Log in Page Discussion History Go to the site toolbox

Ebooks and information 4 free

From BluWiki

This wiki is a pilot promoting online books and resources that are avalable free or at low cost to developing countries. Please feel free to make additions.

There is now a wealth of information resources and materials available on the internet for free. Here's a pick of some of the best:

Free Books Online

Two of the best sources for free ebooks are The Internet Public Library, established in 1995, which has a wealth of links to online resources, and the long-established Project Gutenberg which has access to over 20,000 free ebooks, of which the most popular download on June 28th 2007 was the Manual of Surgery by Alexander Miles and Alexis Thomson (2006). Shakespeare's works are available on these as well as a number of other websites but OpenSource Shakespeare aims to be the best and is better presented than most.Bibliomania contains over 2000 classic literature texts, study guides and teachers resources as well as reference works such as Roget's Thesaurus, whilst further prose and poetry is available form Bartleby.com, again along with reference works such as The Colombia Encyclopedia.

Whilst Wikipedia - �the free online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit� - has taken the world by storm, less people know about Wikibooks which provides open content textbooks. The quality is high and the web-site friendly. For junior readers, try Wikijunior. The book on Big Cats is recommended, available in PDF and HTML versions. And you can look up words in many languages using the Wiktionary

The International Children's Digital Library aims to make the best in children's literature available online and now has over 1500 books online in 38 languages, including over 50 titles from Africa, mainly in Arabic, English and Swahili. If you are an African author or publisher, why not contribute your book?

It's educational

The eGranary Digital Library is specifically aimed at those without adequate internet access, and can provide access to a huge range of educational resources via local area networks, and describes itself as the internet in a box.

At Textbook Revolution you will find links to free textbooks and educational resources for teachers and students, mainly at undergraduate level but there is something for all educational levels.

The Global Textbook Project, like Wikibooks, aims to create open-content freely-available electronic textbooks. They are using the wiki format to actively encourage input into the development of the texts from countries in the South to make the texts truly global - the first two titles are Business Fundamentals and Information Systems

The Open University in the UK has created Learning Space, providing free access to their course materials, and it is open to all. Materials available include Involving the Family in supporting pupils' literacy learning and Encouraging book talk in the school library as well other topics in education and across the sciences, arts, IT, social sciences, languages and business. The United Nations University has launched the UNU OpenCourseWare Portal, which offers free and open access to about a dozen courses developed by three of UNU's Research and Training Centres and Programmes (RTC/Ps) and the Tokyo-based UNU Media Studio, and includes courses on integrated water resource management, innovation studies and development, and knoweledge for development.

UNU, along with the Open University, is a member of the OpenCourseWare consortium- a collaboration of more than 100 higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model. The mission of the OpenCourseWare Consortium is to advance education and empower people worldwide through opencourseware. An OpenCourseWare is a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials, organized as courses. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's OPENCOURSEWARE (OCW) project is another example and provides access to the content of the School's most popular courses, including HIV/AIDS, refugee and global health. See also UNESCO's Open educational resources wiki.

The Wikimedia Foundation, responsible for Wikipedia and Wikibooks, have also set up Wikiversity- 'a community for the creation of learning activities and development of free learning materials. Students and teachers are invited to join the project as collaborators in teaching, learning, and research. Wikiversity strives to be an open and vibrant community where you can explore and learn about your personal interests. Wikiversity hosts and develops free learning materials for all age groups. Please participate and help build collaborative learning and communities; at Wikiversity we learn by doing, we learn by editing'.

Health Information for All

Classic health care books such as Where there is no doctor, A Book for Midwives and HIV, Health & Your Community are available as free downloads from The Hesperian Foundation. Other books by David Werner, the author of Where there is no doctor, are available from Healthwrights including Helping health workers learn and Disabled village children.


Child-to-child is an excellent educational approach that links children's learning and with taking action to promote the health, well-being and development of themselves, their families and communites. Further details of this approach, as well as a range of child-to-child readers, are available from Child-to-Child

Disease defeated.gif

For other free medical books and journals try freemedicaljournals.comand freebooks4doctors.com.

Free or low cost access to over 2000 journals is available to institutions in eligible countries through the well-established HINARI program, and for access to 25,000 health and disability resources, go to Source, where you can also get access to a health resource centre manualwritten by Healthlinks Worldwide.

The World Health Organisation has an online library database giving free electronic access to its publications. The Info projectbased at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US offers a range of information sources and services in the area of family planning/reproductive health to support healthcare decision making in developing countries, and can also provide CD-ROMs to developing countries. They have also published Guide to Monitoring and Evaluating Health Information Products and Services. Another portal worth trying is Health Sciences Online where health professionals can acess free, high quality, current courses, references and other learning resources to improve global health'.

The publisher, Elsevier, has developed its first major medical wiki WiserWiki. WiserWiki will allow accredited physicians to comment, collaborate and update medical information online and is viewable by everyone. The site was originally seeded with content from John Noble�s �Textbook of Primary Care Medicine� (3rd Edition), and content is expanding all the time.

The Institute of Development Studies in the UK provides Health and Development Informationto support informed decsion making by policymakers and practitioners, and includes resources guides on Health Systems and HIV/AIDS.

Peoples-uni (http://peoples-uni.org) is using open source software and Open Educational resources to deliver Public Health education in low-to middle-income countries. We are currently in development phase and welcome any collaboration and partnerships, (including in Evidence based practice which is one of the course modules under development).

Information for Development

The Institute of Development Studies also offers a variety of Knowledge Services providing access to development research and knowledge, including Eldis, a gateway to development information, which includes access to over 18,000 free full text documents. See also - A Good Place to Start: the IDS Knowledge Services guide to finding development information online.

INTRAC- the International NGO Training and Research Centre - has a resource database of freely downloadable materials published by INTRAC and other organisations. Similarly, see networklearning's library for manuals, resources and case studies that help NGOs develop and build skills, as does the NGO Manager E-Libraryand the NGO Cafe Virtual Library. UNESCO have set up an Open Training Platform'to facilitate access to existing free training courses' and 'to promote open licensed resources to specialised groups and local communities for development'. It is organised both by categories such as adult literacy and agriculture and communities such including librarians and information specialists, civl society members, disadvantaged groups and health specialists.

Many NGOs or Foundations make their publications available free online � for example, see Oxfam Publications; for information on small scale sustainable agriculture see Agromisa; or see International HIV/AIDS Alliance. Many of these organisations also put their own and others' materials on CD-ROM, often available for free or low cost � details are usually available on their their websites.

For free or low cost access to global online research in agriculture see AGORA, and for Online access to research in the environment see OARE.

For information on everything from fighting soil erosion to building classrooms, visit howtopedia, a wiki providing a collaborative platform for practical knowledge and simple technologies, i.e. technologies that require no complex machine, that are easily explainable and usable by individuals or small communities for a sustainable and ecological future. At the time of writing, the wiki was still developing so if you have relevant knowledge, why not contribute too? Similarly, also try Appropedia.


Anancy is the CTA Virtural Resource Center, a web portal providing numerous information resource materials on agricultural and rural development. It compiles the Centre technical publications, proceedings, policy briefs or rural radio materials.

e-agriculture.org is a growing global initiative to enhance sustainable agricultural development and food security by improving the use of information, communication, and associated technologies in the sector. The overall aim is to enable members to exchange opinions, experiences, good practices and resources related to e-agriculture, and to ensure that the knowledge created is effectively shared and used. It includes links to videos on their own YouTube channel.

Food Security Information for Action provides access to Food Security related information and resources produced by the EC-FAO Food Security Information for Action Programme.

OISAT, the Online Information Service for Non-Chemical Pest Management in the Tropics offers easy to read web-based information, relevant for small scale farmers in the tropics on how to produce key crops using affordable preventive and curative non-chemical crop and pest management practices in a way that prevent pests and diseases by using non-chemical pest control measures.

The Information Management Resource Kit (IMARK) is a partnership-based e-learning initiative to train individuals and support institutions and networks world-wide in the effective management of agricultural information, though imformation professionals in other areas will find much of use too. IMARK consists of a suite of distance learning resources, tools and communities on information management. Modules include Investing in Information for Development and Managing Electronic Documents and Building Electronic Communities and Networks.

Sakia.org is an information and communication service in the area of 'land and water'. Sakia.org hosts several services such as the email discussion list IRRIGATION-L the WWW Virtual Library Irrigation & Hydrology (content filling stage), the WWW Database on Irrigation & Hydrology Software - IRRISOFT, the e-Journal of Land and Water, an open access and peer reviewed international scientific journal for research and developments and the Journal of Applied Irrigation Science. Sakia.org is fostering the open and free access to knowledge in support of the 'land and water' community.


The Directory of Open Access Journals offers free and open access to full text quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals, whilst Open J-Gate claims to be the world's biggest open access English Language journals portal which access to over 4000 journals.

Bioline International is a not-for-profit electronic publishing service committed to providing open access to quality research journals published in developing countries. BI's goal is to reduce the South to North knowledge gap, crucial to a global understanding of health. Free peer reviewed journals published in a number of developing countries, including Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, are available to download.

BioMed Central publishes almost 200 peer-reviewed open access journals.

Public Library of Science is a nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. It publishes a number of journals including genetics, neglected tropical diseases and medicine, and is a strong advocate for open access.

Open Medicine- a peer-reviewed, independent, open-access general medical journal, aiming to facilitate the equitable global dissemination of high-quality health research

As part of the the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information or PERI for short, INASP makes access available to over 20,000 full text online journals, mostly free for eligible countries.

Resources for Librarians

For the grassroots librarian, try the 2nd edition of Kingo Mchombu's excellent Sharing Knowledge for Community Development. For some basic but effective materials on setting up community libraries, as well as ideas for literacy and reading promotion, see the Osu Children's Library Fund, which draws on experience from Ghana.

For an excellent guide to running a community multimedia centre, see UNESCO's How to get started and keep going: A guide to CMCs which also takes agrassroots approach to communication and information service provision.

For a guide to help measure the impact rural information sevcies, see Rural Information provision in Developing Countrieswhich contains a number of indicators to help assess your service, whilst Libraries for all! How to run and start a basic libraryby Laura Wendell does exactly what it says.

Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki is increasingly meeting its aim to be 'a one-stop shop for great ideas and information for all types of librarian'. Interested in setting up a digital library? Try Greenstone Digital Library Software.

If you are a librarian and want to know more about ICTs, try UNESCO's training package for Developing Countries - ICT for Library and Information professionals.

As mentioned above, for the health librarian, there is the Health resource centre manual by Healthlinks Worldwide and to help evaluate the service, see Guide to Monitoring and Evaluating Health Inormation Products and Services.

ICT and Information Literacy

The best site to access ICT training materials remains itrainonline with a wide range of resources covering basic skills to wireless networking. If you�ve got computers and other technologies in your library, Using ICT to develop Literacy by UNESCO, Bangkhok, provides plenty of ideas.

If you are a librarian and want to know more about ICTs, try UNESCO's training package for Developing Countries - ICT for Library and Information professionals.

UNESCO's Information for All programme has published Information Literacy: A Primer - 'an easy-to-read, non-technical overview explaining what "information literacy" means, designed for busy public policy-makers, business executives, civil society administrators and practicing professionals'.

The Information Literacy Section of the International Federation of Library Association and Institutions (IFLA) has created an Information Literacy Resources Directory to record information literacy materials from different parts of the world, on behalf of UNESCO. Librarians, educators and information professionals are invited to participate and submit information literacy materials they have developed and would like to share them with the world community.

Art and Photography for development

Finding good photos and drawings to support development work and the production of manuals and toolkits can be problematic. There are a number of sources of free photos and drawings on the web. Photoshare is a service of The INFO Project helping international, non-profit organizations communicate health and development issues through photography, where you can browse the Photoshare collection, request images for non-profit educational use, and learn more about development photography on our website, and share your own photos. The scope and quality of the Photoshare collection depends entirely on the generosity of those who are willing to freely share their photos as a way to help advance the work of public health professionals and organizations around the world.

DevelopmentArt has a collection of copyright-free, downloadable, publication-quality line drawings, drawn by professional artists in Asia and Africa. It collects artwork (mainly line drawings), asks for copyright permission, and makes it available to others: extension workers, development organizations, and the like. The drawings are typical development-style, similar to those in Where there is no doctor.

Media/Materials Clearinghouse is an international resource for all those with an interest in health communication materials: pamphlets, posters, audiotapes, videos, training materials, job aids, electronic media and other media/materials designed to promote public health. There's an intersting range of materials such as a decision making tools for family planning and an African Transformation Video Profile Kit examining gender and social norms and how they affect health and wellbeing.

Book Aid International


This wiki grew out of experience gained at Book Aid International - BAI's vision is of a world in which everyone has access to the information they need and it promotes literacy in developing countries by creating reading and learning opportunities for disadvanatged people. We provide books and information materials to libraries, NGOs and Universities in sub-Saharan Africa, Palestine and Sri Lanka.


For guidance on best practice in book donations, click here

For details of organisations helping libraries in Africa and other developing countries, click here


Site Toolbox:

Personal tools
GNU Free Documentation License 1.2
This page was last modified on 25 July 2008, at 16:01.
Disclaimers - About BluWiki