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Last edited by Drini
September 13, 2021 | History

Building an Open Library, Together

Book Sponsorship gives readers the power to affect which books are borrowable on Open Library. Help us fill in the gaps and build a library that leaves no reader or book behind. The name "Open Library" is more than a hat tip to open source. It’s a commitment to our patrons. Building a truly Open Library means every reader deserves a say in what's on their bookshelf.

In 2017, 13 year old Marley Dias founded the #1000blackgirlbooks campaign because, she says, “I was frustrated by the lack of diversity in the books I was reading in school". We're incredibly inspired by Marley's example and we see Open Library as an important opportunity to change how libraries choose their books. We've been surprised to see that more than half a million readers like Marley have been using Open Library's Want to Read button to identify books they wish were available to read or borrow.

In response, we created a Book Sponsorship Program which gives readers a way to make titles available through Internet Archive's Controlled Digital Lending library. With your help, we hope you'll join us in preserving our cultural heritage and building an Open Library which better represents and serves our community's diverse needs.

As you discover eligible titles on Open Library you wish we had, we hope you'll consider sponsoring a copy for the World, forever*. You'll be able to reserve the first borrow (unfortunately, recent changes to lending temporarily make this option unavailable 2020-09-22) and leave a custom dedication message which will show up on the Open Library edition page.

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I saw the blog post about sponsoring books and I thought it was a wonderful
idea. The book I sponsored is one I enjoyed as a child. I'm not likely to
read it again, but I am happy to make it available to others who might want
to read it. (Several other books in the same series are checked out, so
there must be interest!)

-- Tom in Yokohama, Japan

Featured in BoingBoing and Gizmodo

Frequently Asked Questions

Covid-19 Information?

Please anticipate delays with book sponsorship -- our team is currently working remotely and it may take us additional time to digitize these books and make them available through our lending program. We expect these delays will remain until ~June / July or whenever the COVID-19 risks sufficiently subside.

How do I tell what books are eligible?

Eligible titles will look like this on Open Library:

Book Sponsorship Screenshot

If you know the ISBN of a book you'd like to sponsor, you can check its eligibility by adding the ISBN to the end of this url: (e.g.

What happens when I sponsor a book?

Clicking the sponsor button will bring you to to complete your donation. When you sponsor a book, you are donating the funds necessary to add a new eligible title of your choosing into the Internet Archive's Controlled Digital Lending program. Your donation covers the cost of purchasing and shipping the book to the Internet Archive, high-fidelity digitization by trained staff, and forever storage (both the safe keeping of the physical book within our physical archives and server costs). Once you have funded the sponsorship of a title, the book will be purchased from one of our vendor partners and digitized. The book will then become available on and, through the Internet Archive's carefully controlled digital lending program. You will have the opportunity to claim the first borrow of the book and the privilege of adding a public sponsorship dedication message to the book's Open Library page. donate page

If I sponsor a book, do I get to read it first?

Most books sponsored after 2020-11-02 will be initially available through the 1-hour borrow system. Reservations are not yet available for these titles. Prior to 2020,11-02, the answer was: Yes. When you sponsor a book, you have the option to be first on the waiting-list to read the title, once it becomes available.

When will my sponsored book be available?

We’re aiming to fulfill sponsorship requests within 1 month of receipt. Actual fulfillment time may vary depending on shipping, processing, and demand.

Can I sponsor more than one book at a time?

Right now, we don't have a website for sponsoring books in bulk. However, if you send an email to, we'd be delighted to help you sponsor books in bulk.

Can I sponsor more copies of a book?

Unfortunately, due to physical space limitations of the Internet Archive's physical archive facilities, only works which are not yet represented in the Internet Archive's collection are eligible for sponsorship at this time (2019-10-18). The sponsorship program is not a way to make more copies of an existing book available. We hope the program will enable the community to diversify Open Library's collection with new works that server broader audiences. And that patrons will join us in the mission of catalog and preserve a copy of every book.

What happens if the book I sponsor is out of stock?

We try to make sure in advance that every book you sponsor is available through one of our vendors. On rare occasions, the version of a sponsored book may become unavailable. In this case, we will do our best to contact our donors and offer a comparable edition of the book, the opportunity to sponsor a different book, or a refund of the donation.

What happened to the book I sponsored?

Like any library, there's a risk that certain policy circumstances may require a book to be removed from our lending program. While this isn't a common occurrence, it does occasionally happen. Because take-downs are not something the Internet Archive can predict ahead of time, we don't refund sponsorship donations if or when such a take down occurs. While unfortunate, if a take down occurs, your generous donation will not gone to waste: sponsored titles that may become removed from library lending should still be accessible to serve print-disabled audiences and stored safely for posterity. If you suspect a title you've sponsored has been removed from lending, please let us know by contacting and we'll be happy to help investigate.

Can I donate a physical book?

Yes, the Internet Archive welcomes direct book donations. See: However, if you choose to donate a copy of a book through our book drive, note that we are unable to ensure the same expedited digitization as a sponsored book. This is because the cost of sponsorship includes funds for expediting digitization (whereas book donations are digitized as resources permit).


For inquiries about the Sponsorship Program, please contact


This initiative was made possible due to the incredible contributions and efforts of 2019 Internet Archive Summer of Code candidate Tabish Shaikh, Internet Archive staff including Shane Riley, Brenton Cheng, Katie Barrett, CR, Davide Semenzin, Brian Shaughnessy, and Mek, art by Ace Volkov, our partners at Tradecrafted led by Tom Quinlan, and numerous members of the Open Library community.


September 13, 2021 Created by Drini Copy to en page