The COVID-19 situation has forced a lot of learning situations as we all cope with staying home. But the most affected part of the population are the students and teachers who have been booted from a normal classroom setting. In the wake of this crisis, some heroes have stepped up to help everyone cope a little easier with isolation.
The Internet Archive launched a new project called the National Emergency Library to help promote remote learning and make access to e-books easier. This group has made digital copies of over 1.4 million books donated by educational institutions so people can access them from home.
All of the titles are from another project the Internet Archive launched known as the Open Library but without a wait list. And now, multiple users can access one title at the same time. This project will last until June 30th or whenever the COVID-19 crisis ends.
The FAQ site for the project states, “We believe this is an extraordinary moment in time that requires assistance at a scale that we are able to provide. Suspending wait-lists will put books in the hands of people who need them, supporting emergency remote teaching, research activities, independent scholarship, and intellectual stimulation while universities, schools, training centers, and libraries are closed.”
When the COVID-19 order is lifted, the books will have their wait-lists reinstated in accordance with fair use. But what makes this project even more amazing is the fact that it is available to anybody who has an internet connection around the globe. Whether you are in the U.S. or across the world in Thailand, as long as you have an internet connection you can access any of the titles in the National Emergency Library.
Many experts have said that the National Emergency Library project is a huge aid to remote learning institutions. History Librarian Theresa Murdock said, “Today, I was able to inform 10 instructors that the books they needed were now available, whereas yesterday they were not.”
Although this project was founded to help people in quarantine, some argue that it is theft. Some authors and legal experts claim the project is at odds with copyright law but no lawsuit has been launched at this time.