Free Software Activist Richard Stallman: NYPL Plan is “Like Ripping Your Feet Off to Make Cudgels to Bash Yourself on the Head”

Stallman

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.

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