I’ve been reading every day but I haven’t been thinking much about reading lately which is kind of weird. Usually when that happens I get really stressed out but I’m too darn busy doing fun stuff to take much time to notice. It is still raining here but yesterday afternoon it stopped long enough that Bookman and I got to do a little work on putting up the fencing around the chicken run. It’s coming along! No break in the rain this evening though so let’s talk about pirate libraries!

Pirate libraries are not, sadly, libraries for pirates. Pirate libraries are digital libraries filled with illegal and banned materials. They are the bookish version of Pirate Bay. There is a good recent article about pirate libraries, what they are, who is creating them, why they exist and who uses them.

The article mentions the names of a couple of the pirate libraries so I went and checked one out. It’s filled with lots of interesting stuff in a variety of languages. I think it best not to provide the link since I don’t want the copyright police to come knocking at my door. But if you read the article I linked to, you can use your favorite search engine to locate it yourself.

Pirate libraries appear to mainly be hosted in Russia and date back to the 1990s. The aim of these libraries is to provide free access to materials, especially journal articles, that researchers may not have access to and can’t afford to purchase on their own. But there are books too and investigation into these libraries shows that most book downloads don’t have a Kindle version. People from developing countries are also more likely to download books that are not available to them in print.

Are pirate libraries providing a beneficial service or are they harming writers and publishers? I suppose it depends on how you look at it and what side of the equation you are on. At the pirate library I visited I saw books by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. But I also saw a bibliography of Welsh literature and a collection of poetry by John Ashbery as well as a number of dissertations.

I can imagine many people would use a pirate library simply because they don’t want to pay for things. But I can also see the positive in making hard to access items available to anyone who knows where to look for them.

Plus, the article calls the people who create and curate these libraries pirate librarians. That kind of has a touch of romance to it, doesn’t it? Except instead of sailing the high seas, they are speeding along the digital highways. I’d love to read a swashbuckling story about pirate librarians.