“A danger to democracy itself”: Authors fight back against limiting libraries’ digital rights | Salon.com

“These are but a handful of the writers who have signed their names to an open letter released Thursday by a nonprofit group concerned with digital rights issues, Fight for the Future. The letter, titled “Authors for Libraries,” expresses disheartenment about “the recent attacks against libraries being made in our name by trade associations such as the Association of American Publishers and the Publishers Association.”

The letter calls for libraries to be able to “permanently own and preserve books, and to purchase these permanent copies on reasonable terms, regardless of format.” That seems like a typical right of libraries, but the books in question are specifically e-books. Currently, libraries must pay to rent, not own, e-books from publishers, and the prices, according to the letter, “are often likened to extortion.” This, despite e-books often being cheaper to manufacture than print books and more accessible. …”

The Brooklyn Public Library Gives Every Teenager in the U.S. Free Access to Books Getting Censored by American Schools | Open Culture

“We have covered it before: school districts across the United States are increasingly censoring books that don’t align with white-washed conservative visions of the world. Art Spiegelman’s Maus, The Illustrated Diary of Anne Frank, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird–these are some of the many books getting pulled from library shelves in American schools. In response to this concerning trend, the Brooklyn Public Library has made a bold move: For a limited time, the library will offer a free eCard to any person aged 13 to 21 across the United States, allowing them free access to 500,000 digital books, including many censored books….”

Anti-Big Bang theory scientists face censorship by international journals- The New Indian Express

“Twenty-four astronomers and physicists from 10 countries including reputed astrophysicist Jayant V Narlikar of Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics ®, Prof Sisir Roy of National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) and Prof Amitabha Ghosh of Indian National Science Academy (INSA) ® from India are among the scientists protesting the censorship of papers that are critical of the Big Bang hypothesis by the open pre-print website arXiv….”

What Rights Do Students Have To Access Books?

“Keeping books out of the hands of students is one way that people want to control minors’ access to information. Book censorship has steadily been on the rise, and challenges quadrupled in 2021. Couple this with the recent attack on teachers and attacks on school libraries, and it raises the question: what rights do students actually have to access books?

The first place children can access books if they are not available in their homes is in school. Books can be found in classrooms and the school library. School libraries are vitally important for access, especially for children who don’t have access to transportation to public libraries or the funds to purchase books at bookstores. The American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights article V states: “A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.” The bill of rights specifically states age as a reason patrons should not be denied access to books….”


Wikipedia fights Russian order to remove Ukraine war information | Reuters

“The Wikimedia Foundation, which owns Wikipedia, has filed an appeal against a Moscow court decision demanding that it remove information related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, arguing that people have a right to know the facts of the war….”

Collaborating for Access: Book Challenges in a Digital World

“In this third in our Collaborating for Access series of webinars hosted by COSLA, DPLA, and ReadersFirst, we’ll look at what the current political environment of increased book challenges means for digital content. What opportunities are available for libraries to use digital materials to maintain access, and in what ways are digital content and the libraries providing it open to unique attacks across the political spectrum? We’ll bring together a panel of librarians and thought leaders to discuss the ramifications of challenges in the digital world and look at potential solutions digital access may provide.”

Books For All: The New York Public Library Partners with Publishers to Provide Unlimited Access to a Selection of Commonly Banned Books | The New York Public Library

“The New York Public Library has partnered with publishers Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, and Scholastic to offer a selection of commonly banned books to anyone in the country via its free e-reading app SimplyE.

The e-books will be available beginning today through the end of May with no waits and no fines as part of the Library’s “Books For All” effort, a statement against the recent rash of attempted or completed book bannings plaguing the nation’s school and public libraries. “Books for All” also underscores the importance of open and free access to knowledge, information, and all perspectives: one of the key missions of public libraries since their inception, and a principle at the foundation of the country’s democracy of informed citizens….”

Book bans: How Amazon, Google, and Apple can fight back with a Freedom Archive | ZDNet

“I propose that the three major electronic media providers — Amazon, Google, and Apple, with their respective Kindle, Google Play Books, and Apple Books platforms — present a unified front to combat this issue. 

Let’s call it the Freedom Archive.

I envision a publicly accessible website and app made available for the four major computing platforms — iOS, macOS, Android, and Windows. This entity would contain a running inventory of books and other written content that have been banned historically and currently — including banned content by libraries worldwide. 

This Freedom Archive — which could be formed as an independent 501(c)6 — would have commentaries and news included about each banned work….”

As Calls to Ban Books Intensify, Digital Librarians Offer Perspective – Internet Archive Blogs

“The Internet Archive’s Open Library (https://openlibrary.org) does not face the same local pressures that many school districts or school libraries do. At a time when students and teachers may be encountering limited access to content in their local community, the Internet Archive acquires and digitizes material for its online library, and lends a wide array of books for free to anyone, anytime. For example, the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books in the past decade are available in a curated collection. Among the titles: The Glass Castle by Jennette Walls, banned for offensive language and sexually explicit content; The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, cited as being insensitive, anti-family and violent; and Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin, challenged for its LGBTQIA content and the perceived effects on young people who would read it….”

Activists Mobilize to Fight Censorship and Save Open Science

“Major publishers want to censor research-sharing resource Sci-Hub from the internet, but archivists are quickly responding to make that impossible. 

More than half of academic publishing is controlled by only five publishers. This position is built on the premise that users should pay for access to scientific research, to compensate publishers for their investment in editing, curating, and publishing it. In reality, research is typically submitted and evaluated by scholars without compensation from the publisher. What this model is actually doing is profiting off of a restriction on article access using burdensome paywalls. One project in particular, Sci-Hub, has threatened to break down this barrier by sharing articles without restriction. As a result, publishers are going to every corner of the map to destroy the project and wipe it from the internet. Continuing the long tradition of internet hacktivism, however, redditors are mobilizing to create an uncensorable back-up of Sci-Hub….”


Archivists Are Trying To Save Sci-Hub

“Now, people are trying to rescue the site before it’s wiped off the web for good. A collection of data-hoarding redditors have banned together to personally torent each of the 85 million articles currently housed within Sci-Hub’s walls. Ultimately, their goal is to make a fully open-source library that anyone can access, but nobody can take down….”

“Free libraries for the free people”: How mass-literature “shadow” libraries circumvent digital barriers and redefine legality in contemporary Russia | First Monday

Abstract:  Shadow mass-literature online libraries in Russia developed during the early Post-Soviet years. They are a phenomenon rooted in both the practice of circumventing constraints caused by state censorship, and a book production process of insufficient quality. Since the fall of the USSR, Russian legislation has aligned itself with international standards, adopting their strictest instantiation. In 2013, “anti-piracy” legislation made “information intermediaries” responsible for illegal content, introduced an “eternal” blocking of sites, made pre-trial negotiations more difficult. Successive amendments have sought to respond to the circumvention tactics developed by shadow libraries. In this context, for a library which is not part of the book market, remaining in the legal realm means freezing its own content or becoming a self-publishing platform. Libraries that become illegal have to ensure the sustainability and growth of their collections by multiplying their dissemination means, to provide personal security to administrators through a “safe” geographical location or strict anonymity, and to guarantee an access to their collections on the Russian Federation territory through inventive circumvention techniques. They leave the public struggle against state and industry regulation of the Internet to digital rights advocates, and promote a particular vision of “freedom” anchored in the mastery of technical tools and in uncensored cultural practices.


Poland’s ‘legislation’ of Holocaust history vs. Netherlands’ open-access archive | The Times of Israel

“When historians seek to research what Dutch citizens did during Nazi Germany’s occupation of the Netherlands, they have access to a stack of files that’s taller than the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Twenty years ago, those files of the “Central Archive of Special Jurisdiction” were deposited at the Dutch National Archives in The Hague. Suddenly, 300,000 case files on Dutch citizens suspected of having collaborated with Nazis were made available to everyone….

The climate in the Netherlands differs sharply from an allegedly “research-muzzling” atmosphere in Poland. On February 9, a district court ordered prominent Holocaust historians Jan Grabowski and Barbara Engelking to apologize to a woman who claimed the scholars slandered her deceased uncle….

In Poland, research into the Holocaust has become a lightning rod since the Law and Justice party was elected in 2015. Simultaneously, the digitization of the Netherlands’ “special jurisdiction” archive has helped researchers piece together a diverse mosaic of Dutch citizens’ wartime behavior….

Poland has its own version of the “Central Archive of Special Jurisdiction.” In 1989, files from the communist-era security services became available to the public, including those related to Nazi collaborators….

According to Grabowski, Poland’s “History Laws” are intended to “defend the good name of the Polish nation.” Any claims that Poland bore responsibility for the Holocaust are now criminalized, despite the historian’s documentation that 200,000 Jews were murdered by their Polish neighbors….”

Transparent scientific reporting is imperative during the pandemic: Pathogens and Global Health: Vol 0, No 0

Abstract:  The coronavirus pandemic has exposed not only the lack of preparation to combat the deadly disease, but also the nature of response by governments worldwide. This article analyses how some governments suppress science reporting in the Asia Pacific region during the pandemic. It also highlights how the political interference in science undermines liability and openness leading to the lack of freedom to express facts honestly.