Shadow Libraries: Access to Knowledge in Global Higher Education

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Shadow Libraries: Access to Knowledge in Global Higher Education

Author: Joe Karaganis

The chapters consider experiments with access in a range of middle- and low-income countries, describing, among other things, the Russian samizdat tradition and the connection of illicit copying to...More

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Examining the new ecosystems of access that are emerging in middle-  and low-income countries as opportunities for higher education expand  but funding for materials shrinks.

Even as middle- and low-income countries expand their higher  education systems, their governments are retreating from responsibility  for funding and managing this expansion. The public provision of  educational materials in these contexts is rare; instead, libraries,  faculty, and students are on their own to get what they need. Shadow Libraries explores the new ecosystem of access, charting the flow of educational  and research materials from authors to publishers to libraries to  students, and from comparatively rich universities to poorer ones. In  countries from Russia to Brazil, the weakness of formal models of access  was countered by the growth of informal ones. By the early 2000s, the  principal form of access to materials was informal copying and sharing.  Since then, such unauthorized archives as Libgen, Gigapedia, and Sci-Hub  have become global “shadow libraries,” with massive aggregations of  downloadable scholarly materials.

The chapters consider experiments with access in a range of middle-  and low-income countries, describing, among other things, the Russian  samizdat tradition and the connection of illicit copying to resistance  to oppression; BiblioFyL, an online archive built by students at the  University of Buenos Aires; education policy and the daily practices of  students in post-Apartheid South Africa; the politics of access in  India; and copy culture in Brazil.

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About author

Joe Karaganis

Joe Karaganis

Joe Karaganis is vice president of The American Assembly, a public policy institute at Columbia University, and editor of Media Piracy in Emerging Economies.

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