Free Stuff

Being a librarian and a techie I always get questions about where to get free stuff online.  This page is going to be a list (or portal if you like the old net terms) to different free resources you can find online.  (and maybe a few real world freebies too.)

3D Modeling
Blender Blender is a free 3D modeling suite. In my opinion there is quite a learning curve to it, but it’s absolutely amazing what you an achieve using this free opensource software.
Blender 3D: Noob to Pro/Sources of free 3D models (via Wikibooks) “Here are some sources of free 3d models from across the web. Take them apart, put them back together, understand what makes them tick, to improve your own modeling.” (quote from site)
Daz Studio Daz Studio is a free 3D modeling & animation software package. I’ve used their Bryce product (a $ software) for years (even before Daz bought it form its creators), and have had lots of fun using it. Their products are easy to use and quite versatile.
{note: Daz is a bit of a heavy advertiser feel free to do what you want with the e-mails you will get from them if you download their software.}
ELAArea Public Library: Where to find and download 3D models A great BIG! PDF list of free online resources to get 3D models from the folks at the ELAArea Public Library in Illinois.
NASA 3D Resources “Here you’ll find a growing collection of 3D models, textures, and images from inside NASA. All of these resources are free to download and use. Please read the Usage Guidelines.” (quote from site)
National Institutes of Health 3D Print Exchange “The NIH 3D Print Exchange provides models in formats that are readily compatible with 3D printers, and offers a unique set of tools to create and share 3D-printable models related to biomedical science.” (quote from site)
Tinker Cad “Tinkercad is a simple, online 3D design and 3D printing app for everyone.” (quote from site). It is really simple to use and quite a bit of fun too.
Audio Books
Loyal Books Loyal Books (formerly: Books should be free) is another site to get free public domain books (aka: out of copyright), handy categorized (faceted) searching makes for easier discovery of what your looking for.
B-Ok ” The research I did for this post yielded very little. Searches on Google and ProQuest’s Library Science database revealed essentially nothing. Their website is extremely sparse on background information as well and gives no history. However, they do say that they have 2.8 million ebooks and 52.5 million science articles. The vast majority of files are in PDF format.” (Sigal, Ari. B-OK, Probably the world’s largest free ebook site with a minimally-invasive registration process. No Shelf Required, 4 Feb. 2017, Accessed 06 Jun. 2018.)
Baen Free Library Baen is a publisher of science fiction and fantasy novels and they have a wonderful service providing free (usually back list novels) e-book copies of some of their novels. So it’s a great spot to check for you sci-fi & fantasy fans out there.
Digital Public Library of America Exchange You’ll probably notice the DPLA down in the free online libraries section too, but their Exchange service certainly fits in here. They have a great free selection of books located under their “Open Bookshelf” tab, and of course you can always choose to spend some $$ and support their service by buying a book or two too.
Directory of Open Access Books Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) is a global repository of free e-books. You can find books from all over the world, and in many languages on this site.
Free Ebook Foundation “The Free Ebook Foundation envisions a world where ebooks will be funded, distributed and maintained for the benefit of all, by coordinating the efforts and resources of many.” (quote from site) Many sources for free E-books on one site.
Google Books – Free Books Top selling … (if Free counts as selling)… books from the Google Play Book Store. Great way to try out new authors.
Project Gutenberg Project Gutenberg is a massive project to digitize out of copyright & classic works. Out of copyright in the USA means pre-1923. (There are a few grey areas after that but for simplicity just think before 1923)
Project Gutenberg Australia OK I know your saying you just listed Project Gutenberg, and your right I did. But Australia has a much different copyright policy than the USA…so anything more than 50 years old is public domain in Australia. Which (as of this posting) means that anything pre 1967 is public domain in Australia…just a few more years of stuff to look through.
Smashwords “Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks. We make it fast, free and easy for any author or publisher, anywhere in the world, to publish and distribute ebooks to the major retailers and thousands of libraries.” (quote from site) a good site for indie author discovery with both free…over 70,000…and pay for e-books
Standard Books Standard Books is a great project where a group of editors and writers are proofreading, correcting, and modernizing the language for books in the Gutenberg project collection. They are also adding some great cover illustrations.
Story Weaver “Welcome to StoryWeaver from Pratham Books, a whole new world of children’s stories, where all barriers fall away. It is a platform that hosts stories in languages from all across India and beyond. So that every child can have an endless stream of stories in her mother tongue to read and enjoy. StoryWeaver is an open platform designed to be innovative and interactive. It invites both, the weaver of stories and the reader to connect and share the fascinating world of words and illustrations. This then, marks a new chapter in children’s literature and publishing. Come discover the magic of stories and the joy of reading – a cornucopia that will delight endlessly.” (quote from site) “…At, you can reward creators that have set their books free, via Creative Commons licenses. You can buy books that WANT to be free, but need funding to get there. You can pledge toward creating free ebooks from print books.
Traditionally published books are stuck: legal restrictions keep you from being able to enjoy and share them. gets them unstuck. Authors and publishers decide what amount lets them freely share their books with the world while still making a living. We raise that fee here through crowdfunding: people like you chipping in. When campaigns succeed, authors and publishers get paid, and you get a free ebook.
…” (quote from site)
Educational Resources
Carnegie Mellon University Open Learning Initative – free CMU courses.
Edx Pay & Free online courses. Verified courses are free, but certifications & professional education courses cost money.
GCF Learn “…From Microsoft Office and email to reading, math, and more, offers more than 180 topics, including more than 2,000 lessons, 800+ videos, and 55+ interactives and games, completely free.” (quote from site)
Khan Academy Forever Free online courses for every subject from Kindergarten through College. Popular among the homeschooling & tutoring crowds.
MIT Open Courseware Many free online courses from MIT.
Mooc List Massive Online Open Course = Free online courses. Note: skip the ads and you’ll be fine.
Northstar Basic computer skill certificates. With badges!
Open Yale Courses Free courses from Yale.
Udacity Pay & free online courses on many subjects. Be sure to click the “free” checkbox.
Udemy Pay & Free online courses. Once you search for a course you can easily sort out the free courses by using the “price” menu and checking the free box.
Wolfram U “Open courses for students & professionals.” (quote from site) From Wolfram Inc. Primarily focused on math, computers, and finance.
Everything / Sites with a little of everything
Creative Commons “Creative Commons helps you legally share your knowledge and creativity to build a more equitable, accessible, and innovative world.” (quote from site).
This is a site where anyone and everyone who wants to freely share, with credit given of course, their work do so. There are all kinds of interesting and creative works posted here. Maybe you can add to the creative commons yourself. “The EServer is a growing online community where hundreds of writers, artists, editors and scholars gather to publish works as open archives, available free of charge to readers.” (quote from site) A lot of humanities focused resources.
The Internet Archive “The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public. Our mission is to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge.” (quote from site) You name a media format they’ve got it including the wayback machine which houses archived copies of websites.
Open Culture “Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community. Web 2.0 has given us great amounts of intelligent audio and video. It’s all free. It’s all enriching. But it’s also scattered across the web, and not easy to find. Our whole mission is to centralize this content, curate it, and give you access to this high quality content whenever and wherever you want it.” (quote from site) Be aware of the many many in-line advertisements. Thankfully they are easily found by the ad symbol advertisement symbol so you can avoid them fairly easily.
Free Online Libraries
Children’s Books Online An online library of illustrated children’s books from all over the world.
Digital Public Library of America The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is a great project that is trying to provide access to every library database, digital resource, and digital collection from every library in america in one handy place with easy search functions. So you never know what you will find here…don’t forget to check out some of the cool apps folks have created using the DPLA’s collection.
Europeana Collections The European Union Digital Public Library…or what DPLA is trying to become. Amazing collection of European digital collections of books, art, and more.
Getty Publications Virtual Library “Free digital backlist titles from the Getty Publications Archives” (quote from site). Yes this is a library full of publications from the Getty museum. Art, photography, and history all rolled up into one place.
Hathi Trust Digital Library Hathi Trust is a collection of works from academic and research libraries around the world, and they have all sorts of other stuff tossed in too. So be sure to check them out.
Knowledge “Knowledge Unlatched (KU) offers free access to scholarly content for every reader across the world. Our online platform provides libraries worldwide with a central place to support Open Access models from leading publishing houses and new OA initiatives.” (quote from site)
New York Public Library Digital Collections Exactly what the title says free e-items (more than just books) from the great NYPL.
Newberry: Digital Collections The Newberry Library has recently updated its digital collections usage policy, and everything is now availabe for reuse without licensing or permission fees. This like takes you to their article explaining that, and links to all their digital collections are at listed too.
OAPEN OAPEN is a free library of academic books. Looking to learn something or expand your research for free…give them a shot.
Open Library “Open Library is an open, editable library catalog, building towards a web page for every book ever published” I couldn’t have said it better.
Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project A beautiful (and huge project) collection from the Vatican and Bodleian libraries. Yes that said Vatican library so very old and beautiful works from all over the world. Even if you can’t read the words the art is stunning…and makes you want to learn to read the languages.
SciELO Livros Scientific Electronic Library Online. This is a Spanish language library. “The SciELO Books Portal publishes national and thematic collections of academic books online with the objective of maximizing the visibility, accessibility, use and impact of the research results, essays and studies that are published in them.” (quote from site)
The Short Story Project “The Short Story Project was founded upon the belief that reading is an experience that can make a difference. An experience that enables reflection on the human condition, inspires empathy and encourages examination; that reading is more than a pastime; it is an activity that can serve as a bridge between people and cultures, a sounding board for voices and ideas.” (quote from site). The short story project requires a log in, but content is free and contains both print and audio short stories.
World Digital Library Again another that is exactly what the name says a free World Digital Library.
Public Domain Movies A good resource to discover and view free public domain movies. In other words movies that you can post, watch, edit, mash up, or do whatever you want to do with your downloaded copy of and it’s perfectly legal.
Free Music Archive “The Free Music Archive is an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads directed by WFMU, the most renowned freeform radio station in America. Radio has always offered the public free access to new music. The Free Music Archive is a continuation of that purpose, designed for the age of the internet” (quote from site) see their about section for more info.
Musopen “We provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions. Put simply, our mission is to set music free.” (quote from site)
Social Networking
Mastodon “Mastodon isn’t one place and one set of rules: it’s thousands of unique, interconnected communities to choose from, filled with different people, interests, languages, and needs. Don’t like the rules? You’re free to join any community you like, or better yet: you can host your own, on your own terms!”(quote from site). Host your own version of twitter…with Toots instead of tweets. Or as they say join one of the thousand of other communities.
More stuff always being added.