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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Guide to Finding Digital Literary Texts: Tips for Searching Digital Texts

Other Library Resources

The foucus of this Lib Guide is on works of literature that you can access for free online. The library does offer other reources and ebooks online. For more inforations on how to more recently published ebook or online text for another subject area  visit the ebook Searching Lib Guide for more inforamtion.  

For inforamtion on e-readers and how to usethem see the e-reader guide

Why use scans?

Illustration from Alice in Wonderland

Scans of the books allow you to view the book how it was originally printed. You get to see any illustrations that are included and how the formatting was. Also, because many of the books are available on more then one edition it allows you to compare them and see how the text had changed over time or printing. It also gives you access to book that you may not normally be able to use, because of their fragile state. By having scans of the book you are able to get as close to using the original book without having to actually go the the library. 

What books can I get online?

Cover page of Dante's Inferno

Google Books and other similar projects have scanned and made available many book and other test free online. They are able to do this because the book they are using are now in the public domain. This does, however, limit the text that are being offered. You will not be able to find new releases or recent bestsellers offered for free at any of the databases discussed in this guide. Anything published before 1923 maybe in the public domain but anything published after that may not be available.  

Formatting Issues

Most of the books that this guide will help you to find are scans of previously printed books. This is in contrast to many ebooks today that were made to be read as a electronic text. This means that you may not have to customization options that say a ebook bought from Amazon will offer you. Also because the book is scanned the ebook can include things such marks left by a reader,  smudges of the ink and archaic spellings. Most of these are very unobtrusive when reading.