No library required: the free and easy backwaters of online content sharing


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Presentation at the VALA 2012 conference, Melbourne Victoria, Australia, 9 February 2012 by Kathryn Greenhill, Curtin University, WA and Constance Wiebrands, Edith Cowan University Library, WA. (more...)

Twentieth century libraries were funded to provide content to their communities legally, easily and free. In the twenty-first century, new online competitors supply home consumers - legally and illegally - with what libraries traditionally were best at providing to library users - free and easy content. This paper suggests that library staff arguing for the value of contemporary libraries should be aware of the quality, methods and material of “hidden competitors”. Some “hidden competitors” discussed include “blackmarket” journal article sharing, BitTorrenting sites, online textbook sharing sites, self-distributing artists, programs to strip Digital Rights Management from ebooks, Amazon’s ebook distribution and fan fiction. Possible future models for both “hidden competitors” and libraries - and implications of these - are suggested.

Full peer-reviewed paper available here:

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No library required: the free and easy backwaters of online content sharing

  1. The free and easybackwaters…
  2. …of online contentsharing
  3. Kathryn Greenhill Curtin UniversityLibrariansMatter.comConstance Wiebrands Edith Cowan
  4. Public andacademic libraries
  5. you can read
  6. •Define and so what?•Tour•What to do
  8. Libraries are not the easiest and cheapestway for our target users to get online content
  9. Content provision is a far less compellingreason to fund libraries than in the past.
  10. Librarians who do notknow how target users get their online content …
  11. …both legally and illegally…
  12. … cannot allocateresources responsibly
  13. 2.definitions
  14. targetusers
  15. homeconsumer
  16. free
  17. easy
  18. hiddencompetitors
  19. 3.the tour
  20. Funders are target users
  21. Requests for funding for more DVDs
  22. Requests for funding for ebooks
  23. journal article sharing
  24. Twitter:#icanhazpdf
  25. login sharing
  26. BugMeNot
  27. textbook sharing
  28. Library Pirate
  29. stripping DRM
  30. BitTorrenting
  31. books too…
  32. fans creatingebook versions
  33. fanfic
  34. author direct
  35. Libraries will have no role in distribution of anyfurther Harry Potter fiction
  36. self publishingand distributing
  37. 9000080000 Joe7000060000 Konrath’s ebook50000 paper $40000 ebook $3000020000 sales10000 0
  38. easy ebook platforms
  39. 4. why pay libraries toprovide free and easy content ?
  40. first
  41. then
  42. now
  43. Physical vs online?
  44. venuehypothesis
  45. Page & Garland (2008)
  46. “even when the price approaches zero, all other things being equal, people are more likely to act habitually…than to break their habit”Page, W., & Garland, E. (2008). In Rainbows, on torrents. Economic Insight, (10).Retrieved from Insight10.pdf
  47. and…
  48. legal, quality material
  49. Target usersbypass legal and quality
  50. strategicsatisficing
  51. obeying the law
  52. 5.what to do?
  53. call outcommercial fantasies
  54. Support alternativecontent models
  55. Internet Archive
  56. Library Renewal
  58. HathiTrust
  59. Digital Public Library of America
  60. Open Access
  61. understand free licensing
  62. platform andskills for content creators
  63. advocate
  64. promote venues
  65. focus onexperiencenot content
  66. Media CreditsNguyen, T. (2007). Adelaide Duck. Retrieved from, L. (2011). Guest post by Lee Goldberg (and Konrath talks numbers).Retrieved from (2008). deep #1. Retrieved from