Disabled Patron Asks Publishers: ‘Let us read, let us learn.’

Editorial note: The following message came into our patron services team this week. We are posting here in full with the patron’s permission as it explains the full scope of the challenges our readers are facing following the publishers’ decision to remove more than 500,000 books from our lending library.

Here is Maureen, in her own words:

“I use the Internet Archive for many reasons and the book removals have impacted my ability to do so! Despite my good fortune to live in a community which provides a great library with plenty of physical books and a decent digital selection via Libby, the Archive still meets needs which my local library cannot fulfill.

I’m disabled: it causes fatigue, executive dysfunction, and more. I also am at high risk for Long Covid complications, so I try to limit my time in crowded public areas.

Additionally I live in an area with extreme weather that runs the gamut from whiteout blizzards, river floods making roads impassable, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, extreme heat, wildfire smoke, and on and on!

This means that actually GETTING to the library can be a challenge at times, especially as I work, which further reduces the hours available.

While I do have a decent selection of typical contemporary ebooks via my community library’s Libby app, many topics of importance to me aren’t represented well or at all.

These include:

* LGBT, feminist, and disability studies books (many of which are long out of print, had small print runs or cost exorbitant academic prices, and were published long before ebooks existed or only in other areas of the world).

* retro/vintage/historical children’s picture books as well as vintage scifi and fantasy books, for many of the reasons listed above.

* Niche topics in anthropology, archaeology, and world religions. (Again for the aforementioned reasons).

It also really infuriates me that the lawsuit claims that use of the Archive’s library is just “recreational”.

* Just because I’m no longer in college or grad school doesn’t mean I’ve stopped learning, or privately researching, or somehow lost my desire for knowledge!

* (Plus, full-time and part-time independent scholars EXIST OUTSIDE OF THE ACADEMY and it’s so disheartening to see their contributions ignored/denied.)

* All children’s books are BY DEFINITION educational! They’re teaching kids to read!!!!!

* So are all nonfiction & biography books! They convey important information that help people make sense of the world.

* Vintage/retro genre books (romance, mystery, scifi etc) are in fact subjects of scholarship, through Fandom Studies, Leisure Studies, History, Literature etc. The Browne Popular Culture Library at Bowling Green State University is a perfect example!

* And yes, contemporary genre books are subjects of scholarship too. And while many non-academics read vintage and/or contemporary genre books for solely for fun, many of us also like to chart changes in genre over time.

* For example, I am a Trekkie (Star Trek fan) and comparing very early Trek novels with recent ones is illuminating on a fandom history level AND a sociological level.

***Education and scholarship also mean private self-study. Publishers need to stop locking knowledge in the academic ivory tower!!!!!!!!***

In short- the Internet Archive is very important to me and millions of other readers. The books need to be restored to circulation. Let us read, let us learn.”

Maureen L., Iowa City, Iowa

7 thoughts on “Disabled Patron Asks Publishers: ‘Let us read, let us learn.’

  1. Trina Brown

    I agree. I am mobility challenged and though there are some books available through Libby at our local great library it means a trip to the next town or arranging for them to come to the local library. There’s a much better selection on Internet Archive.

  2. Adam

    This is literally a harm to the public. Copyright should never allow restrictions like this.

    It’s analogous to water dams – Lobbyists and any person or group who wish copyright should be able to restrict even harmless acts are the sea creatures trying to batter ram the dam, while limitations and exemptions, like fair use and other laws, are the dam that acts as a blockade to prevent flooding. The flooding represents our rights being taken over by contracts, section 1201 (or any anticircumvention laws) being abused, and bullying by greedy people.

  3. Jackie

    I’m a private person and usually stay in the background, never commenting online.
    But I need to say something!

    I’m a senior who relies on a wheelchair for mobility. I live a good distance outside of a small town, and the library there does not meet my needs.
    The Internet Archive IS my library. It has been for a number of years now. I would never have access to 99% of the books I’ve used if it wasn’t for the Archive. It’s my source of research for my website. That website is my ‘thing’. It’s what keeps me sane. Sadly, a number of the books I have been referencing are now gone.

    Are the publishers going to remove books from physical libraries too?? Just because the Archive is online does not mean it’s not a library does it?

    Like many others, I am hoping all books will be made available to lend once more.

    Thank you Internet Archive for being.

  4. Kelsey

    To the people of the internet archive, i pray that things went well today.
    I can only hope and wish you all luck for the foreseeable future.
    To Mr. Kahle, I sincerely appreciate all the work, time and passion for what you love, it’s rare to see such good things to come out of people in this modern age. Once again i pray foe you and all those associate with you and your vision. #longlivetheinternetarchive.

  5. James Hunter

    The publishing are trying to take over the Internet Archive, with the bigger goal of taking over EVERY kind of library, to increase their profits and promote their liberal agenda by removing books with viewpoints they don’t agree with. Don’t think that won’t happen!

  6. todd

    book sharing group would be a nice niche barter a book: a trasaction thats legal so if you have a hard copy for all files it could be a loner and the digital transfer would be next bridge… is that seen as wire fraud! so its a felony? I’d send my collection but they are founded not bought so no receipt of ownership to prove I can infact read it! own it! or share it!… Friends helping friends so we need a big library for those books et al to waite for the inspector to come and see if they have actually been paid for thus establishing ownership… then you loan the banished knowledge

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