Best digital libraries for school students to read and download free e-books

Are you a high school student getting ready for board examinations? Are you worried about not being able to attend your favourite library because of the lockdown? Here is a list of top online libraries for school students where you can access thousands of free e-books and academic journals. Keep reading!

Gone are those days when students would have to rush to libraries to borrow their necessary books. Digital libraries are now all over the web world. Most of them require subscriptions, but some of the digital libraries offer free resources for reading and downloading. At a time when most of the world is shut behind the doors owing to the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus, it is impossible to visit physical libraries as almost all of them are temporarily closed. Particularly, the students whose final semesters or board examinations are nearing are facing problems because of the closure of physical libraries. As schools and colleges are shut, so are their libraries. Moreover, public libraries and other physical libraries are also not operational because of the worldwide lockdown. In this situation, digital libraries are lifesavers.

List of free / open-access online libraries for school students

There are several online libraries that offer books for graduation and postgraduate level students. Comparatively, fewer online libraries are there for school students, particularly pupils studying in higher classes and preparing for their board examinations. We also know that students have limited budgets and may not always afford the cost of subscription for top digital libraries for school students. So, here is a list of some of the best digital libraries offering free access to thousands of e-books and academic journals.

1. The Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is probably the most popular open-access digital library which can also be used by the school students. In fact, it is perhaps the richest online collection of open access resources. Whether you are a school student, a college student, a postgraduate student, or a researcher – there is always something or other for you to find and explore in the Internet Archive. It is a very handy website for teachers and experienced researchers as well. The best thing about the Internet Archive being the best digital library for school students is that you don't need to spend money here. All you have to do is to sign up for a free account for which you just need to furnish your email account. After that, you can download free e-books if that particular volume is not copyrighted. If it is copyright protected, then you cannot download it, but you still have the option to borrow it. The books you have borrowed will be shown on your dashboard. You can access those books from your dashboard for a period of 14 days, and after the expiry of the lending period, renew them further, provided that there is no wait-listed borrower. On the other hand, if you find that the book you want to borrow is already borrowed by another user, you can join the wait-list. Once it is back on the shelf, you will receive an email regarding the availability, and you can then borrow it if you still want to.

2. Open Library

The Open Library is an initiative by the Internet Archive, which intends to build an open-access digital library for the benefit of students, teachers, and researchers. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization operating from the United States of America. The Open Library also has a special wing called Student Library, particularly designed for K-12 school students. Just like the Internet Archive, you have to sign up for a free account with an email address and password. After that, you can borrow books for a certain period of time. If a book is borrowed already, you can join the wait-list. There are lots of books for kindergarten kids as well, some of the popular ones being First Day at Gymnastics, Ready, Alice?, and Love Potion.

3. Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is the oldest digital library of the web world, which was founded in 1971 by American writer Michael Stern Hart. He is widely regarded as the inventor of e-books. In fact, Hart has published e-books much before even the internet came into being, via the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), the first wide-area packet-switching network with distributed control and using TCP/IP protocol suite – the basic technologies behind the internet as we see it today. Project Gutenberg was envisaged by Hart to make e-books freely available over the internet for those who are in need, and the result is an open-access digital library for students and teachers alike that boasts of over sixty thousand free e-books. Most of the free e-books on this website are non-copyrighted or public domain works. So, if you are a school student looking for full texts of free books for download, Project Gutenberg should be on your checklist.

4. Google Books

Nowadays, it is difficult, if not impossible, to think of the internet without thinking of Google. In every field of the internet – from search engines and email providers to business directories and advertisement solutions, Google Inc. is a leading player in the market. Google Books is the tech giant's digital database of books and magazines, scanned and converted to text using optical character recognition. Although several books are not available for previewing, many others are available for partial previews. I have read the partial previews for lots of books in case I did not find the book otherwise – that at least gives you some idea about what the book is about. And in several cases, I have decided to buy the book if I really liked it. However, if the book is not in the public domain, you can access the full text of the book from Google Books. Since several textbooks are there for free, it is a helpful website for school students to read free e-books.

5. Free apps and e-books on Google Play

There are several free apps e-books available from Google Play, particularly for ICSE, CBSE, and ISC students. There are several other websites on the internet that offer free ICSE / CBSE books for download, however, the legality of some of those websites may be questionable and it is better to avoid them altogether. From the copyright perspective, however, the apps and e-books for ICSE/CBSE/ISC students on the play store are safer to use.

A bonus list of digital libraries for students

You can also check out these free online libraries for students in addition to the ones listed above:

  • World Digital Library
  • Public Domain Books
  • Free books on Amazon
  • Mega ePub
  • Planet Book
  • Wikisource
  • Book Depository
  • ePub Libre

Do you know about other free digital libraries for students? Mention a comment below, or sign up as an author for this website and write an article.


Author: Umesh13 May 2020 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 6

Apart from above there is one Govt collaborative site by the association of Ministry of Human Resource and IIT, Kharagpur and is known as National Digital Library of India. This is a big site where educational material is available for the students of primary school to Post Graduate levels. There is a good collection of resources, articles, questions etc in various categories and can be searched in a structured way. The registration process is simple and one can log in this portal to get the material of one's choice. As per its claim, there are 47 million items that are educational and other knowledge pieces available in this site contributed by a large number of authors. School students can take advantage of the material available on this site. Main categories are Technology, Arts, History and Geography, Natural science and Mathematics, Social Science, Literature, Computer Science, Philosophy and Psychology etc.

  • Do not include your name, "with regards" etc in the comment. Write detailed comment, relevant to the topic.
  • No HTML formatting and links to other web sites are allowed.
  • This is a strictly moderated site. Absolutely no spam allowed.
  • Name: