Over 300 authors including Neil Gaiman, Alok Menon, Naomi Klein, Saul Williams, Hanif Abdurraqib, Lawrence Lessig, Chuck Wendig, and Cory Doctorow have released an open letter in support of the continued role of libraries in the digital age.
It reads in part:
“Libraries are a fundamental collective good. We, the undersigned authors, are disheartened by the recent attacks against libraries being made in our name by trade associations such as the American Association of Publishers and the Publishers Association: undermining the traditional rights of libraries to own and preserve books, intimidating libraries with lawsuits, and smearing librarians.“
The full text of the letter, full list of signatories, as well as a form for more authors to sign on is available at http://FightForTheFuture.org/Authors-For-Libraries.
The letter demands that publishers, distributors, and trade associations:
Enshrine the right of libraries to own, preserve, and loan books on reasonable terms regardless of format
End lawsuits aimed to intimidate libraries or diminish their role in society
Halt industry-led smear campaigns against librarians
Notable among the signatories are Chuck Wendig and Neil Gaiman. Wendig initially criticized the Internet Archive’s temporary suspension of 1-owned-to-1-loaned restrictions during the first pandemic lockdown, but has since spoken out against major publishers’ lawsuit against the library, joining Gaiman. The suit seeks to end the Internet Archive’s Open Library Project, which partners with 80+ libraries including Boston Public Library, Milton Public Library, University of Arizona, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art to loan out digital scans of physical books the Internet Archive Library owns.
The suit’s scope reaches to the core of the right to own digital books. Briefs in the case are due October 7th. If publishers prevail, they will effectively terminate the rights of all libraries across the US to own, preserve, and loan digital books by “blocking” a practice called controlled digital lending—locking in licensing models with grave implications for readers’ safety.