The User-Driven Purchase Give Away Library: A Thought Experiment
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This article is an exercise in imagination. It is an exploration of a radical alternative to longstanding academic library practice. With this exploration, it is my hope that we will begin to imagine how libraries must change in response what Clay Shirky calls, “the largest increase in expressive capacity in human history.” Technology offers new alternatives; in what follows we will explore one alternative way in which these technologies can be applied. The proposal is that rather than purchasing books, cataloging them, and putting them on shelves in anticipation of use, libraries could only purchased and produced when a user wished to use it, and that rather than loaning the user the book, the library would give it away to the user to keep.