The Common Sense of the Fair-Use Doctrine

Copyright can be a challenging maze for library folk and educators, and no area causes more stress than the Fair-Use Doctrine.  This is mainly because it deals with gray areas of use, presenting guidelines rather than rules.

The Common Sense of the Fair-Use Doctrine is a brief essay in the current Chronicle of Higher Education that is meant to both inform and empower those who would benefit from the fair use of copyrighted works:

Twenty-five years ago, fair use was widespread and uncontroversial. Journalists, scholars, and documentarians employed it regularly. Publishers and other distributors routinely issued works rich with fair-use claims. But increasingly over the last two decades, that has changed, as large media and software companies have fought for greater copyright protections and ramped up their public-relations campaigns and legal actions.

A good starting point for further research is Wikipedia’s Fair use entry.

link found via Stephanie L. Gross

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Google, Bing and Yahoo have joined their efforts and have created, a site that offers “a one stop resource” for metadata structure for web pages.

There are two schema that stand out as excellent additions to library web sites:

Neither of these will add flash or content to your site or catalog, but it will make them more visible to search engines, and will ultimately increase the use and usability of your library as a whole.  If you are involved with your library web site, this needs to be added to your “to do” list!

found via OSDir

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Google Books Unsettled

The Google Books Settlement was tossed out by U.S. District Judge Denny Chin, arguing that it gave too much power to Google in allowing the company “significant rights to exploit entire books.”

The major problem appears to be the issue of orphaned works, those books which may still be protected by copyright, but do not have a means by which to determine if they actually are, or even who would be the true owner.

In the court ruling (pdf), Chin noted that the issues surrounding orphaned works “is a matter more suited for Congress than this court.”

I would hope that some way can be created through legislation to effectively deal with orphaned works, not only for corporations which lots of resources, but for the rest of us as well, who might not have access to lawyers.

And while we are being hopeful, how about an expansion of Fair Use that would allow for full-text indexing while still protecting the rights holders?  Not only would that be “fair”, but the texts would certainly get a lot more “use” if people could discover what they contained!

I don’t hold out much hope for a fair and reasonable review of current copyright law in the near future, however….

found via Peter Murray

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Librarians are Awesome

Wil Wheaton is remembered mostly for either his acting role in Stand By Me, or for his acting role as Wesley Crusher in the first four seasons of Star Trek : The Next Generation.

He is, however, involved in many other activities, including writing books, playing tournament poker, and blogging.  One of his recent posts involved a fantastic librarian inspiration:

“I don’t remember her name, but I do remember that she was in her fifties, wore epic 1970s polyester pantsuits, huge glasses that hung from a long gold chain around her neck, and had a hairdo that was ten miles high. She was friendly and helpful, and when she reached out to that nerdy little kid, she changed his life.”

Actually, his story is similar to my own, except I remember the name of my librarian:  Mrs. Peters.

There are thousands of stories like this, and it is as good to remember our own, as it is to remember that  we have the chance to encourage the <ahem> next generation of readers in their search for inspiration.

thanks to Joan Kendall-Sperry for posting the link!

Posted in Books, History, Libraries, Space | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Create and Run Your Website

The San Jose Public Library has launched their new website.

It has a clean design, with clear indications of how to find the information being sought.  But what really got my attention was the relationship of the library staff to the content of the site:

Our New Website Launch

  • “Every single staff member at SJPL has been asked and empowered to create blog posts for the new site.”  The number of staff is greater than 300!
  • “Content is not pre-moderated by any web staff.”  This includes the blog posts mentioned above, as well as comments from site visitors.

This is a library that is confident in the abilities and judgement of their staff, and secure enough to trust the feedback from their community.  No compartmentalization; no review process.  If you have something valid to say, get it out there.

Very refreshing, and I suspect that they will find that the flow of information will be beneficial for all involved.

found via Shelf Check (with its own review of the site)

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Not so Hot Off the Presses

The Guardian newspaper has an interesting story about what can happen when a book from a small publisher wins a prestigious literary award.

This is apparently happening more often, as ec0nomic pressures are causing larger publishers to skip innovative/riskier books and instead focus on that which they are more confident will generate a profit.

The article suggests that this is a battle between quality and quantity, and to a certain extent this is true.  However, like most contentious issues, opportunities abound.  Possible solutions include:

  • Partner with a printing firm to produce a mass-market version of the book.  Keep selling as many copies of your “deluxe edition” as you can print, and when the sales rate drops below that level, stop the mass-market version and keep up with demand from your own press.
  • Do the above, but add additional incentives for the deluxe edition, such as author inscriptions, or numbered copies.  Each of these would likely involve establishing the number of printed copies ahead of time.
  • How about allowing pre-payment for the deluxe edition (whether online or through bookstores), with an e-book edition available to all who pre-pay?
  • Make it part of every author contract to be able to accommodate unexpected success.  Figure out how you can stay profitable and happy while meeting the needs of the author and the reading public, and you will be able to maximize what you love about publishing, and be successful at the same time.  Otherwise it becomes a given that a successful author will move to a larger publisher after winning an award.

These ideas aren’t radical… they should be part of the publishing marketplace.  There are no losers if the right solutions are applied to the right situations.  I know that some of them have been tried, and have been successful:

  • Stephen King wasn’t sure about the market for the first Dark Tower book, The Gunslinger.  He first published it through Donald M. Grant Publisher, inc. and created one of the most coveted King editions around.  He has continued to publish special editions through them.
  • I own a signed and numbered copy of a John Updike novel that was a special edition from a smaller publisher.  It isn’t very rare, but it is nice to have a book that was personally handled by the author.

There is a great deal of stress in the publishing world.  When this happens, the best response is not to get stressed – get creative!

found via OhioLINK’s Facebook page

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Google Election Maps

The mid-term elections are shaping up to be quite dramatic (although not quite the roller-coaster ride that we had with the 2008 election season).

And Google has come up with a new way to visualize the flood of data that goes along with it all:

Google : 2010 U.S. Election Ratings

from the Official Google Blog

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IMSLP Petrucci Music Library

I’ve been on a project at work that involves tracking down information on some music scores, and have encountered a fantastic resource, the IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library.

On this mediawiki-based site resides more than 72,000 scores representing over 29,000 works by over 4,000 composers.  They even have over 1,000 recordings.  All of this is available for download, as they focus on works that either exist in the Public Domain or have been made freely available by the rights holder (though one should note that the rules for Public Domain vary by country).

More information can be found on the International Music Score Library Project’s main page, including links to browse categories and a forum site.

Posted in Copyright, Libraries, Online Services, Wiki | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Skinny on Sheepskin

Wired is running a story that links the size of e-readers to sheep.  I think it is a stretch (and they admit it, as well), but the story does have a terrific guide to why books have traditionally been their various sizes… and it does have a lot to do with sheep:

The Hidden Link between E-Readers and Sheep

The Wired article was inspired by a post on the Got Medieval blog.  I like the look and feel of vellum, although it is a bit squeem-inducing to think about what it is made from.

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Five Laws of Library Science (Ebook edition)

Andy Woodworth has printed an update of Ranganathan’s Five Laws, only how they relate to Ebooks:

Five Laws of Library Science (Ebook edition)

  1. Ebooks are for use.
  2. Every reader his or her ebook.
  3. Every book, any ereader.
  4. Save the time of the ereader patron.
  5. The library is an evolving organism.

See Andy’s post for his full details, but these are a great reminder that the more things change, the more we have to remember our fundamental principles.

found via LisNews

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Wikipedia : Lamest Edit Wars

From the folks at Open Source Living comes a link to a Wikipedia page about… Wikipedia pages.  Specifically the Lamest Edit Wars on Wikipedia pages.  The list contains some thought-provoking debates, and some truly trivial arguments.

Some highlights of debates that became a big deal in Wikipedia lore:

  • Compact Disc or Compact disc?
  • J.K. Rowling.  Rhymes with “rolling” or “howling”.  Apparently it doesn’t matter how she pronounces it.
  • Color/Flavor vs. Colour/Flavour… etc.
  • Star Wars:  Is the Death Star 120km or 160km in diameter?  Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker – one character or two?  Which came first, Episode IV or Episode I?
  • Daylight Saving Time or Daylight Savings Time?
  • Was Fred G. Sanford an “irascible curmudgeon” or merely “irritable”?


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New Hybrid ILS Front End

A regional group of public libraries in Antwerp, Belgium have announced a new hybrid OPAC for their library software.

They have merged WordPress with AquaBrowser to create a web presence with the capabilities they felt were most important for their libraries, notably local searching, faceted browsing, local news and announcements, and a fast, consistent design across all elements of the site and catalog.

This isn’t the first time WordPress has been used as an OPAC front end.  The Scriblio project has been around for several years.  Other projects that provide catalogs similar to AquaBrowser are The Social OPAC (SOPAC) and VuFind.

There is no mention of what ILS software is running in the background, but the hybridization of these two capable and solid OPAC enhancers is a positive step.   I suspect that we will be seeing an increasing number of front-end designs in the future, especially if developers increase the usability for both the patron and the libraries by combining the strengths from multiple projects.

found on Open Source Living, via Nicole Engard

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Library Staff Using Online Tools

WebJunction has posted the survey results for online tool usage by library staff, and a few of the results might surprise:

The online tool that has had at least some use by the highest percentage of staff is Online Courses, followed by Live Online Events.  These beat out Listservs, Professional/Social Networking, and Blogs, even though each of these had higher percentages of daily users.

Also of interest was the significant differences between Public and Academic library staff use of online tools, with Academic staff reporting higher use.

Disparities also exist between urban and rural libraries, which might be partially explained by bandwidth and technology differences.  It would be good to see this difference erased, as online tools are one way that smaller, rural libraries can bridge the gap that might otherwise exist due to funding and population differences.

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OCLC Questions

Jonathan Rochkind at Bibliographic Wilderness weighs in on the OCLC issue, and ultimately asks a lot of significant questions that don’t have easy answers.

We all need to be asking significant questions, not only of OCLC, SkyRiver, and III, but of the library community, and ultimately ourselves.

A few of my own:

  • What is the library community’s relationship with our bibliographic data?
  • Is it healthy?
  • Do we need to change this relationship?
  • How is this affected by our bibliographic data’s relationship with entities outside the greater library community?
  • How will it be affected when the depth of information present is found to be much more valuable than is currently recognized?
  • Will we be able to adapt when this happens?

Answers sooner rather than later will help us to not only get through the current debate, but to better position ourselves for even greater challenges.  We get bonus adaptation and survival points for correct answers, by the way.

Posted in Cataloging, Classification, Ethics, Groups, History, ILL, ILS, Libraries, OCLC, Online Databases, Online Services | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on OCLC Questions

Chickens in the Library

So, what would you do if live chickens were released in your library?  Is this covered in your organization’s disaster plan?

If you need to examine another library’s response, review this Shelf Check comic for the following procedure:

  1. Alert the employee at the desk.
  2. Desk employee:  ask follow up questions to determine the nature of the emergency.
  3. Examine the available evidence to properly classify the problem.
  4. Keep your sense of humor about you at all times.
  5. Explore external sources of assistance.
  6. Go with the flow, because we all have “other duties as assigned”.

(and be sure to read the information provided beneath the comic…)

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OCLC’s Response to Lawsuit

Just received via OCLC Member Update e-mail:

The following statement is from Larry Alford, Chair, OCLC Board of Trustees, and Jay Jordan, OCLC President and CEO:

“On July 29, SkyRiver Technology Solutions and Innovative Interfaces, Inc. filed suit against OCLC, alleging anticompetitive practices. We at OCLC believe the lawsuit is without merit, and we will vigorously defend the policies and practices of the cooperative.

OCLC’s General Counsel, working with trial counsel, will respond to this regrettable action by SkyRiver and Innovative Interfaces following procedures and timetables dictated by the court. This process will likely take months or even years, not days.

In the meantime, we want to assure the OCLC membership and all 72,000 libraries that use one or more OCLC services that these spurious allegations will not divert us from our current plans and activities. These include maintaining and enhancing existing services, pursuing an ambitious agenda in library research and advocacy, and introducing new Web-scale (cloud) services. Indeed, OCLC has been a global leader in providing cloud-based services for libraries since 1971, and the next generation of these services holds great promise for reducing member library costs.

It is worth noting that our current strategy represents a collective effort by librarians around the world, developed through ongoing dialogue and consultation with the Board of Trustees, Global Council, and Regional Councils in the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe, the Middle East and Africa. We will continue our active engagement with OCLC members and governance participants as, together, we move our cooperative forward.

Inclusion, reciprocity, trust and the highest standard of ethical conduct have guided the OCLC cooperative in the past and will guide us in the future. As always, OCLC’s public purposes of furthering access to the world’s information and reducing the rate of rise of library costs remain paramount.”

—Larry Alford, Chair, OCLC Board of Trustees

—Jay Jordan, OCLC President and CEO

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Unicorn Validator

Unicorn, W3C’s unified validation service, is live.

As someone who has found the W3C html, css and feed validators to be valuable tools in web design, the merging of the three tools into one interface is a terrific step.  With the increasing acceptance of HTML5, this adds one additional means by which to streamline design work.

Posted in Library 2.0, News, Online Services, Web Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Non Words

What would you call a collection of non words?

That question occurs to me with the news that Oxford University Press has a vault containing millions of “non words” notated on 4″ x 6″ cards.  These are the words that were rejected for inclusion to the Oxford English Dictionary.

My first thought was along the lines of “wouldn’t that be interesting in book form!”  But what would they call it?

Then the word “millions” sunk in.  According to the OED’s Wikipedia entry, the dictionary had slightly more than 300,000 entries in November 2005.  The last complete edition, published in 1989, was bound in 20 volumes.  If you have used the set, you could understand how daunting the publishing of “millions” of entries would be.

So what could we call it?  The Oxford English Undictionary?

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The Positive No

No One Nos : Learning to Say No to Bad Ideas is an article on A List Apart that discusses when and how to address those situations where, for a variety of reasons, your best option is to tell someone “No”.

Much of the first portion of the article presents case studies of people who had to face telling a client, boss, or workgroup that something wasn’t going to happen.  Some of what is presented amounts to taking the time to evaluate what is being asked, and figuring out how to present alternatives that make better business sense.

Near the end, however, is a list of “takeaways” from the book “The Power of a Positive No” by William Ury.  These are worth the effort to incorporate into our lives.

There are as many effective ways to say “no” as there are reasons to say “no” in the first place.  Try to match the former with the latter.

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