Caroline Goldstein
Updated March 27, 2020 8:14 am
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The Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library, has just made 1.4 million digitized library books available—for free and with no wait list—to everyone in the world. Now you can finally take the time to read Anna Karenina, Middlemarch, or whatever other doorstopper you were supposed to read in that 19th-century lit class freshman year but, you know, didn’t.

The organization launched the aptly named National Emergency Library on Tuesday, March 24th, in response to school and library closures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a blog post, Chris Freeland, the Director of Open Libraries at Internet Archive, wrote that the organization launched the digital library first to provide “displaced” students access to their assigned reading and research materials and to support educators teaching remotely. But Freeland also wrote that the collection is open to non-students “who cannot physically access their local libraries because of closure or self-quarantine [so that they] can continue to read and thrive during this time of crisis, keeping themselves and others safe.”

The library contains all of the books from Phillips Academy Andover and from Marygrove College, plus the majority of Trent University’s library. Over a million more books were donated from other libraries, universities, and individuals around the world. Freeland noted that the library is constantly growing.

The organization focused its acquisitions on “materials published during the 20th century, the vast majority of which do not have a commercially available ebook.”

That said, a quick search in the Emergency Library collection did yield some contemporary bestsellers.

We found Harry Potter, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Hunger Games, a bunch of Stephen King, and Gone Girl, just to name a few. So you’re certainly not doomed to a fate of working through W. Rupert Davies’ rollicking 1925 text Pilgrims of the Press: The Story of the Tour of the Canadian Weekly Newspaper Editors and Their Wives in Europe in 1924. (But you do you!)

The National Emergency Library will suspend its waitlist until either June 30th or the end of the National Emergency in the U.S., whichever date comes later. But in the meantime, Freeland encourages people “who are in a position to buy books to do so” to provide authors, publishers, and independent bookstores the support they so crucially need.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, HelloGiggles is committed to providing accurate and helpful coverage to our readers. As such, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, we encourage you to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments, and visit our coronavirus hub.