9 Ways to Access Books and Stories if Your Library is Closed for Lockdown

By March 15, 2020March 25th, 2020Libraries, News

Across the world, the shutters are coming down and the closed signs going up as many areas go into shutdown and isolation due to the Novel Coronavirus currently sweeping the world.

Many of us have shelves and shelves of books we are waiting to read, and that might be just what you need at the sign of a lockdown, but many readers rely on the library from week to week and for those people this could be an issue. If you’re self isolating, or if your library is closed, and you don’t have a stack of books to read, what do you do?

We’ve got some ideas of how you can find books, and create stories from home.


The obvious solution to the self-isolation or lack of library issue is eBooks, but even that can be an issue. If you’re a staunch book reader and you prefer paper you may not own an eReader and you may not want or be able to buy one on a whim. However, so long as you have a smart device, you can download the Kindle app, and using that you can borrow from your library if it’s open, you can find free books on Amazon, or you can use the Kindle unlimited feature in lieu of your library.

Download the Kindle app

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is a free service that turns books that are out of copyright into e-versions and all Project Guttenberg classics are free to read both online, or via that Kindle app we discussed in the last section.

Project Gutenberg


Even alone, or our best chance is each other so if you and your neighbours are healthy and well but your library is closed, maybe you could create your own little lending library and share books with friends. Do exercise caution in this area, as the virus can live on paper (24 hours is the estimate), but don’t exercise so much caution that you harm your mental wellbeing.


If you have books in the house, just no new ones then it may be time for some rereads, and if your kids are off school on lockdown too then you could make this a family event! We’re huge Harry Potter fans and along with some friends and my children spent a year of Sundays meeting up and passing the books around and reading aloud. Each person read as much as they wanted to, then passed the book along and between us we got through them all. It was the most enjoyable year of Sunday and something that would definitely be worth emulating during this crisis.


Tying in with the last idea of including the children who are stuck at home, storytelling is a great way to pass the time. Whether you’re retelling classic stories you know from your childhood, or making them up, aural storytelling is a lost art we could rekindle with our children sharing stories of their own.


Wattpad is a fantastic app that lets your read and submit stories online. You can download it on most devices and get access to a treasure trove of amateur fiction, some of it really good!




Audible just made hundreds of stories free to help you over this period, in what will almost certainly be a welcome gesture. Audible says “For as long as schools are closed, we’re open. Starting today, kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids. All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. Explore the collection, select a title and start listening.”

It’s that easy.

Get free Audible stories

We hope we’ve offered you some practical advice on how you can keep reading in this crisis, be safe, and reach out if you need to. Now more than ever, we are one world.

As we bring you more news, we will add more sources here for other ways to access literature for free during this crisis:

Like the Animorphs, who have uploaded 54 books to read for free online

And Neil Gaiman who has shared literary readings

You can also access Shakespeare from your living room here

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