Now, if you've been doing genealogy for a while, you probably already know about the Internet Archive, a repository of free digitized out-of-copyright books and documents: books that have your ancestors' names in them; city directories; county histories and biographies; church membership and history books; fraternal organizations' membership lists; newspapers; and vital and cemetery records books, just to name a few.
You may also be aware of the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, a handy tool for finding digitized archives of those obsolete genealogy websites that may have had part of your family tree on them.
There are even video and audio files, and live music. There's historical software, and vintage video games, and TV news. You could spend days, weeks, years browsing through the goodies on this site, and still never glean all its treasures, because it is being added to in great quantities, daily.
But did you know that besides all those great, free, out-of-copyright books, you can also access some that are still under copyright? Think about it! No more waiting for weeks for an Inter-Library Loan book to arrive at your public library. No more restrictions on where you can access the ILL, as some lending libraries require you only access the loan inside the borrowing library's building. Yes, you can access these books in the comfort of your own home, in your jammies.
Here's how you get to the goodies. Go to the Internet Archive Lending Library link. You may wish to bookmark it. Click on the "Account" tab in the top menu.
You'll need to log in. If you aren't already a registered user, click on the words "Join us" to the right of "Anonymous User."
Now return to the Lending Library main page. A good place to start is to click on the "Browse by Subject / Keyword" link.
You'll then view this page with an alphabetical list of subjects. I use the CTRL+F feature (hold down the Control [CTRL] key while clicking the F key to bring up a search box for the page) to search for subjects I'm interested in. You'll note that "genealogy" only brought up one hit. "History" brought up 57 hits. "Family," however, brought up 1,267 hits.
Clicking on these subject links brings up the list of titles within that subject category. You can then click on the title link for more information about that book. Once you find a book you'd like, click on the "Borrow" link underneath the slideshow of the book images.
If the book is not available, you'll get a notice that it's already checked out, and you'll need to try again later. Putting a book on hold is not possible right now, although the Internet Archive website states they hope to add it in the future.
The Frequently Asked Questions link is in the left-hand menu of the Lending Library main page, or you can go directly to the FAQ page here.
Now go find a good family or local history book to borrow!