National Emergency Library lets users freely borrow 1.4M books

MANILA, Philippines – The Internet Archive will make some 1.4 million digitized books available to borrow worldwide without requiring users to join a waiting list, the organization announced on its blog on Tuesday, March 24.

This initiative, called the National Emergency Library, seeks to fulfill the "unprecedented global and immediate need for access to reading and research materials" during the coronavirus pandemic.

The naming convention references the US national emergency, but the library will provide equal access to users worldwide, regardless of location. As such, the suspension of the waiting lists will run "through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later." 

By allowing users to borrow digital books without joining a waiting list for the content, the library ensures "students will have access to assigned readings and library materials that the Internet Archive has digitized for the remainder of the US academic calendar, and that people who cannot physically access their local libraries because of closure or self-quarantine can continue to read and thrive during this time of crisis, keeping themselves and others safe."

Notably, the Internet Archive also provides free access to 2.5 million downloadable public domain books. These are open to the public and do not require joining a waitlist to view.

The Internet Archive's initiative follows other organizations offering free access to various audiovisual media during the pandemic, such as Scribd and Audible. –

Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.