I used to hoard books but somewhere along the way I convinced myself that I really could find the information again if I needed it, and proceeded to donate most of my books. Since then I have needed the information in the donated books only a few times, but always when I was close to a deadline.
What do you do when you are writing a piece to deadline and you realize you don’t have the book you were going to quote from—and you don’t have time to go to the library or your local bookstore?
After figuring out a way to get the information I needed—just in the nick of time (every time)—I started to wonder what other people do to find the exact passage or quote they need, especially if they aren’t willing to buy an e-book, as I often end up doing.
There are many free library sources out there. They are most useful for classic books and poetry. Here are a few of the most popular ones:
Bartleby.com (http://www.bartleby.com/) is the best resource I’ve found. You can find quotations, books, and poems that are all searchable. You can even browse through The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr, to brush up on your grammar, or jump right to the sentence element that is giving you the most trouble.
Open Library (https://openlibrary.org/) is a free, digital lending library of over 2 million books that can be read in a browser or downloaded to be printed.
Internet Archive Texts (https://archive.org/details/texts) contains digital books collections, containing over 5 million books and other text items that you can browse through and read.
Project Gutenburg (http://www.gutenberg.org/) is the original free book source on the internet, but it’s homepage claims it has only 42,000 free digital books.
And one more tip: The last time I couldn’t find a book that used to be in my library, I went online to Amazon.com to download the book as a Kindle. Since I’d read the book (and owned it at one time) I didn’t feel bad about checking out the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon’s site. The passage I wanted to quote from was available for me to read so I did—no need to download it. As an aspiring writer as well as someone who believes in the Golden Rule, I want to emphasize that I wouldn’t do that if I hadn’t already bought the book—but if you are ever in the same situation, you might want to give it a try.
Do you know of any other free library resources for our writing community?
Diane MacKinnon: is a writer, blogger, mother, life coach, and family physician. I’m enjoying all winter has to offer, including sledding, but especially long evenings spent under a cozy blanket with my laptop.