I saw this idea come across the twitterz today — that the library is the people’s university.
Ok, I’ll bite. Let’s take a look at a library as a center of learning for a minute, instead of as a repository for things that are no longer scarce (all kinds of media). What is the job of the library when there is no longer a need for them to be the keepers of scarce media?
Libraries can become places of creation – people come to the library to learn to create things.
Libraries can become places of connection – people come to the library to connect with people, learning resources, their community, the government, the world, the environment.
Libraries become places to express freedom – libraries should be format agnostic, and without DRM. It may be our job to make sure that the tools and formats we recommend are those that promote freedom and flexibility of usage for our patrons.
Libraries are places to experience the world beyond your view, and be challenged by opposing viewpoints – places for safe debate.
Libraries are not about objects, they are about ideas: the sharing, the formation, and the execution of ideas and ideals.
I think that in the last generation we have lost much capacity for independent thought due to the proliferation and widespread adoption of mainstream media (television, internet, mobile, print). Literally, we are amusing ourselves to the point that we don’t care about anything but further amusement. We live in filter bubbles, created by algorithms that predict what we’ll like and show us only that — we are not challenged in our beliefs. Libraries can be a place where people come to be challenged.
I believe libraries should be that place where people are safe to challenge their beliefs, and be free to explore all areas of human knowledge. Such things are vital to our continued survival as a species, and libraries are one of the last bastions for people to engage in (mostly) unfettered exploration.
The eBook User’s Bill of Rights is a statement of the basic freedoms that should be granted to all eBook users.
The eBook User’s Bill of Rights
Every eBook user should have the following rights:
the right to use eBooks under guidelines that favor access over proprietary limitations
the right to access eBooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software the user chooses
the right to annotate, quote passages, print, and share eBook content within the spirit of fair use and copyright
the right of the first-sale doctrine extended to digital content, allowing the eBook owner the right to retain, archive, share, and re-sell purchased eBooks
I believe in the free market of information and ideas.
I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can flourish when their works are readily available on the widest range of media. I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can thrive when readers are given the maximum amount of freedom to access, annotate, and share with other readers, helping this content find new audiences and markets. I believe that eBook purchasers should enjoy the rights of the first-sale doctrine because eBooks are part of the greater cultural cornerstone of literacy, education, and information access.
Digital Rights Management (DRM), like a tariff, acts as a mechanism to inhibit this free exchange of ideas, literature, and information. Likewise, the current licensing arrangements mean that readers never possess ultimate control over their own personal reading material. These are not acceptable conditions for eBooks.
I am a reader. As a customer, I am entitled to be treated with respect and not as a potential criminal. As a consumer, I am entitled to make my own decisions about the eBooks that I buy or borrow.
I am concerned about the future of access to literature and information in eBooks. I ask readers, authors, publishers, retailers, librarians, software developers, and device manufacturers to support these eBook users’ rights.
These rights are yours. Now it is your turn to take a stand. To help spread the word, copy this entire post, add your own comments, remix it, and distribute it to others. Blog it, Tweet it ( #ebookrights), Facebook it, email it, and post it on a telephone pole.
Rights to this: CC0 – Public Domain