The Library is Burning – but who burns with it?

To this day, many people still mourn the library of Alexandria – the source of unlimited knowledge, sadly lost to fire and time. The books we’ll never read, the history we’ll never know – merely the thought of such loss makes people consider how important and crucial is the preservation of information and knowledge.

However, the recent seizure of Z-library, a site filled with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, journal articles, academic texts, and books, showcases how little has been learned about the overall preservation of knowledge. Although Z-library and similar sites can hardly be described as legal, it has served millions of people and has provided access to extremely expensive textbooks and journal articles – things that many people simply cannot afford.

Although some may argue that the fall of the library was destined to happen – given its little regard to the author’s rights and the accessibility of books that normally cost hundreds of dollars – it has left thousands of people without access to necessary textbooks and journals, forcing them to purchase multiple editions of the same books for just a few sentences.

Further, it may be important to note that Z-library was not a source of solely academic knowledge – the site included everything, ranging from academic textbooks to novels written by indie authors that most of us have never heard of. While both textbook and novel authors may argue that the existence of Z-library does more harm than good, it is crucial to note that without it, the popularity of said books will fall – very few people want to spend money on books they never heard of, but many do want to purchase their favourites despite having read them multiple times before.

Thus, yes, while the morality of Z-library may be questionable, the benefit of it is impossible to deny. Such widespread access of different journals, textbooks and novels has provided many people with the possibility to avoid extra expenses (that some may never have been able to afford!) and has brought a plethora of benefits into their lives. Sure, it may have caused harm to certain groups of people – particularly professors releasing multiple editions of the same books or wealthy author who are simply scared of losing money – but it could be argued that it is simply necessary evil.

Hence, while the creators of Z-library – Anton Napolsky and Valeriia Ermakova – have been seized and charged with copyright infringement, money laundering, and wire fraud, some may call them heroes, as it’s their hard work that has resulted in many people getting their diplomas and achieving their goals. Similarly, while yes, the anger of the students should be directed towards universities rather than the authors, it is much more difficult to change the system rather than adapt to it by any means necessary. In the world where the voices of the poor get drowned, databases such as Z-library serve as beacons of light and will continue to rise despite the complaints and useless attempts to dim their shine.