Public Domain Day 2021

Post written by Michael Rodriguez, Collections Strategist and Rebecca Parmer, Head of Archives & Special Collections

New Year’s Day was Public Domain Day! 

Public Domain Image

On January 1, 2021, copyright expired for all works published in the United States in 1925. These works entered the public domain. Anyone is now free to share, use, and build on them in the US without permission or payment. Public Domain Day celebrates this trove of books, serials, music, and art that become public property on January 1.

Each January 1st, a new year’s worth of publications will enter the public domain. In 2022, copyright will expire for works published in 1926, and so on. Non-US works may enter the public domain later; this varies by creation date and country of origin. Sheet music from 1925 is entering the public domain this year, but sound recordings do not start entering the public domain till December 1, per the Music Modernization Act.

Some 1925 works were already in the public domain before January 1. This is because the copyright was not registered or renewed in time, under the US laws of the era. Works published after January 1, 1964 had their copyright automatically renewed by statute. But for works published between 1923 and 1964, works automatically entered the public domain if the copyright holder didn’t include a copyright statement at the time of publication or renew their copyright after 28 years.

Unfortunately, searching for the status of these works can be tricky. While copyright records from 1978 to today can be searched online, registrations and renewals for all works prior to 1978 can only be searched onsite in the US Copyright Office’s copyright card catalog. To help the public navigate the status of books published between 1923 and 1963, Stanford University Libraries developed a database of copyright renewals – but note that this only includes renewals for books, and not other copyrighted material like art, sound recordings, film, and so on.

Some Notable Books Entering the Public Domain

Book cover for "The Secret of Chimney's" by Agatha Christie

The BBC hailed 1925 as perhaps “the greatest year for books ever.”

In 1925, Ernest Hemingway published his first novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald penned The Great Gatsby, and Virginia Woolf wrote Mrs. Dalloway. Alain Locke published The New Negro, a defining work of the Harlem Renaissance that featured essays from Black luminaries such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston.

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
  • Alain Locke, The New Negro
  • Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time
  • Theodore Dreiser, An American Tragedy
  • Sinclair Lewis, Arrowsmith
  • Franz Kafka, The Trial (in German)
  • Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans
  • John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer
  • Agatha Christie, The Secret of Chimneys
  • James Weldon Johnson, Book of Negro Spirituals
  • Aldous Huxley, Those Barren Leaves
  • W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil
  • Edith Wharton, The Writing of Fiction
  • Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto, A Daughter of the Samurai

Other Works Entering the Public Domain

Image of "Sweet Georgia Brown" songbook cover
  • The first issues of the New Yorker magazine
  • Poems by Countee Cullen, Robinson Jeffers, Ezra Pound, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Hilda Doolittle, and many other poets
  • “Sweet Georgia Brown” and songs by Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, and many other artists
  • Silent movies, including Rudolph Valentino’s starring role in The Eagle

Connecticut-Themed Works Entering the Public Domain

Image of an historical map of Connecticut

HathiTrust has created a digital collection with 37,530 resources–books, journal issues, research reports, and other items–that entered the public domain on New Year’s Day. Here are Connecticut-themed 1925 works that HathiTrust now makes free for all.

These resources provide unique historical perspectives on Connecticut’s public education system, research enterprise, finance industry, and libraries.

Some Works from UConn Library and Archives Entering the Public Domain

Search the UConn library catalog for works from 1925 or earlier. Below are just a few of the books in our special collections that were published in 1925.

Book Cover of "Doctor Dolittle's Zoo" by Hugh Lofting

Learn More about the Public Domain

James Boyle, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind (Yale University Press, 2008). Download book for free from the author’s website.

January 1st Brings Public Domain Riches from 1925 – Internet Archive blog post.

Public Domain Day 2021 – Duke University, Center for the Study of the Public Domain.

Sharing PPE Engineering Standards and DIY PPE Maker Designs

In celebration of Open Access Week 2020, this is the fourth blog in a series of five written by the UConn Library Scholarly Communications Coordinating Group (SCCG) to explore how Open Access has impacted the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more about the SCCG and find more resources, see our Scholarly Communications webpage.

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the process of sharing information to help stop the spread of the virus. Engineering standards that address the design of personal protective equipment were made available for free by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials). Normally, all engineering standards are behind a paywall, only available for purchase or by an institutional subscription.   

In addition, the maker community was quick to respond by making CAD drawings on STL files of face shields and sharing them on websites like Thingiverse. Quilting and craft communities shared free templates for fabric face masks, designed to be worn by the public, thereby preserving the supply of N95 masks for medical personnel. To learn more about this, click on the links below. 

How is Open Access impacting the global search for a COVID-19 vaccine?

In celebration of Open Access Week 2020, this is the third blog in a series of five written by the UConn Library Scholarly Communications Coordinating Group (SCCG) to explore how Open Access has impacted the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more about the SCCG and find more resources, see our Scholarly Communications webpage.

An international effort is underway which includes seventy five countries collaborating on the financing of and research for a vaccine for the COVID-19 pandemic. They will partner with 90 lower-income countries, for a total of 165 countries working together, representing more than 60% of the world’s population. 

Each member country will receive a share of the vaccine doses proportional to their population, regardless of whether they can afford full membership. This is a global collaboration to accelerate the development and production of, and equitable access to, COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. The open access gateway for information on this effort is CURE: Covid-19 Universal REsources Gateway  This is a joint initiative between UNESCO, the Indian Statistical Institute, and the Network of Scientific Journals from Latin America, Caribbean, Spain and Portugal (Redalyc.) 

The United States is not currently part of this global initiative, under President Trump. In the United States, A Framework for Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus was issued in September, 2020, by the National Academies of Science, Engineering & Medicine. The report was requested by and sponsored by the NIH and the CDC. The report was written to aid in policy and decision-making in the United States and beyond to plan for equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.

How is Open Access impacting the availability of data during COVID-19?

In celebration of Open Access Week 2020, this is the second blog in a series of five written by the UConn Library Scholarly Communications Coordinating Group (SCCG) to explore how Open Access has impacted the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more about the SCCG and find more resources, see our Scholarly Communications webpage.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to data has become vitally important as infection rates and deaths are tracked, local resource information is made available, and researchers work together to sequence the virus and create a vaccine.  

Data dashboards have become a quick, easy way to share numbers and visual information about the pandemic. The Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Map has become well-known and shows real-time information about the pandemic in an easy to read format.  

The open data available is also bringing known disparities in the healthcare system into a fresh light.   

Open data in these cases can help you make informed choices about staying safe in your community, can help you understand the ongoing pandemic, and can highlight areas where you can take action and stay informed about how the pandemic is affecting others around you.  

How is Open Access impacting the availability of research articles on COVID-19?

In celebration of Open Access Week 2020, this is the first blog in a series of five written by the UConn Library Scholarly Communications Coordinating Group (SCCG) to explore how Open Access has impacted the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more about the SCCG and find more resources, see our Scholarly Communications webpage.

Open book icon.

During a time of global pandemic some countries, publishers, and institutions are making access to research articles on COVID-19 publicly accessible. In a crisis it’s crucial that important research not be barred from use by subscription paywalls. 

The emergency measures in academic libraries in response to COVID-19 have made available for the first time vast quantities of previously unavailable digital resources for research and teaching. This has demonstrated the great value and savings in time, travel expenses, and even carbon emissions that open educational and scholarly resources can make possible. The success of these temporary measures greatly strengthens the case for the expansion of Open Resources in academic libraries on both practical and economic grounds. There are major cost savings embedded in the embrace of Open Resources, sometimes not readily apparent on the balance sheet, but nevertheless indisputably demonstrable upon close examination. 

Some examples of open access in this time are below. For much more information, check out SPARC Europe’s The Coronavirus and Open Science: Our reads and Open use cases

Examples of countries working together to make research widely available: 

⦁ Twelve countries’ science advisors wrote an open letter to publishers of science research content to make all research on the coronavirus and COVID-19 available for free through PubMed Central or other nationally recognized repositories. 

⦁ The Chinese Academy of Sciences has created an online platform for distributing scientific research of COVID-19 studies.

Examples of publishers making research information available: 

⦁ A variety of STM publishers made content about Coronavirus and Covid-19 openly available because of the pandemic: 

⦁ More than 30 publishers have made their Coronavirus and Covid-19 content available immediately through PubMed Central and other public repositories. 

Examples of organizations making research information available: 

⦁ OpenAire, a European based collaboration of partners and stakeholders, has “created a specific Community to collect all research results that could be relevant for the scientific community worldwide working on the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and SARS-CoV-2.” 

⦁ The Inter Academy Partnership, a collection of 140 national, regional and global member academies, have put out a communique calling for collective open action against Covid-19. 

UConn and CSCU Libraries Partner to Acquire eBooks

The UConn Library and Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) Library Consortium have partnered to acquire major university press eBook collections from Walter De Gruyter Inc. The first of its kind, this purchase lays the foundations for future library partnerships among all public institutions of higher education in Connecticut.

The partnership gives students, faculty, and staff at UConn and all CSCU institutions permanent online access to almost every book published by:

  • Harvard University Press, 2000-2020
  • Iberoamericana Vervuert, 1979-2020
  • University of Chicago Press, 2017-2020
  • Yale University Press, 2016-2020

Access to these approximately 4,800 books is through the De Gruyter platform, which allows chapter-by-chapter downloads in PDF format without restrictions on simultaneous users. Faculty may adopt these books in their courses and are encouraged to consult with their institution’s library about linking for off-campus access. CSCU and UConn are also permitted to lend the whole eBooks to other libraries nationwide, enabling even more inclusive access.

“This collaboration is an example of the work we are doing at UConn to find innovative and sustainable models of providing access to materials that are vital to research and teaching,” said UConn Provost Carl Lejuez. “This partnership maximizes cost savings and underscores our commitment to working with colleagues across CT on the critical role we all play in advancing scholarship.” CSCU Provost Jane Gates concurs, adding, “The CSCU libraries provide critical resources to our students, and I am pleased to support this innovative partnership with UConn, particularly in the current environment where remote access is more important than ever.”

Kenneth McNeil, Professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University, commented that “It’s wonderful we have obtained this collection, which will be a great new resource, especially for our students. And the ability to adopt eBooks for use in courses is an added bonus.” Via this purchase, “hard-to-find, in some cases prohibitively expensive texts have become immediately available,” observed Margaret Breen, Professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at UConn. “The investment reflects support crucial for scholarly research and training.”

Students, faculty, and staff may browse and access the newly acquired eBooks by visiting their institution’s library website and then searching for DeGruyterCT in the library’s catalog. To learn more about these ebook collections, please explore De Gruyter’s University Press Library or contact or

New eResources at the UConn Library

The UConn Library recently acquired permanent online access to 18 million pages of scholarly journal articles, 51,000 scores, 6,000 scholarly books, 1,800 documentary films, and millions of pages of primary sources across all subjects. Electronic access was prioritized in response to the COVID pandemic, which curtailed access to library DVDs, print, and archives. Unlimited access and downloads are permitted. Everything is available to all UConn, including Health and Law. 


Academic Video Online
70,000 streaming videos, including documentary and feature films, interviews, performances, news programs and newsreels, and demonstrations and trainings across all subjects. Note that this is a subscription database, so its continuation past 2022 hinges on usage and funding.

African American, African, and Black Diaspora Studies eBooks from Duke University Press  
350 scholarly eBooks in Black, African American, and Africana studies, including history, religion, literature, art, music, culture, and other subjects and spanning all continents and time periods. 

Classical Scores Library  
51,000 classical music scores comprising 1.3 million printable pages—the largest such collection sold to libraries. Scores are from more than 4600 composers and span all major classical musical genres and time periods from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. UConn owns Parts 1-4. 

Wiley Journal Backfiles  
900+ Wiley-published journals (18 million pages) from their first volumes and issues through 1997. This archive encompasses all subjects and is strongest in business, social sciences, and STEM, especially medicine and nursing. Half the titles are sourced from scholarly societies. 

Women’s Magazine Archive 
12 major consumer magazines aimed at a female readership, including Better Homes & Gardens (1922-2005), Cosmopolitan (1886-2005), Essence (1970-2005), Seventeen (1944-2005), and Town and Country (1846-2005). Contains over 1.7 million pages. UConn owns Parts 1 and 2. 

Streaming Videos

DocuSeek2 Complete Collection  
1800+ documentary films covering a vast array of issues and topics from leading film producers and distributors, including Bullfrog, Icarus, and independent filmmakers worldwide. 

National Theatre Collection  
30 stage productions from the powerhouse National Theatre, captured on high-definition video. Features adaptations of classics (Shakespeare, Mary Shelley) as well as contemporary dramas. Also includes unique digitized primary sources such as photos, scripts, and costume designs. 

Scholarly eBooks -Subject Collections

Bloomsbury Medieval Studies  
Includes the Global Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages and more than 150 scholarly eBooks, along with museum images and an interactive timeline, making this database a useful teaching tool. 

Oxford University Press Classical Studies 2015-2020  
345 scholarly eBooks in Classical Studies published online by Oxford University Press from April 2015 through May 2020. UConn already owns Oxford’s 2010-2015 Classical Studies titles. 

Springer Computer Science Ebooks 2017 
Hundreds of computer science eBooks and conference proceedings published by Springer, including the complete 2017 Lecture Notes in Computer Science. 

Studies in Law, Politics, and Society – Emerald 
50 scholarly eBooks comprising volumes 32-82 (2004-2020) in the Studies in Law, Politics, and Society series, published by Emerald. 

Scholarly eBooks – Reference

Bergey’s Manual of Systematic Bacteriology  
Eight-volume authoritative reference work featuring more than 1750 articles on microbiology. 

Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior 2nd edition  
2019 edition of this major scientific reference work from Elsevier, clocking in at 3048 pages. 

Encyclopedia of Microbiology 2nd edition  
2019 edition of this major scientific reference work from Elsevier, clocking in at 3199 pages. 

Scholarly eBooks – University Press Collections

Harvard University Press 2000-2020  
1600 scholarly eBooks published by Harvard University Press from 2000 through 2020. 

University of Chicago Press Ebooks 2017-2020  
700 scholarly eBooks published by the University of Chicago Press from 2017 through 2020. 

Yale University Press Ebooks 2016-2020  
850 scholarly eBooks published by Yale University Press from 2016 to 2020. 

Scholarly eBooks – Spanish Language

Digitalia Hispánica 
30,000 scholarly eBooks and journals in Spanish from presses in Latin America and Iberia. Note that this is a subscription database, so its continuation past 2021 hinges on usage and funding. 

Iberoamericana Vervuert eBooks 1975-2020  
1500 scholarly eBooks in Spanish, published by Iberoamericana Vervuert from 1975 to 2020. 

Primary Sources

Archives of Sexuality & Gender: LGBTQ History and Culture Since 1940 Parts 1-4  
4 million pages of primary sources on social, political, health, and legal issues impacting LGBTQ communities globally. Over 15 languages and 35 countries are represented. UConn owns Parts 1-4, adding Part 4, “International Perspectives on LGBTQ Activism and Culture,” this year.   

American County Histories New England Part 1  
County histories of ConnecticutMaine, and Massachusetts from the 1800s and early 1900s, offering insights into these states’ local history, geology, geography, weather, and more. Note that UConn does not provide access to New England County Histories Part 2 (RI, VT, NH). 

Children’s Literature & Culture  
2.2 million pages of primary sources recording the growth of children’s literature during the nineteenth century and providing legal and sociological texts to contextualize this growth, especially in literature, education, and crime mostly from the US and UK. 

Civil War Collection Part VI: Northeast Regimental Histories  
Histories of US military units, including four from Connecticut, which fought in the Civil War. 

Law and Legal History: Archives Unbound  
180,000 pages of primary sources illuminating pivotal legal issues in the United States. Coverage includes 122 cases argued by Abraham Lincoln (1855-1861), Jim Crow laws (1871-1884), price control regulations (1941-1961), and the passage of the Clean Air Act (1990). 

Radical Studies: Archives Unbound  
Tens of thousands of pages of primary sources documenting radical political groups throughout the 20th century across the United States, Europe, and Latin America, including Communist and other leftist groups, Black liberation movements, and U.S. federal surveillance of activists. 

Historical Newspapers

Burlington Free Press Historical Newspaper 1848-2007  
Complete full text of Vermont’s Burlington Free Press from 1848 to 2007 – one of the oldest historical newspapers in the US and a key resource for the study of New England history. 

Chicago Tribune Historical Newspaper 1849-2010  
An additional 14 years of content from the Chicago Tribune. Previously we had access only to 1849-1996 content. This brings our access up to 2010. 

Nation Magazine Archive 1865-2020  
Permanent online access to the full text of The Nation (1865-2020), a leading progressive magazine and the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. 

Connecticut Digital Archive to Expand 19th Century Handwritten Text Recognition

19th century handwritten documents are essential for researchers but are widely inaccessible even after digitization due to their inability to be searched. The Connecticut Digital Archive, a project of the UConn Library, is working to change that with a Catalyst Fund grant recently awarded by LYRASIS.

Documents like this one from the CT Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home are unrecognizable through OCR. The CT Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home provided housing, schooling, and religious training to some two hundred or more orphans of Connecticut men who lost their lives in the Civil War. Image from October 29, 1866 provided by the UConn Library Archives & Special Collections through the CT Digital Archive.

Archives and special collections from across Connecticut fill the Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA), providing online access to a treasure of historic materials. However, even digitized, the irregularity in the handwriting in many of the manuscripts leaves the historical information in these documents inaccessible to Optical Character Recognition (OCR), a transfer method that has been used for more than 20 years to assist in document discoverability. To address this, historians and computer scientists have worked to apply machine learning to handwriting text recognition (HTR) through a relatively small number of projects with varied techniques and varied success. 

In the summer of 2019, the Library, in partnership with Greenhouse Studios, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and UConn School of Engineering, created a set of over 16,000 images of 22 different characters from the John Quincy Adams Papers. These characters were used to train a neural network, or a set of algorithms modeled loosely after the human brain, designed to recognize patterns in those images. The neural network takes these handwritten digits, known as training examples, and develops a system to learn from them. As you increase the examples, the network learns more and improves its accuracy in identifying the individual letters and words. The pilot project over the summer produced promising results, with an 86%+ accuracy rate when testing on all 22 characters and an amazing 96%+ accuracy rate when testing on four of the characters.

Student Matthew Mulhall working in the Greenhouse Studios on developing a neural network to identify handwritten characters.
Student Matthew Mulhall working in the Greenhouse Studios on developing a neural network to identify handwritten characters.

“Historical manuscripts are essential for humanities research and these funds will help scholars engage with unique and distinctive collections in a way they couldn’t before,” noted Greg Colati, Assistant University Librarian for University Archives, Special Collections & Digital Curation for the UConn Library.

The grant funds from LYRASIS will allow the Library and the Computer Science & Engineering Department in the School of Engineering to expand this work on additional volumes of handwritten documents in the John Adams Papers. The goal is to expand the datasets, adjust the neural networks, and release the updated version to the public for free.

LYRASIS is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support enduring access to the world’s shared academic, scientific and cultural heritage through leadership in open technologies, content services, digital solutions and collaboration with archives, libraries, museums and knowledge communities worldwide. The grant is part of their Catalyst Fund which provides support for new ideas and innovative projects that explore, test, refine and collaborate on innovations with community-wide impact.

The CTDA is a service of the UConn Library, providing services to preserve and make available digital assets related to Connecticut and created by Connecticut-based, not-for-profit educational, cultural, and historical institutions, including libraries, archives, galleries, and museums.

Limited onsite services starting on August 31

Our guiding principle is to support students and faculty while protecting the health of our community and our staff are providing online services while physical locations are closed. As we continue to be flexible and in constant review of what is possible for the coming fall semester, we plan to begin offering limited onsite services starting on August 31.

While there is currently extensive access to materials and research support available digitally, we will enhance these offerings by adding curbside pickup of physical materials at HBL in Storrs, and at each of the Regional Library locations. The hours available for pickup and the specific mechanisms for “curbside” offerings are still to be determined.  We will also support access to physical materials that are not currently available online through digitization when possible, particularly of Archives & Special Collections materials. Physical library locations will only be open to retrieve paged materials, or return items, and for pick-up of print jobs as well as very limited computer usage for those that do not have their own devices.  At HBL there will be scheduled courses in rooms on the Plaza and First level, and traffic will be directed to be uni-directional to maintain social distancing. Outside of scheduled courses, the library will be unavailable for study, group work, or as an indoor gathering space.

This is the Phase 2, later phases will allow for more activity in the building and advancement to later stages will be determined following guidance from the CDC, the State of Connecticut, and the University, as well as availability of cleaning supplies, PPE, and staff for onsite work.  All Library locations funded and staffed by UConn Library will fall under this centralized planning, including all Regional Campus Libraries, this does not include the Lyman Maynard Stowe Health Sciences Library or the Thomas J. Meskill Law Library.

Please stay tuned as we work out the details around our August 31st opening at The latest official guidance and updates on UConn’s response to COVID-19 and its impact on the university community is being provided in real time at

Paws to Relax is Back

It sure is a tough Monday. Finals, stress, rain, icy sidewalks, and the greyest of all grey days. BUT – have no fear – the puppers are here! Today starts our finals week Paws to Relax program on the first floor of Homer Babbidge. Each day from 1-5 come say hi to a stress relief dog. A little drool and some dog hair on you goes a long way to making it all better.

Paws to Relax Image for the schedule - December 9-13, 2019

Monday, December 9
1-2pm – Colleen and Charlie (Cocker Spaniel)
2-3pm – Terri and Brody (Shetland Sheepdog)
3-4pm – Mary Beth and Witness (Golden Doodle)
4-5pm – Jeanne and Bennie (Shih-Tzu)

Tuesday, December 10
1-2pm – Alexandra and Ambrosia (Greyhound)
2-3pm – Laurel and Wrigley (Newfoundland)
3-4pm – Judith and Bella (Pug)
4-5pm – Octayvia and Boo (Golden Retriever)

Wednesday, December 11
1-2pm – Cheryl and Cassie (Golden Retriever)
2-3pm – Diane and Meka (Keeshond)
3-4pm – Laurel and Wrigley (Newfoundland)
4-5pm – Ted and Luke (Golden Retriever)

Thursday, December 12
1-2pm – Terri and Brody (Shetland Sheepdog)
2-3pm – Sandy and Andy (Golden Retriever)
3-4pm – Rebecca and Hunter (Shetland Sheepdog)
4-5pm – Sue and Jessie (Golden Retriever)

Friday, December 13
1-2pm – Betsy and Finn (Golden Doodle)
2-3pm – Peter and Grant (Golden Retriever)
3-4pm – Karen and Shadow (Cocker Spaniel)
4-5pm – Laura and Summit (English Lab)

As always, times and puppers may be subject to change. Super huge thanks to Carolyn Mills for organizing and for all the dogs and humans joining us this week. You all are the best.