Read.gov: the Library of Congress “lends” books through a browser

Read.gov: the Library of Congress “lends” books through a browser

I think when most people hear the word “library”, they think specifically of a lending library.

Well, you can’t just walk into the Library of Congress and check out a book.😉

That always seemed unfortunate to me, because people seeking copyright had to send them a copy. They may have the only existing copy of some books.

Now, logically, I totally understand why they can’t circulate p-books (paperbooks). Those generally decay every time they are read. Public libraries estimate the number of times a book can be loaned before it will have to be replaced (and it varies a bit, but under twenty, I think)…many of these could not be replaced.

However, I thought it would be cool if they were scanning public domain books and making them available. They have been doing that with newspapers (in a nicely searchable way), which I have used extensively (Chronicling America).

Well, I was linking a place to read the Wizard of Oz at The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip and I took a look at the Library of Congress’

Read.gov/books

I wouldn’t say it’s well-organized, and there aren’t a hundred books there…but I think once you launch the book, it’s actually pretty nice!

These are scans of the book…it gives you the experience of looking at the book as if it was paper. The text is not searchable.

You can, though,  choose to either have a one page, vertical scan view, or a two page, flip horizontal view.

You can also download the books as HTML or PDF.

I hope they continue to expand the library, although I do appreciate the care they are taking with it. I’d like to see terms searchable across books, but I do think this is a good effort.

This is the list of books…

http://www.read.gov/books/index.html#adults

It says “adults”, but this page has six of those, six for teens, and 51 for kids. Some of them you’ll know, and some you probably don’t.🙂 I was particularly pleased to see some of the otherW.W. Denslow books…Denslow was the original illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: Mother Goose and Humpty Dumpty.

One other thing: I did test this on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7″. Without downloading, it still worked pretty well. I normally prefer a horizontal read, like a book, but in this case, the scroll method looked best to me.

Oh, one other other thing😉 : it doesn’t remember where you were, but it will show you page numbers and you can navigate by those, so if you remembered or noted where you were, it wouldn’t be that hard.

Incidentally, I do have a bit of a family thing going on for the next few days (nothing bad…in fact, it’s great!), so I might be a tad less responsive, but it shouldn’t slow me down too much.🙂

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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