ABBE Digital Branch Expands with Project Gutenberg

Earlier this month, ABBE Regional Library System expanded its Digital Branch collection through the addition of more than 15,000 public domain titles available from Project Gutenberg (PG.)  I’m glad to report that more than 2,000 documents have been downloaded from PG via the ABBE Digital Branch Library in just a few weeks.  An impressive statistic considering this use took place in late December at the height of the holiday season.  Apparently, losing oneself in Hamlet’s soliloquy or in one of Sherlock Holmes’ cases is a great way to escape from annoying holiday duties.

The PG collection started in 1971, decades before Internet giants such as Google or Amazon existed.  PG founder Michael Hart was a University of Illinois student when he began recruiting volunteers to transcribe public domain books which he uploaded to a university computer.  His goal was, and remains, to encourage the non-commercial creation and distribution of eBooks.  He named his effort after German printer Johannes Gutenberg who invented mechanical movable-type printing in the 15th century and is credited with spreading learning to the masses. 

Thirty-nine years have passed since Hart digitized his first e-text, a copy of the United States Declaration of Independence.  Hart is still involved in the daily work of PG, however, since 2000 PG has been supported by a private, non-profit foundation.  In August 2010, PG’s epubs became more widely distributed than ever thanks to its partnership with OverDrive, the company which provide ebooks, downloadable audiobooks, and videos to public libraries such as ABBE.

If you are interested in joining the other library patrons who have downloaded PG ebooks, visit the link on the ABBE webpage under Current News and Events or from ABBE’s Digital Branch webpage.  Either link will take you to a screen which allows you to browse the 15,000 ebook collection by subject or title and save the ebook to your computer.  Start making your selections now and disappear into a classic.  It’s almost time to start taking down the decorations.


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