The way many people around the world live, work and entertain themselves is – at least temporarily – changing. Social-distancing and self-isolation measures across the globe have certainly limited access to many real-world resources.
Many schools, universities and public spaces such as libraries have been forced to temporarily close their doors, for example, leaving countless people without access to educational materials, and kids without their favorite stories.
But there’s some encouraging positivity coming out during this time of uncertainty, too, with a number of organizations opening up free access to what were previously paid resources.
On this page, we’re going to maintain a continuously updated list of all of those – alongside any other useful ones we discover.
Free educational resources
With schools closed in some parts of the world and parents choosing to keep their kids at home in many others, Amazon’s Audible has launched Audible Stories, a new service providing free audiobooks to kids and teenagers everywhere.
Its collection of audiobook titles include young children’s storybooks to literary classics, and will be made available to stream in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese.
Amazon has also made a selection of its family-friendly movies and TV shows available to stream for free on Amazon Prime Video. Its range of Amazon Original content for children will be free to watch worldwide, though the selection of licensed content for kids will vary by country.
This service is usually a perk of becoming an Amazon Prime member, but the e-commerce giant is making it available to all customers with an Amazon account.
JSTOR is a digital library of academic resources, and part of its database has been accessible to the public for some time.
They have more than 6,000 ebooks and 150 journals available, and the organization has stated they are currently working with publishers to make a larger set of content freely available to institutions where students no longer have access to educational resources. We’ll be keeping an eye on their progress, and update you here if more is made available.
As teachers, researchers and students are increasingly finding themselves having to teach and learn from home, Cambridge University Press (CUP) has made its collection of academic textbooks available online for free until the end of May.
CUP has since made an announcement that due to unprecedented demand (and potential misuse of the offer), it has experienced performance issues and has had to temporarily remove free access to its range of textbooks while they work to address the issue.
A number of open access journals are still available though. We’ll be monitoring their website and will update this page when free textbook access is again available to the public.
In response to the pandemic, Internet Archive has created a National Emergency Library so anyone can continue to borrow books. It has suspended waitlists for the 1.4 million books in its digitized collection until June 30, ensuring students and teachers can still access materials while physical libraries in many parts of the world have closed their doors.
The organization says while its collection isn’t comprehensive, it focuses on materials that were published during the 20th century – the vast majority of which aren’t commercially available as an ebook. Signing up to the Internet Archive is all that’s required to borrow from their digital library shelves.
The organization is calling it a time of need, and for those stuck at home, the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) has opened up its entire catalogue of online photography courses to everyone free of charge. There are over 1,100 courses to choose from across a variety of topics for beginners and more advanced photographers alike.
The courses will be free for two weeks – they were unlocked on March 21, so we expect this offer to be open until April 4, although no precise end date has been mentioned on the organization’s website.