Open Library’s Quiet Revolution

Submitted by Laura Costello on Mon, 06/27/2011 - 8:38pm.
Laura Costello's picture

I had heard about Open Library during the HarperCollins scandal and filed it in my “wait and see” mental folder because it seemed like a combo platter of a lot of other libsocial sites I’d already seen (Project Gutenberg, OCLC, LibraryThing etc.) What I didn’t realize upon first inspection was its interesting angle on digital rights in the face of this depressing decision by a major publisher. Just as HarperCollins was yanking our first sale rug Open Library was taking liberties with the same print to digital pseudo rules. The major idea behind Open Library is to create a friendly public cache of catalog data for every book that has ever existed. The under-the-table idea is to create a consortium of online in-copyright book lending by allowing member libraries to digitally interlibrary loan their out of print books to one another. Shady? Just a little, but I’m a fan of the shoot first and ask questions later approach to digital rights.