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Finding E-books: A Guide

How to Read & Related Issues

Thomas A. Edison's new radio phonograph makes its bow in Washington
Many audio books are available online.
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Before accessing e-books, be sure to check what file format is best compatiple with your preferred reading device whether it be desktop, mobile, tablet or e-reader. For desktop, this will generally be .PDF or .txt files. In a few cases - ie., Kindle and Nook readers - have desktop and mobile applications available free for download through your device's app store, where their proprietary files may be read.

How to Read

Once on the Library Catalog, there are many ways to access the Library's collection of e-books, both on and off-site. The E-Resources Online Catalog will search all databases the Library subscribes to, in order to find the one that best matches your search. Cross-library searches can also be made in WorldCat.

Even simpler, you may search from the home page, where the results will denote whether an electronic version of the text is available to read. From any search, refininig by "Available Online" will narrow down results so you can view the texts without having to request a physical copy. More information on requesting physical materials can be found online.

If there is something missing from the catalog, or you simply wish to delve further, Primo Central is the library's on-site resource that cross-searches through the Library's article and journal databases.


In order to be in accordance with current copyright laws, the Library of Congress limits most of its e-book offerings to works in the public domain and first published in America before 1923. However, the Library includes more recent documents generated by the federal government or the Library itself, such as annual reports, illustrated collection guides, Federal Research Division country studies, and a history of the Library of Congress.

See the United States Copyright Office Web site for more information on copyright or, to search the Copyright Catalog to check on an item’s copyright status. Consult the Library's guide for additional resources on searching copyright registration and renewal records.

Audio E-books and Resources for Visually Impaired Readers

The Library of Congress Web site has details about the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which makes Braille and audio materials available by mail to eligible borrowers in the United States.

Free Audio Books

Many sites offer audio books for download. Some are read by authors, volunteers, or use synthetic speech. Below are a few sources of audio books online for free:


Online Books Page

Project Gutenberg (human read, machine generated)

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  July 25, 2017
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