KSL and online texts

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AnarchoAl
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Apr 20 2006 15:24
Jacque wrote:
Anarchoal wrote:
Jacque wrote:
What you're asking is that libcom posts a pamphlet published by KSL - that they have explicitly asked not to be published in electronic format - and that once libcom have posted this you will "publish it under the IWW Clydeside branch name as well".

Is this something that was discussed and agreed by the Clydeside IWW membership?

Yes, at the time (over a year ago)

This really comes as a surprise to me because the secretary of the Edinburgh IWW and a few members of the Clydeside IWW Branch had a fallout about the IWWs explicitly apolitical industrial unionist stance and the content of the website a year prior to that. Actually the fallout was serious enough for some people to resign

"Dare to be a Daniel" (subtitled "28 strikes fought - 28 won!") is a pamphlet about syndicalist catering unions in London between the wars.

Jacque wrote:
Taking this into considerartion - I'm personally not at all in favour of expecting libcom to take responsibility for disregarding an explicit decision by one of the most important small anarchist publishers to not publish their material online.

It's not their material! They didn't write "Dare to be a Daniel" or any of the other texts- why should they have exclusive publishing rights over these texts? This is our heritage we're talking about.

I don't want to see KSL go under, so I'd like to see a discussion within the community about how we could put the texts online and keep KSL afloat.

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Serge Forward
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Apr 20 2006 15:33

Why is everyone getting so arsey about KSL?

I get the impression a lot of people on here have already decided that KSL are being 'capitalistic' in their motives. But there is no evidence for this other than they've asked not to put some of their stuff on line. I don't know KSL's reasons for this, but neither does anyone else on here. But do people not think, that when you're print-publishing on a shoe string, there aren't costs to cover?

And all this stuff about more people seeing KSL stuff on the internet is just a red herring from you whippersnappers who wouldn't know one end of a manual gestener from the other.

Much as I like it sometimes, the internet is vastly overrated by the people who use it. It is much more valuable for 100 people to buy a pamphlet, take it home, read it, think about it, then act upon what they've read... than say, 10,000 people quickly 'browsing' an anarchist text on line before moving on to look at some big-tit-porn. And before anyone starts, no I'm not saying internet publishing is no good, it just doesn't have the effect on the individual reader that hard copy publishing has. Besides, most of the people I know wouldn't know one end of a computer from another.

Right, I'm off back to my big-tit-porn.

Mike Harman
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Apr 20 2006 15:35

Personally I think a link and paypal donate button on each text could bring in much more money than any potential losses through normal sales.

I've never seen a KSL pamphlet apart from stuff reproduced in the e-mail bulletin, so chances are I wouldn't buy one unless I already knew what it was like from seeing it on-line or at a friend's house. If a few things were on the net I might well drop them a donation or take out a subscription though, but I almost never buy stuff unless I've had a look at it first - a photo of the cover or the text online, or seen it in a shop browsing. There's too much stuff to pay money out for to buy it unseen, since I don't trust reviews unless it's recommendations by people I know and respect.

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Serge Forward
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Apr 20 2006 15:37

But Verso is a money making enterprise. KSL isn't.

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Serge Forward
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Apr 20 2006 15:46

It's only superfluous to whippersnapper internet users.

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Steven.
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Apr 20 2006 15:48
Serge Forward wrote:
Why is everyone getting so arsey about KSL?

I get the impression a lot of people on here have already decided that KSL are being 'capitalistic' in their motives.

Not capitalistic - cos they dont exist to make money, they make money so they can further their propaganda. I don't think they're doing it effectively.

The main reason I feel strongly about this was talking to one of the founders of McDonalds Workers Resistance, who told me that Couriers... was a big inspiration to him + the others. I want to see thousands of people read it, not just the 100 or so a year (my guess) who might pass a KSL stall at some anarchist event.

Quote:
And before anyone starts, no I'm not saying internet publishing is no good, it just doesn't have the effect on the individual reader that hard copy publishing has.

I know the first place I found out about anarchism was the net (the FAQ). I would bet that's more likely than any book or leaflet for most people now...

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Jacques Roux
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Apr 20 2006 16:37

Serge - no one has said they are capitalist, people are saying that they support what KSL do, but they need to do it in a way which is in keeping with the time. Theres no problem with making money out of things, libcom want to get money of people so we can do our thing. But flying in the face of reality isnt the way to do it.

Quote:

It is much more valuable for 100 people to buy a pamphlet, take it home, read it, think about it, then act upon what they've read... than say, 10,000 people quickly 'browsing' an anarchist text on line before moving on to look at some big-tit-porn.

That doesnt make any sense at all. Instead of 100 people having to go to some obscure bookshop or bookfair to find and pay for a pamphlet all they have to do is stumble across it online. Out of those 10k people - say 200 are interested, 100 of them read it online and find it valuable, the other 100 print if off themselves and then read it. I really dont see your point.

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JDMF
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Apr 20 2006 17:44
the button wrote:

Is it my imagination, or is this thread dividing along age lines? I'm over 30, BB's over 30, martinh is (well wink ) over 30. nastyned?

OLD FARTS AGAINST THE INTERWEB!!!11111!!!!!!!!!! angry

i'm over 30 and i think they should definitely be online and trying to "protect" revenue from selling cheaply proiduced pamflets at a very tight margin is false economy, and someone could do the maths to them in a second.

Dont forget, producing the material as online PDF's against a donation has very little overheads to worry about, reaches bigger worldwide audience - and the big one - is not mutually exclusive to the pamflet selling part of the operations.

Putting stuff online would only cut their customer base by few percentage, and at the same time reach a new much bigger target group and income source.

in summary: not putting the stuff online is pure lunacy from economical point of view alone, not to mention all the political and practical arguments on top of it.

Jessica M
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Apr 20 2006 21:00

Hi all,

I will chime in on behalf of the KSL collective -- we haven't responed before now because some of us are on vacation (ie working in the physical library this week). The library, ironically enough, has only a very old very slow computer with an even slower internet connection, making it pretty much impossible for them to log on, read, and post a reply. So this won't be the full reply eveyone wants, but we will try to respond more fully next week when they are back at work and have faster internet connections.

Just a couple of things. We aren't making a huge amount of money on the pamphlets, they just about cover cost plus a little. But what they do do, beyond getting exciting anarchist history out into the world, is give us a little cash in hand to do things like buy rare (and very expensive) old newspapers, pamphlets and related material, or even more simply things like archival manuscript boxes and folders so we can protect and care for the material that has been collected. Nobody is trying to get rich, mostly we're just trying not to go broke too quickly.

We haven't seen any correlation between people posting pamphlets online and then coming to us and purchasing print copies -- which isn't to say that might not change, just we haven't seen it happen yet.

It's great to see all this interest in the KSL pamphlets and the KSL generally. If everybody that posted wanted to send us $50 then the $1200 we just spent to publish the Iron Column would be covered. If you sent more we might be able to do even more publishing. But the publishing is only a small part of the larger project of the KSL.

Also like Martin said there really are only a few of us, doing more work then we will ever be able to finish, and we are always happy to have suggestions and would love to have more people who would be willing to spend their time and energy helping us.

J

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Jacques Roux
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Apr 20 2006 21:53
Jessica M wrote:
Hi all

Hi Jessica - thanks for taking the time to add your thoughts.

Quote:
The library, ironically enough, has only a very old very slow computer with an even slower internet connection, making it pretty much impossible for them to log on, read, and post a reply.

Have you tried asking on http://www.freecycle.org for a new computer? Theres lots of usefull stuff on there, depending on where you are tho i guess!

Quote:
We aren't making a huge amount of money on the pamphlets, they just about cover cost plus a little. Nobody is trying to get rich, mostly we're just trying not to go broke too quickly.

I dont think anybody was suggesting you guys are trying to make money. People just want to point out that KSL needs to embrace new technology to stay a float.

Quote:
We haven't seen any correlation between people posting pamphlets online and then coming to us and purchasing print copies

I havent seen any KSL articles online which encourage people to donate to KSL, or any such note on the KSL website. But i havent seen much so excuse me if thats wrong. But also what people are suggesting is that you start putting articles, or bits of articles online with notes encouraging people to buy the whole text - not nessecarily in print form, it could just be as a PDF download which they could then print. Cheaper for you, cheaper for them, better all round!

Quote:
would love to have more people who would be willing to spend their time and energy helping us.

Maybe you could give some more info on how this works? Where the archive is... how it is run... etc. Either here or on the website. Btw if you need help with the website being kept up to date, us at libcom may be able to help.

smile

BB
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Apr 20 2006 22:15
Jessica M wrote:
$1200 we just spent to publish the Iron Column would be covered.

Can i assume that's a repress (i'm obsessed by music, doh) of "a day mournful and overcast"?

jack white
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Apr 20 2006 22:40

AFAIK the 'Iron Colum' is actually a full book, previously unavailable in English. Since ' a day mournful' is so good I can't wait to read more!

Just to add on to what J said (I'm not involved in KSL btw) archival quality storage material is really expensive. Just buying enough acid free folders and boxes to house a half decent collection of old or rare material would cost an arm and a leg. I used to work in a fas (irish workfare type thing) run archive / library and even with free staff they couldn't afford to preserve half the stuff they had properly.

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Apr 20 2006 22:44

Yep, that was a great pamphlet. Brilliant.

Dundee_United
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Apr 20 2006 22:51
Quote:
Why is everyone getting so arsey about KSL?

Oh for god sake it's because they are being so fucking arsey! Their actions are unjust.

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jef costello
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Apr 20 2006 23:25
jack white wrote:
even with free staff they couldn't afford to preserve half the stuff they had properly.

Depressingly even the British Library cannot preserve half its stuff properly. Sadly that is a conservative estimate.

I would like it if anyone who has paid for a text after reading it online to speak up, and give a rough percentage of texts/donations.

It does seem like KSL are behind the times, running an archive is horrendously expensive and not really appreciated, especially by these internet kids (I'm 24 btw)

To be honest the KSL should accept that people don't really give a shit about archives and maintain them as a labour of love. This will mean that the archives are lost and that really upsets me. It will also probbaly lead to the end (or at least a reduction in the number of) KSL pamphlets which have been universally praised.

Dundee_United
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Apr 21 2006 00:18
Quote:
To be honest the KSL should accept that people don't really give a shit about archives and maintain them as a labour of love. This will mean that the archives are lost and that really upsets me. It will also probbaly lead to the end (or at least a reduction in the number of) KSL pamphlets which have been universally praised.

There's archiving and there's archiving. How many mediaeval scripts do we need to see to know what they tend to look like? Well there probably aint that many floating about anyway, but it's beside the point. If we had hunners I'd be saying fine let a few get lost, who gives a shit. We don't so I'm not. However the actual text - what the thing says! If that bit ever gets lost that's a tragedy.

Likewise with lefty pamphlets. I couldn't give a toss what the original looks like as long as the text is transcribed onto the internet and there's a picture. Anything more than getting the information out there is hobby, it's not organisation. As has been pointed out constantly it's not on to insist on damaging orgnisation in this way. I feel really strongly about this.

AnarchoAl
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Apr 21 2006 00:55

Thanks for replying, Jessica!

I have a proposal for KSL and Libcom. How about a trial run of posting one or two pamphlets in the libcom library, with "donate to KSL" and "buy this pamphlet from KSL" buttons prominently displayed?

I'd be more than happy to do the donkey-work on the infrastructure end.

If libcom are up for it, I'd really appreciate this proposal being put to KSL members when they are available. If they refuse, I'd also really appreciate the chance to discuss it with them directly. This is very important to me.

As an aside to the proposal, I think what less net-literate people miss is that the internet is a revolutionary technology of the order of the printing press, and that if we use it right then it could be a tool for social revolution. Even the poorest kids we get down our social centre use MSN messenger to talk to all their mates. They even manage to figure out Linux! It still doesn't reach everyone, but in 60 years time it will.

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jef costello
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Apr 21 2006 08:55
Dundee_United wrote:
Anything more than getting the information out there is hobby, it's not organisation. As has been pointed out constantly it's not on to insist on damaging orgnisation in this way. I feel really strongly about this.

Getting the information out there is very important. But preserving material in it original form and context is also extremely useful.

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Steven.
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Apr 21 2006 09:06
AnarchoAl wrote:
Thanks for replying, Jessica!

I have a proposal for KSL and Libcom. How about a trial run of posting one or two pamphlets in the libcom library, with "donate to KSL" and "buy this pamphlet from KSL" buttons prominently displayed?

I'd be more than happy to do the donkey-work on the infrastructure end.

If libcom are up for it, I'd really appreciate this proposal being put to KSL members when they are available. If they refuse, I'd also really appreciate the chance to discuss it with them directly. This is very important to me.

We'd be up for that - we would really like to put Couriers... and Bash The Fash online, we would be happy to do this, then you can see if it has any impact on your sales. How about it? Do you have a paypal a/c or something similar so we could put in a Donate button? if not AnarchoAl could help you guys set one up then?

Jessica - that was a book then on the Iron Column? You lot seen that Print on Demand link rkn posted earlier? You should check it out.

Jef, I'm aware about the costs of archiving, I've worked in one for nearly 2 years...

martinh
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Apr 21 2006 09:20
AnarchoAl wrote:
I have a proposal for KSL and Libcom. How about a trial run of posting one or two pamphlets in the libcom library, with "donate to KSL" and "buy this pamphlet from KSL" buttons prominently displayed?

I'd be more than happy to do the donkey-work on the infrastructure end.

If libcom are up for it, I'd really appreciate this proposal being put to KSL members when they are available. If they refuse, I'd also really appreciate the chance to discuss it with them directly. This is very important to me.

A good proposal IMO. Nice to see something constructive rather than the uncomradely sniping from certain others.

AnarchoAl wrote:

As an aside to the proposal, I think what less net-literate people miss is that the internet is a revolutionary technology of the order of the printing press, and that if we use it right then it could be a tool for social revolution. Even the poorest kids we get down our social centre use MSN messenger to talk to all their mates. They even manage to figure out Linux! It still doesn't reach everyone, but in 60 years time it will.

It's what to do in the intervening 60 years....

The fact that the KSL have only been able to post a brief reply after several days of this shows that not everyone is permanently on-line. Putting texts on line does get them out to certain people, but the arguments on here show that that group is largely self-selecting.

Quote:
you can print them off at work

Only if you work in an office with unrestricted net access and printing. Not if you're a dustman.

The Harry Cleaver example isn't a clear comparison either. No one reads a book online unless they have oodles of spare time at work, so they buy the book to read normally and use the website for referencing, like a super-index.

Regards,

Martin

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Steven.
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Apr 21 2006 09:27
martinh wrote:
The fact that the KSL have only been able to post a brief reply after several days of this shows that not everyone is permanently on-line. Putting texts on line does get them out to certain people, but the arguments on here show that that group is largely self-selecting.

But which group is more "self-selecting" - internet users, or people who buy stuff from KSL?

Anyway sorry that's kind of irrelevant now, would be good see some comments on the practical proposals 8)

Actually in that vein, how about putting the Iron Column book online? Cos if it's a full-length book people will do as you say Martin, want to buy the full version and use online as a reference. We can put a link to buy the book, as well as a not saying how much it cost to publish, so please donate if you can? We could see how that goes?

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Apr 21 2006 09:34

really should get away from this thinking that online publishing and pamflet printing is somehow mutually exclusive...

And especially away from this bizarre thinking that selling pamflets on some stalls couple times a year is somehow more democratic or reaches wider set of people that publishing PDF's online.

Comparison: printing pamflets is like having a rant on a megaphone in the corner of a street, and publishing the stuff online is like having that same rant on national radio (well actually international in webs case wink )

Take a look at zabalaza for instance:

http://www.zabalaza.net/

their PDF's are downloaded by thousands of people all over the world (about 2 gigs of PDF traffic per month). They get people and groups writing to them from Zambia, Kenya etc who have downloaded the PDF's and distributed them locally. If their downloads amount to thousands, who knows how many people they have reached because of local groups printing them off and selling them on.

BB
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Apr 21 2006 09:39
jack white wrote:
AFAIK the 'Iron Colum' is actually a full book, previously unavailable in English. Since ' a day mournful' is so good I can't wait to read more!

WOOHOO!

I was wondering, as a mate of mine got it in spanish recently, and i can't speak spanish!

Trying not to derail thread. smile

BB
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Apr 21 2006 09:45
John. wrote:
Do you have a paypal a/c or something similar so we could put in a Donate button? if not AnarchoAl could help you guys set one up then?

I've just remembered Stuart Christie, does that, paying for texts online thing (sorry i don't know what it's called), why don't the KSL have a word with him about impact and more?

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Apr 21 2006 11:56
JDMF wrote:
really should get away from this thinking that online publishing and pamflet printing is somehow mutually exclusive...

And especially away from this bizarre thinking that selling pamflets on some stalls couple times a year is somehow more democratic or reaches wider set of people that publishing PDF's online.

Good post JDMF!

AnarchoAl
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Apr 21 2006 13:59
John. wrote:
if not AnarchoAl could help you guys set one up then?

I'd be more than happy to do that, and any other techie work needed to get this off the ground smile

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Kate Sharpley
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Apr 26 2006 15:41

We are going to put these particular pamphlets online. We may also experiment with putting up our next pamphlet. It'll be interesting to see what effect this has.

If people aren't prepared to behave in a comradely way, we can't make them.

We look forward to seeing what financial support people offer.

There is a long post to follow covering what the library is, what we do and responding to some of the points in this discussion.

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Apr 26 2006 15:42
Kate Sharpley wrote:
We are going to put these particular pamphlets online. We may also experiment with putting up our next pamphlet. It'll be interesting to see what effect this has.

Wahey! 8)

Nice one comrades. Look forward to hearing the rest of what you guys have to say.

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Kate Sharpley
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Apr 26 2006 15:46

‘What’s the point?’ can be a cry of despair, but it’s also a vital question to ask of any project. The aim of the Kate Sharpley Library is twofold: to preserve the history of anarchism (largely, but not exclusively, as it’s recorded in 150+ years of the printed word) and to encourage comrades to study that history. In short: to preserve and promote. The two are connected, of course, but inevitably there’s a certain tension. Operating with very limited resources there are always hard decisions to be made about how best to use them.

There is another central tension which the library collective has to deal with: to run a world-class library, to appear and be a professional operation without raising anyone’s expectations above what an affinity group of a handful of part-time volunteers can deliver. We’re punching above our weight, to be honest.

The library has grown massively and also evolved since the days when it was a collection of material of interest to anarchists. When it left London in the early 1990s it was no longer stored in boxes and could expand and be organized and (to a limited extent) used as a working collection. Since it moved to the States the growth and organizing of the library has continued.

Activities of the library

English-language books, pamphlets and papers have been catalogued. Archive collections, ephemera (fliers, membership cards etc) and manuscripts are in the process of being organized and catalogued. We have no plans to put the catalogue online simply because we have no way to deal with the enquiries which would result. Our current enquiry service is very basic because we don’t have time or resources to deal with them in any depth. The library collective are actively buying material which tends to be old, rare and expensive. Another large expense is to buy preservation material to make sure that old material - which might have cheated the FBI or the cheka - will survive. This is not cheap: thirty dollars for an acid-free archive box (which won't damage the contents).

Publishing

Alongside this, there’s also a publishing program. This is mostly done in the British Isles. The advantage to this is that it can be done without physically being in the library. It also means we can reproduce interesting material from the library, and maintain a certain public profile. This is good in that people know we haven’t given up and gone home, bad in that people can get a distorted idea of how well-resourced the library is.

There’s a quarterly bulletin which reprints interesting articles and gives news from the library. Subscriptions are three pounds a year, but anyone who can’t afford that can read back issues on our website. A large number of articles from the KSL bulletin are also housed in the LibCom history section. The bulletin doesn’t break even but it’s essential to keep in touch with our friends and supporters, and to send to people who want to know more about the KSL.

Approximately every three months we produce a pamphlet. These do a bit better than break even.

We’re currently working on two books: “The assassination attempt on Franco from the air” by Antonio Tellez (this is the volume that’s costing us $1200 to print) and “The Iron Column” by Abel Paz (which is larger, and we don’t yet know what it’ll cost).

We have a website at www.katesharpleylibrary.net - as well as back issues of the bulletin we put up online documents (eg our obituary of Ba Jin). The website is due to be overhauled soon to spread the workload currently carried alone by our webperson.

----

That was a brief introduction to what the KSL and what it does. An attempt to deal with a few of the issues raised during the online debate follows.

The bulk of the discussion concerns the Kate Sharpley Library as a publisher. The problem with this is that publishing is only part of what the library is about. It’s more visible, but it is not as important as finding and preserving these materials on anarchist history. One poster described this (pejoratively) as ‘hoarding away history’. I would have thought it was self-evident that you can’t digitize something that’s been destroyed.

Nor is digitization a magic solution. In the race to obsolescence a computer file will often become unusable before a book will. Also, no matter how you do it, facsimiles and digital editions are only ever versions of the original: you can try and preserve as much information as possible but something is always lost in translation. Some members of the library collective work in one of the world’s leading digital library projects, so thinking that we’re pipe-and-slippers book lovers who are afraid of computers is not accurate.

But, if libraries are good, why do we need a Kate Sharpley Library? The essence of John’s post where he asked why the material would not be better placed in the Bishopsgate Institution, the London School of Economics, Manchester’s Working Class Movement Library or the International Institute of Social History seems to be ‘leave it to the experts’. While all these places have materials on anarchism, they’re interested in anarchism as a subject for research, not in promoting it as an idea. Leaving aside the IISH (who have published something, eg the complete works of Bakunin on CD-ROM), what have they ever done with it? I can’t blame the LSE if their library has mainly been used to produce student essays and academic articles: that’s what they’re there for. But to assume the historical memory of the anarchist movement is safe in their hands is wishful thinking.

We are an anarchist library, and we try to use history as a tool. We exist without state funding (deliberately). We cover the entirety of the anarchist movement.

As far as I remember, the bulk of posters expressed support for the KSL’s continued existence. Which is nice, but we rely on people who support us to give us money one way or another. If you like what we do, but can’t accept that it takes money to buy rare pamphlets or acid-free folders to keep them in, then your support doesn’t help a great deal.

So we come to the question of publishing and money. I’ve put my effort into the KSL publishing programme because I think it’s worthwhile and because it’s been an easy way for me to contribute to the library. Contrary to what JDMF thinks, we don’t merely turn up at the bookfair and then disappear for a year: we sell pamphlets every week by mail order and via the book trade. I think doing pamphlets is a reasonable use of my time.

KSL pamphlets are done for two reasons: to put interesting ideas into circulation and to provide funds for the library. I certainly don’t think it’s worthwhile just to make enough selling one pamphlet to print one more. Nor do I accept the Catch-22 that the pamphlets are either just breaking even, so it would be better to give up hard copy publishing, or making a surplus and somehow wickedly exploiting our readers. That surplus is the only reason that we can think about publishing “The Iron Column”.

Attitudes to print:

The pro-print position

I have been unwilling to post entire pamphlets online for two reasons. Firstly, I’d be reluctant to reduce the library’s income. Secondly, I’m not convinced that a price of one or two pounds is a huge insurmountable barrier to people who are interested reading our pamphlets. Also that posting material on the internet simply has other barriers (like needing computer access).

Print plus

But I may be wrong. Many posters assume that hard copy and electronic publishing can coexist. The only way to know is to try. So far we have yet to see any donations resulting from our material being available online. We’ll look at what happens when our pamphlets go up online before we decide on an online publishing policy (people should remember that our Bulletin always has been posted online).

e-communism

Spending hours reading at a screen is not my idea of fun. Obviously I don’t follow the line that ‘free’ online reading is the answer to all our propaganda needs (though in case people haven’t noticed, we do use the internet for some things).

If somebody wants to sit and type up the complete works of Guy Aldred, I wouldn’t stand in their way. If someone wants to teach themselves Spanish, find, buy and translate the complete works of Ricardo Flores Magon and post them on LibCom, that would be worth some sort of respect. But I can’t help feeling that people who’re only interested in material that already been translated, typed up and corrected for them are somehow lacking in ambition.

The running costs of the library are mainly met out of the pockets of the collective. The comrades in the States have spent time and money on copying and postage, even without any donations to offset those costs. No-one has been turned away. We’ll keep working on the library because it’s a project we’re committed to.

If people aren’t interested in the work the KSL is doing, that’s up to them. If they want to waste their time slagging us off, I’m sure they will. But we have work to do.

John

From the KSL

AnarchoAl
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Apr 26 2006 15:52
Kate Sharpley wrote:
We are going to put these particular pamphlets online. We may also experiment with putting up our next pamphlet. It'll be interesting to see what effect this has.

If people aren't prepared to behave in a comradely way, we can't make them.

We look forward to seeing what financial support people offer.

There is a long post to follow covering what the library is, what we do and responding to some of the points in this discussion.

Do you want any help setting up online donations/ordering systems?