While the library is closed, students can access resources through the Internet Archive.

Students, university faculty and researchers alike are all far from the comfort of their university libraries. That’s where the Internet Archive comes in to help.

The Internet Archive suspended the waitlists for the books in its lending library. Because of the global pandemic, it created the National Emergency Library “to serve the nation’s displaced learners,” according to its website. It opened March 24 and will stay available until June 30 or whenever the U.S. national emergency ends, whichever is later. 

You can access and borrow these e-books by registering for a free account to get a virtual library card.

The National Emergency Library was a response to educators who were asking about the capacity of the lending library. This library has books from Phillips Academy Andover, Marygrove College and much of Trent University’s collections, along with more than a million other books donated from other libraries. 

The books that have been digitized focus on 20th century-published materials, and many of them don’t have e-books that are available to the public. These books are ones that you would most likely only have access to in print in a library. The Internet Archive is also offering access to 2.5 million public domain books that can be downloaded and do not require a waitlist to be viewed.

“The library system, because of our national emergency, is coming to aid those that are forced to learn at home,” said Brewster Kahle, digital librarian of the Internet Archive, on the Internet Archive Blog. “This was our dream for the original Internet coming to life: the Library at everyone’s fingertips.”

But the Internet Archive does not want this to come at the expense of authors and publishers, as they have already been impacted by this pandemic like other industries. The Internet Archive stresses that if you are financially able to purchase books through Amazon or other outlets, you should do so. 

Chris Freeland, director of open libraries at Internet Archive, noted ways users can help support the National Emergency Library.

The easiest way is to read, recommend and/or teach using books from the library. You can also sponsor a book to be digitized and preserved. The sponsorship donation covers the cost of purchasing and shipping the book to the Internet Archive, digitization by trained staff, the safe keeping of the physical book within the physical archives and server costs, according to the Internet Archive website. You can then claim the first borrow of the book and can add a public sponsorship dedication message to the book’s page.

Freeland also asks that you endorse their efforts within your institution and share the news of the National Emergency Library on your social media using


The Internet Archive began in 1996 and has 330 billion web pages, 20 million books and texts, 4.5 million audio recordings, 4 million videos, 3 million images and 200,000 software programs, according the Internet Archive website. It also has live concerts and TV news broadcasts.

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