distributed library project

Via a discussion on Slashdot: The San Francisco based Distributed Library Project.

Create an account, then list the books and videos that you own. You will then have access to the multitude of books and videos available in other people’s collections. You can search for specific authors or titles, browse individual collections, find nearby users, or find people who like books in common with yours. You will have access to user-written reviews and have the opportunity to write your own.

If the owner of a book or video you’re interested in has time for you to pick it up, you can check out items for a 2, 7, 14, or 30 day period (at the owner’s discretion). Returning books late will get you negative feedback, while returning books promptly will get you positive feedback. You are never under any obligation to lend an item if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.

Sounds very interesting, but I think the creator is off the mark when he writes, “the traditional library system doesn’t do much to foster community” and “if you try to talk with someone holding a book you like – you’ll probably get shushed.” Only someone who has not spent much time in bricks-and-mortar libraries lately would write this. Most libraries of any size regularly sponsor lectures and classes at which patrons get to know each other, and conversations between patrons happen regularly. The old stereotype of the library as a placed where people “get shushed” simply doesn’t hold water.

There is exigence for the Distributed Library Project, however, and it’s the fact that public library budgets are getting slashed. If one could borrow books from other readers, the problems created by limited public funds (and the resulting limited collections) would be ameliorated somewhat. My hope, however, is that the success of a project like this would not lead to regularly lowered funding of libraries.

And another thought: I wonder how the DLP would stand up to a legal challenge from corporate publishing entitities arguing that it is an illegal analog file-sharing system. Yes, this would be a ridiculous argument, but when it comes to copyright and capitalism, anything seems possible lately.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *