How to Make a Book Available to Everyone

oldbookDo you own an out-of-copyright genealogy or family history book? Perhaps your local library or genealogy society owns such books? If so, would you like to make the books available to everyone?

A newsletter reader sent an email message to me and described a genealogy book she had found in a collection of items inherited from a recently-deceased relative. She wanted to make the book available to a member of the family described in the book but wasn’t sure how to find an interested descendent of that family. My suggestion: Don’t give the book to just one person who might read it and then put it on the shelf, hidden from all the other descendants. Instead, give it to everyone.

You can find a number of organizations that accept book collections and digitize them. However, the majority of these organizations are set up to accept dozens, if not hundreds, of books at one time. The receipt of a single book is not practical when the scanning process is geared for accepting, cataloging, and scanning large numbers of books at once. is an exception.

The well-known and highly respected 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization accepts one book, hundreds of books, or even thousands of books at one time. Each book is digitized and made available online at no charge. Anyone can use Google or other search engines to find books on and elsewhere. For instance, a Google search for “Jingleheimer Schmidt genealogy” will find online genealogy books for the Jingleheimer Schmidt family. Clicking on the link within Google will immediately transfer the user to a digital image of the book. adds about about 1,000 books every day in 30 different scanning centers in eight countries around the world. As a result, individuals download roughly 20 million books each month from the web site. By contributing your book to, you make it available to a huge audience. The book you contribute becomes permanently available for the next generation.

Perhaps the best method is for the person who has the book to scan it and upload the scanned images, if possible. Obviously, that person needs to have a scanner and some knowledge of using it. The advantage is that, once completed, the person keeps the book and can either shelve it or give it away, as he or she pleases. However, if a scanner is not available, the book can be sent to and will be digitized and made available by that organization.

Books may be sent to:

Internet Archive
300 Funston Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118

Again, all this is available at no charge although does accept donations. See for details. There is no charge to the person who contributed the book and no charge to the person who searches for and finds the book in the future.

You can learn more about at and especially at

You can learn more about contributing books, music, videos, pictures and more at

You might also want to read Digitize the Planet, a wiki that describes how anyone can turn their old pamphlets and other ephemera into something that’s safe, open, and searchable by the general public. See

Dick_Eastman_and_Brewster_KahleFinally, you can watch my interview of Brewster Kahle, the founder of, that is available on the web site (naturally!) at

In the words of the founder of Internet Archive, Brewster Kahle, “Universal access to all knowledge can be done, and I think it’s the opportunity of our generation.”


I bet Brewster Kahler has back problems, sitting as he does (especially with his hands clasped over his knees, as at the start of the video). Apologies for being off topic, but when you’ve had back problems yourself it’s painful to see others making the same mistakes!

Like is PURE gold. I get lost when I visit.


    I just had a very interesting experience when doing a search on Into the search box, I put in a family surname followed by the words “family history” and was given one book which was relevant and all the other links were to subjects pertaining to Muslim or Islam. Very strange. Anybody else have these type of results?


I have a book ” The known descendants of Robert Carter of Corotoman” by Florence ? . I bought this book off eBay a few years ago and paid $110 for it. I wou love to scan it for Is there a program that would enable me to do that once I’ve scanned it on my copier/ scanner? I have an iPad , so it would need to be an app.


    —> Is there a program that would enable me to do that once I’ve scanned it on my copier/ scanner?

    No special program is needed. Scan the book using whatever software tools you gave available and save the scanned images in a single PDF file. Upload that.

    Details may be found at although you do have to be a logged in member to view that page. (Membership is free.)


    I have this book also, and it is out of print, but since it was published in 1982, I expect it is still under copyright. It was published by the Foundation for Historic Christ Church in Irvington, VA, and they keep a database of all the known descendants of Robert “King” Carter of Corotoman.

    If you contact them through their website, I think they will do look-ups. I do know that they are interested entering the genealogical information on any line of King Carter descendants, so if you are one, please send them your line of descent so that they can put it in the database.


Are there any copyright issues with this? Seems the author or copyright holder of the book may object.


I found the search engine too complex. Perhaps searching Google books is a better entry.


I do not see any mention of the Salt Lake Family History Library that digitizes books free of charge and then makes them available free of charge on line through their library as well as many other libraries and FamilySearch.


I was interested in that I read about in your newsletter. I was appalled when I visited the site to find so much anti-Semitic material. E.g., “Ritual murder — how the bodies of non Jews are transferred to restaurants like McDonald’s and how non Jews unknowingly eat hamburgers and sausages which contains the flesh of humans.” This is just one example ! This is the first time I have not wanted to re-visit a site you wrote about.


    While I agree with most of your comments, the philosophy of is that ALL books should be preserved. Even things that we consider to be bad are worth keeping, even for study by future historians. deliberately does not censor books.


I agree with your sentiments about some of the disgusting books on HOWEVER, the conquering Romans thought that exact same thing about the library in Alexandria and consequently destroyed it and thousands of scrolls inside. What a backward step THAT was for subsequent cultures!! ISIS is currently destroying the ages old historic places throughout the Middle East. For me, it’s rather like the TV: if you don’t like what’s on, just turn it off until next time – don’t destroy the TV. It might become useful one day!

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