Washington — Nearly 60,000 books prized by historians, writers and genealogists, many too old and fragile to be safely handled, have been digitally scanned as part of the first-ever mass book-digitization project of the U.S. Library of Congress, the world’s largest library. Anyone who wants to learn about the early history of the United States, or track the history of their own families, can read and download these books for free.
'The Library chose books that people wanted, but that were too old and fragile to serve to readers. They won’t stand up to handling,' said Michael Handy, who co-managed the project, which is called Digitizing American Imprints.
'Many of these books cover a period of Western settlement of the United States — 1865–1922 — and offer historians a trove of information that’s otherwise tough to locate,' he said. Books published before 1923 are in the public domain in the United States because their U.S. copyrights have expired.
More information is available in a Library of Congress video.