Minecraft is now home to a virtual library of censored journalism

Using Minecraft as the platform means even users from countries with strict censorship should be able to access the contents.

Free press advocates have created a virtual library in Minecraft that bypasses censorship in oppressive countries to house censored journals and articles. The virtual space was created as a collaboration between the freedom-of-the-press organization, Reporters Without Borders, and a Minecraft design company, BlockWorks. Because Minecraft isn't blocked in many places — at least, not yet — it's an ingenious way to ensure access even for those living under repressive regimes.

The Uncensored Library, as it's called, houses information on all 180 countries in the press freedom index, as well as exhibition halls on countries notorious for their press censorship, like Russia and Vietnam. BlockWorks says that journalists across five countries who've seen their works banned were able to republish their articles in the exhibition halls for their respective countries, giving them a chance to inform the world about the situation on the ground.

There are also areas in the exhibition halls honoring journalists who have been silenced, including Nguyen Van Dai, Yulia Beerezovskaia, and Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was brutally murdered, allegedly at the behest of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman.

The library has been placed on a virtual island and is surrounded by topiary ferns and lush gardens befitting such an important landmark with so grave a task. Fittingly, it's designed in the Neoclassical style, consists of 12.5 million blocks arranged by 24 builders from 16 countries, and currently houses more than 200 books. That makes it as cosmopolitan as its ambitions. It's like a Library of Alexandria for the 21st century, except less likely to accidentally go up in flames.


Hard to block by design – The Uncensored Library is fundamentally about access. So it's structured in a way that makes it hard for governments to (ahem) block. The contents of the space aren't indexed online, so they cannot be easily filtered out of local search results, for instance. Though, once a regime gets word of this project, they can — and likely, will — block the servers it's hosted on.

Users can always get access via virtual private networks (VPNs), however, or can download the map and explore the library offline. Users who've downloaded the map can also spread it online. And even if Minecraft is banned, it can always be pirated from a torrent site. Because almost nothing good on the internet ever really dies as long as there's still someone out there willing to host and share it.