A List Of The World’s Largest Shadow Libraries

Shadow libraries are online databases of books and articles that are otherwise not readily accessible. The content may not be available because the publications are out of print, hard to obtain, or protected by paywalls.

Shadow libraries often provide access to content that may not exist anywhere else online. Often, they are used by underprivileged readers who could not obtain the content by other means. Shadow Libraries are also by some readers to preview content before purchase. GreyCoder supports the ethical use of these libraries but also encourages readers to compensate authors whenever possible.

Library Genesis: 4.6 Million Books, 80 Million Articles

Library Genesis (or LibGen) was created around 2008. The library originated from Russian file-sharing media collections. Library Genesis includes scholarly journal articles, academic books, general-interest books, images, comics, audiobooks, and magazines. 

In 2020, the Library Genesis project was forked to the domain Libgen.fun. This was due to an internal conflict within the project. As a result, the databases are being maintained independently. Thus the content differs between libgen.fun and other Libgen domains.

Library Genesis claims to have more than 2.4 million non-fiction books, 80 million science magazine articles, 2 million comic files, 2.2 million fiction books, and 0.4 million magazine issues.

ZLibrary: 10 Million Books, 86 Million Articles

Note: ZLibrary is now available here. Other replacements are Anna’s Archive and PDF Drive.

The most extensive Shadow Library is probably ZLibrary (abbreviated as z-lib). Most of its books come from Library Genesis, while some are uploaded directly to its site by individuals.

The developers of this library claim that it contains more than 10 million books and 86 million articles. Hence it claims to be “the world’s largest e-book library” and “the world’s largest scientific articles store”.

Unlike Library Genesis, not much is known about Z-Library in terms of its operation and mission statement. Z-Library describes itself as a non-profit organization sustained by donations.

Z-Library does not open its full database to the public. However, the Z-Library database was mirrored by archivists in 2022.

Usenet Catalog

Usenet is home to an immense amount of media, including books and audiobooks. People upload just about every popular video and music file available.

Sci-Hub: 83 Million Scientific Papers

Sci-Hub is a popular but controversial website hosting pirated copies of scientific papers. It is said to contain about 83 million papers. Statistics show that users accessing Sci-Hub from China are by far the most active. The United States has about one-third as many downloads.

If Sci-Hub cannot locate a copy in Library Genesis, it then uses multiple institutional access systems to search across publisher platforms, bypassing any access control barriers.

10 thoughts on “A List Of The World’s Largest Shadow Libraries”

  1. Neen, je moet betalen! echt afzetters!
    De vroegere Z-lib kon ik gebruiken voor mijn studies, arme studenten zijn er ook!
    Nu is alles nodeloos geweest!
    Z-lib kom terug lijk vroeger!!!!!

  2. Although the Z Library appears to be available, most of the books previously available seem to have disappeared.

  3. Looks like ZLibrary is now more. Such a shame – was a fantastic resource. Having given LibGen a try, it doesn’t come close.

    1. I heard law enforcement caught the zlibrary admins. It’s quite a shame really, it was the best shadow library.

    2. The Wanderer's Librarian

      Z library lives again! But you must register with an email (preferably not your main email) at: singlelogin(dot)me
      avoid any other domains for they are scams or shady sites

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