Whole Books OnLine
The premise of digital libraries is that students may lack access to certain texts or literature either because of lack of funds or limited library resources. And such concerns will multiply as grants are cut. The difficulties are that reading whole books can gobble computer time, cause eyestrain and are hard to bookmark. (Rare books, of course, from remote sites may not be accessible via any media other than the Internet.) A good use of a digital libraries would occur in a scenario in which a student encounters a reference to a primary source but has no ready access to it.
Literature Classics, such as the Greeks Ovid and Plato, H.G. Wells and Charles Dickens, for example, are now all available on-line. Handy original sources if not stocked in the school library.
Google has started a project to digitize whole libraries of books, with full on-line access available to those books that are out of copyright or where the author has given permission. Library collections include those from Stanford University, Harvard University, Oxford University, the University of Michigan, and The New York Public Library. Many think of it as the world's largest card catalog.
Project Gutenberg offers over 46,000 free ebooks. Choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them, or read them online. They carry high quality ebooks: All were previously published by bona fide publishers. Project Gutenberg digitized and diligently proofread them with the help of thousands of volunteers.
Bartleby has almost 400 titles of literature, reference and verse available for free online.
The collection spans Henry Adams and Aesop to H.G. Wells and Mary Wollstonecraft, Agamemnon and American Sonnets to The Voyage of the Beagle and The Wind Among the Reeds, Familiar Quotations and A Dictionary of Similes to Robert's Rules of Order and The Elements of Style.
Virtual libraries for students can encourage them to seek a primary source as a context for a particular quotation or, as the publishing industry evolves, for current magazine articles on topics in science, not available in local libraries.
Other Areas To Check Out...
• Answers for ESL Teachers and Foreign Language and Bilingual Education
• Black (African-American) History
• Congressional Legislative Information
• Evaluation Resources
• Example Virtual Libraries
• Homework Help
• Microsoft Office Alternatives
• PBS and NPR Resources
• Scientists and Mathematicians Online
• Teaching Physical Science Through Children's Literature