The open letter “In Solidarity with Library Genesis and Sci-Hub” was the first text that we read as an introduction to shadow libraries. To be- gin with, we were interested in the people involved in writing this letter.
MARCELL The writing was a truly collective process. Maybe, all together there were six of us and then the rest signed it. We were using textb.org. A proj- ect by Jan Gerber, a programmer and thinker, who is a comrade and partner in crime with Sebastian Lütgert in many projects. We used that, instead
of a regular etherpad. You don’t see who’s there, and there is no history. It’s very hard to say who wrote what. It was also the time when Laurence Liang was in Lüneburg, where he was a fellow
and I was a PhD student, just after we did “Terms of Media” at Brown University. Academic topics have a certain kind of attention, and when it peaks, people just move to another one, like a fashion. At the time of the custodians.online letter, that topic was in its peak, and we learned about the court case sometime during the summer. We decided to start with some actions against, even if the court case was not finished. In the end, the decision was that Science Hub and Library Genesis should pay around 15 million. At the time of this letter, they started to track the name registrars of the hosting websites. That’s when we realized what was hap- pening. There was also a time when Sean Dockray, (the founder of aaaaarg) and I got sued. I tried to help by taking the domain under my name, so that Sean could get out of the project, because he was
The Hermit forms the acquaintance of a clever little fisher- Also of some world-wide travellers, whose experiences, though of a superficial nature, are deeply interesting-A distinguished builder next enlightens him respecting architecture and architects in general-A "fine lady'' who is not above making herself use- ful-Some odd extracts from the annals of the Annelida-A slovenly "beauty " 71
The Hermit introduces himself to a charming and very com- municative Jady, who is startled by the unexpected appearance during dinner of a protege of the Hermit's-The trials of house- keeping, from which even Hermits are not wholly exempt-Some more travellers' tales, which meet with a better acceptance under the Waves than they sometimes do above them -The Hermit receives a surprise and is warned against a " monster '' 94
The conduct of" the monster," together with his appearance, causes the Hermit to moralize-A family of high rank, and an eccentric member of the same-Gravity and levity contrasted in the Pholas and the Pecten-Concerning borers and burrowers- An unexpected encounter-The catastrophe . 1 1 8
How the catastrophe came about, with a glimpse of life above the Waves-The Brittle-star prefers death to captivity-The crabbed cousin resents being taken up no less than he did being put down-The Society of the Basin is quite broken up, and its members reconcile themselves to a change of circumstances ac- cording to their various dispositions-The Hermit, after a hair- breadth escape, finally regains his native valley, a wiser though a sadder Hermit than when he left it-He is not, however, long depressed, but concludes philosophica1ly that "all is well that ends well"
In this workshop, participants read, annotate and discuss the open letter “In Solidarity with Library Genesis and Sci-Hub”, which asks for pirate library practices
to come out from the shadows. This letter was selected for many reasons; it was an introduction for us to the thematic “Interfacing the Law”, it’s available in many languages, and presents an argument that generates interesting conversations. We compare annotations to detect common areas of interest and to also explore different methods, where readers can develop codes and techniques to extend the content of the source and express their personal understanding of it. The goal is not only to find areas of agreement, but also to discover tensions, disagreements etc. with the letter, which can also develop into fruitful conversations.
We leave traces of our reading, enriched by our doubts, sympathies, tensions and diverse understand- ings. We personalise the text, opening it up for collec- tive conversations. Our voices occupy the space and leave traces on the text and in the library.
When choosing a suitable venue for our event, we decided to ask Leeszaal (in Dutch “Reading Hall”) to host our workshops. Situated
in a busy, multicultural area of Rotterdam, Leeszaal exemplifies many values we sympathise with, particularly open access to knowledge, and a focus on the community that uses the space, not just for reading but for many other social purposes. These values we recognise (somewhat nostalgically) as reminiscent of public libraries of yesteryear. However, the landscape today is quite different, with huge online commercial repositories of texts (e.g. JSTOR), protected by paywalls which limit access to them, and in response the emergence of “shadow libraries”.
In the following pages we invite you to wander through the di- lemmas, outcomes and reflections that came out of our three different workshops, and interviews with people whose work is at the centre of the issues that each workshop uncovers.
Knowledge In Action explores the roles and activities within libraries, such as selection and inclusion of books. Interviews with: Dubravka Sekulić & Ronny and Laura, two Leeszaal staff.
Blurry Boundaries reveals the hidden processes and labour between the publishing and distribution of physical and digital books. Interview with: Dušan Barok.