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Open Library

Open Library
Open Library homepage in September 2011
Type of site
Digital library index
Available inEnglish
Alexa rankDecrease 10,512 (As of 19 March 2019)[1]
Launched2006; 13 years ago (2006)
Current statusActive
Content license
data: public domain[2]
source code: AGPLv3[3]

Open Library is an online project intended to create "one web page for every book ever published". Created by Aaron Swartz,[4][5] Brewster Kahle,[6] Alexis Rossi,[7] Anand Chitipothu,[7] and Rebecca Malamud,[7] Open Library is a project of the Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization. It has been funded in part by grants from the California State Library and the Kahle/Austin Foundation. Open Library provides online access to many public domain and out-of-print books.

Book database and digital lending library

Its book information is collected from the Library of Congress, other libraries, and, as well as from user contributions through a Wiki-like interface.[5] If books are available in digital form, a button labelled "Read" appears next to its catalog listing. Links to where books can be purchased or borrowed are also provided.

There are different entities in the database:

  • authors
  • works (which are the aggregate of all books with the same title and text)
  • editions (which are different publications of the corresponding works)

Open Library claims to have 6 million authors and 20 million books (not works), and about one million public domain books available as digitized books.[8] Tens of thousands of modern books were made available from four[9] and then 150 libraries and publishers[10] for ebook digital lending. Other books including in-print and in-copyright books have been scanned from copies in library collections, library discards, and donations, and are also being distributed in digital form.[11]


Open Library began in 2006 with Aaron Swartz as the original engineer and leader of the Open Library's technical team.[4][5] The project was led by George Oates from April 2009 to December 2011.[12] Oates was responsible for a complete site redesign during her tenure.[13] In 2015, the project was continued by Giovanni Damiola and then Brenton Cheng and Mek Karpeles in 2016.

The site was redesigned and relaunched in May 2010. Its codebase is on GitHub.[14] The site uses Infobase, its own database framework based on PostgreSQL, and Infogami, its own Wiki engine written in Python.[15] The source code to the site is published under the GNU Affero General Public License.[16][3]

Books for the blind and dyslexic

The website was relaunched adding ADA compliance and offering over 1 million modern and older books to the print disabled in May 2010[17] using the DAISY Digital Talking Book.[18] Under certain provisions of United States copyright law, libraries are sometimes able to reproduce copyrighted works in formats accessible to users with disabilities.[19][20]

Copyright violation accusations

As of February 2019, the Open Library has been accused of mass copyright violation, via the systematic distribution of in-print, in-copyright books, by the American Authors Guild,[21] the British Society of Authors,[22] the Australian Society of Authors,[23] the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America,[24] the US National Writers Union,[25] and a coalition of 37 national and international organizations of "writers, translators, photographers, and graphic artists; unions, organizations, and federations representing the creators of works included in published books; book publishers; and reproduction rights and public lending rights organizations."[26] The UK Society of Authors threatened legal action unless the Open Library agreed to cease distribution of copyrighted works by 1 February 2019.[27] Individual authors reported that Open Library had ignored multiple DMCA takedown notices until after they made a fuss on the Internet Archive blog.[28]

See also


  1. ^ " Traffic, Demographics and Competitors - Alexa". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  2. ^ Who owns the Open Library catalog?
  3. ^ a b "openlibrary/LICENSE at master · internetarchive/openlibrary · GitHub". Archived from the original on 2017-01-22. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  4. ^ a b "A library bigger than any building". BBC News. 2007-07-31. Archived from the original on 2009-11-27. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
  5. ^ a b c Grossman, Wendy M (2009-01-22). "Why you can't find a library book in your search engine". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
  6. ^ "Aaron Swartz: howtoget". Archived from the original on 2015-05-23. Retrieved 2015-06-05.
  7. ^ a b c "The Open Library Team | Open Library". Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  8. ^ "About Us". Archived from the original on 2015-06-27. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  9. ^ Fowler, Geoffrey A. (2010-06-29). "Libraries Have a Novel Idea - WSJ". Archived from the original on 2016-10-28. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  10. ^ "Internet Archive Forums: In-Library eBook Lending Program Launched". 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  11. ^ "FAQ on Controlled Digital Lending (CDL)". Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  12. ^ "George". Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  13. ^ Oates, George (2010-03-17). "Announcing the Open Library redesign « The Open Library Blog". Archived from the original on 2015-06-27. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  14. ^ "internetarchive/openlibrary · GitHub". Archived from the original on 2015-08-10. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  15. ^ "About the Technology". Archived from the original on 2015-06-27. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  16. ^ "Developers / Licensing". Archived from the original on 2015-06-27. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  17. ^ "Project puts 1M books online for blind, dyslexic |". 2010-05-05. Archived from the original on 2011-12-17. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  18. ^ "Welcome to Daisy Books for the Print Disabled". Internet Archive. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  19. ^ "NLS Factsheets: Copyright Law Amendment, 1996: PL 104-197". Library of Congress NLS Factsheets. Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 2017-05-21.
  20. ^ Scheid, Maria. "Copyright and Accessibility". Copyright Corner. The Ohio State University Libraries. Archived from the original on 2016-06-30.
  21. ^ The Authors Guild. "Open Letter to Internet Archive and Other Proponents of 'Controlled Digital Lending'". JotForm. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  22. ^ The Society of Authors. "Open letter to Internet Archive about 'Controlled Digital Lending'". JotForm. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  23. ^ "Open Library: copyright infringement". Australian Society of Authors. 2019-01-21.
  24. ^ "Infringement Alert". Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. 2018-01-08.
  25. ^ Hasbrouck, Edward (2019-02-13). "NWU denounces 'Controlled Digital Lending'". National Writers Union.
  26. ^ "Controlled Digital Lending (CDL): An appeal to readers and librarians from the victims of CDL". National Writers Union. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  27. ^ Flood, Alison (2019-01-22). "Internet Archive's ebook loans face UK copyright challenge". The Guardian. London.
  28. ^ Strauss, Victoria (2018-02-22). "How the Internet Archive Infringed My Copyrights and Then (Kind Of) Blew Me Off".

Further reading

External links