Archive for the 'Copyright' Category

Published by Rosemary Arneson on 04 Nov 2011

Mind Full

The t-shirt I got at the launching of the University’s new website proclaims on the front that UMW is the place “where great minds get to work.”  On the back, it says “Mind Full”.

I have been out of the office for a week and a half, attending first the Virginia Library Association’s annual conference in Portsmouth and now at the Charleston Conference on Issues in Book and Serial Acquisitions.  I have heard a lot of great presentations, talked to a number of colleagues from around the country, and thought a lot about what all this means for the UMW Libraries.

And my mind is full!

It’s going to take a while to process all that I have learned over the past week and a half.  This post is my first attempt at trying to pull together some common themes.

1.  E-books, e-books, and more e-books.

There seem to be as many ways of acquiring and delivering electronic books as there are libraries.  The UMW Libraries already have a number of books in electronic format, but there are more things we can do with them.  We’re talking with one of our vendors about doing a pilot project that would explore a different way of acquiring e-books than our traditional acquisitions process, so expect to hear more about this in the coming weeks.

2.  Digital repositories are cool.

The UMW digital repository project has stalled a bit in the last couple of years, and this is an area where we need to do a lot of catching up.  We need to develop a planned approach to acquiring digital resources.  For example, is it part of our mission to preserve UMW blogs as part of the archive?  If so, how do we do this while protecting the rights of individual blog creators?

3.  Learning Commons are common

The Learning Commons has been the big thing in library building design for the last 5 years at least.  Now just about everyone (except UMW!) has one.  The Convergence Center will serve as something of a Learning Commons when it is built, but that building is also going to be serving a lot of other purposes.  How can we re-think both the Stafford Library and the Simpson Library into the Learning Commons model?  What can we do with these spaces now, without waiting for the Convergence Center to be built.

4.  Student learning is central to everything we do

I heard a great presentation from a librarian at Illinois Wesleyan about a project they undertook to interview their teaching faculty about how library resources support student learning.  It was a way for them to get at what resources they needed to add, as well as which ones were no longer useful.  The project also helped them raise awareness among the faculty about library resources, and it provided the opportunity for librarians to help faculty see new ways to use resources.  Don’t be surprised if we don’t start a similar project in the not-too-distant future.

5.  Library organizations

As library collections continue to evolve, lines of responsibility blue, and the old ways of organizing staff no longer work.  One of the questions I am always thinking about is if the UMW Libraries are organized to give us the greatest efficiencies in our processes and services.  Are we organized (here’s a thought!) with the idea the student learning is central?  Are there ways we can streamline processes to make better use of the staff resources we currently have?

6.  No one understands copyright

Well, actually the three panelists who presented on copyright this morning did.  But they were all lawyers.  The rest of us are all confused, and we’re working with a copyright framework that was built for a print-only world.  One presenter talked about a workshop her library offered to help faculty understand what rights they may be signing away when they sign a publication contract.  Many faculty, in the rush to get an article published and to get that credit for tenure and promotion, will simply sign the contract without paying it much attention.  In doing so, however, they may be signing away their rights to their own intellectual property.  This has implications for us as we look ahead to building a true institutional repository as well.

7.  Librarians are really wonderful people

At the Charleston Conference, I got to spend time with two librarians I helped get started in the profession.  One worked for me in her first professional job, and she is now a leader in the profession.  The other worked for me as a student worker, and he made his professional debut here by presenting a poster session.  Over the years, I have gotten to know many wonderful, talented, smart, creative, innovative librarians.  I’ve mentored a few as they moved into the profession, and I have been mentored by some of the greats.

Tired as I am at the end of this hectic couple of weeks, I can still say, “I love my job.”

Published by Rosemary Arneson on 24 Jun 2011

Copyright and Scholarly Publishing

In the academic world, faculty are evaluated on three aspects of their work:  teaching, research, and service.  Evaluation of research generally means counting how many articles the faculty member has had published, and how many of those were in peer-reviewed journals.  To be granted tenure or continuing appointment, the faculty member is expected to reach a minimum level of publication — two peer-reviewed journal articles, for example.

In a recent post on his blog, Jeffrey Pomerantz, a member of the faculty at the School of Information and Library Science at UNC-Chapel Hill, describes what he and his co-author, Diane Harvey of Duke University, went through as they tried to get an article published in the journal The Reference Librarian. I say “tried” because they ended up withdrawing the article from publication because they could not reach an agreement with Taylor & Francis, the journal’s publisher, on ownership of the copyright of their work.

Pomerantz and Harvey chose to take a stand against Taylor & Francis’s overly-restrictive copyright policy.  They could afford to take this stand, having received tenure and continuing appointment at their respective institutions.

Their work is not lost of the scholarly world.  They have posted it online here.  The article had already been through the peer-review process, and Pomerantz and Harvey had made revisions based on the reviewer’s comments.

Open access makes sense, and I am grateful that authors like Pomerantz and Harvey are challenging the policies of academic journal publishers.   I’m glad they’ve made the article available to the library profession, and I trust it will be preserved in one or both of their institutional repositories.

I have spent most of my professional life teaching students how to recognize scholarly publications, and my question is, does this count?  Will professors (including Pomerantz) be willing to accept openly published works when their students include it in their papers?  Are tenure and promotion committees and university administrations ready to accept articles like this one as publications?  Will journal publishers be able to find a publishing model that allows them to stay in business while also allowing scholars and researchers to retain control over their intellectual property?

And, by the way, how to we begin creating an institutional repository for the University of Mary Washington?

Published by Rosemary Arneson on 14 Jun 2011

This Day in History

May 31, 1790, was the day George Washington signed into law the United States’ first copyright law, and it’s been a mess ever since.

The original Copyright Law granted copyright ownership to creators of books, maps, and charts for a period of 14 years.   The law was titled An Act for the Encouragement of Learning.

Copyright law has a simple purpose.  It protects the right of the person who creates a work to benefit from that creation.  If you write a book, it belongs to you.  It is your intellectual property.  Another person cannot take your book and pass it off as theirs; it cannot be reproduced without your consent.

Congress has revised and updated the copyright law several times over the years.  New formats have been added as new media were created, and the term of ownership has been extended far beyond the original term of 14 years.

In each revision of the copyright laws, Congress has tried to balance the rights of the copyright holder with the rights of the consumer of the copyrighted work.   Unfortunately, for those of us who work in education, the balance seems to be tipping more in the direction of the producers of copyrighted works.

The morning’s Chronicle of Higher Education includes a series of articles on copyright and higher education.  One describes the fight undertaken by Lawrence Golan, a music professor at the University of Denver, a legal battle that is headed to the US Supreme Court this fall.  At issue for Golan is access to music from some of the 20th century’s leading composers.  These works, considered to be in the public domain for many years, were brought back under copyright protection by legislation that extended the term of copyright.    University performing arts groups now have to pay to rent works they formally had played freely.

For the academic library world, the fate of many digitization projects has been left in limbo by the March judicial ruling that voided the Google Books settlement.  We know that digitizing the unique items in our collections will make them more available to scholars around the globe, but how far can we go in developing these projects without facing the treat of lawsuits?

As scholars, we have an interest in preserving the protections that copyright provides.  As educators, we have an interest in preserving access to the intellectual record for our selves and our students.

The loudest voices in recent conversations about copyright have come, not from the creators of copyrighted works, but  from the commercial interests that produce them.    As the conversation continues, we need to make sure the voices of scholars and educators are heard as well.