January 30, 2013
What Law Librarians Should Know About Aaron Swartz
That's the title of Scott Frey's (Reference Librarian, Western State College of Law) AALL Spectrum blog post about "programmer, hacker, internet activist, and information activist" Aaron Swartz (1986-2013). Frey's post provides a concise review of Aaron Swartz's all too human but also far too brief life's work and concludes with the following summary:
Aaron Swartz was very interested in information and how people can access and use it. He worked to make books, academic articles, and legal documents more available, and to foster freedom on the internet. I think that these interests gave him much in common with law librarians. Of course, some librarians would disagree with particular positions or actions that Swartz took. Few would go as far as Swartz did to further access to information, which led to federal investigation and prosecution. A librarian might reasonably be nervous about allowing someone like Swartz to use the library's computers! Nevertheless, I think that law librarians can take inspiration from Swartz's goals of information access and internet freedom, and his willingness to work for them.
Highly recommended for that (as well as hopefully signaling an editorial turning point for AALL Spectrum).
For a tribute to Aaron Swartz as a transparency activist and a legal analysis of the the criminal charges that plagued him, see the links at this LLB post. [JH]