Imagine being able to access knowledge from hundreds of libraries at the click of a button? This is precisely what virtual libraries enable, places where you can browse through thousands of books and access them online to help you with studying and easily locate the bibliography that you require. Were you aware of them?
These online temples of knowledge have several advantages over traditional libraries:
- Permanently open: there aren’t opening hours, so you can browse them as often as you wish. Finishing off a piece of work at three in the morning? No problem, there you will find the answers.
- You don’t have to return books!: gone are the ‘fines’ for handing them in late, every volume is available for you
- Rapid and easy access: no travelling required, so if you want you can access them from the comfort of your bed.
- Virtual textbooks don’t spoil: the more you use them and read them, they still remain intact.
- They are inclusive: the majority come with adaptable formats for people with auditory or visual impairments.
- Variety in format: as well as textbooks, you will find video files, audio files, interactive galleries, games…A range of possibilities at your disposal for learning.
- Contributes to conservation of the environment: being virtual there is zero need of paper. The trees will thank you for this!
- They are updated constantly: you will never miss out on developments in your field of study.
Virtual libraries act like a beacon of wisdom in the middle of this sea called the internet in which you can find a multitude of articles and images of dubious quality. A guarantee that without a doubt will enhance your studies.
Which are the best ones?
Certainly a very wide range exists. Let’s look at some of the more interesting ones although there are many more:
- PARES (Portal of Spanish Archives): is a register provided by the Ministry of Education to access the Historical Documented Patrimony. Here you may discover from achives of a medieval monastery, to texts from the Civil War or a collection of masonic objects, among many other curiosities. If you are one of those who enjoys uncovering documentary gems that are unusual, prepare to spend hours there, because it will be like a fairground for you.
- Europeana: is a very complete archive that provides digital access to European historic material. An authentic cultural feast in differing formats such as audio, video, imagery, texts, 3D… All in all, gathers documentation from some 3,700 different institutions.
- Spanish National Library: a must. It receives and preserves copies of all the books published in Spain, as well as provides an extensive collection of manuscripts, volumes, images, audios, etc.
- Wikisource: is the sister project to Wikipedia, seeking to create a library of original texts published with GFDL licenses, creative commons or in the public domain.
- Miguel de Cervantes Library: is an interesting collection of Spanish literary works on the Internet. The majority are books, but there are also studies, newpapapers, magazines, audiovisual and sound material, etc.
- Virtual library of Bibliographical Patrimony: is an excellent way of accessing material from memory institutions (archives, libraries and museums) that make up part of Spanish bibliographical patrimony.
- World Digital Library: is an international digital library created by the Library of the United States Congress and UNESCO. It contains archives in many languages and this is not limited to Western languages, but also gathers documents from different cultures throughout the world.
- The Gutenberg project: like bees to honey for those who are lovers of reading. It stores more than 53,100 electronic books free to the public domain, enabling a search by language.
Spanish University Libraries
With digitalisation you have the advantage of being able to look up books, theses, specialised publications, memoirs, etc. from libraries of Spanish universities from wherever you like, and including, in many cases, directly download the texts. Long gone are the days when you had to present your library card to take out the book that interested you for a limited time (with the ensuing fine if you were late…) Well, in reality, you can still take out what you like, the only difference is that now you can rely on more comfortable options. From the REBIUN webpage (Spanish University Library Network) you will find links to the different virtual university libraries in Spain. Similarly, you can access directly from it’s collective catalogue, that combines registers made up of the 76 universities, of the CISC, of the National Library of Spain, of the MICIN libraries and the National Library of Catalunya, among others. Truly a fountain of knowledge with which you can get stuck into for work and study. Enjoy!
The role of AI
Did you know that Artificial Intelligence and its applications have also arrived to the world of virtual libraries? They have proved the most practical in facilitating access and searches, thanks to its capacity for automatic learning. Thus, advances in archive classification have been seen, with the integration of chatbots to help interaction between users and gives a considerable boost to data ethics, promoting open access to archives and information.
On behalf of Wordiix we hope that this article has been useful to locate easily some of the best virtual libraries. Without doubt, they are a tool to use of to reinforce your learning. Moreover, if you wish to boost your studies further, remember we have teachers at your disposal dedicated to focusing on your needs with completely personalised learning.