Friday, July 12, 2019

#ALAac19 : Privacy and legal issues

Mobile at the Convention Center made from guitarsI was unable to attend these two sessions, but want to tell you what they were and  point you towards articles about them. Why? Because I believe the topics to be important.

Library Confidentiality: Your Privacy is Our Business

American Libraries covered this session with an article.


Protecting patron privacy has long been a tenet of libraries. In today’s environment of social media dominance, political partisanship, and big data collection and analysis, libraries continue their gate-keeping tradition. Participants in this program will learn about the policies, guidelines, ethics and laws behind the privacy and confidentiality standards that affect their libraries. Attendees will have several opportunities to share and explore cultural and policy approaches to privacy and confidentiality with their colleagues, while strategizing to resolve challenging patron privacy scenarios and policy concerns they may encounter at their own institutions.

Privacy is as much an institutional cultural construct as it is a framework of laws, regulations, and policies. We begin by reflecting upon our own personal concepts of privacy. The presenters will share what students have told them about their privacy fears. You will find that our concerns are surprisingly similar, and yet we wittingly or unwittingly share our private information on a regular basis. As information professionals, what is our role in creating privacy and confidentiality awareness among our patrons and staff? Our examination expands to compare and contrast how we, as a profession, protect the privacy of our patrons even if that is at odds with how our patrons want (or do not want) their privacy protected.

This program makes participants aware of the potential for challenges to patron reading records and models options to be both proactive and reactive, outlines the history and practice of ALA’s ethical and legal response to those challenges, and reflects upon the increasing institutional focus on assessment, data-driven decision making and the use of Big Data to prove our value. Will these new initiatives threaten our patrons’ privacy?

Speakers: Kathleen Ross and Nancy Greco, St. John Fisher College

PLA Legal Issues in Public Libraries Forum

This event was part of the PLA meeting at ALA. American Libraries did an article on it.


Can a patron require us to accept a gift subscription to a publication we don't want? Can I play music during a story hour and have the children sing along? What if we stream the story hour from our website? We notice one patron often comes into the library barefoot. Can we do anything about that? Can "that" group really be allowed to use our meeting room? We have received a list of books for which a number of patrons (there is a signed petition) want restricted access so that children cannot read or check out the books unless there is a parental permission on file. Must we abide by their wishes? The library has a new crafting space, with glue guns, various cutting blades and other sharp objects. Can we have patrons sign some sort of release protecting the library in case someone gets injured? I am reviewing an agreement from a new online content provider. What does it mean when the agreement says the vendor waives all warranties including non-infringement and that the library will indemnify the vendor? Need answers to these and similar questions?
PLA announces a new conference resource and informational session, the Legal Issues in Public Libraries Forum. The Forum is an open discussion venue for legal issues common in public libraries such as patron privacy, challenges to both in-house and online content, patron behavior, copyright and licensing, other liability issues such as those related to maker spaces, and more. Recent cases and legislation affecting libraries can also be discussed. The Forum serves as a resource, a place where issues you may be facing can be vetted in a neutral space. The Forum draws upon the experience and knowledge of your peers, of those in attendance.
Held at future Midwinter and ALA Annual Conferences, the Forum is convened by Tomas A. Lipinski, Dean and Professor at the School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, author and co-author with Mary Minow and Gretchen McCord of numerous books and articles on various legal problems in libraries. Tom, like Mary and Gretchen, is both a librarian and a lawyer. The hope is to always have several lawyer librarians in attendance as well as seasoned library administrators.

Please note this Forum is intended to provide accurate information in regard to the subject matter covered. However it is not a place to obtain legal advice or other professional service. If legal or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.

The Standardized Mass Contract

Seth Godin
Seth Godin spoke at the Association for Talent Development conference in May in Washington, DC.  Godin, who knows how to promote himself and his activities, gave away copies of his book Stop Stealing Dreams: What is School Good For? and two of my friends got me a copy.  The book is available online for free in full-text.  Yes this was first published in 2012.

Godin has written the book in a series of short chapters and it is indeed focused on education, both K-12 and higher education.  He does a very good job dissecting what is right and wrong with education today, which makes it a worthwhile read.  In addition, there is text that can be applied to other situations, such as this about standardized mass contracts, which is a quote from Friedrich Kessler (1943):
The development of large scale enterprise with its mass production and mass distribution made a new type of contract inevitable — the standardized mass contract. A standardized contract, once its contents have been formulated by a business firm, is used in every bargain dealing with the same product or service. The individuality of the parties which so frequently gave color to the old type of contract has disappeared. The stereotyped contract of today reflects the impersonality of the market…. Once the usefulness of these contracts was discovered and perfected in the transportation, insurance, and banking business, their use spread into all other fields of large scale enterprise, into international as well as national trade, and into labor relations.
When I read this, I thought immediately of the "click through" (or "click and accept" or"web-wrap") agreements that we are confronted with daily.  These are standardized mass contracts which we cannot negotiate and must accept as-is, if we want to use that service.  We are so used to these agreements - and their long, unintelligible legal text - that most of us click and agree automatically.

I think, too, of the content we use from a variety of different databases and  websites, where we cannot individually easily negotiate a different terms of use.  (Notice the word "easily" in that sentence.  Yes, negotiation is possible.)

Godin would argue that our education system has taught us to comply and to stay with what the larger group is doing. Thus we accept these click through agreements, because it is what is expected of us and it is what others are doing.  In the past, libraries have automatically accepted the standardized mass contracts their vendors have given them, but that is changing.

What do we each need to do to change these contracts that have been standard since the industrial revolution?  How do we create changeable contracts that can be easily altered to meet specific needs? Yes, I know we have the Creative Commons, but I'm thinking of database contracts, for example.  Can we build momentum, rather than having individual libraries seemingly tackling this alone?

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Podcast: How to ensure free speech; and the EU's new copyright directive

RN Future Tense did a 30-minute podcast on "How to ensure free speech; and the EU's new copyright directive." While the later would definitely be of interest to you, the topic of free speech is something that many libraries and other groups are struggling with. 

The podcast is available on the Future Tense website and other places where podcasts are available (e.g., iTunes).


Many Western governments continue to struggle with free speech. It’s not that they’re necessarily against it, it’s just that they don’t know how to effectively regulate out the offensive stuff. Political scientist Katherine Gelber has put forward what she calls the “capabilities-informed approach”. Also, the EU’s new Directive on Copyright — why are the big tech players warning it can’t work?

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

#ALAac19 : Digitization

Among the 701 exhibitors at the ALA Annual Conference were several digitization vendors; however, I only took photos of two of the booths.  Interestingly, there is no way to search the exhibitor list on the ALA website to locate all of the digitization vendors. (Trust me, I tried.)  With that as a introduction...

What stood out to me?

First, I continue to be pleased that digitization vendors such as SMA, DLSG, Backstage Library Works, and others continue to exhibit at library conferences.  For some in our industry, digitization is still "new" (even though it isn't). So having a presence and being willing to talk about the technology and its uses is important for those thinking about digitization for the first time (or thinking about digitization in a new way).

Second, the technology is changing.  Scanners are getting bigger.  Complete systems are available for use by library patrons.  Digitizing is being integrated with systems to help students study and help community members create their own works (e.g., photo albums).

By the way, if you have not looked at digitization equipment in a while, don't make decisions based on your old knowledge.  While no one is screaming this from a mountaintop, you should know that these vendors are continuing to develop their technology and systems. They are not standing still.

Third, speaking of complete systems, DLSG offers the Knowledge Information Center, which allows patrons to scan materials and have the output in several different formats, including searchable PDF, JPEG, MS Word, KIC Study System, and others.  These complete systems allow users (patrons, students) to control what they digitize and how they are going to access the material.  While I've mentioned DLSG,  I'm sure other vendors are offering similar technology.

Fourth, what vendors display at conferences isn't always what they have available on their websites.  DLSG had two interesting publications at their booth:
  • Digitization Technologies for Public Libraries
  • Digitization Technologies for Academic Libraries 

While I cannot find these publications on the Internet, these seem to be similar (but not the same) to some of DLSG's online content, such as this about using KIC in K-12 education.  This is a reminder that if you're interested in a company or technology, it can be good to pick up material from their booths, even if you don't talk to anyone.  What you pick up may be a unique and helpful marketing piece.

I should note that I skimmed the 701 exhibitors, rather than taking a deep dive into any particular area.  I did not have as much unstructured time as I would have liked, and so did not really spend as much time in the exhibit hall as I likely should have. The time I had was spent getting a feel for the entire exhibit hall, going to a couple specific meetings, talking to library colleagues, and resting my feet.  (Thanks to those companies that had seating available that could be used without feeling that a marketing pitch was eminent.)


Below is a photo of the SMA booth, which contained large format scanners. There are also three photos of the DLSG Knowledge Information Center (KIC) booth, which was massive.

SMA V3D Flatbed Scanner booth


Knowledge Imaging Center

DLSG Knowledge Imaging Center Study System

Monday, July 08, 2019

#ALAac19 : How to Hug a Porcupine: Relationship Building with Lawmakers and Why It's Important

In this session, Brad Fitch, president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation, spoke on how to build relationships with elected officials, as well as effective communication tactics.


Building relationships with elected officials can sometimes be difficult and uncomfortable. It forces you and your key stakeholders to get close to politicians in ways that may feel “prickly” – like hugging a porcupine. This program will help participants overcome that discomfort, revealing the methods and benefits for building relationships with elected officials. Participants will learn: who members of Congress and state legislators listen to; what congressional staffers believe are the most effective communications tactics for influencing undecided Members of Congress; and how to conduct effective in‐person meetings, influence legislators at town hall meetings, as well as effective advocacy in the state/district.


I want to note that early in his presentation, Fitch recommended the documentary The Congress, which was released by Ken Burns in 1999.  Clips from the documentary are available for free, with the entire documentary available for purchase.  This documentary provides the history of Congress, which most people know little about.

Fitch, who has been a Congressional aide, gave us a valuable lesson on advocating with our elected officials.  We tend to think that an official needs to hear from many people, in order to be spurred to action, but that is not true.  Often just hearing from 10-30 people is enough, especially if those people personalize their communication, and connect themselves and their stories to the issue.

Note bene: The photos below are of slides Fitch used during his presentation. The background on the slides was white, but when I photographed them, the background displayed in a rainbow color.  I don't know why it happened, but I do like the result.

As the slide above shows, in-person visits from constituents provides the most influence, followed by contact from constituents' representatives, individualized email messages, and a visit from a lobbyist.  What provides the least influence is what we often do and that is a form email message.  Those form email messages, which many organizations have us do, have the least amount of effect.

What is helpful or very helpful

This slide notes that a personal story related to the bill or issue is rated as "helpful" or "very helpful" by 79% of politicians and their staffers surveyed.  When a constituent provide a reason for supporting or opposing a bill or issue, that is seen as "helpful" or "very helpful" by 90% of respondents.  Information about the impact the bill will have on their Congressional member's district was rated as "helpful" or "very helpful" by 91% of respondents.

What is unhelpful

So what is unhelpful? As the slide above shows, it is unhelpful when the constituent:
  • Didn't have data on impact on the person's district or state
  • Didn't know the Congressional member's history on the policy or issue
  • Was unspecific with their request
  • Didn't convey a personal story related to the issue
  • Was rude
Fitch provided a recipe for a successful interaction with a member of Congress or a Congressional staffer.  He said to:
  • Begin with the end in mind.  In other words, know what you hope to achieve.
  • Set the stage for your story. This could be a brief introduction.
  • Paint a picture or, in other words, tell a personal story related to the issue or policy.
  • Describe the fight or conflict related to this issue or policy.
  • Include a surprise.
  • Introduce the potential for success and joy.  What will happen if this issue or policy is addressed in the manner that you are advocating for?
  • Finish with a hook.
I've listed seven items above, but I think he had five, which means a couple these should be combined. What doesn't show is that these steps can happen quickly.  You will not have endless amounts of time to talk with your representative or that person's staff member.  You will need to do this likely in just a few minutes.

Due to Brad Fitch's work in DC, this was a valuable and well-thought out presentation.  I clearly could not capture all of the information he provided.  Luckily, his organization has useful information on its website (Communicating with Congress), where we can continue our learning.

By the way, the ALA Cognotes publication had a story on this session.  It is on page 12 in the June 24 issue.

Learn from Others

We are fortunate that there are library advocates in our midst, who are willing to train us as well as spearhead advocacy efforts.  Among them are Libby Post, John Chrastka and Patrick Sweeney, and ALA.  It is likely that your regional or state library association (e.g.. NYLA) also provides help with and training for advocacy.  In other words, if advocating for your library or cultural heritage institution is new to you, there is someplace where you can learn more about what to do, as well as people who can help.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

#ALAac19 : Yes, copyright sessions!

Copyright Help BoothYes, there were copyright related sessions at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

Copyright Help 5 cents

This was not a session.  A group of copyright librarians had a Copyright Help booth near the registration area and I thought this was awesome. I have no idea how many people may have stopped to ask a question.  However, I do know that we need to recognize that asking questions is important and helpful, especially when you can someone who understands copyright law. Kyle Courtney, pictured above at the booth,  has spearheaded an effort to create copyright first responders. Like this booth, those first responders are available to help triage questions people might have.


Empowering Libraries to Lend Digital Books via Controlled Digital Lending

Michelle Wu, Jim Michalko, and Kyle Courtney gave this session on controlled digital lending (CDL).  Description:
Book scanning projects have made tremendous strides in bringing public domain literature online for the world's scholars and enthusiasts, but materials published after 1923 are still not widely available due to policy and copyright uncertainties. The Internet Archive has developed a controlled digital lending service (CDL) that enables libraries to digitize and lend a digital version of a physical volume stored on their shelves. Through CDL, a library circulates the exact number of copies it owns, regardless of format, while ensuring that users cannot redistribute or copy the digitized version. Using CDL, libraries can make available the 20th-century scholarship that is largely absent from their digital holdings in a way that respects the rights of authors and publishers. This panel will bring together librarians, publishers, and ebook specialists to share their experiences about serving patrons via controlled digital lending.
With controlled digital lending, a library can digitize a book, store the physical book, and then lend the digital version to one person at a time.  In other words, lending the digital book in the same way you would lend a physical book. Having the book in digital form would allow it to be loaned more widely. This uses both Section 109 and Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law.

What's the catch?

The Position Statement on Controlled Digital Lending notes the following:
libraries should (1) ensure that original works are acquired lawfully; (2) apply CDL only to works that are owned and not licensed; (3) limit the total number of copies in any format in circulation at any time to the number of physical copies the library lawfully owns (maintain an “owned to loaned” ratio); (4) lend each digital version only to a single user at a time just as a physical copy would be loaned; (5) limit the time period for each lend to one that is analogous to physical lending; and (6) use digital rights management to prevent copying and redistribution.
If this area is of interest to you, I encourage you to read the resources below.


Figuring out the Fourth Factor

With more then 21,000 participants and hundreds of vendors in the exhibit hall, there is clearly too much to do.  So I unable to attend this session, "Figuring out the Fourth Factor: Copyright librarians discuss fair use case law," but thankfully American Libraries wrote an article on it. 

Coasters from the Copyright Help Booth

Here are coasters about fair use factors 2, 3, and 4.  Sadly, there didn't seem to be a coaster available for factor 1.

Four factors of fair it use coasters. Copyright Four factors of fair it use coasters. Copyright

Four factors of fair it use coasters. Copyright Four factors of fair it use coasters. Copyright

Four factors of fair it use coasters. Copyright Four factors of fair it use coasters. Copyright

#ALAac19 : I went, I saw, and I was overwhelmed!

Supreme Court Justice Sonia SotomayorThis year, I attended my first American Library Association Annual Conference. Yes, my first! I spent more than two decades involved in the Special Libraries Association and made that my primary affiliation and conference home. While I had been around the edges of a couple ALA Annual Conferences, I had never fully immersed myself.  This year, I dove into the deep end!

The conference was June 20-25 in Washington, DC with most of the events being on June 21-24.  There was too much happening for me to blog during the conference, so my hope is to catch up this week, including a post on digitization vendors. So stay tuned.

I want to note the size of this conference, because most people have no idea how mammoth it is.  This year, the total attendance was 21,460 participants. That was higher than 2018 (17,599 in New Orleans) and lower than 2017 (22,702 in Chicago).  It was also lower than the most recent annuals that were held in DC.   The 2007 conference in DC had 28,499 attendees and 95+ exhibits.  In 2010, the conference was again in DC and had 26,201 attendees.  Participation in the ALA Annual Conference does vary based on location, with some locations being more desirable than others.  While 21,460 is lower, the conference is still huge given number of rooms needed for sessions, the number of hotel rooms used, the sheer number of concurrent sessions, etc.  It is a conference where you cannot see or do it all, even if you never slept.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Let me tell you about one session.

Many authors speak at ALA and this year Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was one of them. Justice Sotomayor is the author of My Beloved World, Turning Pages, The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor, and the forthcoming Just Ask!  She was a warm and engaging speaker, who wandered the ballroom as she spoke. She shook hands with people and had her photo taken with those who asked her questions (questions were submitted in advance).  As you can see from the photo above (she is off in the distance in a white jacket), there was security present, whom she said was there to protect her from herself!  However, she did note that no one should make any sudden moves.

From her talk, one thing stood out to me and it was in response to a question.  Justice Sotomayor said that how she writes legal briefs has changed since she has been writing children's books.  A children's book need to be focused in terms of topic and pages. Her legal briefs have become shorter and more focused, according to her law clerks and she seemed quite pleased with that.

While I have not read any of her books, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her talk about herself and her books. And I pleased to know that someone who is so down to earth is serving on our Supreme Court.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

June - November 2019: Jill's Presentation and Travel Schedule

Web badge for I'm attending the ALA Annual Conference
It's June and I have several conferences on my schedule for the remainder of 2019.  If you are attending any of these, let's get together!


  • June 20-25 - ALA Annual Conference, Washington DC - While I've been to events "around" the ALA Annual Conference, this is my first time as an actual attendee, and I'm looking forward to it!  This is the third annual conference to be held in DC in the last 12 years.  In 2007, there were 28000+ attendees and 950+ exhibits), while 2010  had 27000+ attendees. Due to its size, if you want to cross paths with me, please message me here or on Twitter, so we can arrange to get together.

    By the way, I would be happy to talk with people about the iSchool Public Libraries Initiative and the research we have done over the last year.

  • Sept. 24-26 - ALISE Annual Conference, Knoxville, TN - This is the first time in recent history (if not ever) that the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) Annual Conference is being held without being adjacent to another library conference.  While I appreciated networking with people who were attending the other conference, it will be nice to be able to focus solely on the topics and sessions at ALISE, including those on assessment and accreditation.

  • Nov. 13-16 - NYLA Annual Conference, Saratoga Springs, NY - Yes, the NYLA conference will be back in Saratoga Springs (and again in 2020).  As a member of a public library board of trustees, I've found the conference to be even more important to me.  I look forward to what new information I'll learn this year.

Courses at Syracuse University

In the fall, I will be teaching these courses at Syracuse University in the School of Information Studies.  If space is available, non-matriculated students can enroll in them.
  • Management Principles for Information Professionals (IST 614) - Aug. 26 - Dec. 10 (on campus, graduate course)
    Basic ideas, concepts and perspectives of management as they apply to the information professions. Students learn to understand and apply basic principles of organization theory and behavior and managerial techniques needed to improve organizational effectiveness.

  • The Public Library as Institution (IST 600) - Oct. 2 - Dec. 10 (online with synchronous and asynchronous components each week)
    This is a new course, which I am developing and which will be offered regularly.  The description is: Unique aspects of public libraries include structure, governance, funding, and community interactions. In addition, public libraries are impacted by many societal concerns. This course prepares students to examine and support those areas of public librarianship.

Looking ahead to 2020

I want to note that the ALA eCourse I gave this year on US Copyright Law in the Library: A Beginner's Guide went very well. I think it is a good sign that students wanted to learn more. I will be giving this eCourse again in February 2020 and it will be expanded to six-weeks in length.  Look for more information on this in the fall.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Does Canada's copyright exception for education use but their educational publishers at risk?

When good weather comes, that is when I catch up on listening to podcasts. I had saved this episode from Beyond the Book for months.  I'm glad to have finally given it a listen.

Flag of Canada (leaf)At the 2018 Frankfurt Book Fair,  Michael Healy. the executive director of international relations at the Copyright Clearance Center, interviewed Michiel Kolman, the then president of the International Publishers AssociationDuring that interview, Kolman mentioned the change made to Canadian copyright law in 2012, which provided more exceptions for educational use.  He noted that this change had a negative impact on educational publishers in Canada.  Some publishers have gone out of business.  Some education authors are choosing to publish in other countries.  The result could be that schools may need to use textbooks from outside of Canada. Kolman said:
I think another important aspect there is that Canadian students will not have access to Canadian textbooks that reflect the heritage, as they say in Canada, in other country, the culture – of their own country? It could very well be, if we don’t do anything there, that it’s the Texas Board of Education who’s more or less determining what textbooks are going to be used in Canada. That’s something that should not happen.
 In the U.S., we know that the number of textbooks purchased by the State of Texas can give them undue influence over what is in those textbooks and the textbooks used in other states.  It really stood out to me that Texas could also influence what as being used in Canada, if Canadian schools begin to look elsewhere for their textbook resources.

But are things truly dire in Canada because of Copyright?  The National Copyright Unit in Australia has followed this situation and determined that the answer is "no." They believe that Canadian publishers had not responded to market forces, including: access publishing, student preferences for second-hand books, reduced spending on new curriculum, new media players such as Google and Apple...
While I cannot sit here and truly determine which point of view is correct, what I do know is that this is being watched by people outside of Canada. That to me says something about how important it is.

Earlier this month, the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage issued its report entitled "Shifting Paradigms", which contains 22 recommendations for changing the current copyright law.  In his article, "Copyright Advocates Applaud Canada’s Parliamentary Review of Modernization Act," Porter Anderson lists 10 of the recommendations which Access Canada believes "will foster positive, sustainable conditions for Canada’s writers, artists and publishers, and benefit students and educators at every level by encouraging continued investment in high-quality Canadian content.”

When will this all move through the Canadian Parliament?  I don't know. But I'll be keeping my eyes open for news about it.

Additional Resources:

Thursday, May 23, 2019

What Makes a Good Library Website? (And a question about copyright)

What makes a good library website?
Last year, I start the iSchool Public Libraries Initiative (IPLI).  In the fall, two MSLIS students - as part of their work with the IPLI looked at the state library websites for all 50 state libraries.  What they found were websites that varied in how they were organized and in their usefulness. One of the MSLIS students has a background in information technology (IT) and became interested in what libraries - of all types - could be doing differently with their websites.  Sabrina Unrein took that exploration and create a paper on the topic entitled, What Makes a Good Library Website?  She introduced the paper on May 20 through a blog post.

Haven't we talked about this before, as a profession?  Haven't we already improved our websites?  Yes, we've talked about it, and some libraries have improved their websites.  However, some have not kept up with those improvements and those sites are out of date and not accessible to those with vision impairments.

Is you website content using copyrighted materials?

Sabrina did not touch upon copyright, because her efforts were focused on how websites are structured.  However, as you're reading her report and looking at your website, now would be a good time to review your graphics. Are you using graphics which you created? Are you using works with an appropriate Creative Commons license? Are you using works in the public domain?  Are you using works where you have received written permission from the creator?  If you find works on your site that cause you to answer "no" to any of those questions, now would be a good time to remove them. 

Review your website regularly

Is your website up to date and using current technologies? That is a question which you need to ask yourself regularly.  I would suggest that you review your site yearly, at least, with more frequently reviews being more useful.  Do not let your website get so out of date that updating its structure, content, or technology requires more time or money than you can give.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Article: Accused of ‘Terrorism’ for Putting Legal Materials Online

While judicial decisions, recorded by U.S. courts, have been held a being in the public domain, states have turned to legal publishers to make the materials available, and copyright has become an issue.  In 1888, the Supreme Court ruled that:
The whole work done by the judges consitutes [sic] the authentic exposition and interpretation of the law, which, binding every citizen, is free for publication to all, whether it is a declaration of unwritten law, or an interpretation of a constitution or a statute. Nash v. Lathrop, 142 Mass. 29, 35, 6 N. E. Rep. 559. In Wheaton v. Peters, at page 668, it was said by this court, that it was 'unanimously of opinion that no reporter has or can have any copyright in the written opinions delivered by this court; and that the judges thereof cannot confer on any reporter any such right.' What a court or a judge thereof cannot confer on a reporter as the basis of a copyright in him, they cannot confer on any other person or on the state.
In Georgia, the state believes it can stop someone from publishing court decisions, because of the annotations, which are not part of a judge's ruling.  A federal appeals court has rules against the state, and now the state has asked the Supreme Court to step in, even though it ruled on this in 1888. 

The New York Times has a good article on this and it is a fascinating read. Can a state limit who publishes court rules? Can it limit how much is published?  And if a state can control the dissemination of rulings, what affect will this have on its residents?

Monday, May 06, 2019

Can the search committee see you working in their environment?

Glass wall in Hotel Andaluz
Below is a post I wrote in the Facebook group Library Think Tank (#ALATT) on April 1 and it is now joke.  It is a post that I don't want to lose, so I'm placing it here.  (Please note that it has been updated to fix wording in a couple of places.)

Can the search committee see you working in their environment?

I'm currently on three search committees (and have been on many before this) and I know that we ask versions of this question when we are reviewing candidates. Does this person have the right skills, or can the person (quickly) develop the needed skills? Does the person's attitude mesh with ours? Is the person on the same trajectory as us? Is the person demonstrating that they want to fit in with us?
Yes, we review the person's resume/CV, interview the person, check references, etc., all with an eye towards whether the person is the correct person for this opportunity at this time. The person might not be ready.

Questions (for you to ponder) for those of you on the job hunt, how do you demonstrate to the search committee that you see yourself working in that environment? What is in your cover letter, which connects you to that environment and its needs? Do they see on your resume that you have the skills they are looking for? Through your interview (Skype, telephone, or on-site), can they see that you will fit in? Have you taken the time to learn something about that organization and do you use that information in your interview? If you have to give a presentation, have you inserted what you know about the organization?

When you ask about your piercings or hair color, what you are asking is whether the search committee and organization will see you as fitting in. When they look at everything about you (resume, etc.), will they see someone who belongs in their organization? Or do your materials, presentation, interview, etc. paint a picture of you such that the fact you have piercings or colored hair become the dominate piece of information about you?

Friday, April 12, 2019

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: What to do when things do not go according to the Project Plan!

Jeremy Cusker (Cornell University Libraries) talked through a collaborative journal subscription project, that was focused on lowering costs. He noted that when a vendor carries open access journals, that it doesn’t reduce the costs. He also noted that it wasn’t possible to be completely data driven.  Some selectors felt that how faculty felt about specific journals needed to be considered. 

The day then ended with a quick panel discussion with some of the presenters:
  • Jill Wilson
  • Erin Smith
  • Emily Clasper
  • Elaine Lasda
  • Jeremy Cusker
  • Kelly Johnson
One question they all answered was: What have you done when things go wrong?

Final thoughts

This was a wonderful day of learning about project management. It both reinforced what we knew, and allowed to gain new knowledge.  The event was held in the Erie Canal Museum, which was a nice location.  Lunch was catered by Scratch Farmhouse Catering, which was awesome.  The event was sponsored by EBSCO and Elsevier.  Thanks to the reps for coming to Syracuse and telling us about their products.

Next year is the Chapter's 75th anniversary!  I'm looking forward to the celebrations!

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: Adapting to Change: Revising the Plan

Erin Smith and Laura Benjamin (SU Libraries) undertook a massive endeavor to free up space in the Syracuse University Bird Library, which required shifting a high number of books. They needed to shift books from the second floor to make more space for students.  No books could be shifted outside of Bird Library and there wasn't enough time to do weeding.

Will the books fit?
  • They did a shelf count and they measured the collection 
  • They were only able to add 84 shelves, which was not enough.
  • While all the books would fit into the library, the shelf fill rate would be higher than recommended.
Who will do the work?  The fact that staff is unionized impacted that.  They were able to work through this issue.
The developed strategic fill rates for each call number based on growth.  They created four fill rate categories. 

They used an Excel spreadsheet to map every shelf in the library.  This was a ton of work, but it helped them recognize when their plan was not yielding the free space they expected.

They made a glossary so that all workers were calling things by the same names.

Erin and Laura talked us through an amazing 8-month project that was fraught with problems that crept in.  They found creative solutions for addressing the problems they encountered, including not having enough space.  The good news is that they got done on schedule.

Long term impacts
  • No extra room
  • Ongoing discussion on future plans for space
Broader takeaways
  • Solid planning gives you a framework to rely on, even when the project doesn’t play out as planned
  • Keep the goal and related projects in mind when making changes

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: Developing a Service Model

Kelly Johnson, Amelia Kallaher, and Sara Scinto-Madonich (all from Cornell University Libraries), used their experience with developing a systematic review service to discuss project management.  They do methodical and comprehensive literature synthesis. In creating their service, they met roadblocks along the way.

Road block 1: How to standardize our process? (Process standardization)
  • Identify problems and brainstorm solutions
  • Make sure the problems are clear
  • Establish workflows and designate responsibility 
  • There should be a coherent workflow
  • Embrace iteration
Road block 2: How to better manage our time? (Time management)
  • Create helpful resources
  • Get information into the hands of people when they need it 
  • They built tools into their libguide.  They put in the libguide information that they had normally covered face-to-face.
Road block 3: How to address misconceptions? (Patron Expectations)
  • They found that they needed to standup for themselves
  • Expectations and boundaries clearly defined
Road block 4: How to ask for and get help? (Getting help)
  • What happens when you’re spread too thin?
  • You need to advocate
  • Recruit additional help

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: Project Management Basics

Jill Wilson (ChaseDesign LLC) and Erin Rowley (University at Buffalo) presented on "Project Management Basics."

They reminded us that project management is not a hope.  It is also not an ongoing initiative.  Projects do have beginnings and ends.

The project manager controls and manages all aspects of any project.  The project manager has one job.

Main components of project management are:
  • Scope and charter: what is and is not. Be aware of scope creep.  The charter should help you keep things in bounds.
  • Time and task: estimating and tracking the time it takes to do all the things in order to complete the project.  What is the critical path?
  • Cost and procurement
  • Human resources 
  • Quality control and risk: risk assessment matrix
  • Stakeholders and communication: potential influence vs. potential interest.  How do people want to be updated?
They noted that it all overlaps!  In addition, not all components will be part of every project.

Then Jill and Erin noted one more thing: You need to close your projects.  Take the time to reflect, learn, and document.  Make it a formal closure. They suggested scheduling the closure meeting when you schedule the kick-off meeting.

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: Operationalizing Project Management

Emily Clasper, MLIS, PMP (University of Rochester) provided a humorous and iinsightful look at project management.  Her presentation is online (and below) at and it contains more information than she presented in her keynote.

Emily used the story of the old woman, who swallowed a fly, and then swallowing the spider to catch the fly.  Then she swallows a cat, a dog, a goat, a cow, and then a horse.  And then she died of course. (This is a children’s rhyme).  Project management can feel like you’ve solved one problem but the you have another one, that is bigger (like the horse).  Project management is a tool, but you need to consider the problem you are trying to solve.

What is the fly?  It could be:
  • Need to focus on strategic goals
  • Scarce resources
  • Frustration with the pace of change
  • Work is not done efficiently
  • No pathway to truly cross-functional world
Project management benefits can include:
  • Focused on strategic goals
  • Clear objectives
  • Efficient use of resources
  • Faster progress
  • Risk Management
  • Communication tools
She works in a library that has taken a project oriented approach.  They are successful, but it has surfaced unexpected impacts.

Challenges to address when you try to become more project oriented
  • Misunderstand project management - This has to do its setting expectations.  It is not a tool, set of documents,  a task list, a Gantt chart, a single method. It is a methodology and Emily provided her definition (slide 14).  She noted that there is a difference between project work and operational work.
  • Confusion with reporting and authority - managers coordinate the projects, but it will be people in specific silos who do the work. Communication in this structure can be slow. Some organizations use a projectized structure. There are dedicated project managers, who gather people to work on specific projects. In terms of structure, Emily talked about strong, weak, and balanced matrix.  You need to sort our organizational confusion.
  • Communication complexity - You cannot skimp on communication.  The number of communication paths becomes a problem. 10 people would have 45 communication paths!  Prioritize strong communications. Consider communication structures between projects. Where is your hub?
  • Cross departmental resources management 
  • Change management 
  • Career development
The last three, which she did not discuss, can come up later in an organization’s development.

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: Managing the Most Critical Project of All: Yourself

daffodilThe Upstate New York Chapter of SLA is holding its spring conference today (April 12) in Syracuse, NY. The conference theme is "Managing Projects: Tales from the Trenches."  Among the presenters are Elaine Lasda and me, who are talking about personal time management, or as our proposal said, "Managing the Most Critical Project of All: Yourself."  Rather than creating a handout, we are posting our resources here, so the links are clickable.  Enjoy.

Session Description

To successfully manage a project, you must be able to manage yourself.  Elaine and Jill will first introduce you to the tools and processes they use – including Toodledo, Trello, Bullet Journal, and Getting Things Done – to manage projects and bring short- and long-term goals to fruition.  Then they will prompt you to consider how you can improve on your current methods in order to excel in self-organization.

Session PowerPoint

Personal Time Management from Elaine Lasda and Jill Hurst-Wahl

Session Resources from Jill Hurst-Wahl

Getting Things Done

Bullet Journal

Session Resources from Elaine Lasda

·        Tools

·        Select “Guru” articles and blogs

·         Planners

·         Book

Addendum (9:15 p.m.): During the session, I mentioned this blog post entitled "Building a Team", which includes helpful links on being more effective with email.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Shifting Gears 2017

Sifting Gears report cover
In the past, I have referenced the OCLC report Shifting Gears, which was published in 2007 (Notes from NSLS' Digitization Symposium and The death of high fidelity?). That was an important report to me.  Last week, I was looking through the reports OCLC has published and found an updated version, published in 2017.  If you are involved in digitization, consider reading it, bookmarking it, and/or keeping it. You will not be sorry.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Article: European parliament votes for controversial copyright reform (yes, again)

According to TechCrunch:
The European Parliament has voted to pass a controversial reform of online copyright rules that critics contend will result in big tech platforms pre-filtering user generated content uploads.
This still needs to go through more approvals before being implemented. It is assumed this will be enforced beginning in 2021.  More information is available in this European Commission press release.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Libraries have a People Problem

Vancouver Public LibraryNo, I'm not talking about community members.

Libraries often attract people who want to work in that setting (and perhaps that specific library), and who then stay in their positions for a long time.  We frequently hear of library staff, who have been at the same library for decades.  Some may have been in the same position for decades.  The good news is that this creates a stable work environment and a stable staff may be just what the library needs in order to meet its goals.

Staff that is in place for a long time has the opportunity to really get to know the community.  They know the community's power structure, etc., and can get things done in a way that a newcomer might not.

Yes, a stable staff is a good.

But a stable staff does not necessarily allow people to develop the skills they might need to move into a position which has more responsibilities.  For example, when the director retires, does the assistant director - or perhaps a branch manager - have the correct skills and experience to move into the director position?

Number of Libraries in the U.S.

According the Public Library Survey data, there are 17,400 public library outlets in the U.S. (including central, branch, bookmobile, and books-by-mail-only outlets). That is almost one for every 19,522 cities in the U.S. or nearly 6 in each one of the 3,031 counties in the U.S.

ALA estimates that there are 116,867 libraries in the U.S., including public, K-12, academic, government, and armed forces.  If they were distributed evenly across the U.S., that would be 38 in each county.

Moving to Gain Experience

In some industries, it is common for people to move from organization to organization (or company to company) as a way of gaining more experience.  Those workers might be able to do that without changing geographic regions.  If you want to gain experience by moving to a different library, the choices in your geographic region may be limited, especially if you want to only work in one type of library (e.g., public).  go back and look at those numbers above. The choices could be further limited by civil service requirements. Thus gaining experience - or moving up in a library organization - may mean moving to a different region.  Given the wages paid in libraries, not everyone is able to move and take a new position, even if doing so mean gaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities which will lead to a better paying position in the future.

Yes, when someone leaves, there is someone available to take that person's place, although that person may not be totally prepared.  We need more people to be totally ready.  We need to somehow give more staff the experiences and training they need, in order to move into a new position when there is an opening and especially when that position is for a library director, branch manager, systems director, or state librarian.

Is There a Solution?

The solution clearly is not doing what we are already doing. That is not working.  Rather we need to transform our library hierarchies in a way that allow people to gain experience in different areas of a library, and with different levels of responsibilities. This would be akin to what some businesses do, in order to groom someone for upper management. Over the course of months and years, that person is giving different roles, responsibilities, and experiences which will give the person a deeper understanding of the organization and how it functions, as well as provide the person with the knowledge, skills and abilities to lead the organization in the future. In other words, the person is rotated through different jobs and departments. Giving someone this type of opportunity should not be done without accessing that this is the correct person to invest in.  Is the person committed to learning? Is the person interested in taking on a larger role? And the person should be assessed along the way, in order to know that this person is still someone who - after the effort is done - will be able to lead the organization. Perhaps, instead, the person will be a mid-manager (instead of a library director), where the training will still be of value.  This actually means training multiple people, because it could be that some will not complete it or will still not be ready for a leadership position.

That idea works in an organization that is not governed by civil service and in an organization where there are a variety of different roles.  For smaller libraries, perhaps there could be job sharing or job swapping.  Imagine swapping with someone at another library or being able to share a more challenging position (even at another library)?  That might be hard to pull off, but it could help build better staff and people who are ready to step into bigger roles.

As for civil service, I am not an expert on it and so cannot think of a way of giving people these types of opportunities in that environment.  I would hope it would be do-able, but it might require more work upfront to create an environment and structure for it.

Are there other solutions? You might have one (or two) and I hope you'll leave a comment to let us know what it is.

Yes, libraries have a people problem that needs to be fixed.  Since our future library leadership depends on having a good pipeline of people, let's work on a solution now!

Monday, February 25, 2019

ALA eCourse beginning March 4: US Copyright Law in the Library: A Beginner's Guide

From March 4-31, I'm offering an asynchronous eCourse on copyright through ALA Publishing eLearning Solutions.  After giving copyright webinars last year through ALA, I'm please to have been asked to deliver a four-week course entitled "US Copyright Law in the Library: A Beginner's Guide eCourse."  The description is below.  Registration information is on the ALA website.  The four weeks of course material, including materials to extend your learning, will provide approximately 28 hours of learning activity.  Participants will be able to interact with each other - and with me - during the course. I'm looking forward to the library-related copyright discussion that will develop!
ALA ecourse logo


The library is a hub of content, all of it subject to copyright law. The legal reality of copyright is dynamic—changes in technology have created a landscape that is constantly adapting and can be difficult to predict. If you don't have any formal training in copyright law, it can be intimidating to know how to answer your patrons' copyright questions and to know what you can and cannot do with your library’s content and resources. It can be tough to understand the line between providing information and answering a legal question.

In this new eCourse, consultant, speaker, writer, and educator Jill Hurst-Wahl guides you through the basics of copyright law and provides you with the foundation to become your library's copyright expert.

Each week, you'll learn how copyright law informs what libraries, library staff, and patrons can do with their materials and how you can stay up-to-date as this area evolves. You'll be able to check and affirm your knowledge through focused self-assessments.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Blog post: Copyright Office Ruling Issues Sweeping Right to Repair Reforms

This article from October 2018 written by Kyle Wiens on the efforts to secure the ability to repair our own digital devices, and the ruling which the U.S. Copyright Office gave.  The ruling regards Title 17, Section 1201 (Circumvention of copyright protection systems) and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.   The article outlines in good detail:
  • Major new freedoms
  • Some bad news
  • The Fine Print
...and important discussion points and nuances.

If the repair of digital devices interests you or your community (including what might happen in makerspaces), be sure to give this article a read.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Aritcle: Working To Give Libraries More Actionable Information | Peer to Peer Review

In December, I wrote here about the iSchool Public Libraries Initiative (IPLI), which I began earlier in 2018. On February 7, Library Journal published an article by me about the IPLI, with contributions by MSLIS student researchers Heather Elia, Georgia Westbrook, and Sabrina Unrein (Unmanaged Mischief on YouTube).  The LJ articles gives a peek into what we have been doing. 

In the coming weeks, we'll be building out our website, with the goal of placing the results of our work there.  Yes, we will also be using social media, and are deciding which social media platform will be the best. (We do not want to spread our social media efforts to thin.)  I encourage to bookmark our website and check it for updates. 

text reads iSchool Public Libraries Initiative

Friday, February 01, 2019

Totally Off-Topic: Sample Interview Questions – Diversity and Equity

Five different colored hand prints
I am currently on three search committees.  While understanding what a candidate can be asked legally (for example, Minnesota State and, it is also important to ask questions which help the search committee understand the candidate's views on specific topics.  One of those topics is diversity.  These are sample interview questions from Northern Illinois University on diversity and equity.  I'm placing them here, so I can find them later. And they also might be of help to you.

Our recent history has shown that a person's understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion should not be assumed.  Yes, be willing to ask questions of candidates about this, rather than being surprised.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Video: The State of Digital Preservation: A Snapshot of Triumphs, Gaps, and Open Research Questions

At the fall 2018 Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) Membership Meeting, Oya Y. Rieger and  Roger C. Schonfeld provided a 28-minute snapshot on the state of digital preservation.  Schonfled is the director of Ithaka' S+R, Libraries and Scholarly Communication Program and Rieger is a senior advisor to that program. 


Ensuring the long-term preservation of digital information for future users has been one of the key aspirations of the research library community. Ithaka S+R has been exploring the current state of digital preservation in order to identify research questions and areas for action. Based on interviews with 21 subject experts, we gathered perspectives on the successes, gaps, outstanding issues, and emerging needs in digital preservation. Although the conversations were open-ended, they were framed with questions to probe what seems to be working well now, new research workflows or cultural practices that require novel preservation strategies, and areas that need further attention and research. Our study shows areas of significant progress in the preservation landscape as the community has grown and has established important collaborations. However, the interviews revealed a number of concerns with the pace and nature of these developments and identified several issues that would benefit from further exploration. For this session, we plan to share what we have learned and gather feedback and additional perspectives, as we work to generate a research agenda for Ithaka S+R on digital preservation.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Wikiversity Page on Intellectual Property Education

Wikiversity logo
At the end of the fall 2018 semester, graduate students in "Copyright for Information Professionals" worked on creating a page with resources for learning more about intellectual property and copyright. This assignment, hosted through Wiki Education (WikiEdu), has now become a page in Wikiversity.

According to Wikiversity's homepage:
Wikiversity is a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning. 
Wikiversity has over 26,000 learning resources across a wide spectrum of topics.  Seeing the breadth of topics has made me realize that if you are learning a topic, you might want to check this site to see what resources it has.

And now among the Wikiversity resources in a page on intellectual property.  The lengthy page is divided into five sections:

  1. Governing Laws of Copyright
  2. Popular Topics
  3. Using What You Want to Learn as a Guide
  4. Training available on intellectual property laws in the United States
  5. Training available on intellectual property laws in other countries (non-U.S.)
This page will connect you to resources to learn more about intellectual property and specifically copyright.  It is not meant to be a comprehensive list.  However, since it is a wiki page, anyone can add resources and topics to it, and I hope people will.  Those could include books, webinars, classes, etc. on patents, trademarks, and trade secrets as well as copyrights.

Finally, thanks to the students would worked on this page, as well as staff and volunteers at WikiEdu, Wikipedia, and Wikiversity.  What a joy to have people who are passionate about creating shared resources under a Creative Commons license.