s not.
Singel, Ryan (9/17/09). Google lets you custom-print millions of public domain books. Retrieved 9/19/09: http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/09/google-books-publish-on-demand/. Quoting from the article:
- What’s hot off the presses come Thursday?
- Any one of the more than 2 million books old enough to fall out of copyright into the public domain.
- Over the last seven years, Google has scanned millions of dusty tomes from deep in the stacks of the nation’s leading university libraries and turned them into searchable documents available anywhere in the world through its search box.
- And now Google Book Search, in partnership with On Demand Books, is letting readers turn those digital copies back into paper copies, individually printed by bookstores around the world.
- Or at least by those booksellers that have ordered its $100,000 Espresso Book Machine, which cranks out a 300 page gray-scale book with a color cover in about 4 minutes, at a cost to the bookstore of about $3 for materials. The machine prints the pages, binds them together perfectly, and then cuts the book to size and then dumps a book out, literally hot off the press, with a satisfying clunk. (The company says a machine can print about 60,000 books a year.)
Wiley, David (7/21/09). Giving away academic books online can actually help print sales. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 7/21/09: http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=3891&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en. Quoting from the short article:
- In an economy where sales of everything are down, an increasing number of authors and publishers, especially in academic fields, are distributing their books free on the Internet. This contradicts common sense. After all, at a time when people are buying fewer books, won’t giving away books compound the problem?
- Maybe not.
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The initial version of this article was written by David Moursund.