- It protects access to knowledge as an institutional (and institutionalized) privilege.
- It restricts the production of new knowledge by limiting access to the resources necessary to produce it.
- It thereby preserves boundaries of inclusion and exclusion that serve the interests of the institution but not necessarily those of knowledge workers, Knowledge itself, or society at large.
But, what about those who aren't so geographically fortunate? What about someone living in a remoter place who says "fuck it" to working as an adjunct but, like me, aspires to reinvent hirself as a sometime independent scholar? Such a person might move away from an adjunct job in remote Grad U town to somewhere ze can earn a a decent living doing something outside academe. That place is probably not Crapitol City. More likely, it's Hometown, where ze can live rent free while making up for lost wages as a grad student and adjunct by living with hir parents for a while. Or, maybe it's going somewhere ze knows someone who can offer hir a job.
In either case, it isn't likely that the nearest public library also happens to be The Greatest Library in the World.
Most postacademics who say "fuck it" to institutional employment also say "fuck it" to being a scholar. So, there's no problem being cut off. But what about those who don't? Isn't it in the interests of the Pursuit of Knowledge more generally that access to knowledge NOT be restricted exclusively by affiliation?
Instead, would-be independent scholars -- alumni, former adjuncts, perhaps others -- ought to have the option of retaining remote access (and maybe interlibrary loan) through one of the following means:
- Pay for it. I'd be willing to. Heck, I'd be willing to pay a couple hundred bucks a year for remote access -- and that's just because I'm lazy. I cannot fathom why Grad U doesn't offer this as an option. What have they got to lose?
- Have an approved research project (like, say, turning your dissertation into a book). The library could have some sort of formal process for applying for the privilege of "non-affiliated" access.This raises some of the same questions as institutional privilege more generally does but would make access to knowledge available to people who, arguably, should have it but don't because they are "unaffiliated." Indeed, there's a class factor here, too, as I imagine there must be people who would like to remain within academe and continue with their scholarship but cannot afford to feed their families on an adjunct's salary.
- Some combination of the first two suggestions.
(So, come on all you would-be independent scholars who are afraid to quit your adjunct jobs! Go ahead and quit and move on over here to Crapitol City, where you, too, can work as a Think Tank Secretary and, during your lunch break, hop a bus, incognito, over to The Greatest Library in the World -- where you can pick up where you left off after your defense.)