Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Open Library

Last week we posted about our e-book collection reaching 200. These are core texts which we purchase from suppliers to ensure access for large numbers of students. If you've used our e-books you'll know that there are some restrictions on how you can use the titles, both in terms of downloading and viewing them online. These relate to Digital Rights Management, a thorny subject in ebook-land at present.

For copyright-free material (where the author's death occurred more than 70 years ago) the same restrictions generally don't apply and there are some excellent resources which offer full-text access to out-of-copyright titles, such as Project Gutenburg.

Another such site is Open Library, a community project run by the Internet Archive which was created with the aim of providing a single page on the web for every book ever published - as they put it "a lofty but achievable goal".

To date, over 20 million records have been added to their catalogue. Where these titles are copyright-free (currently over 1 million records) they provide full text access, either via their excellent BookReader browser app or various downloadable formats for different devices.

They've also launched a scheme for in-copyright titles called the Lending Library. Libraries contribute digitised versions of books in return for borrowing access for their users to other libraries' e-titles. It's still relatively early days for this scheme (and we're not currently a member!) but it looks an interesting model for libraries and e-books in the future.

Watch this space...