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Hush, hush, it is a (pirate) library

What is the fate of libraries in a world where texts were the first to dematerialize? Read the book chapter if you like that format better: Bodó, Balázs, Libraries in the Post-Scarcity Era http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2616636

Balazs Bodo

on 19 February 2016

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Transcript of Hush, hush, it is a (pirate) library

The changing face of knowledge commons
Hush, hush, it is a (pirate) library
Intro: What is a library?
A machinery of information logistics
A space of exchange
+ people
+ people
networking the living+
the dead+
the unborn+
sacred spaces
but as we all know to well
All that is solid melts into air...
text was the first to go digital
is constantly
humans reconfigure
(commons based) peer production
how did the library change?
melted into air
it didn't...
...all that is holy is profaned
what is the future public library?
When I talk to architects...
They say they're not designing buildings any more.
They are designing information: flows of money, materials, people, objects, water, air and electrons.
They are designing processes.
Being a librarian is managing flows of money, objects, information, knowledge, people.
But they are managing flows designed in another era. Can they design the flows of tomorrow?
Who designs the library for the electronic age? And how it'll look like?
Balázs Bodó, PhD
socio-legal research scientist
Institute for Information Law
University of Amsterdam
Hermes: god of transitions and boundaries. Quick and cunning, he moves freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, as emissary and messenger. He is the protector and patron of travelers, thieves, orators and wit, literature and poets, athletics and sports, invention and trade.
innovation is limited, by:

- institutional inertia
- legal, economic, technological barriers
- history, legacy, conservatism, denial?
creating a discrepancy between the possible, the expected and the actual.
filling the
gaps in access

rich & privileged
poor& dispossessed
1. e-libraries have the right content, but they are not accessible
2. e-books are accessible but don't have the right content
global inequalities
to each according to her needs
~ 1.2M books / ~45k downloads/day in 2012
~ 1.4M books / ~154k downloads/day in 2015

+ >40M journal articles (downloads not measured)
Decentralized, peer produced
"When everyone is librarian,
library is everywhere." - Memory of the world
Centralized, managed collections
Libgen & sci-hub
Pirate libraries mark the crisis
of both publishing and libraries.
Librarians do not seem to be able to control their own fate. They face legal and underground competitors, but have limited freedom to compete.
Users (readers, scholars, students, authors) have the tools to take their fate into their own hands, and they keep creating the services best suited for them.
In this digital space user innovation is not only possible but it is also unrestrained by legal, business or technological considerations.
Is there such a thing as a P2P, peer produced library?
+ people
book spaces
metadata was the first to be machine processed
Serving scholars
around the globe
the library's future is held hostage by its past
Libraries are the next big industry needing to cope with disruption and (creative?) destruction.
Is it possible to transform current institutions and structures into something radically different?
More than seven years ago Aaron Swartz, who spared no risk in standing up for what we here urge you to stand up for too, wrote: "We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that's out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access. With enough of us, around the world, we'll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we'll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?"9

We find ourselves at a decisive moment. This is the time to recognize that the very existence of our massive knowledge commons is an act of collective civil disobedience. It is the time to emerge from hiding and put our names behind this act of resistance. You may feel isolated, but there are many of us. The anger, desperation and fear of losing our library infrastructures, voiced across the internet, tell us that. This is the time for us custodians, being dogs, humans or cyborgs, with our names, nicknames and pseudonyms, to raise our voices.
Is it possible to erase the distinction between librarian and library patron?
Are libraries and librarians willing to part with (share) some of their privilege and power?
what is the library if it is not on top of a knowledge hierarchy, but it is just one, and not even the strongest node in a network?
what role libraries will play in this slow-motion revolution?
there are no innocent bystanders.
can libraries join the resistance?
Bodó B. (2015): Libraries in the post-scarcity era in: Porsdam (ed): Copyrighting Creativity: Creative values, Cultural Heritage Institutions and Systems of Intellectual Property, Ashgate .
Available at SSRN: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2616636
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