NEL releases over 1.4 million free digital books

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Image: vadimguzhva/Istock.com via AFP Relaxnews

With public and school libraries closed indefinitely amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, book lovers are turning to the internet to keep their bookshelves stocked.

To help them adjust to their new reading habits, the Internet Archive launched the National Emergency Library to offer free access to 1.4 million digital books.

The nonprofit group also announced that it is suspending waitlists for the 1.4 million modern works in its lending library through the end of June, “or the end of the United States national emergency, whichever is later.”

Students, teachers and avid readers across the globe will have the opportunity to browse through the collection of the newly-launched National Emergency Library, as well as the other 2.5 million public domain books available as always in the Internet Archive.

“Users will be able to borrow books from the National Emergency Library without joining a waitlist, ensuring that students will have access to assigned readings and library materials that the Internet Archive has digitized for the remainder of the U.S. 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,” the Internet Archive explained in an online announcement.

The Internet Archive added that its new lending library has focused on digitizing 20th century books, which were obtained through Phillips Academy Andover, Marygrove College and other school libraries.

Bookworms can (re)discover classics such as Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”, as well as contemporary best-sellers like Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” and Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

The Internet Archive still urges readers who can afford to buy books to support their local bookstores in the midst of the global COVID 19-pandemic.

While book festivals and bookstore events have been canceled or indefinitely postponed, authors and publishing professionals are using creative means to support the industry.

Earlier this week, publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove launched her own virtual book club, where she will be in conversation every week with an author from Hachette’s imprint Dialogue Books.

“I have been running book events for over a decade and with millions of people at home wanting something else to think about this feels like the right time to reach out and invite people to join in the dialogue and enjoy our eclectic range of stories from the comfort of your sofa,” Lovegrove said of the Dialogue Virtual Book Lounge in a statement. JB

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