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Boston Library Consortium Networking Day 2013: Strategic Thinking about Copyright for Libraries in a Digital Environment presented by Kevin Smith, J.D.

This week I went to the annual networking day for the Boston Library Consortium, an association of 17 academic and research libraries working together to provide better information to our patrons.

The speaker this year was Kevin Smith, J.D., a lawyer librarian (yes, those exist) who is an expert in copyright law for libraries.  He works at Duke University and also writes a widely regarded blog on scholarly communication.  The following are my notes from his presentation entitled “Strategic Thinking about Copyright for Libraries in a Digital Environment.”  Please feel free to ask me for any clarifications (to the best of my ability) in the comments.

  • When we open a library and let the public in, we are taking risk. We plan and mitigate for them [risks]. Copyright should be no different. It’s not all or nothing.
  • Digital environment has rewards
    • opportunity to create new knowledge
    • new ways to reach community
  • Think about copyright in terms of the mission of your organization
  • In the past 5 years, there’ve been an unprecedented number of lawsuits [against libraries regarding copyright]. So far, libraries have won all of them.
  • Kirtsaeng vs. John Wiley
    • doctrine of first sale applies to any material manufactured with consent of owner in the US [ie it doesn’t apply to pirated copies]
    • this leaves the status quo in place
    • Courts like libraries. They understand and appreciate what libraries do.
    • Library Copyright Alliance
    • copyright cuts across partisan lines
  • New Challenges: MOOCs and mass digitization
  • Author’s Guild vs. Hathi Trust
    • AG argued that what HT was doing with the scans, not the making of the scans themselves, was what was wrong
    • AG argued that libraries shouldn’t be allowed to rely on fair use
    • Judge said no, libraries can rely on fair use
    • Judge said fair use can support a mass digitization project
    • Is it fair use to digitize for greater access? We don’t know yet/it depends
    • Courts like transformative use
    • purpose –> even if the work itself isn’t change, its purpose is now for a different audience
    • Judge said these instances are transformative:
      • indexing
      • preservation
      • access for persons with disabilities
  • Strategy for Mass Digitization
    • recognize some material is public domain
    • seek permission from prominent or large-scale rights holders
      • people who are most likely to object and are possible to find
      • watchfile –> writers, authors, and their copyright holders
    • rely on transformative fair use
      • improve the context of the transformation (frame it)
      • fair use supports good library practice and good pedagogy (teaching)
    • have a “talk to” policy
      • a talk to policy is not a take down policy
      • you can learn a lot from people who originally call angry
  • GSU and UCLA
    • 70 of 75 excerpts on ereserve were deemed fair use
    • strict length limit of 10% or 1 chapter, whichever is less, was used
    • if we’re within limit, the subsequent semester rule (ereserves can’t be duplicated from one semester to the next) is impractical and unnecessary
  • non-transformative fair use
    • not clear that new form of access is transformative
    • ereserves are generally not viewed as transformative
    • address with context and creativity
    • It doesn’t have to be transformative to be fair use. It helps but isn’t necessary.
    • 4 factors of fair use
      • purpose
        • usually in favor of libraries
      • nature
        • usually in favor of libraries
      • decidedly small
        • can go either way
      • impact on market of original
        • This usually weighs against as long as holder is providing way to get license for digital use. If there is no way to get a license then it weighs against the copyright holder.
  • Strategy for eReserves
    • balance forms of access
      • having all the readings available digitally looks bad
      • balance purchases, licenses, and fair use
    • for fair use, stick to small portions
      • 10% isn’t the law, but it’s a good rule of thumb
    • always keep course site closed
    • be creative
      • think about what makes your site a unique exercise in pedagogy
    • seek permission when larger excerpt is needed
  • Strategy for Streamed Videos
    • almost anything shown in face to face classroom is legal
    • students are not a market that rights holder is allowed to exploit
    • look for ways to enhance the case
      • works that are unavailable
      • works where it’s difficult to contact rights holder
      • special pedagogical needs ie language instruction
  • Strategy for MOOCs
    • two separate MOOC tracks:
      • teaching content
      • course readings
    • teaching content
      • clearly transformative fair use but it’s more limited
      • be as obvious about transformative use as possible
      • link to original when possible
      • seek permission
      • Remember creative commons is a form of permission. Use creative commons when possible. For example, if it can be illustrated with any picture of a tomato, find a creative commons one.
    • course readings
      • when seeking permissions, talk to the marketing guys! MOOCs are a great marketing opportunity
      • MOOCs are new and are a huge opportunity
      • remind faculty of open access options, such as putting their author’s final draft into the institutional repository
  • Conclusion
    • balance risk with reward
    • If we don’t take at least some risks, we won’t get any rewards
    • Avoid extremes
  • Q and A
    • Tiered pricing has no legal support for academic use
    • fair use argument is harder to make the larger the scale. ie if it’s for a 30,000 person MOOC as opposed to a 25 person face to face class.
    • copyright law defines fair use for educational purposes as “teaching activities in classroom or similar space normally dedicated to instruction”
    • Dissertations are a work of public scholarship. The university can set what requirements they want to for issuing degrees. Indefinite embargoes should not be accepted, although a case could be made for the traditional 6 month, 1 yr, 2yr, or 5yr. 5yr should be an exception though.
    • Gray markets, such as ebay and Costco, are very important industries.

For more information on fair use, copyright, and libraries, please see my posts Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries and On Open Access (OA) and Institutional Repositories (IRs).

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Faculty Panel on Research Methods (Social Sciences Librarian Boot Camp 2012)

“Anthropological Methods” Dr. Sarah Pinto, Tufts University

  • anthropology–study of human behavior in its cultural context
  • What do you want to learn?
  • How do you want to learn it?
  • People are complicated.  Worlds are complex.
  • Zora Neale Hurston was not just a writer, she was also an anthropologist.
  • Franz Boaz was the father of anthropology.
  • Anthropology can be done at home.
  • It requires constant reflection on oneself.
  • Work with people. Don’t enact on them.
  • It is not objective in search of fact but interpretive in search of meaning.
  • There are four principles of anthropological fieldwork.
  • #1 participant observation–to learn about what’s going on in people’s lives, you have to spend a lot of time with them.
  • #2 interviewing/conversation
  • #3 fieldnotes–there is tons of interesting writing on anthropological notetaking
  • #4 reflexivity–perspective, co-authorship, politics of the encounter
  • Recommends Tristes Tropiques by Claude Levi-Strauss (memoir, originally in French, translated into English)
  • Recommends In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in Out-of-the Way Place by Anna Tsing
  • Data is inherently messy but when you put it together it gives us the richness we were looking for.

“Exploring Social Psychology” Dr. Keith Maddox, Tufts University

  • social psychology–scientific study of how individuals think, feel, and behave in a social context
  • We tend to want to conform to the norms others have set.
  • We’re different people when we’re with other people than when we’re by ourselves.
  • What makes social psychology scientific is all in the method.
  • Three guiding principles of social psychology
  • #1 reality is a social construction–we perceive our ideas of others more than how they are in fact
  • #2 determinants of behavior–person(ality) x situation = behavior
  • #3 the power of the situation–personality is often overemphasized.  We fail to take into account the situation the person is in.
  • Tools of the trade include: questionnaires, rating scales, statements, movements, body language, self or observer reported
  • Tricks of the trade (overcoming challenges).  When people know they’re being studied, they might alter their behavior.  How to combat this?  Use deception, for instance, mislead people in the instructions to think we’re studying one thing when really we are studying another.  Use of confederates.  Field experiments.
  • Social Psychologists must balance a number of concerns.  Scientific rigor, setting that is psychologically valid, and ethics.

What Librarians Talk About (MLA12 Seattle: Plenary 3: Janet Doe Lecture by Mark E. Funk, AHIP, FMLA)

The first plenary is given by the MLA president, the second by someone who is not necessarily a librarian but has something interesting to say that will aid us in our profession.  The third plenary, however, is given by a librarian.  Mark E. Funk’s presentation was entitled, “Our Words, Our Story: A Textual Analysis of Articles Published in the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association/Journal of the Medical Library Association from 1961 to 2010.”  Here are my notes.

  • An analysis of the words revealed four key areas that librarians talk about: environment, management, technology, and research.
  • Although we talk more about building than people, that gap is narrowing.
  • We are basically almost not talking about books, but we are increasingly talking about journals.
  • Reference is steady.  Searching is increasing.
  • Information is the #2 word.
  • As our information world becomes more complicated, we are talking more and more about teaching.  “I predict teaching will become ever more important.”
  • We are now concerned about what we can do to improve health.
  • New groups we’ve reached out to include: clinicians, consumers, and patients.
  • We use management words to tell our story.
  • We are no longer running our libraries like academic environments; we are running them like businesses.
  • We are early adopters and write about it.
  • Sometimes new technology becomes so embedded in our lives that we don’t mention it anymore.  For example, you say you talked to someone but don’t mention the telephone.
  • Our attention has shifted from automating to digitizing.
  • We don’t talk about the internet.  We talk about the web and navigation.
  • The word with the sharpest rise and fall is: Gopher
  • IMRaDification of our profession.  (IMRaD–Intro, Methodology, Results, Discussion)
  • MLA strategic plan encouraged us to do more research, and we responded.
  • Hockey Stick terms–little to no use, sharp recent uptake.  May indicate future usage but it could be a drastic rise and fall. Only time will tell.
  • EHRs are white hot now. (EHR–Electronic Hospital Record)
  • Why do we study history?  It’s very good at explaining change.  Answers the question, how did we get here?
  • De-emphasis on physical.  Emphasis on information.  Prefer evidence-based.
  • Emphasis on health.  Expanded audience.  Outside the library.   Teaching people.
  • Libraries more business-like. Technophiles. More research articles using IMRaD.
  • History can hint at the future, but it can’t predict it.
  • Our story is being written every day.  We can’t skip chapters to see what happens next.

National Library Week 2010!

Today is the start of National Library Week here in the US–a week to honor and recognize libraries for all of the awesomeness that they entail.  I thought I’d honor the week with a post about the important role libraries have played in my life.  I hope you all will chime in and do the same!

My parents didn’t have much money when I was little, and on top of that, my mother homeschooled my brother and I.  The bi-weekly trip to our local public library was completely an adventure.  I couldn’t believe that all these stacks and stacks of books were available for me to read!  Since we lived on a secluded road in backwoods Vermont, I didn’t get to see many other kids my age on a regular basis.  My brother was 5 years older than me, and all the other kids on the road were boys a bit older than me at least, so books became my friends.  When I was done with schoolwork, I’d run off to read.  When books were done, the scenes and characters became the back-drop for my play.  The only reason I was able to pursue reading so enthusiastically was because of the library.

When I reached high school, I was allowed to go to public school.  The library became a safe place for me to go and explore all these new ideas and worlds I was being exposed to.  Books that I took out from there and read led to me changing some very fundamental ideas I had held up until then.  I would not be the person I am today without that experience.  It was more than having access to the books.  It was knowing that I could take them out and read them without judgment from the librarians or fear that they would run and tell somebody what I was reading.

In university the library became my work study place of employment.  The library yet again was providing me access to books, both in the free form and in the money for textbooks form.  I couldn’t get over the whole working environment.  The librarians were, by and large, really cool!  They were hip and sympathetic to my sometimes overwhelming life as a first generation college student.  I was introduced to WorldCat and was amazed at my ability to hit the “Get It Now!” button and get nearly any item from other libraries in the US.  (I’m sure the inter-library loan department wasn’t quite of fond of my love of the Get It Now button as I was, haha).  The library was my go-to place to hang out with my friends, for quiet study, to work on a computer between classes (I didn’t have a laptop for most of college).  Almost all of my friends from university are sorted under a Goldfarb Library tab on Facebook.  It was yet again a safe place for me to live life and figure out what I think and who I am.  Needless to say, it’s also where I figured out that I wanted to be a librarian, and is it any wonder when I see what impact librarians have had on my life?

When I look back over my life, it’s easy to see that I wouldn’t be the person I am today at all without libraries.  I wouldn’t have been encouraged to explore, to make mistakes, to read new and sometimes crazy ideas (to make noise and surreptitiously have a slice of pizza with friends).  I can’t imagine anything else that could fill that place in my life.  For that reason, I am passionate about libraries in the 21st century.  They are relevant, because what else can provide all of that to a growing, changing, exploring person?  Libraries are a large part of what made me free to be me.

Librarians, Enough With the Hero Complex

March 15, 2010 7 comments

Last week, I was chillaxing on my couch, enjoy some crackers and cheese whilst watching tv, and I checked in on my twitter feed.  My twitter feed is an interesting mix of folks–writers, publishers, libraries, gardening tips, celebrities who amuse me, veg folk, real life friends–but predominantly other librarians.  Well, suddenly everybody started tweeting at once.  The freak-out was over loss of funding for Florida libraries.  This turned into everybody bemoaning the fact that nobody understands the importance of libraries.  Then out of the blue, a male librarian said, “Simple truth- police & firefighters can always rehire when times get better. Close a library & what are the chances they’ll bring it back?”
I replied, “Well, y’know, I’d rather my house not burn down than be able to use old crappy computers for free.”
To which a different male librarian replied: “If a fire starts, no matter how much you spend on fire fighters, your house it totalled in a matter of minutes.”

I have refrained from naming them, because this isn’t about these individuals.  It’s about a general attitude going on among librarians that is just wrong and self-centered, and I wanted to illustrate it with actual quotes.  The attitude that libraries are the most important public service, and they–and by extension, librarians–are misunderstood and under-appreciated.  I mean, a book just came out whose subtitle is How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All (LibraryThing record of the book here).  You know what? No.  We’re not more important than policemen and firemen.  We’re not even as important.  As librarians, we’re not out there risking our lives to save strangers’ lives.  Contrary to what male librarian #2 said, not all houses burn down anyway, and even if they did, there’s still people to save.  There’s also the fact that the blaze needs to be prevented from spreading, but I digress.

We are librarians.  We are not out there providing for the safety of lives.  The fact that we exist doesn’t make it so people can sleep at night safe in the knowledge that if a fire starts in their house, someone will show up and run into the blaze to save them.  Public librarians, at best, provide educational support outside of the public school system.  At worst, public librarians are providing entertainment to the low income masses, and do you think the low income would rather be entertained or be alive and able to walk down the street safely?

I don’t enjoy the fact that libraries and fire departments are pitted against each other for money.  However, it is an economic crisis.  The money just is not there.  Of course I would rather see libraries’ hours cut instead of the doors closed, but if the choice is keeping the library open a few hours a week or maintaining a safe number of firemen for the community, I would choose the firemen.  You know why?  Because I don’t have some hero complex.

What we’re really seeing is people freaking out because they think either their job won’t exist in the short-term or that libraries are going to cease existing entirely, making their career choice a really poor one.  I get it.  I do.  It sucks to be worrying about getting laid off.  It sucks to wonder if your career will still exist in 10 years, but you know what?  Almost everyone is having to worry about their job right now, if they’re even lucky enough to still have one.  There are also plenty of people worrying that their careers will cease to be an option due to technological advances, changing world economic climate, etc…  I saw it happen to people I care about when the Silicon Valley happened.  Yes, it sucked, but maybe it’s time to admit that you chose your job because you like it.  Because you enjoy organizing things, helping people, books, literacy, and more, and yes that’s more noble than becoming a back-stabbing CEO.  However, it’s not this superhero career.  It’s just a nice one.  One that I certainly hope continues to be needed, but I’m not about to go out there and over-inflate it because I’m worried about jobs.  I’m realistic, and the fact that other librarians are being so unrealistic in the face of this economic crisis is just making us look like a bunch of snobby, privileged, unrealistic bookworms.

(Yes, I realize this post is mainly about public libraries, which is something I strive to avoid, but I haven’t been hearing much of the same thing regarding academic or special libraries.)

Friday Fun! (Merry Christmas!)

December 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Ayla playing in wrapping paper. You can just see her ear sticking out.

I know, I know.  I’m posting on Christmas!  The thing is, I have time, so I may as well, eh?

I really did have a lovely week.  I was home sick Monday, and I spent the day destressing and recentering myself.

Tuesday night I went out for dinner with my friend and her boyfriend.  My friend is moving to California on Sunday, so this was our goodbye dinner.  It was sad, but also lots of fun.  My friend chose the restaurant, so I had Peruvian food for the first time ever.  It wasn’t bad, but it was a bit bland for my taste.

On the 23rd, my sister-in-law went into labor and gave birth to my niece via a C-section.  Welcome to the world, Clara!  She’s just over 5 pounds, and I’m excited to get to meet her next month.

Yesterday I was the only librarian in my library, something I actually enjoy.  This may be a sign that I’m suited to small hospital libraries, hehe.

Today I’m actually just chilling at home.  I’ve already been to see my family, since we knew my sister-in-law was due right around Christmas, and we thought it’d be best to visit prior to the baby being born and after sometime in January.  Since everyone else is obviously with their families, as they should be, I’m enjoying a day of watching Lost, snuggling my kitty, baking cookies to mail to my librarian friends, and reading obviously!  Tomorrow one of my best friends is coming over to hang out for the day, which will be our last chance before she goes to Israel for two months.  I should go get some of that reading and baking done.  Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and happy day off to those who don’t!

The Librarian Stereotype War

September 8, 2009 8 comments

Currently there’s a war going on between the “traditional stereotype of a librarian,” aka shy quiet ugly old maid with glasses, and “the new stereotype of a librarian,” aka tattooed digital-savvy hipster.

To both sides, may I just say: enough already!

To the librarians/whoever who are pushing the young, hip librarian stereotype: You are just making us look desperate.  You are making it look like we know we’re irrelevant, and we’ll do anything to try to keep our career in vogue–even getting a tattoo!

To the general public who still believe the old maid librarian stereotype: You are just demonstrating how few real librarians you’ve ever known.  You’re also missing out on all the intelligent, sexy librarians.  Think Tina Fey for an example.

To everyone: Librarians are people just like anyone else.  As is the case with most stereotyping, some of what is being said is true, but not all of it.  Yes, librarians can tend to be a bit *gasp* nerdy.  We are the purveyors of knowledge, so that’s not surprising.  However, we’re a bunch of individuals.  We have our own personalities.  For every hipster librarian there’s a librarian who can’t stand hipsters invading her farmer’s market.  For every grouchy older librarian there’s an older librarian leading a high-tech storytime.  The only thing that I think could be said to be universally true about librarians is that we love educating ourselves and we love providing you with the resources to educate yourself.

Finally, to my fellow librarians: Can we please just stop debating about the library’s image and what a librarian is and just go out into our community–whether a city, a hospital, or a university–and do what we do best?  No more debate will be needed when our community is well-aware of our existence and that *gasp* librarians are people.  Who’d have ever thought it, eh?