First Sale


The Owners’ Rights Initiative , which ALA is a part of, brings together a diverse group to espouse the belief that “if you bought it, you own it, and should have the right to sell, lend or give away your personal property.” The First Sale Doctrine underpins this view.

As I was writing my post on Understanding Fair Use, I realized that not only do few people understand it, it often gets confused with First Sale, an entirely different but even more essential component of copyright law, especially for libraries. I say this because that’s what my brain did. I mushed the two together. So, I thought it only prudent to clarify, if only for myself, the finer points of the First Sale Doctrine and why it is so important to libraries, not to mention used booksellers, both physical stores and digital providers (think Amazon Marketplace or eBay). But this post will just focus on libraries.

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POTUS in our corner: eBooks and the next LoC


President Obama signs a bill into law that supports the role of libraries in education last year. From District Dispatch. President Obama has generally been supportive of libraries.

Since politics is in the news today (hello Super Tuesday!), I wanted to balance the generally negative political news with two announcements that came out last week from the White House. Continue reading

Understanding fair use

This week is Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week, which is a pretty big deal. According to the Association of Research Libraries sponsored website:

“Fair use [in the U.S.] and fair dealing [in the U.K.] are essential limitations and exceptions to copyright, allowing the use of copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright holder under certain circumstances.”

Fair use is important to librarians, since it governs how content can be “fairly” used without breaking copyright. The American Library Association has created this resource for librarians to share with their patrons. And the following graphic, commissioned by ARL and created by YIPPA, offers some essential thoughts on fair use. (Get the full graphic by clicking on the image below.) ARL-FUW-Infographic-r4-page-001

The impact of fair use on scholarship is especially important in research and academic libraries, because that’s where most people affected by fair use go. But that doesn’t mean all librarians shouldn’t be familiar with the concept. At my own public library, plenty of online students, as well as some local community college students, use our public internet and computers to get their work done. This means that when they have questions about citations and the like, we are the people they ask. Public librarians, though not forced to publish, may also wish to do so at some point in their careers. Fair use will be important in that context as well. During an “appearance” on the Circulating Ideas podcast, Jessamyn West discusses how fair use affected the publication of her own book.

But fair use is important in many other contexts as well.  Continue reading

Review: Ready Player One

I read this a long time ago, and I have yet to review it. However, it was so good and made me think about a lot of digital issues that are relevant, that I figured it should get its own post. rpo

Ready Player One is Ernest Cline was one of the most fun, fast-reading adventure books I’ve read this year. In it, Wade Watts is a poor orphaned teen who escapes the horrible junkyard the world of 2044 has become into OASIS, the Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation, a virtual world created by James Halliday – a visionary who was as obsessed with the 1980’s as he was with creating the best video game ever. Like many a visionary in his field, he hid his very own video game easter egg. Whoever solved the mystery, would earn the right to his entire fortune. Those hunting for it – called “gunters” or egg hunters – have been searching since 2014. It took an 18-year-old trailer park rat – Wade Watts – to discover the first key in 2045. Ready Player One is his story. Well his story, and a love letter to all things 80’s, with a special focus on videogames.

But OASIS is more than just a video game. OASIS is a huge simulation that serves many purposes – from educational zone to brothel. Wade himself described his upbringing in the virtual world:

“I was more or less raised by the OASIS’s interactive educational programs, which any kid could access for free. I spent a big chunk of my childhood hanging out in a virtual-reality simulation of Sesame Street, singing songs with friendly Muppets and playing interactive games that taught me how to walk, talk, add, subtract, read, write, and share. Once I’d mastered those skills, it didn’t take me long to discover that OASIS was also the world’s biggest public library, where even a penniless kid like me had access to every book ever written, every song ever recorded, and every movie, television show, videogame, and piece of artwork ever created.” p. 15-16
This is an outstanding dystopian adventure novel. While the geek references are many and varied, it is so much more than its geekery. Cline provides a smart puzzle, as well as thoughtful commentary on topics that are highly relevant, from Internet equality to prejudice in all its forms to the power of information. Here are some thoughts I had as I was reading.

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Library Links: Fighting for funding

The news has been awash with reports recently about the value of libraries, just in time for lawmakers to vote on funding for all libraries as well as IMLS grants. I’ve had an interesting time reading through some of these reports and thought I would share them here with you.

  • School Libraries Affect Test Scores: It’s what we’ve been saying all these years but didn’t have the hard numbers to back up. Unfortunately, it has always been numbers rather than stories that lawmakers have responded to when making funding decisions.
  • ALA President Courtney Young responds proposal to eliminate IMLS: It’s becoming an annual fight – Lawmakers propose eliminating the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the ALA (among others) must step in and remind Congress how important the organization is. This year’s argument is framed as such: “‘The programs that IMLS incentivizes and expertly oversees—with among the very best efficiency records in the federal government—are literal engines of our economy at every level.'” With the economy continuing as a hot-button campaign topic, this tact is probably the smartest move.
  • Unequal Shelves in D.C. School Libraries Benefit Wealthier Students: Speaking of money, funding inequality is having a major impact on the kinds of services libraries can provide. As this article discusses, schools attended by wealthier students are getting the bulk of the money by far, further widening the educational and financial gap between rich and poor.
  • Online Learning and the Digital Divide: As this post discusses, learning will continue to be moved online in the future. What does this have to do with libraries? Well, the digital divide is still immense, meaning that there are still large numbers of people who do not have access to the Internet in their own homes nor laptops to access Wi-Fi in public places. Libraries are an essential lifeline, letting children and college students complete their homework, patrons to apply for jobs, and everyone to file their taxes or apply for veterans’ benefits and much more. In today’s connected world, many people would not survive without the library providing computers and Internet access.

Libraries provide essential services to their community members, which is why I am always flabbergasted that getting funding for them is such an uphill battle. One thing everyone can do is to contact their local legislator to let them know that you support library funding. ALA’s District Dispatch is an easy way to stay abreast of Capitol Hill news that affects libraries and their patrons. You’ll even get notifications when to send notes to Congressman and even easy submission forms for sending notes to your legislator.