Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Publisher Playbook: A Brief History of the Publishing Industry’s Obstruction of the Library Mission

 The pre-print of this new book is available.


Courtney, Kyle K. and Juliya Ziskina. 2023. "The Publisher Playbook: A Brief History of the Publishing Industry’s Obstruction of the Library Mission." Pre-print.


Libraries have continuously evolved their ability to provide access to collections in innovative ways. Many of these advancements in access, however, were not achieved without overcoming serious resistance and obstruction from the rightsholder and publishing industry. The struggle to maintain the library’s access-based mission and serve the public interest began as early as the late 1800s and continues through today. We call these tactics the "publishers' playbook." Libraries and their readers have routinely engaged in lengthy battles to defend the ability for libraries to fulfill their mission and serve the public good. The following is a brief review of the times and methods that publishers and rightsholder interests have attempted to hinder the library mission. This pattern of conduct, as reflected in ongoing controlled digital lending litigation, is not unexpected and belies a historical playbook on the part of publishers and rightsholders to maximize their own profits and control over the public’s informational needs. Thankfully, as outlined in this paper, Congress and the courts have historically upheld libraries’ attempts to expand access to information for the public’s benefit.


April 20: Digital Copyright book talk with Brewster Kahle and Jessica Litman

 From the Internet Archive. Register here.

April 20—Digital Copyright

Join Internet Archive’s founder BREWSTER KAHLE for a virtual book talk with author & professor of law JESSICA LITMAN.

In Digital Copyright, law professor Jessica Litman questions whether copyright laws crafted by lawyers and their lobbyists really make sense for the vast majority of us. Should every interaction between ordinary consumers and copyright-protected works be restricted by law? Is it practical to enforce such laws, or expect consumers to obey them? What are the effects of such laws on the exchange of information in a free society?
This discussion is co-sponsored by Authors Alliance.
April 20 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET

Friday, March 03, 2023

Sumposium: Exploring the Future of Digital Library Loans: Controlled Digital Lending, March 10 (in-person & virtual)

Details are below and at Note that registration will close on March 7.

Exploring the Future of Digital Library Loans: Controlled Digital Lending

 March 10 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm (EST)

Register here for the virtual only version of the symposium

Register here for the in-person version of the symposium. Lunch will be provided only to in-person attendees.

Join us in person or online for a one day symposium on controlled digital lending. You will learn what controlled digital lending is, where the concept came from, the technical aspects of how it works in the library, and the legal frameworks of controlled digital lending.

This symposium is being offered in a hybrid format. There are two registration pages - one for in-person, one for online. Please ensure you are on the correct page for the format you desire before registering.

The in-person version of the conference will be hosted at the Western New York Library Resources Council (Airport Commerce Park East, 4950 Genesee Street, Suite 170, Cheektowaga, NY 14225). Lunch will be provided.

Online registrants will receive the Zoom information one day prior to the event taking place. Live transcription and closed captioning will be provided via and Zoom.

Tom Bruno (University of Pennsylvania Libraries)
Charlie Barlow (Boston Library Consortium)
Reed Jones (State University of New York at Buffalo)
Sui Mei Grierson (State University of New York at Buffalo)


Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Stepping into the role of Executive Director of Widerstand Consulting

Tobin Miller Shearer

Tobin Miller Shearer entitled his post "Stepping down" and so it seems fitting that I use the words "Stepping into" as part of the title of my post, as I step into the role that Tobin has held as founder and executive director of Widerstand Consulting. Tobin is leaving the E.D. position due to his increased academic role at the University of Montana. So in May, I will step into shoes that have "walked the walk" or, in other words, talked about being antiracist while working to be antiracist and help others to do the same. Tobin is leaving large "shoes" for me to fill!

I have yet to find a written bio of Tobin that tells all he has been involved in. When looking at his CV as well as the books he's written, you can see the depth of his thinking and work. However, his CV doesn't show his non-academic work, work with non-profits, or all of anti-racism efforts. He's being doing this work for a long time, including working with the Damascus Road Antiracism Process, Roots of Justice, and then founding Widerstand.

What is Widerstand Consulting?

Widerstand (pronounced wider-stand) was born out of a long history of antiracism work done by Tobin and others, and in response to requests for antiracism consulting and training in the wake of the racial justice events of 2020. Widerstand is a 501(c)(3) with a majority BIPOC1 board of directors and a consulting team of folks with a breadth of identities, experience, and industry expertise. In Widerstand, interracial teams are the norm and not the exception.

Widerstand Consulting logo

While Widerstand, as an organization, is relatively new, the folks within Widerstand are not new to this work. In fact, I am impressed by the decades of antiracism work some folks have done with non-profits, libraries, and religious groups.  Some are involved in several groups that are focused on this work, because they understand the importance of this effort.

Widerstand is hired by organizations that want to understand how they can be more antiracist. For them, Widerstand conducts antiracism audits. In addition, Widerstand provides online and in-person training, and consulting services.  

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Widerstand re-invests at least 50% of its net income in BIPOC-led racial justice groups.That is an amazing commitment!

By the way, besides its website, Widerstand has a presence on Facebook and Twitter. When you sign-up for the free resources on the Widerstand website, you will also be registered to receive its monthly newsletter.

What will I be doing?

Jill Hurst-Wahl
I've already been meeting with members of the Widerstand team and getting to know everyone, asking what their vision for Widerstand is, and getting a sense for our capacity. We know that the need for the work we do is great and we know Widerstand can do more.

On a day-to-day basis, I will talk with prospective clients, check-in on current projects, ensure that the Widerstand teams have the resources they need, and work with our staff and board members, including our treasurer. The Widerstand team is geographically dispersed. Thankfully negotiating different time zones is not a problem for me!

I have been on an antiracism audit team which specifically conducts antiracism audits for libraries, and I'll continue that work. (Widerstand also does antiracism audits for other types of organizations.) Those audits help an organization understand where it is on its journey of becoming  an antiracist organization and how it can continue to move forward.

What about the rest of my work (and this blog)?

Widerstand now becomes part of what I do and I will continue to do other work, including consulting projects, webinars, serving on committees, etc. Yes, I'll continue to think, write, and teach about copyright. I am and will be a busy person.  It seems that being busy is what I enjoy! What this has done, though, is made me think about "how busy" I want to be. And in that regard, I know that I need to be mindful of balancing work, friends, and family. 

As for this blog, it will continue. From 2018-2022, I've averaged 72 blog posts per year, and I hope to continue that trend. And, yes, I will keep most of those posts focused on copyright, digital assets, and libraries.

If you have read this far, thank you! Unknowingly, you have been on a journey with me and I hope you will continue walking with me through this blog.

1 This acronym stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. This is person-first language, which shifts away from terms like “marginalized” and “minority.” The phrase “People of Color” is a broad term, which includes those who are Black or African American, East Asian, Hispanic, Latinx, South Asian, and Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander.