Thursday, May 29, 2014

Open for Comments: Draft of Copyright: An Interpretation of the Code of Ethics (from ALA)

fuzzy copyrightThe ALA Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE) is developing a "proposed interpretation of the ALA Code of Ethics on the topic of copyright."  This interpretation will be considered by the Council at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in June.  The proposed interpretation is now open for comments on the ALA Connect web site.  Please take a moment to read it and leave comments on that site to note anything that you believe needs clarification.  It is also important for you to speak up, if you disagree with any part of the text.

As library and information professionals, we frequently turn to ALA for its guidance.  Therefore, it is important that we all review this draft, since it is likely we'll be using it in the future.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Title 17, Section 121: Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction for blind or other people with disabilities

Logo for Global Accessibility Awareness Day
Last Thursday was Global Accessibility Awareness Day and I spent part of the day attending a webinar about making ebooks accessible.  The way we're making ebooks accessible is by digitizing them (or using digital files from teh publisher) and then creating different file formats with different attributes/features for those with print disabilities.  In the United States, the organizations that are doing this are using Section 121 in the U.S. Copyright Law.  This section of the U.S. Copyright Law begins:
(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement of copyright for an authorized entity to reproduce or to distribute copies or phonorecords of a previously published, nondramatic literary work if such copies or phonorecords are reproduced or distributed in specialized formats exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities.
Notice that this work must be done by an "authorized entity" and that "specialized formats exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities."  Bookshare is one such entity and it provides information on its web site about the legal framework in which it operates.  The company also discusses its Digital Rights Management Plan and how it ensures that its books are not "out in the wild", but are instead serving people with print disabilities. 

Sitting in the webinar, I was proud to see digitization serving an important function and copyright law recognizing this area as being worthy of an exemption.  When people say that the copyright law is outdated, I'm happy to have examples like this that demonstrate how it is serving real needs in our communities.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Learning Commons & yes, they can contain historic material

Forrest FosterIn April 2013, I heard Forrest Foster speak at the Computers in Libraries Conference, where he talked on "Blog Talk Radio: Connect, Collaborate & Enthuse!" (notes).  Forrest has started his own broadcast/podcast on the topic of learning spaces.  The show (podcast) is done during the academic year and there are now nine episodes.

Learning spaces (or learning commons) were started in some academic libraries in the 1990s.  As Dr. D. Russell Bailey, Library Director of Phillips Memorial Library+Commons at Providence College, said in the first Let's Talk Learning Spaces Show they don't have to be expensive. Yet many universities and colleges do spend money on new or improved spaces and equipment.

At Johns Hopkins University, the Brody Learning Commons "is also home to the Department of Special Collections and the Department of Conservation and Preservation."  This means that these learning spaces can be a connection to historic materials as well as to new technology.  That easier connection between the digital and the physical can provide a means for students to see physical objects and not just rely on the digital images.  Imagine a student viewing a digital version of an object that the library owns, and having a message pop-up that says that the real object is being retrieved for the student to view.  That may be unrealistic in many instances, but wouldn't it be interesting if that could occur even some of the times? 

Below is a 2013 video from Old Dominion University about its learning commons, which shows beautiful spaces and new equipment.  Again, not every learning space needs to be build with all new equipment, etc.  SUNY Geneseo initially built its learning commons using what it had and incorporating some new elements.  Yes, it can be done if you understand what you are trying to achieve and built the correct partnerships.