Digital Public Library of America
Ebook Friendly’s Piotr Kowalczyk provides an updated list of sites that offer free public domain books in electronic and audio format. Piotr writes:
Every year new publications enter public domain. That means their intellectual property rights have expired or are not applicable any longer. The content of these works becomes available for public use. Anyone is free to use it – but also to reuse it, for instance publish a new edition. Therefore you may find in major ebookstores (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBook Store, or Google Play Books) public domain books that are not free. My advice is that if you want to get an ebook version of a classic novel like Pride and Prejudice, you should first check out the sites listed below. Browsing the ebookstore where you have an account is a next step, if you don’t find what you’re looking for.
Here’s a sampling of sites provided:
1. Project Gutenberg – Project Gutenberg is a top destination for free ebooks on the web. It’s [the] first ebook initiative in the world, established by Michael S. Hart in 1971.
2. Europeana – Europeana offers access to millions of digitized items from European museums, libraries, and archives.
3. Digital Public Library of America – DPLA is aimed at giving universal access to digital resources of American libraries and archives.
4. Internet Archive – The website is a huge repository of text, audio and video files, including public domain titles. You can browse and read online over 5 million books and items from over 1,500 collections.
5. Open Library – The site is a project of the Internet Archive and is intended to create “one web page for every book ever published.”
Open Access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder. OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance. Just as authors of journal articles donate their labor, so do most journal editors and referees participating in peer review. OA literature is not free to produce, even if it is less expensive to produce than conventionally published literature. The question is not whether scholarly literature can be made costless, but whether there are better ways to pay the bills than by charging readers and creating access barriers. Business models for paying the bills depend on how OA is delivered. – Peter Suber
For more information, click here.
Jim O’Donnell, writing for Slate, is a professor of historical, philosophical, and religious studies and university librarian at Arizona State University. In the article, O’Donnell ponders the question, which is also the title of the article, “What Will Libraries Be Like in 2100?” The article is part of Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. O’Donnell provides interesting and optimistic predictions about collections and global accessibility.
Here is the best quote ever about libraries and librarians:
But we do need libraries. In a world of superabundant information, they curate and collect and discriminate and care for the good stuff—the stuff really smart people have worked to create and preserve, the stuff you can rely on when you want to understand the world deeply and accurately, the stuff too complicated to come into existence by crowdsourcing, too unpopular to be foisted on us by corporations or politicians. Librarians—smart, professional, dispassionate about everything but the truth—are the Jedi knights of our culture’s future and deserve to be respected for that.
Photo Credit: Mrs. Duffee Seated on a Striped Sofa, Reading Her Kindle, After Mary Cassatt, by Mike Licht
Whitney Grace at Beyond Search has written about a great site called Open Culture with the tagline,”The best free & educational media on the web.” This site has over 570 free eBooks you can legally download. Whitney highlights that all the works that make up the Harvard Classics are available. When you are on the home page, you are greeted with a slew of options for free courses (including business), free movies, free language lessons, free ebooks and texts, and free great lectures.
An interesting mention in Information Today’s Open Access Roundup, by Abby Clobridge, focuses on the open access (OA) movement in academia. The section, “Nobel Prize Winner Boycotts Non-OA Journals,” highlights a recent opinion piece written by Randy Schekman, Ph.D., recent Nobel Prize winner (Physiology or Medicine), where he issues a “call to arms to fellow researchers” to avoid publishing in “luxury journals” or “big brands.” The piece, published in The Guardian, is entitled, “How Journals Like Nature, Cell and Science Are Damaging Science.” Dr. Schekman wrote, “There is a better way, through the new breed of open-access journals that are free for anybody to read, and have no expensive subscriptions to promote. Born on the web, they can accept all papers that meet quality standards, with no artificial caps.”
Irises. Vincent van Gogh. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program
Wire.com contributor Drue Kataoka, an artist and Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum has written an interesting post about the “emerging ‘open content’ art movement.” She highlights the recent “revolutionary” action taken by The Getty when they “quietly released 5,400 new, high-resolution (800dpi) images from its Getty Research Institute for public use.” Ms. Kataoka goes on to state that there are no fees or restriction for use. “To put this in perspective: Not one of New York’s largest museums — the MoMA, the Whitney, the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan, or the Frick have done that yet.” Other art institutions participating in the open content movement are:
- Los Angeles’ LACMA,
- D.C.’s National Gallery of Art
- Dallas Museum of Art
- Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum
- Yale University Art Gallery
Google, through the Google Cultural Institute, has the meta-museum “which now includes high-resolution images of artworks from over 300 institutions available online.” This collection is the largest but image downloads/sharing is restricted.
A couple of benefits of viewing art in high-resolution digital format are highlighted:
- One can view “minute details” of brushstrokes. Most artwork, in museums, are “under glass or in a case.” One can view artwork “without a magnifying glass, with no time constraint, in the comfort of our homes, and without being rushed (or scolded by a museum guard for getting too close).”
- Anyone, anytime, anywhere in the world can view and share masterpieces that in the past have been viewable only to “art insiders or elite collectors.”
In conclusion, Ms. Kataoka ponders where this movement will take us in the future. “It is the responsibility of the art world and the tech world to make sure our cultural heritage gets onboard the ‘Noah’s Ark’ of open content. Otherwise, we will live in a world with lots of closed, siloed creative potential — but without access to our shared, collective, creative past. And that will be a world with a less creative future.”