April 2011 Archives

A thought on collection cuts

This post is about library budget cuts - specifically cuts that decimate our collections budgets. We all face them. They are heartbreaking. Ultimately, collections cuts (as with many other library budget cuts) ask us to select the least bad of an array of options that all cause serious harm to some or all of our user population.

Most decisions about which resources to cut are accomplished by (painfully, rigorously) considering a number of criteria: cost savings, how heavily the resource is used, whether it is used by central (for mission-critical and/or political values of "central") portions of the user population, whether it is central to our institutional or organizational identity, whether there are alternative services, and a host of others. If it is not already part of your criteria for collections cuts, I'd like to suggest one more:

whether and/or how much this resource restricts the rights of our users.

We all know we're going to take criticism for whatever cuts we make - just about any service we currently provide is a favorite of someone, somewhere. When faced with the task of justifying decisions to a dedicated user of a recently-cut resource, wouldn't "...and we also thought that the way the software prevents you from cutting-and-pasting the text was a pretty unreasonable restriction on your use" or "...and also, the fact that you're not supposed to link to this resource from your course website, despite the fact that we've paid for your students to access it as individuals" lend another bit of weight to the discussion?

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Librarian's Copyright Litany (updated)

UPDATE: revised version now available

Exploring some exhortatory language to counter the message I encounter from many librarians that copyright is an area where our primary concern should be "compliance". I don't think this is a finished version - very much welcome your input/suggestions/feedback.

Inspired by Lessig's "Certificate of Entitlement" to question copyright law (clearer copy) and Niebuhr's "Serenity Prayer".

The Librarian's Copyright Litany
May we:
- Strive to meet and advocate for the needs, both present and future, of the communities we serve;
- Recognize that copyright law in its current formulation, and in the preferred future formulations of most content providers, primarily presents a barrier to meeting those needs - but stand firmly and expansively in those areas where the law already recognizes public rights; and
- Zealously promote all avenues towards a greater recognition of the public interest in copyright, including in the public consciousness through our daily interactions with our users, through our own contract negotiations, and in legislative and judicial processes.

Actually, one question I already have: should the title be a singular or plural possessive? I've already flip-flopped a couple times since starting the post...

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2011 is the previous archive.

May 2011 is the next archive.

I'm Nancy Sims, the Copyright Program Librarian at the University of Minnesota Libraries.

Though I am a lawyer as well as a librarian, no content on this blog constitutes legal advice; if you need direct advice on your legal rights or responsibilities, please consult your own attorney. This blog represents only my own opinions and not those of my employer.

I'm @CopyrightLibn on Twitter.

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