Wikisource describes itself as “the free library anyone can improve”. Like all wiki projects, it sets out to clearly define what it is and what it includes. As such, the terrain for this library is: Source texts, translations of original texts, historical documents, and bibliographies, all of which must be in the public domain. By establishing these kinds of requirements, Wikisource looks and feels different than many other libraries, be they digital or brick and mortar. Obviously what we don’t see are the majority of works in the last seventy/ninety years that have yet to move out of copyright into the commons. As a result Wikisource is not concerned with preserving or offering access to current contemporary literary thought or cultural works. This fact is important.
With the exception of a swath of twentieth and twenty-first century government documents, the majority of what Wikisource offers are works that could have been available to bibliophiles in 1922 (which I think is rather though-provoking). The library is interesting then, not by what it keeps but because of what is lacking. It brings to our attention the fact that these books are worthwhile in a different way than we are used to thinking. They are valuable because they have been freed from an enclosure enforced by capitalism. The missing pages indicate that the goal of a universal library still has a substantial obstacle to overcome.