Sister Rita Booke
Protector of the Iliterate, Fully Professed Member of The Asylum of the Tortured Heart, The San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, student of Library and Information Science.
Hear ye, hear ye! Verily, I say that you need not despair! Have you an internet connection or mobile data of some kind? If you do, then you have an entire universe of books, videos, music, and more available at your fingertips. Escape into a fantasy world, read that classic piece of literature you’ve been putting off, and laugh your ass off at some old Popeye cartoons. There is a valuable community resource that I would like to tell you about to help you pass the time while self-isolating. It's available to you now, wherever you are, and all you need is an internet connection.
Archive.org : Not Just for Books, But It’s Also for Books
The Internet Archive found at archive.org is a non-profit online archive and library that is free to use. There, you can find books, podcasts, music, videos, photos, movies, and more. This is a fantastic resource with materials ranging from the commonplace to the obscure. Many of the items are available with a single click. Other items, similar to physical items at a library, can be checked out after creating an account (5 minutes or less to create your account and verify your email address). Like a traditional lending library, the Internet Archive sometimes has waitlists for popular items, but do not fear! During this global pandemic the Internet Archive has created a National Emergency Library, eliminating all waitlists. Their millions of books are available to you right this very minute! If you need some suggestions to get you started, I have compiled recommendations for folx of all ages. If you’re not feeling like a book, you are still in luck! Check out the article 10 Ways To Explore the Internet Archive For Free to learn about some of the other rad ways you can use the Internet Archive. One of my personal favorites is the Wayback Machine, an archive of defunct Webpages (like those that make up the Website for Space Jam, the 1996 film). Take my recommendations or leave them, but I encourage you to explore the Internet Archive to your heart’s content.
A Note on Problematic Materials
Archive.org, though it is full of many contemporary materials, is also a historical archive. History is full of mostly white, male, cisgender, heteronormative, and capitalist perspectives. While browsing the collections on the Internet Archive, you may often encounter these types of views. In fact, these perspectives can be found in many libraries. I recommend that when you encounter these items, look at them for what they are: information resources. Information in and of itself is neither inherently good nor inherently bad. Individuals may use information (or misinformation) in malicious ways, but the information in and of itself is not inherently evil.
These are stressful times and you have every right to pass on these offensive items. You may, however, feel empowered by studying these materials as a means of arming yourself against the oppressive and limited mindsets of some. As a liberated global citizen of the 21st century, I trust you to see these materials for what they are. Read them or pass on them, but do not let them interrupt the potential for JOY that resides within this fantastic community resource.
Your Local Public Libraries
Check out your public library’s Website! Many are currently offering temporary library cards so you can access their digital content right away. If you already have a library card and have not yet accessed them, now is the time to check out their digital offerings. See if they have a digital catalog of their special collections as you can find some fascinating items there. You may even be able to go see it in person (once it's safe to do so, of course).
You can access The City of San Diego Public eLibrary here and their Digital Archive here.