I was reading this article, which talks about who actually has been downloading from SciHub. Although many users are based in countries that have less access to scientific articles, a good portion of them were from Europe and the U.S. – which generally have much better access to research than anyone else. One of the reasons discussed for this was that university library websites are “clunky to operate and require security hoops when logging in off campus.”

I know that librarians have been trying to modernize and streamline OPAC interfaces for decades (I wrote a nice boring paper on it). Libraries as a whole have a long ways to go before they can provide access rivaling that of the open web. But a good portion of this clunkiness is due to the fact that libraries are offering purchased content, which has to be limited to the right user population. This certain is not the sole problem of libraries and their interface designs.