Project Gutenburg is a project largely funded and created by volunteers. The project was founded in 1971. These days it is known as the website “www.gutenberg.org”, which provides tons of free ebooks and other academic materials for use by anyone. It is considered one of the greatest resources of information on the internet. Many classic books whose copyrights have expired are available for free reading and download from Project Gutenburg. Most of the releases on the site are released in plain text or other common formats like DOC, HTML, and PDF. The project was started by Michael Hart, a University of Illinois student who had access to a computer mainframe. The first digital document he uploaded was the United States Declaration of Independence.
Since the beginning of the project tens of thousands of documents have been scanned and uploaded to Project Gutenburg under public domain laws. As of June 2011, Project Gutenburg boasted a collection of 36,000 readable materials that are hosted on their site. Most of the books are written by English or American authors or are translations. Project Gutenburg also has quite a long list of other languages for which they have books, including Afrikaans, Aleut, Bulgarian, Russian, etc. Michael Hart unfortunately passed away earlier this year but got to see the growth of his creation over the period of 40 long years. Project Gutenburg has stated its mission to be to increase literacy in people of all ages as well as encourage and spread the creation and reading of ebooks.
Project Gutenburg is arguably one of the most valuable resources that today’s student can have. The site hosts many classics such as Pride and Prejudice, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, etc. Many of these classical texts are read by students in high school and college today so having free and unrestricted access to Project Gutenburg is a great help to today’s student. The site is very convenient to use and includes a search feature as well as a top downloaded ebooks list for various timeframes. Project Gutenburg also goes as far as to publish a CD (also available in ISO format) that carries 600 of their best selected ebooks. There is also a recently added books feature and an option to search by author. The best part is that it is all legal because Project Gutenburg employs a legal team that verifies books they can legally give away for free. Project Gutenburg is an essential resource for students and it is not uncommon to even hear teachers recommending the site to their classes. It is truly amazing the feat that Project Gutenburg has achieved and although Mr. Hart passed away, his legacy will live on and the project’s leadership will continue to steer it in the way of their goals, promoting literacy and breaking down the boundaries between cultures through literature.