Internet libraries: which are the best?

Internet libraries (also known as digital libraries) are fast becoming the new way to borrow books, only in digital form. They store books, audio files, visual and video material, so the range of accessible media is huge. How it works is you can access these files, often after signing up, on your computer, phone, or any other device that connects to the internet. The best part about digital libraries is that you don’t even have to leave the house to find the perfect book!


There’s a fair few different digital libraries, all storing different files, and it can be hard to know which one to turn to when looking for your next good read. So we’ve come up a list of some of the best.


Project Gutenberg


You’ve probably heard of this one, as Project Gutenberg has come a long way in the last few years. It’s run by volunteers, is funded by donations, and the best part is that reading their resources doesn’t have to cost you a penny. It hopes to ‘encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks’ so you can rest easy that by reading their resources, you’re helping them achieve their goal.


They also now have a few different formats and languages available, so you wherever you’re from, and however you plan on reading, they should have the resources for you. They have around 33,000 eBooks available, a number that’s growing, so they’ll always have something in store for you.




This is another free one, and whilst it’s not as big as Project Gutenberg, it’s easy and pleasant to use. The website is well presented, and has clear categories and collections for you to browse. You can also search for titles, if you had something specific in mind.


They also have an option to buy the physical books, as they recognise that not everyone enjoys reading from a screen.


The World Digital Library


This is an internet library run by the United States, but it’s one that aims to include culture from all over the world. It’s less for fiction, and more for academic resources, and encouraging understanding of other cultures.


The resources provided date back to 8000 BCE, so rather than the latest bestsellers, expect to find historic resources, including maps, music and photographs. If you’re interested in history and other cultures, this is definitely the internet library for you.


Again the resources are free to access, and can be read in a variety of languages.


Google Books


Google Books is a huge index of around 100,000 books. Whilst it’s not completely free, you can access certain chapters, search for books, and search within books. So you can’t access all of their books for free, you can only access them in part, but then you have the option to purchase the books online and download them to your device.


This may not seem much like a library, and more like a book store, but it’s especially useful for students, as they can access the parts of books they need, and can reference the book without having to purchase it or read all of it. Searching through books on Google Books is a lot quicker than flicking through a hard copy to find what you’re after.


Universal Digital Library


Last but definitely not least, this is the largest digital library you’ll find on the internet. It’s also known as the ‘million book project’ so as you might expect, it has more than 1 million books available. The best part is they’re all free! The site also allows for full text searching, much like Google Books, but with full access and no additional costs.


This internet library is run by a range of different institutions, from all around the round, so like the World Digital Library aims to do, they have resources from all different cultures and time periods.


Open Library


This is another of the largest internet libraries, with over 1 million eBooks available. Their goal is to build one webpage for every book ever published.


The site is beautifully presented and has options to read, borrow and buy eBooks as well as offering physical copies to borrow and buy. Unlike a lot of other internet libraries, the Open Library also includes modern texts (Harry Potter for example is on their home page) whilst also having as many classics as you can imagine.