After an eternity in limbo, I am happy to launch this site parallel to some “nice press” about my work from the Library Journal. For those of you that do not know, Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian extraordinaire, is also the columnist for the wildly popular Library Journal column (and aptly named) “Not Dead Yet.” She is an excellent colleague – but I turned a little red reading her fully glowing endorsement of my copyright work (and some of my other teaching and writing) in her most recent column titled “Copyright and Libraries – Help!” Thank you Cheryl! Prepare to receive the equivalent kudos in the form of chocolate treats at our next meeting.
While I never thought I would be called a “library copyright deus ex machina” (Cheryl, can I put that title on a resume somehow?), I hope my work speaks to a much larger assertion I have always offered since joining the world of libraries: Librarians should be (and already are in many cases) the seminal go-to experts for copyright. Why? Two quick reasons:
First, from the origins of copyright in this country (1870 Copyright Act anyone? It’s a favorite of mine to be discussed in a future post) – Libraries have played a central role in copyright law, registration, deposit, rules, policy, etc. – basically, sustaining a national copyright system. Even now, the United States Copyright Office, is part of the Library of Congress! We are involved by the very definition of our job, and in a way, always will be.
Second, in a brief survey I conducted in preparing the Copyright for Libraries sessions, I asked for and received some great data about how often librarians deal with copyright in their day-to-day work. Over 50% answered “everyday” or “frequently.” It’s a tremendous number that I suspect is on the rise – but not that surprising when you consider that the majority of students, faculty, and staff turn to the library first when they have a copyright question. We are the face of “information and answers” (quoted from a student survey last year) and we typically house the books, journals, databases, reserves, archives, technology, and other resources which they have the copyright question about in the first place.
Today’s librarian faces an excess of copyright-related questions dealing with every facet of library services: digitization projects, virtual reference, inter-library loan, access to law, e-reserves, e-books, licensing, etc. Many librarians find themselves becoming de facto library copyright experts by reading, writing, collaborating, attending conferences, and working with informed colleagues.
It has always been my goal to to read, write, and collaborate with colleagues, either by continuing to offer sessions, talks, training etc. here on this site, at my own institution, or at other institutions. I learn so much working with different members of our “community at large” (Grateful Dead archivists, university publishers, museum curators, and more). A basic understanding of copyright law is essential to successfully assist students, faculty, and staff competently – and I am happy to share what I learn, see, and hear right on this page.
So again, thank you Cheryl LaGuardia, for all your kind words, and a good start to the new site. Cheers!