Thursday, October 01, 2020

Mentoring: Creating a Developmental Network

Higgins and Kram have written about reconceptualizing mentoring.  Generally, we think of a mentee as having 1-2 mentors. In some organizations, those mentors are assigned.  Often - if a person is cognizant of it - they will recognize other people who are informal mentors.  However, the word "mentor" doesn't define what that person is supposed to do.  Out of the research by Higgins and Kram has emerged four roles: navigator, sponsor, coach, and confidant. Briefly they are:

  • Navigator: Advises on organizational dynamics and expectations.
  • Sponsor: Promotes your interests within the organizational structure.
  • Coach: Listens to help you develop the skills needed to negotiate your duties.
  • Confidant: Listens to your challenges and triumphs. Cheers you on.

Notice that the last two roles do not need to be people within your organization. need all four roles! One person cannot do all of these things.  In addition, some people are better at certain roles than others.

This is an unprecedented year with more change and turmoil than most of us could ever imagine. This is a year where you may need someone who is formally or informally your navigator, sponsor, coach, or confidant. It could be that you need someone to help you understand the changing dynamics in your organization. Maybe you need someone to help you develop new skills. Or perhaps you need someone who can listen to your challenges and cheer you on, even if that person cannot help to solve them. If you need people in these roles, look within your organization and at other people in your broader network. The right person may be hundreds of miles away and in an organization that is different from yours. 

With any mentoring relationship, you may want to tell that person what you need from them. Do you need someone who will just listen (as if listening is easy) or someone who help you increase your visibility? Do you need someone to help you short-term or are you interested in developing a long-term relationship?  Be least with yourself.

And do keep in mind that relationships change. That person who is an awesome mentor now may not be the person you need next year. That's okay.

Definitions of the four mentoring roles


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Wayback Wednesday: 2011 notes on information access are today's reality

In June - in the middle of a pandemic - I official retired from academia and cleaned out my office.  (Retirement does not mean doing nothing, so I'm still quite busy! More about that in a future blog post.) Among the items I brought home were my work journals going back to fall 2011.  I'm now going through them to see what I had taken notes on.

On Oct. 13, 2011 I wrote noted on the "nature of information access." Looking back in this blog, I see that these notes were in preparation for a guest lecture I did in November of that year. The blog posts are:

Please note that I have not checked all of the links.  If a URL has changed, use your favorite search engine to locate it OR use the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

Game-like interfaces? Yes. Interesting uses of virtual reality? Yes, including some graduation ceremonies this year. Ability to interact in real-time with information? Yes. When I think of this, I think of data science.  Data science is all around us and is delivering data to us that we take for granted (e.g., information on COVID-19). 

The one that has come true and makes me a bit uneasy is information as entertainment.  I noted in my blog post that Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart were doing this. This year, more late-night comedians have turned their shows into news shows that contain a bit of comedy.  While the news media can give us good information, the comedians can also help us understand it, laugh a bit at it, and build some camaraderie.  They have been able to interview people, who the news media may not have access to.  Most importantly, they have been able to educate (thinking specifically of Kamau Bell and John Oliver). 

Why does this make me uneasy? Because comedians are not journalists. Their training is different as are their standards.  They generally do not have the same research staff that the news media has (or should have). The exception seems to be John Oliver, who has a very good research staff to help him deliver accurate information and stay out of litigation. 

I'll also admit that I don't think the news should be entertaining, but that's me. Clearly the news programs have their entertainment aspects. I just hope that doesn't stop them from delivering the news we all need to understand.

Please go back and look at those two blog posts from 2011, and think about those ideas. Where have you seen them come true?  What concerns do you have?

Friday, September 25, 2020

Article: Amazon’s Importance to US Book Sales Keeps Increasing—for Better or Worse


In this article, Jane Friedman wrote about Amazon's programs for authors and how it impacts authors, especially those who are self-publishing.  I had no idea of all of the writer-focused programs Amazon had at one time, so that was an eye-opener to me. Clearly Amazon had tried different programs to endear itself to writers. The only program that still remains is Kindle Singles and she connects this to a program entitled Kindle Unlimited, which gives readers unlimited access to some of Amazon's content.

Friedman notes that Kindle Unlimited requires that an author give Amazon exclusive rights to their ebook editions (not print) and that is pays those authors based on pages read. By asking for exclusive rights to the ebook editions, Amazon is keeping these digital works out of the hands traditional publishers and thus out of content which libraries might subscribe.  This narrows the works that libraries have available for their communities.  We might think this is no big deal, but Amazon is a very large company with lots of influence.  We don't want them withholding content or limiting access, and we don't need them giving other publishers similar ideas.

We often don't think about what Amazon is doing. We like them or not sometimes based on how they treat their workers.  We don't think about how they treat their authors and what that means for the rest of us. What rights do they demand from authors? How long does that agreement last? How does that impact our access? 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Heather Elia: The Do's and Don'ts of Documentation

Heather Elia, who is the incoming library director for the New Woodstock (NY) Public Library, worked with me for two years as part of the iSchool Public Libraries Initiative. Out of her research efforts came this article, which has been published in the The Political Librarian, entitled "The Do's and Don'ts of Documentation." Often documentation never occurs, but Heather argues that it is important and provides a series of best practices in this article.  

If you know of others who could benefit from this article, please pass it along. This is an area where our libraries need to improve.


Whether through grant funding or taxpayers dollars, public libraries are entrusted with money to spend on programs and services. Funders, as well as other stakeholders, will be interested in accountability, wanting to know what the library has been doing with these funds and what the stakeholders got for their money. The author argues that fully documenting programs and services -- which many libraries fail to do -- provides a tangible answer to these questions, as well as a record that can be used to expand or replicate successful initiatives. A series of best practices for documentation are proposed, which include the need for planning, marketing, and assessment information, as well as the collection and distribution of visual as well as textual material. Different levels of documentation are discussed, and the differences are identified between what is merely acceptable and what is good, or even excellent. A list of the various audience members, with whom documentation might be shared, is included. The author concludes that documenting a library’s successful programs is a good professional as well as political move, when the library needs to make a case for funding or government support.

Monday, September 21, 2020

You have a ton of reading to do. How can you do it faster?

How can you read faster? This topic has come up a few times recently in conversations. If you're a student - especially at the masters or doctoral level - you have a lot of reading to do each week and it may be overwhelming.  Are there tips or techniques you can use? Yes, there are!

First, you should know that we are not taught how to read faster in school.  (If you were taught that, congratulations.) Generally, we're just given more to read and somehow we figure out some way of getting through it all. But we may not have figured out a real method. So if you feel like you're the only person who can't read faster, you're not.

Second, it is important to know that any technique requires time to learn and time to apply it consistently. And not every technique works all the time. There will be texts that you will have to read carefully and slowly, while there are others that you will be able to read quickly using a technique from the resources below.

Finally, a real ah-ha for me is that it is okay to not finish an article or book.  Yup, sometimes what you need to do is to read portions of a work and not the entire thing. Knowing that "not finishing" is okay, I am able to release whatever guilt I had (which often made me push through a text that I didn't want to finish).

If you have different techniques to add, which are easy to apply, please leave a comment.



Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Finding diverse illustrations for your presentations

Black woman sitting in front of a laptop computer
When I look at websites, presentations, etc., which are supposed to appeal to a broad group of people, I look to see who is represented in the photos and illustrations. Often times those illustrations do not show any diversity...still. That needs to change.  Here are three sites to help you obtain more diverse images.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Selling the Invisible and Marketing the Library

At the 1999 SLA conference in Minneapolis (MN), the Library Management Division, in conjunction with several other divisions, sponsored a talk by Harry Beckwith. Beckwith's focus is on marketing in a service-based economy and he spoke about market the special library. I remember that his presentation was better and more impactful than the keynotes that year! An a plus what that he was willing to interact with those of us who were attending the conference, and not just present and then leave. The summer 1999 newsletter from SLA Military Librarians Division list the "Ten Keys to Successful Relationships" which he covered:
  1. Faster -- everybody wants it faster
  2. Affinity -- develop a good chemistry with your users
  3. Predictability -- be consistent, have integrity; remember that your word and deeds are integrated
  4. Comfort -- create the feeling of comfort in your library; a comfortable atmosphere from you and your staff will get them in the physical and virtual door
  5. Expertise -- be a consultant; show the appearance of expertise
  6. Sacrifice yourself to make the user feel important
  7. Thank people more
  8. Welcome them
  9. Follow-up -- find out how you are doing
  10. Connect -- make a personal connection by learning names and using them

At the conference, copies of Selling the Invisible (1997 edition) were for sale and I still have the copy I purchased.  I read it, referred to it, and used it in some of the library classes I taught.  The book was republished in 2012.  

As I stare at the book in my bookcase and wonder about Beckwith, I see that he published several other books all focused on marketing, including one on the art of selling yourself.

What is a service?

Beckwith wrote (Selling the Invisible, 1997, p. xv):

A product is tangible. You can see it and touch it. A service, by contrast, is intangible. In fact, a service does not even exist when you buy one. If you go to a salon, you cannot see, tough, or try out a haircut before you buy it. You order it. Then you get it.

Libraries deliver services:

  • Advising patrons on what they might read next
  • Hosting programs for various age groups and people with different interests
  • Provisioning materials on demand from other libraries or publishers
  • Reference and information services
  • Circulation services
  • ...and more...

Yes, libraries contain materials, but how someone decides to borrow a particular item - and the act of borrowing - is a service.

Why am I mentioning this? 

It is August 2020 and every organization is facing some sort of financial hardship due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including libraries.  We - libraries - need to focus on selling ourselves, which means understanding what our users want, ensuring that the service is delivered consistently, nurturing our users, and talking about what we do.  We need to be doing this all the time, even when our budgets are being cut, in fact it is more important during those times.

While I like Selling the Invisible, there are many books and articles available on how to market services. If this is an area you need to learn more about, use on the services of your library (perhaps ILL) and borrow a copy of Beckwith's book.  I know you will find it easy to read and you'll also be inspired to put something new into practice.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

How to Read an Academic Paper

With the fall academic semester beginning, many students are faced with reading academic papers unlike they have experienced before. They are likely asking:

  • How can I read this?
  • How can I read this quickly?
  • How can I make sense of this?

Honestly, most of us aren't taught how to read academic papers. We're told to read them and hopefully we learn "how to" through that process. In reality, there  are many resources on how to read academic papers, with some resources available for specific subject areas. Here are two short videos that are more generic and I think will help anyone, no matter your age, major, or school. Please note that these methods take discipline to stick with them and use them consistently. Once you understand these methods and use them for a while, I think they will become easier.

I also want to say that a real ah-ha moment for me was learning that I didn't have to read everything.  Yes, sometimes I do need to read something word for word, but sometimes skimming is enough. Maybe I just need to focus on what a specific article is saying that is different. At any rate, I no longer feel guilty if I don't read everything word for word.

How To Read an Academic Paper (3 minutes) from the UBC iSchool (2013)


5 Ways to Read Faster That ACTUALLY Work from Thomas Frank (2015). Watch the sections on pre-reading, skimming, and pseudo-skimming beginning at minute 1:59.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Sara Benson: Reading Aloud and Fair Use

Sara Benson, who has the podcast Copyright Chat, recently did a 10-minute episode on reading books aloud and Fair Use.  The episode is available where you get your podcasts and also on her library's website (along with a transcript). She also points to a guide written earlier this year by eight people entitled "Reading Aloud: Fair Use Enables Translating Classroom Practices to Online Learning."

As Benson states, since the start of our stay-at-home orders in March and the need for libraries and teachers to work remotely, people have had questions about reading books aloud online. We're used to do this in-person in the library or classroom, but what happens when we do this online? The good news is is that Fair Use still applies.

If you are relying on Fair Use, do you need permission or guidance from the publisher? No. While some publishers have provided such guidance, you don't need that. You need to look at, understand, and rely on Fair Use.

Are there instance where Fair Use does not apply? Some. The one that Benson notes is when read alouds are posted to YouTube and those videos have ads. Rather than posting your videos for everyone to see - and in a platform that you cannot control - I would hope that you would consider how to deliver your read alouds to the group that you normally do this with. Stay focused on your audience (which helps you keep your use fair).

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Little Free Libraries: An Update on Three Specific Installations

I have not written about these Little Free Libraries here, but am doing so in order to document them and share - in one spot - information about them.

In 2011, I saw something about little houses called “little free libraries'' and wondered on Twitter if that concept could work in Syracuse, NY. From that tweet arose a collaboration between the Syracuse University iSchool, the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), and residents of Syracuse’s Near Westside (NWS) to develop three little free libraries LFL) on the Near Westside. It’s time to look back at what happened, check-in on the three LFLs we installed, and think about them in the age of COVID-19.

It was a team effort

Person writing on whiteboard in front of people
Developing and placing the little free libraries in Syracuse was a collaborative effort. We first had to consider where we might want to place them and how we envisioned them being used. Our first ideas were too complex and eventually we realized that the LFLs will be used how the community wants to use them. In other words, once we placed them in a community, we could not control them. Then we thought about which community could use them the most and we immediately thought of the Near Westside.

Jaime Snyder (now a professor at the University of Washington), Zeke Leonard (SU College of Visual and Performing Arts), and I (now professor emerita in the iSchool) were able to get SU students interested in the idea. Students in VPA were curious about the design aspects and how to create little free libraries that fit into the atmosphere of the Near Westside. iSchool students were interested in meeting the information needs of the Westside residents. We were joined by Maarten Jacobs, who was then the Director of the Near Westside Initiative. Maarten connected us with residents on the Westside, who wanted to give us input and offered to help as caretakers of the LFLs.

Little Free Library full of books
The first LFL was built by VPA students from an old phone kiosk and was located on a building on Gifford Street. The store owner was happy to give us use of part of his outside wall. iSchool MSLIS (library science) students hosted book drives and worked to put bookplates in hundreds of books, along with bookmarks. On Feb. 3, 2012, we held a launch party on Gifford Street for that first LFL! During the event, we accepted more book donations and filled that first LFL several times. It was a hit!

And then there were three

We then installed two more LFLs on the Near Westside. One was at 601 Tully, which was moved three years later to 208 Slocum Avenue. The third was mounted at 300 Otisco Street. All were made from repurposed telephone kiosks, which are virtually indestructible. The original kiosks were modified with shelving, door, and signage, and made waterproof.

The building, where the original free library was located, was purchased and that site turn into a St. Joseph’s Primary Care Center, where the LFL was incorporated into the building’s design. This LFL is being maintained by a broad range of people who live, work or worship in that neighborhood. The other two LFLs have not been maintained as well as hoped, but they do still exist. They both need a bit of care and attention. Perhaps besides books, the community needs them to share other resources such as food or personal care items.

Take a book, return a book

The premise of the little free libraries is “take a book, return a book.” However, we knew that residents on the Near Westside might not have books to leave in the LFL and that they might want to keep the books they borrowed. We didn’t see that as a problem, but rather knew that meant obtaining book donations would be important, so we could keep the LFL filled.

One thing we learned is that many people had books to donate. In fact, we ended up with many more book donations that we could easily handle. Storage became a problem, as did marking the book as being from/for the LFL. Thanks to Maarten Jacobs, who was able to give us storage space, and Lorranne Nasir (a then MSLIS student), who processed a lot of books!

Those three LFLs are not alone in Syracuse

Map of Syracuse area Little Free Libraries
The number of Little Free Libraries in Onondaga County continues to grow. This map from the Little Free Library web site shows many of them. However, many have not been formally registered and are not listed on the site. Interested in LFLs in other regions? You can run your own search on the LFL web site.

We did create documents to be used by other little free libraries, such as information on book drives and a collection development policy. (The collection development policy was a student project.) These are dated materials now, but may still be a good starting point for others as they think about what to accept in their LFL and what to toss out. In fact, the collection development policy would likely be written quite differently now.

LFLs and the pandemic

On the Little Free Library website, Margret Aldrich has written “Best Practices at Little Free Libraries During the Coronavirus Outbreak.” If a LFL steward (or caretaker) decides to leave their LFL open during the pandemic, Margret suggests the following:

  • Follow the Center for Disease Control guidelines. 
  • Wash or sanitize your hands before opening your Little Free Library and every time you use the library. 
  • Regularly clean your LFL, especially high-touch areas of the LFL, like the handle or bookshelves. 
  • If you are sick, don’t share books in your library until you are symptom-free. 
  • If your neighbors are sick, they should not come to your library. 
  • Do not gather with others at your Little Free Library. Social distancing is critical to flattening the curve and slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

A book is the cover and the pages inside. It is believed that the coronavirus does not live long on paper, but may live longer on a book cover which is a harder surface. Research is underway by OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and Battelle “ to create and distribute science-based information and recommended practices” to support the handling of library materials, while mitigating exposure to COVID-19. This research will help LFL caretakers, by giving them science-based information on how to handle donations to their LFLs. In the meantime, caretakers may want to:

  • Quarantine books for a minimum of three days before placing them in the LFL. This is a practice that many public and academic libraries are following. When a book is in quarantine, do not handle it at all.You might set up a quarantine area in a particular spot and mark it as such. 
  • If you are concerned about book covers being dirty, wipe book covers with disinfectant wipes. (Remember that you do not need to disinfect the paper.) 

They belong to their communities

After the Little Free Library launch party
While a few names are mentioned in this post, there are many, many others - too many names to mention - who should be thanked for their help with these little free libraries. (And many more than shown in this photo.) In addition, I know that there are many people in the Syracuse community who have supported these LFLs. Thank you for the books you have placed in them. And thank YOU to those who have taken a book to read. By doing that, you are also supporting these little free libraries!

And that brings us to the biggest lesson of all about these structures. They truly belong to their community. That community includes people who put books in and those who take books out. Jaime, Zeke, and I long ago relinquished any claim to these LFLs. Really, there were never ours. Rather they were a gift from a large group of people to the Near Westside. We’re thankful that you have liked them!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Sharing Indigenous Cultural Heritage Online: An Overview of GLAM Policies

Existing copyright law, steeped in Western concepts and values, does not adequately protect Indigenous traditional cultural expressions, nor does it sufficiently reflect or account for Indigenous cultural values. - Creative Commons

The first week in the ALA eCourse U.S. Copyright Law in the Library: A Beginner's Guide (which is being taught now) is about local, traditional, and indigenous knowledge. I added that week to the eCourse earlier this year, because I felt that we needed to start with a non-western view of information.  We should understand something about how local communities and indigenous people retain and protect their knowledge.

In this new post from Creative Commons, they talk about sharing the works of indigenous people by galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM). This is part of their Open GLAM initiative. The Creative Commons has also published a series of Medium (blog) posts related to "global perspectives on open access to the cultural heritage."  (A free-subscription to Medium allows you to see three posts per month.)



Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

" hard, hustle, grind it out, busy-ness..." - Matt D'Avella

I started this blog post a year ago. I recognized that I was tired of saying that I'm "busy" and that being involved in so many things was impacting my ability to learn new things (some of which I really needed to learn). Lots has changed since I began this post; so much that I've deleted what I originally wrote.

In 2019, we were all busy! No matter who we were, there was something we needed to do: work, find work, volunteer, engage in specific social activities, etc.  As 2019 came to an end, we looked forward to what we knew about 2020. By March, we realized that what we knew was wrong and what we might have hoped to do wasn't going to happen. Our busy-ness changed and some of it changed into worry.

While we - as people - found our lives shift in March, we watched our organizations shift as well. Many people were told to work from home and many students had to learn from home. Most libraries closed and services shifted to what they could do online. Fortunately, libraries were able to increase their online offerings during this time, which was good for the communities. Sadly, some libraries had to furlough staff because of their budgets. This also caused the remaining staff to be busier.  Yes, during this time we all became busier. More online meetings with work colleagues, family members, and friends. Everyone wanted to connect in some way. And there were many online events being offered, as people tried to keep each other busy. Can we really attend that many virtual meetings and events in one day or one week?

It's now August.  Many businesses and libraries have reopened in some manner. Schools - K-12 and colleges/universities - are reopening for either online, hybrid, or in-person instruction.  We are all now busy preparing for what's next. We might even be thinking about the next shutdown and preparing for that, too.


The draft post and  9-minutes video by Matt D'Avella reminded me that sometimes we need to do less. We can be so busy that we're really not getting things completed, or getting the correct things done. We need to stop and discern where we actually need to spend our energy.  Where can we have the greatest impact? Yes, write down your ideas and then sort through them. Talk with friends and colleagues. We have all spent a lot of time as well as mental, emotional, and physical energy so far this year.  We've been busy.  Now is the time to figure out what we really need to pursue. Focus on those things. Yes...and perhaps do less.

If you're in a library, museum or archive, the remainder of this year may look challenging. In fact, your budget for next year may also looking challenging. Slow down. Focus. Understand the impact you want your institution to have. You will not be able to do it all. Just like you (the person), your institution needs to come through this crisis ready for the future. Being too busy now may drain your organization's ability to do that work when it is needed.

For a moment, try to pursuit less. Your body and institution may thank you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Title 17, Section 105: "Subject matter of copyright: United States Government works" has been updated

Section 105 of Title 17 has been fairly short, but: the footnote on that section notes:
In 2019, the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2020 amended section 105 by adding “(a) In general.—” before “Copyright”; and by adding new subsections (b), (c), and (c). Pub. L. No. 116-92, 133 Stat. 1198. 
All of Section 105 now reads:
(a) In General.—Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government, but the United States Government is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise.
(b) Copyright Protection of Certain of Works.—Subject to subsection (c), the covered author of a covered work owns the copyright to that covered work.
(c) Use by Federal Government.—The Secretary of Defense may direct the covered author of a covered work to provide the Federal Government with an irrevocable, royalty-free, world-wide, nonexclusive license to reproduce, distribute, perform, or display such covered work for purposes of the United States Government.
(c) Definitions.—In this section:
(1) The term “covered author” means a civilian member of the faculty of a covered institution.
(2) The term “covered institution” means the following:
(A) National Defense University.
(B) United States Military Academy.
(C) Army War College.
(D) United States Army Command and General Staff College.
(E) United States Naval Academy.
(F) Naval War College.
(G) Naval Post Graduate School.
(H) Marine Corps University.
(I) United States Air Force Academy.
(J) Air University.
(K) Defense Language Institute.
(L) United States Coast Guard Academy.
(3) The term “covered work” means a literary work produced by a covered author in the course of employment at a covered institution for publication by a scholarly press or journal.
 Yes, there are two sebsections "c". The footnotes on the second Subsection (c) states:
When the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2020 added three new subsections to section 105, it designated them (b), (c), and (c). But for this typographical error, the third new subsection would have been designated as (d).
I find it interesting that the new sections (b), (c) and (c) are specific to U.S. military-related educational institutions.  This means that faculty at those institutions may be required to give the copyright in their works to the federal government. I would be curious to know what this means in reality to those faculty members. What are the positives and negatives of this?  Is this being enforced on new works only?

Monday, July 13, 2020

Reminder: Registration is open for U.S. Copyright Law in the Library

Copyright symbol by Horia VarlanA reminder that I will be teaching an online course on U.S. Copyright Law in the Library this August. This course will cover the basics of U.S. copyright law, including how it informs what libraries, staff, and patrons can do with their materials, as well as how to stay up-to-date as copyright law evolves.

This online course will start in less than four weeks on August 3. The course will run for six weeks (ending in September). You can find more information and register at the ALA Store. Bulk and institutional pricing is available. If you have any questions, you can contact me or the folks at ALA Publishing at

This year, as libraries shifted from in-person services to providing more services online, people have recognized a need to know more about copyright law. This six-week course will provide the grounding that you need, so you can productively engage in the conversations occurring in your institution, as it continues to work through how it wants to deliver services in our changed world.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Brammer v.Violent Hues Productions LLC: Copyright of photographs

I often start blog posts, save them, and then never return to finish them.  I suspect that I'm not the only person who does this.  Occasionally I look at my draft blog posts and wonder if any are worth completing.  This one, yes, because it is a good case to remember.  I particularly like that the Appellate Court when through the four factors of Fair Use in detail.

In June 2018, the Eastern District of Virginia, in the case of Brammer v. Violent Hues Productions, LLC, decided that photographs were facts and could not be copyrighted. As you can imagine, people's reaction to this was swift! How can a photograph be just a factual representation? Ask any professional photographer - and many amateurs - and they will tell of the work and creativity involved.  

Thankfully, an appeal was filed and the Fourth Circuit reversed the lower court decision.  The court's decision goes through the four factors of Fair Use and then states:
After examining the four factors, we conclude that none weighs in favor of Violent Hues. Considering these factors together, it is clear that the copying here fails the “ultimate test” of fair use: Violent Hues’ online display of Brammer’s Photo does not serve the interest of copyright law.
Later in the conclusion, the court states:
We reach our conclusion with the recognition that the Internet has made copying as easy as a few clicks of a button and that much of this copying serves copyright’s objectives. Many social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are specifically designed for the participatory “sharing” or copying of content. We express no opinion as to whether such sharing constitutes fair use. We note, however,that Violent Hues’ use is not of this kind.
Violent Hues did not comment on the Photo, promote the Photo, “remix” the Photo, or otherwise engage with the Photo in a way that might stimulate new insights.
I've listed several resources below.  If you want to read something that is "brief" to start with, I would suggest the Gates article, which was written after the appellate decision.


    Tuesday, June 23, 2020

    REALM Project Update: Round 1 Test Results Now Available

    The text below is directly from the website and was published on June 22, 2020:

    As part of the REALM Project’s Phase 1 research, Battelle has conducted a natural attenuation study to provide information on how long some commonly circulated library materials would need to be quarantined prior to being returned to public circulation. Testing was conducted by applying the virulent SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) on five materials held at standard room temperature and humidity conditions. The materials tested included the following items, which were provided by Columbus Metropolitan Library:
    (1) Hardback book cover (buckram cloth)
    (2) Softback book cover
    (3) Plain paper pages inside a closed book
    (4) Plastic book covering (biaxially oriented polyester film)
    (5) DVD case.
    Results show that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not detectable on the materials after three days of quarantine. The evaluation demonstrates that standard office temperature and relative humidity conditions typically achievable by any air-conditioned office space provide an environment that allows for the natural attenuation of SARS-CoV-2 present on these common materials after three days of quarantine.

    Read about the Round 1 Test Results.


    Thursday, June 18, 2020

    REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums Project: Systematic Literature Review

    From their website:
    The REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) Project has produced a systematic literature review to help inform the scope of the project’s research and the information needs of libraries, archives, and museums (LAMs). Battelle researchers completed the review, which includes findings from available scientific literature. This review focused on studies of virus attenuation on commonly found materials, such as paper, plastic, cloth, and metal; methods of virus transmission; and effectiveness of prevention and decontamination measures.
    On the literature review webpage, they note:
    As you read this systematic literature review, keep in mind a few key points:
    1. The research and information captured in the findings include both peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed studies. In the interest to publish emerging research related to the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible, publication has been expedited rather than waiting for time-intensive peer review.
    2. The studies included in the review have been conducted by different researchers, under different conditions, likely using different concentrations—and possibly sources—of the virus. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for a reviewer to make a straight comparison across studies; and, interpreting the results may be challenging for readers without a science background. Part of the REALM Project’s future efforts will be more interpretation of these results for a lay audience.
    3. The review includes findings for industries, such as health care, that operate under considerably different constraints and risk factors than do libraries, archives, and museums, (abbreviated LAMs). However, in this preliminary search, it was important to consider a broad range of available research to determine what may be applicable to LAM operations and identify what research gaps exist. The research captured in the review does not represent recommendations or guidance for LAMs; but, commonalities with other fields and industries may be found as the research proceeds, and the project will continue to monitor the science literature for emerging science-based information that relates to LAM operations.
    That page includes a link to the literature review and related data.  More information will be released as it becomes available from their testing.

    Wednesday, June 17, 2020

    Resources about Racism

    Racism is a pandemic
    I decided to take a moment and compile some of the resource lists on racism and becoming anti-racist that have been developed. These might be resources that interest you, that you want for your library, or that you want to share with a colleague (or love one). Yes, there is some duplication between lists, but there are also items that are not duplicative, so if you have the energy, look at several lists (or all of them!).  And if you find this useful, please share it with others.

    Are there more lists than this? Yes! Please leave a comment if you know of one that should be added.

    Wednesday, June 03, 2020

    Registration is open: U.S. Copyright Law in the Library: A Beginner's Guide eCourse

    Copyright symbol by Horia VarlanI want you know that I will be teaching an online course on U.S. Copyright Law in the Library this August. I’ll cover the basics of U.S. copyright law, including how it informs what libraries, staff, and patrons can do with their materials, as well as how to stay up-to-date as copyright law evolves.

    This online course will start on August 3 and run for 6 weeks. You can find more information and register at the ALA Store. Bulk and institutional pricing is available. If you have any questions, you can contact me or the folks at ALA Publishing at

    This spring, when schools asked students to continue their education at home and libraries shifted from in-person to totally online services, many people realized that copyright knowledge was important. This six-week course will help you develop copyright knowledge so you can productively engage in the conversations occurring in your institution, as it continues to work through how it wants to deliver services in our changed world.

    Wednesday, May 27, 2020

    Wayback Wednesday: Upping Your Library Intelligence

    Thinking statues
    In 2017, I wrote a series on upping your library intelligence. The first post began with this text:
    Late in the spring, I had a short conversation with Rachel Clarke about MSLIS students and in which areas we thought they (the generic "they") needed to grow.  A number of people are attracted to M.S. in Library and Information Science programs who do not have deep library experience.  For them, their lack of library experience may inhibit these students from learning and applying new concepts quickly. Rachel and I realized that these students would be helped by engaging in activities that would allow them to increase ("up") their library intelligence. While we promised to continue the conversation later, I've decided to develop a series of blog posts as a way for me to explore the topic and - hopefully - create content which will help current and future MSLIS students, and LIS professionals.
    This is still an need for those considering entering the library profession. You will gain more from your education - the MSLIS degree - if you have some background knowledge.  Even now, with the world seeming a bit precarious, you can build that background knowledge. If you decide to work in a library for a while, before obtaining your MSLIS degree, this knowledge will serve you well because you will not be starting from ground zero, which your boss will appreciate.  Finally, if you are finishing your MSLIS degree and waiting to land your first position, now is a great time to continue learning.  Besides what is below, consider thinking about the reopening of libraries and COVID-19. Again, your thoughts, questions, and knowledge will be appreciated by your future employer.

    By the way, I know people are worried about job hunting in the wake of COVID-19. Yes, jobs are still available. Organizations are still hiring. You, though, may need to be a bit more flexible, including a willingness to move geographically. You may need to take a position for 1-2 years that is not your ideal, but will help you gain in experience. Remember that you are developing a career, which is more than just your first position.

    The Series

    Wednesday, May 20, 2020

    Webinar recording: Productivity 101

    On May14, I did a webinar on productivity for the South Central Research Library Council (SCRLC).  Originally this was to be a three-hour in-person workshop, but due to the pandemic it became a 1.5 hour webinar that ran a little long.

    If you are interested in time management, managing your email, saying "no", and delegating tasks, then this webinar will be of interest. Most of the time was spent in getting oneself organized, i.e., that blasted to-do list.  (You'll hear when I realize how much time isn't left!) There were a number of questions raised and I enjoyed the interaction.  I do wish I could have passed around materials, etc., which could occur if I am every able to do this as an in-person event.

    Addendum, May 21: Here is the handout from this webinar.

    Article: What Our Experts Want You to Know About Digitization

    In this blog post from the Smithsonian Institution Archives, Emily Niekrasz gives
    What are the key steps in the journey of a single reference request from staff or a researcher to a digital asset appearing on our website?
    How hard is researching the rights and reproduction limits of a photograph or record?
    At the end of the article are related resources from the Smithsonian.

    With our increased reliance on digital resources, this is indeed a good time to remember the importance of digitization! Thank you, Smithsonian!

    Thursday, May 14, 2020

    Reopening libraries and COVID-19

    COVID-19 image
    There has been much discussion about reopening libraries - especially public libraries - as the number of people infected with COVID-19 decreases.  For some communities, the library is an important connection to information and resources. For library staff, while they understand their role in their communities, they are very concerned about the health and safety of staff and patrons. There are voices in the library community to keep the libraries closed for as long as possible, in order to ensure the safety of everyone.

    In the U.S., it is up to the states - and sometimes regions within a state - to decide what type of institutions can reopen when (if indeed they had closed in the first place).  If a public library is deemed essential or can provide services that lessen/eliminate face-to-face contact (e.g., no contact curbside pickup), they may be opening earlier than other institutions (e.g., K-12 school).  Library directors should be aware of what their governors, county executives, or mayors are considering.  Hopefully, they have been in direct contact and have been able to put forward a plan for their libraries that considers health and safety, as well as library services.  There is no one right path forward, so deep thinking and sensitivity to the needs of staff and community members will be needed.

    In my class, "The Public Library as Institution," I have taken the opportunity to talk with students about what public libraries may be thinking about, as they plan to reopen.  I've encouraged students to think about what library directors are focused on, as well as what staff and the community might want to know about what their public libraries will do.  There are SO many questions and not as many clear answers as we all would like.

    This week, I read several documents related to how people are thinking about reopening.  I believe that looking at what others are planning can be helpful, and that includes any plans from libraries.  Those documents are:
    This list above may be helpful to you.  Are there others?  Yes.  If you have found one that is particularly helpful, please place it in a comment to this post. Thank you!

    Addendum, May 22:

    • Information from the NYS Regents Advisory Council on Libraries, May 13, 2020, including plans from several public library systems.
    • Albany (NY) Public Library Continuation of Service Plan, updated 5/12/2020.
    Earlier this week, NY State Librarian, Lauren Moore, responded publicly through the NYLINE email list to a question about reopening.   Since this was posted on a public email list, I am posting it below (and knowing that this email has already been forward likely many times). Moore recognizes that each library is different and that the State Library cannot provide one-size-fits-all guidance. However, she does outline four things to keep in mind. I've edited lightly to remove some contact information.
    Dear [colleague],
    Thank you for the question. My guess is that you meant to send this as a personal email, but since it’s been shared on NYLINE, I’ll take this opportunity to address the library community.
    State agencies, including the State Education Department, do not have the authority to interpret the Governor’s orders or to provide interpretative guidance.  There are some helpful resources available through the Governor’s Office that can guide libraries’ decision-making, like the NY Forward Business Express Lookup Tool, but I acknowledge that the resources that currently exist don’t address what’s to come.  And thus don’t help to address the seemingly endless uncertainty and anxiety many of us are feeling.
    In the spirit of full transparency, it’s important for me to add that even if the State Library had the authority to interpret the guidance, I don’t think these decisions would be best made by fiat of the State Library.  New York is a large and diverse state with a unique range of public libraries.  Although these are “unprecedented times,” we can still look to the trusted institutions that have always been best-positioned to make local and regional decisions.  In the case of the reintroduction of library services, public library systems are certainly best positioned to help libraries work together to make decisions in the best interest of their communities.   Public library systems across the state are developing reopening plans.  Systems are looking at the Governor’s guidance, working with regional Control Rooms to interpret the guidance for that specific region, and then developing policies that will allow libraries to keep staff and community members safe as they reintroduce library services.
    Even though it’s not official guidance, and you’re free to take it or leave it, here are the values that have been guiding my COVID-19 response work at the State Library:
    • Value staff- Prioritize staff and community safety over everything else.
    • Caution-  Take your time.  Things change rapidly.  “Abundance of caution” is really just “caution” and is the best practice during this pandemic.
    • Professional respect- Look out for each other.  Recognize the uniqueness of each library and the uniqueness of each community.
    • Service- Do whatever is in the State Library’s power to help libraries succeed.
    Although we’re not in Albany writing guidance and issuing edicts, State Library staff are working tirelessly every day to help libraries succeed.  This work is best done on an individual basis, because every situation is unique.  I implore any library who is struggling with a particular decision or navigating a difficult local situation to contact their regional liaison at the Division of Library Development or to contact [..] who oversees the public libraries program.  State Library staff is committed to helping you.
    I hope this email helps to explain things a bit, but know that the State Library is always working on your behalf.  Please get in touch any time you have a question.
    All the best,
    Lauren Moore
    Assistant Commissioner for Libraries and New York State Librarian