For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Library of Congress, it is a true treasure hoard. The Library is the largest world library. The largest! It contains millions of books, newspapers, manuscripts, photos, maps, recordings and more. More and more of the Library’s holdings are digitized and placed online every year. These materials are all free for researchers to read, view and otherwise use.
But many of the Library’s resources are copyrighted. Most of you know what copyright means but for those who don’t, it means that someone owns the right to this work. You may be able to use it as research but you cannot commercially reproduce it and use it in your own book, article or other media. Not without paying a licensing fee.
That said, the library does have a large number of materials that you can use for free in any way that you wish. You can find many of these materials every day on the Library’s home page. The top section features an exhibit as well as material that is trending — what are people looking into right now? The middle section is all about the library. This is the section that you can use to plan your visit or discover what you need to know about using a research center.
But the bottom part of the page? The section with the grey background? That’s the section we are interested in – Free to Use and Reuse. The works featured in this section have no known copyright restrictions. They may have been under copy right at one time, but that copyright has since expired.
And right now “Free to Use and Reuse” is all about Classic Children’s Books. Go here and find looks to electronic reproductions of Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Barrie’s Peter and Wendy, as well as retellings of Snow White, the Three Little Pigs and Aesop’s fables.
What can a writer do with these things? If you are writing a historic story, perhaps these are the books your own characters would have read? Or you can use them to make collage art for your website. Or mine them for your very own story ideas. Whatever you want to do.
You’ll have to excuse me. Right now, I’m picking through Jack and the Beanstalk and Other Stories published by A.L. Burt.