Libraries Offer Digital Books Free On Tuesday

06.29.10 |

Libraries in the U.S. will take a giant step toward putting their brick and mortar locations out of business on Tuesday. That's when "The Wall Street Journal" reports many public libraries, along with digital libraries, will begin allowing Internet users to check out digital scans of more than one-million books. Most of the books are considered public domain, while some are still covered by copyright but are no longer printed or sold. This doesn't mean people can download a mass of books onto their Kindle or iPad or other device and store them. Code embedded in the books render them unreadable once the loan period ends, two weeks after being downloaded -- just like a physical library book.

 Efforts are continuing on many fronts to make books currently protected by copyright available online. Libraries are working on a system that would allow digital copies of shelved library books to be downloaded, then the physical book would be held in the library and not loaned -- thus covering any issues a copyright holder may have. Some libraries have purchased copies of e-books and made them available on a local library website. Two-thirds of U.S. libraries offered e-book loans last year, and the number is likely much higher this year. A massive effort by Google to scan every book and document ever printed so they can be made available online is mired in lawsuits.