Update: HB 516

A few weeks ago I shared my thoughts on Virginia HB 516, which would require schools to label works as sexually explicit and inform parents if a title is on a child’s required reading list. In my discussion of the bill, I mentioned the slippery slope labeling entails, citing the opposition of the Virginia Library Association, although the Virginia Association of Teachers of English later issued a similar statement. With exactly a week to go before Governor McAuliffe would have been forced to make a decision on whether to veto or sign the bill into law, the Governor has vetoed the bill. Continue reading

Library Links: Grab bag time

While reading The Productivity Project, I learned that our obsession with media and screens is sneakily reducing our productivity, even while it makes us feel more productive. It all has to do with the limbic system, which is extra-stimulated by our devices, and how engaging that portion of the brain tends to reduce our focus while releasing hormones that make us feel satisfyingly productive even though we’re really not. I have two words for that:

giphy

And despite efforts to reduce my own screen time as part of my personal productivity project, I still find myself hungrily devouring bits and pieces of information gleaned from a variety of scrollable sources. The good news is that I now have plenty to share with you. So without further ado, a grab bag of library- (and not-so-library-) related links: Continue reading

First Sale

you-bought-it

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.

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

The value of books

In the fight to prove the value of librarianship we sometimes like to downplay the importance of books in our world. Yes, we offer access to computers and the Internet, training with a variety of digital media and devices, and a safe community space. But we also provide books, a fact that shouldn’t be ignored. Books are a powerful and vital tool in society.
Author Junot Diaz discussed this in a recent video from Big Think (The full video is here):

I’m not saying that any librarian is saying that books are no longer important. But I do think that we as a profession have recently, as an act of survival, spent a lot of time driving home the fact that libraries aren’t about books anymore. That is not the case. We may not be just about books anymore, but books are clearly important to what we do because books are still so important to being a human being. As Diaz puts it:

“Over the long-term, a relationship with literature produces extraordinary effects in that it brings the reader not only in contact with other times and other places but it brings the reader in contact with themselves.”

Diaz also points out that in bringing us in contact with these other times, places, and even other selves, we can begin to think about how we – individually and collectively – can create a more fair and just society. Libraries can do that. By providing books, a safe place to read them and even opportunities for discussion (I’m thinking of book clubs and discussion panels, friends!), we can be a huge part of the solution to what has been ailing the human race. So my librarian readers – and all by book-loving readers – don’t downplay the book. As The Doctor says: