Richard Stallman, President and Founder of the Free Software Foundation and creator of the GNU/Linux operating system, speaks out about NYPL’s Central Library Plan:
Don’t switch the NYPL to e-books! Typical commercial e-books don’t give people or libraries the same freedoms as a printed book. In ethical terms, they are a big change for the worse. See http://stallman.org/ebooks.pdf for the specifics.
Most commercial e-books are so restrictive that libraries are not even allowed to buy one and then lend it. A self-respecting library should stand firm for its own rights, and readers’ rights. Since e-books trample readers’ freedom, libraries shouldn’t encourage people to read that way.
The NYPL’s proposed Central Library Plan stores millions of books far away, so that there’s a long wait before you can see them. It means chilling surveillance, requiring patrons to identify themselves even to _look at a book in the library_.
The plan would also eliminate two major branch libraries, the Mid-Manhattan and the Science, Industry, and Business Library, to get the money to ruin the 42nd St Library — like ripping your feet off to make cudgels to bash yourself on the head. The Donnell branch, where I borrowed many books when I was in high school, was foolishly destroyed; let’s learn the lesson and do no more such harm.