How to replace libraries during lockdown

Elizabeth Meade discusses how to keep reading in isolation

Elizabeth Meade
1st March 2021

There is no true way to replace libraries in lockdown. They provide books, historical documents, job advice and technology to the community and I look forward to their reopening. However, if it's books you're after, there are plenty of alternative ways to acquire books!

Library ebook apps--Many libraries subscribe to a service such as OverDrive or BorrowBox that allows patrons to borrow ebooks and audiobooks for free using their existing library account.

Project Gutenberg--This site catalogues copyright-free media, often from a bygone era. Including beloved classics, short stories from early science fiction magazines and historic texts, the site is notable for making educational content freely accessible. That said, some of the content has aged badly, and much of it was never good to begin with. The site is well-organized, with a page for the latest additions and the most popular downloads of yesterday, the past week, and the past month.

Open Culture--Open Culture is home to not only 800 free ebooks, it also contains 200 free textbooks and 1,500 free online courses, among other offerings. While one must pay to get credit for said online courses, and, like Project Gutenberg, a lot of the literary content skews older and classic, it's not a bad place to learn something new. They even offer language lessons and run a blog through their front page with more free resources and an extensive archive.

Classic Short Stories--This site features, well, exactly what it says: classic short stories. If you're a fan of classic authors like Mark Twain and O. Henry, look no further. Among the available tales include iconic works such as 'In the Red Room' by Paul Bowles, 'The Monkey's Paw' by W.W. Jacobs and 'The Most Dangerous Game' by Richard Connell.

East of the Web Short Stories--A site containing free, original fiction in the genres of children's, crime, horror, humor, nonfiction, romance and sci-fi.

Study eBooks--Similar to Project Gutenberg, distributes copyright-free educational works via a simple interface. It's mostly slightly-out-of-date nonfiction and classics, but most notably features some early science fiction and fantasy (think H.G. Wells) and collections of works on occultism, philosophy and religion. The Editor's Picks section features more well-known works or works of particular interest, that may be more readable than obscure early-20th-century health books.

EL Comics--Do you like short, free horror comics with shocking ends? Then you may enjoy, the project of Ehud Lavski and Yael Nathan. I read most of these in one night and I still can't sleep.

Hiveworks--If you're looking for longer webcomics, this site features lots of free, long-running stories, including favorites like Cyanide and Happiness and the multi-Hugo-Award-winning Girl Genius.

Most Recommended Books--While this site does not provide books, it does provide lists of celebrities' favorite books. Whether you want to fill your own reading list or judge billionaires in silence, it's a fun site. That said, the selections are pulled from interviews and podcasts and not confirmed by the celebrities in question.

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AUTHOR: Elizabeth Meade
(she/her) Head of Current Affairs (News, Campus Comment, Comment, Science). Chemistry major. Avid reader. Chaos theorist. Amateur batrachologist and historian. Rock fan. Likes cybersecurity and cooking. Wrote the first article for Puzzles. Probably the first Courier writer to have work featured in one of Justin Whang's videos.

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