We've built an appropriation-friendly library in San Francisco and are now welcoming visitors.
The Prelinger Library is an appropriation-friendly, browsable collection of approximately 40,000 books, periodicals, print ephemera and government documents, located in downown San Francisco, California, USA.
Though libraries live on (and are among the least-corrupted democratic institutions), the freedom to browse serendipitously is becoming rarer. Now that many libraries have economized on space and converted print collections to microfilm and digital formats, it's become harder to wander and let the shelves themselves suggest new directions and ideas. Key research libraries are often closed to unaffiliated users, and many libraries keep the bulk of their collections in closed stacks, inhibiting the rewarding pleasures of browsing. Despite its virtues, query-based online cataloging often prevents unanticipated yet productive results from turning up on the user's screen. And finally, much of the material in our collection is difficult to find in most libraries readily accessible to the general public.
Most important of all, people wishing to copy library holdings for research and transformative use often face difficulties in making legitimate copies. Since the act of quoting and recontextualizing existing words and images is indistinguishable from making new ones, we think it's important for libraries to build appropriation-friendly access into their charters, and we're trying to take a big first step in this direction.
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