ER&L 2012 reflections

Texas treeTwo and a half days is just not enough time spent with my tribe. I could have gone all week. I’m not ready to go back to the real world.

This was my third Electronic Resources & Libraries conference, and I’ve been lucky to get to know a few more ER librarians every year. This year was particularly notable, as I was able to spend quite a bit of time talking with peers that I highly respect and look to as inspirations for my own work (Jamene Brooks-Kieffer and Marie Kennedy, just to name two). I did my best to keep it cool and not go fangirl all over them.

Most of the sessions I attended were solid, informative, and often inspiring in their own right. I’m still working through the project list generated last year, and now I have more to add or enhance what’s already there.

I plan to look into:

  • JTac software for acquisitions workflow
  • CORAL for ER workflow, but maybe not for ERMS, if that’s possible
  • MISO software for ingesting SUSHI (since my ERMS is only just starting to look at developing SUSHI ingestion)
  • Documenting ER workflows and procedures — I have been intimidated by this, since I’ll be starting from scratch and don’t know where to begin. I realized this week that I could use TERMS as a jumping off point.
  • Include a feedback form for each trial we do, rather than just relying on free-form email messages
  • Seeing about modifying the workflow for eDDA titles so that liaisons can move them to firm orders before the records are loaded in the catalog
  • Also, investigating options for pDDA for slip orders
  • Joining a relevant NISO working group, if anything comes up (Marie suggested we do this, and I’ve been interested for a while)
  • Being a leader in my library without being higher up in management or at least not beyond where I’m comfortable

There were a few sessions that left me wanting. For one, I keep trying to glean some insight into better ways of managing ER workflows, but our staff is so small and the people who tend to present on the topic come from libraries so large that it’s hard to see where the connections or benefits may be. I am still thinking about how to set up something that would trigger notifications of next steps, even if most of them would end up coming to me. My paper checklist form is okay, but it only works if I remember to do it and to check up on it.

Another session I attended was supposed to be all about a tech services department reorganization with an eye towards eresource trends. However, it seems that the presenter expected more results by now than what he was able to talk about, so most of the session beyond the introduction was about what should be happening rather than what has been happening. I think that it’s difficult to know six months in advance if your new project will be at a place worth sharing, but maybe conferences need to shift more of those kinds of topics to short sessions like the lightening talks, rather than risk the session being a dud because there aren’t enough relevant outcomes to share.

ER&L 2013 will be in Austin again next year, and shortly following the SXSWi conference. They hope to have some connections between the two, so if you’ve been on the fence about attending, that may be the year to take the plunge.

ER&L 2012: Leading From the Top, Bottom, & Middle — Owning Your Library Leadership

Can I get a hell yeah?
mmm-hmm!

Speakers: Bonnie Tijerina, Karen G. Schneider, & Char Booth
Facilitator: Jill Emery

There are many different kinds of leadership. Everyone here has the potential to be a leader. They asked for words that mean leadership for the attendees, and some highlights from the wordle are vision, communication, decisive, innovative, confident, and inspiring.

What is your word for leadership?

CB: Clarity is most important to me in this field and others.

BT: Integrity — it’s hard to go with your true beliefs when they go against other pressures.

KGS: Changed word after hearing other responses. Optimism, because if you don’t believe you’re going to succeed, who else would. Also, faith. Hope to be able to talk about case studies, because she has four from libraryland in mind.

BT: Visionary is interesting. Sometimes you have to be a leader by going in a direction and having faith that it’s going to work out, not by knowing that it will.

What are your reactions to the words we chose, and what stands out?

KGS: Patience and impatience are missing. You need a balance of both to lead.

CB: Impressed by how many words were in reference to other people, like inspiring and motivating.

BT: Most exciting are communication and listening.

CB: Curious if these were generated by example or anti-example?

Why do you do so much work outside of your day jobs?

BT: When I see a problem that needs a solution, I think all it needs is some work done to make it happen, which is how ER&L got started. Attended an ACRL session about ER librarians in 2005 and saw a need for bigger discussion.

CB: What libraries do is critical. We have a calling.

KGS: Most significant work was in the late 90s on internet filtering issues. It was a natural extension of my calling that didn’t end when I walked out the door of my library at the end of the day. It’s part of the fabric of who I am as a librarian and a person.

Where do you think leadership is needed in librarianship today?

KGS: Everywhere. Many people are leaders at levels that are not well recognized. They’re not the shiny bloggers or people getting gold stars for things. People are doing equally important things at the local level.

CB: No matter where you work or what you do, it’s critical to step up and do the things that need to be done. What are you going to do about it?

KGS: And cultivating leadership with the people you work with.

BT: I’ve seen some examples of informal meetups of groups at ER&L that needed to get together. I see leadership happening all over the place.

How do you motivate or inspire others?

CB: Make people not scared of their own enthusiasm. Let it feed what you do.

BT: I leave Char’s presentations feeling inspired, and I try to think about what it is that she does. Think about why we are librarians and what we’re doing? We have a calling. Get at the core of why we are here, and that motivates people. You can get caught up in the spreadsheets and the things that don’t work, but continue to be mindful of why you are here.

KGS: You constantly have to remind people of their own excellence and capabilities, and thank them for their work. Communication is key. It’s not enough to have good ideas if you can’t do that. EJ Josey is one library leader that comes to mind, and in the 1960s was crucial for the desegregation of the state library associations. Marvin Skilkin (unabashed librarian), as a young library director, found out that publishers were doing price fixing. His testimony at hearings lead to the steep discounts that libraries still receive for print publications.

BT: When I was working on ER&L, I was two years out of library school. Told two leaders at Georgia Tech about it, and one was excited and supportive. The second leader thought she was crazy for trying to do it. However, having been motivated by the two different types of leaders, she thinks the more critical person was more of a motivator. Maybe challenging people to think through ideas is a good reality check for a leader.

CB: Does anyone else have issues with the word leadership? There’s an arrogance in there. There’s a chance of the followers not acting because the leader will do it.

BT: Char & Karen were uncomfortable with being invited to speak on a leadership panel. We need to own that. We need to be comfortable as librarians to think of ourselves as leaders when we’re doing leadership.

KGS: You can’t be wishy-washy. You have to claim it?

BT: Does anyone in the audience have questions, or see a need for leaders in the field?

A: What would you call leadership if you didn’t call it leadership?

CB: I have this image of leadership as a paternalistic figurehead. What does it mean to you? Maybe we should just try to model it.

KGS: Leadership from behind and leadership from the front — we have to balance both.

BT: Adjust our definition of leadership.

KGS: I have a public persona that is not really me, and that makes me uncomfortable. The one behind the scenes is the one with the leadership qualities, not necessarily the one everyone sees.

A: Embrace your inner leadership. I see it as starting from the bottom. What is your favorite curse word?

BT: I can’t say that.

CB: Hell & damn.

KGS: I was in the air force — everything I have is not safe for work.

A: One thing I don’t see in all the words is popular.

KGS: Words related to inspire and inspiration lead to the popular thing.

A: Keep focused on the user. Don’t worry about the job title they give you. Don’t worry about faculty/non-faculty.

BT: Motivate by reminding our selves why we’re.

CB: In the day-to-day, people can get dragged down. We need to yank them up.

KGS: Optimism is a discipline.

CB: We learn these behaviors by modeling our influencers. Thanks, Mom.

BT: Leadership is intentional.

A: Be realistic about limits. Librarians have a tendency to take on too much.

BT: I’ve heard that.

KGS: Picking and choosing your battles is important. Aging has taught me my limits. We have to pace ourselves for the long haul. No is not the same as not now.

A: Why aren’t we seeing more of this in our profession? I’m in my 27th year of librarianship. I love the optimism, but I’m so tired. Is it something about our profession? I use the words mentor or supportive colleague more than leader.

A: The Library Society of the World on FriendFeed was having a discussion of why we don’t talk more about our failures.

KGS: I have failed, but I don’t like to.

[Stopped taking notes to get in line to respond that leadership and management should not always be the same thing — we need to restructure our decision making roles in libraries to recognize leadership outside of management roles.]

ER&L 2012: Working For You — NISO Standards and Best Practices

wood, water, and stone
courtyard of the conference hotel

Speaker: Nettie Legace

NISO is more than just the people at the office — it’s the community that comes together to address the problems that we have, and they’re alway soliciting new work items. What are your pain points? Who needs to be involved? How does it relate to existing efforts?

A NISO standard is more formal and goes through a rigorous process to be adopted. A NISO recommended practice is more edgy and discretionary. There are a lot of standards and best practices that have not been adopted, and it depends on the feasibility of implementation.

Get involved if you care about standards and best practices!

Speakers: Jamene Brooks-Kieffer & John Law

They’re talking about the Open Discovery Initiative. Discovery systems have exploded, and there are now opportunities to come together to create some efficiencies through standards. The working group includes librarians, publishers, and discovery service providers.

The project has three main goals: identify stakeholder needs & requirements, create recommendations and tools to streamline process, and provide effective means of assessment. Deliverables include a standard vocabulary, which the group has found they need just to communicate, and a NISO recommended practice. They plan to have the initial draft by January 2013 and finish the final draft by May 2013.

There will be an open teleconference on Monday.

Speaker: Oliver Pesch

SUSHI was one of the first standards initiatives to use the more agile development process which allows for review and revision in 5-7 years. The down side to a fixed standard is that you have to think of every possible outcome in the standard because you may not get a chance to address it again, and with electronic standards, you have to be able to move quickly. So, they focused on the core problem and allowed the standard to evolve through ongoing maintenance.

SUSHI support is now a requirement for COUNTER compliance, and it has been adopted by approximately 40 content providers. MISO client is a free tool you can download and use it to harvest SUSHI reports.

Part of SUSHI’s success comes from being a part of NISO and the integration with COUNTER, but they’re not done. They’re doing a lot of work to promote interoperability, and they have published the SUSHI Server Test Mode recommended practice. They’re also preparing for release 4 of COUNTER, and making adjustments as needed. They’re also publishing a COUNTER SUSHI Implementation Profile to standardize the interpretation of implementation across providers.

Questions/Comments:
Major concern about content providers who also have web-scale discovery solutions that don’t share content with each other — will that ever change? Not in the scope of the work of the ODI. More about how players work together in better ways, not about whether or not content providers participate.

Why is SUSHI not more commonly available? Some really big players aren’t there yet. How fast is this going to happen? A lot of work is in development but not live yet. What drives development is us. [Except we keep asking for it, and nothing happens.] If you allow it to be okay for it to not be there, then it won’t.

JISC created a template letter for member libraries to send to publishers, and that is making a difference.

ER&L 2012: Does the Use of P-books Impact the Use of E-Books?

sweets & swag
ER&L sweets & swag

Speakers: Michael Levine-Clark & Christopher C. Brown

In Dec 2008, they added all the print and ebooks for university press publisher A, and the duplication is primarily in the frontlist. They did the same for an STM publisher B in Jan 2009.

The have gathered circ data that is compiled annually. Comparing ebooks and print books is like comparing apples and oranges. pBook checkouts are for an extended period of time, and we have no way of knowing how many times they view a chapter or copy a page, the measures of ebook uses.

What a cataloger thinks a title is and what a vendor thinks a title is are two different things. How do you merge use and circ data if the comparison points may vary? Solution was to create an ISBN9, by stripping away the first three numbers of ISBN13 and the last number of the ISBN10, which worked pretty well.

Publisher A had about a third of the ebook titles used, but publisher B had only about 2% used. For print, two thirds of Publisher A titles were used and a little over a third of Publisher B were used.

The two most heavily used ebooks from the UP were probably used for a course. The print books were only checked out a few times, but there were thousands of uses for the e. For publisher B, they were used less but with no print circ. For the top two print, the UP ebook was used some, but not even as many as the checkouts, and for the STM print books, the e wasn’t touched. Overall, there was a high rate of use for both formats of a single title, I think (need to study the slides a little more).

They saw increased checkouts of print books over the time period, but it is inconclusive and could be related to the volume of titles purchased. There isn’t a clear impact of e on p or p on e use, but there does seem to be a connection, since when both formats are used, the rate is higher.

Might there be differences by subject or date? What sort of measure of time in a book can we look at? How does discovery play in?

Questions/Comments:
Date & time of usage rather than one year might tell more of a story.

Agree about the discoverability challenge, and have encouraged them to put in chapter level data in their catalog records to create their own discovery with the MARC record. Full text searching in eBrary is great, but get it in the catalog along with the pbooks.

Did you consider the format of the ebook? Some publishers give PDF chapter downloads, which may account for lower use of Publisher B.

What about ILLs? They get included in the circ stats and aren’t separated.

How much of Chris’s time was spent on this? Hard to tell. Was ongoing over time as other things took priority.

How will this affect your collection development practices moving forward? Trying to give users a choice of format.

ER&L 2012: Consortia On Trial — In Defense of the Shared Ebook

Hi, how are you?
an Austin classic

Speaker: Nancy Gibbs, Duke & TRLN

The consortia TRLN began in the 1930’s as a shared collection development strategy for print materials. They share a catalog, print repository, approval vendor database, and they collaborate on large and individual purchases. This was really easy in the print world. As of 2006, only 8% of print books were duplicated across all three schools (Duke, NCSU, & UNC-CH).

Then ebooks arrived. And duplication began to grow exponentially. Many of the collections can’t be lent to the consortia libraries, and as a result, everyone is having to buy copies rather than relying on the shared collections of the past.

Speaker: Michael Zeoli, YBP

YBP has seen a small increase in ebooks purchased by academic libraries, and a much larger decrease in the purchase of print books, despite acquiring Blackwell last year. This is true of the TRLN consoritum as well.

About 20% of the top 24 publishers are not working with PDA or consortia, and about half that do are not doing both. Zeoli tries to meet with publishers and show them the data that it’s in their best interest to make ebooks available at the same time as print, and that they need to also be include in PDA and consortia arrangements.

Consortias want PDA, but not all the content is available. Ebook aggregators have some solutions, but missing the workflow components. Publisher role is focused on content, not workflow. PDA alone for consortia is a disincentive for publishers, it ignores practical integration of appropriate strategies and tools, and it’s a headache for technical staff.

A hybrid model might look like Oxford University Press. There are digital collections, but not everything is available that way, so you need options for single-title purchases through several models. This requires the consortium, the book seller, and the publisher to work together.

Speaker: Rebecca Seger, OUP

The publishers see many challenges, not the least of which is the continued reliance on print books in the humanities and social sciences, although there is a demand for both formats. Platforms are not set up to enable sharing of ebooks, and would require a significant investment in time and resources to implement.

They have done a pilot program with MARLI to provide access to both the OUP platform and the books they do not host but make available through eBrary. [Sorry — not sure how this turned out — got distracted by a work email query. They’ll be presenting results at Charleston.]

Questions:
How do MARLI institutions represent access for the one copy housed at NYU? Can download through Oxford site. YBP can provide them. The challenge is for the books that appear on eBrary a month later, so they are using a match number to connect the new URL with the old record.

And more questions. I keep zoning out during this part of the presentations. Sorry.

ER&L 2012: ERM Workflow and Communications Panel

218/365 - communication problems?
photo by Josh Fassbind

Speakers: Annie Wu & Jeannie Castro

They used a HelpDesk Ticket for new subscriptions to manage the flow of information and tasks through several departments. Sadly, it’s not designed for ejournals management, and not enough information could be included in the ticket, or was inconsistently added. So, they needed to make some changes.

A self-initiated team decided a new workflow using a spreadsheet to keep the info and set up status alerts in SerialsSolutions. The alerts and spreadsheets facilitated the workflow through all departments.

A lengthy description of the process, spreadsheets, action logs, email alerts, and I’ve concluded that my paper checklist is still the best solution for my small library.

Challenges with their system included the use of color to indicate status (one staff is color blind, which is why the also use an action log), there is some overlap of work, and tracking unsolved problems is difficult. Despite that, they feel it is better than the old system. It’s a shared and transparent process, with decent tracking of subscriptions, and it’s easy to integrate additional changes in the process.

Speaker: Kate Montgomery

They initially had Meridian, and while it was great that they followed the ERMI standard, they didn’t need everything, so it was a sea of bits of data with lots of blank fields. Meridian is dead, so they had to look for alternatives. Considered Verde, but sensed that it was to be replaced by Alma. So, they had to decide whether to build their own tool, using an open source product, or purchasing something. They were limited by time, staffing, and money.

Ultimately, they decided to go with CORAL. They didn’t have to learn a lot of new skills (MySQL & PHP) to set it up and get it to work. Rather than looking at this as a whole lot of work, they took the opportunity to make a product that works for them. They reviewed and documented their workflows and set some standards.

CORAL can create workflows that trigger actions for each individual or group, depending on the item or situation. Hopes to use this to create buy-in from library departments and other small libraries around campus.

ER&L 2012: Knockdown/Dragout Webscale Discovery Service vs. Niche Databases — Data-Driven Evaluation Methods

tug-of-war
photo by TheGiantVermin

Speaker: Anne Prestamo

You will not hear the magic rational that will allow you to cancel all your A&I databases. The last three years of analysis at her institution has resulted in only two cancelations.

Background: she was a science librarian before becoming an administrator, and has a great appreciation for A&I searching.

Scenario: a subject-specific database with low use had been accessed on a per-search basis, but going forward it would be sole-sourced and subscription based. Given that, their cost per search was going to increase significantly. They wanted to know if Summon would provide a significant enough overlap to replace the database.

Arguments: it’s key to the discipline, specialized search functionality, unique indexing, etc… but there’s no data to support how these unique features are being used. Subject searches in the catalog were only 5% of what was being done, and most of them came from staff computers. So, are our users actually using the controlled vocabularies of these specialized databases. Finally, librarians think they just need to promote these more, but sadly, that ship’s already sailed.

Beyond usage data, you can also look at overlap with your discovery service, and also identify unique titles. For those, you’ll need to consider local holdings, ILL data, impact factors, language, format, and publication history.

Once they did all of that, they found that 92% of the titles were indexed in their discovery service. The depth of the backfile may be an issue, depending on the subject area. Also, you may need to look at the level of indexing (cover to cover vs. selective). In the end, they found that 8% of the titles not included, they owned most of them in print and they were rather old. 15% of the 8% had impact factors, which may or may not be relevant, but it is something to consider. And, most of the titles were non-English. They also found that there were no ILL requests for the non-owned unique titles, and less than half were scholarly and currently being published.

ER&L 2012: Taking the Guesswork Out of Demand-Driven Acquisition — Two Approaches

Tome Reader
photo by QQ Li

Speakers: Carol J. Cramer & Derrik Hiatt

They did an analysis of their circulating print collection to see what areas or books would have the equivalent uses to trigger a purchase if it were electronic. Only 2% of their entire circulating collection met the trigger point to where it would be more cost effective to purchase than to go with a short term loan option.

They announced the DDA trial, but deliberately did not tell the users that it would incur cost, just that it was there. They would pay short term loans up to the sixth use, and then they would purchase the title. The year of usage gave them an idea of what adjustments needed to be made to the trigger point. Eventually, the cost flattens out at the sixth use, and the difference between continuing to pay STLs and buying the book is small.

They were able to identify if the triggered purchase book was used by a single person (repeatedly), by a class (several people), or a mix of both, and it was split in almost even thirds.

They determined that 6 was a good trigger. The STL cost ended up being an average of 10.5% of the list cost. DDA doesn’t have to break the bank, and was lower than expected. The number of titles in the catalog didn’t have as much to do with the amount spent as the FTE. It also lead to questioning the value of firm ordering ebooks rather than letting DDA cover it

However, this is only 11 months of data, and more longitudinal studies are needed.

Speaker: Lea Currie

They loaded records for slip books, and then the users have the option to request them at various levels of speed. The users are notified when the print book arrives, and the full MARC record is not loaded until the book is returned.

They saved quit a bit of money per month using this method, and 88% of the titles purchased circulated. Only about 75% of their ILL titles will circulate, to put that into perspective.

Of course, librarians still had some concerns. First, the library catalog is not an adequate tool for discovering titles. Faculty were concerned about individuals doing massive requests for personal research topics. Also, faculty do not want to be selectors for the libraries. [ORLY? They want the books they want when they want them — how is that different?]

The next DDA project was for ebooks, using the typical trigger points. They convinced the Social Science and Sci/Tech librarians to put a price cap for DDA titles. Up to a certain price, the book would be included in the approval plan, between a range it would go in DDA, and then above that range it would require the librarian’s approval. These were written into their YBP profile.

For the pDDA, they discovered that as the books aged, it was harder to do rush orders since they were going out of print. They also modified their language to indicate that the books may not be available if they are out of print.

They have not done DDA for humanities or area studies. They based their decisions on the YBP profile on retrospective reports, which allowed them to get an idea of the average cost.

For FY12, they expect that the breakdown will be 23% eDDA, 50% pDDA, 20% approval, and 7% selected by subject bibliographers. They’ve also given the subject librarians the options to review the automatic approval ebooks — they have a week to reject or shift to DDA each title if they want. They can also shift the expensive titles to DDA if they want to see if anyone would use it before choosing to purchase it.

Questions:
Are you putting the records in your discovery service if you have one, and can you tell if the uses are coming from that or your catalog? Not yet. Implementing a discovery service. Some find resources through Google Scholar.

ER&L 2012: Trials by Juries — Suggested Practices for Database Trials

IBM System/370 Model 145
photo by John Keogh

Speakers: Annis Lee Adams, Jon Ritterbush, & Christine E. Ryan

The discussion topic began as an innocent question on ERIL-L listserv about tools or techniques used in gathering feedback on database trials, whether from librarians or library users.

Trials can come from many request sources — subject librarians, faculty, students, and the electronic resources or acquisitions librarian. Adams evaluates the source and their access points. Also, they try to trial things they are really interested in early enough in the year to be able to request funding for the next year if they choose to purchase it. She says they don’t include faculty in the evaluation unless they think they can afford the product.

Criteria for evaluation: content, ease of use/functionality, cost, and whether or not a faculty member requested it. One challenge is how to track and keep an institutional memory of the outcome. They use an internal blog on WordPress to house the information (access, cost, description, and evaluation comments) with password protection on each entry. After the trial ends, the blog entry is returned to draft status so it’s not there, and a note is added with the final decision.

The final thing Adams does is create a spreadsheet that tracks every trial over a year, and it includes some renewals of existing subscriptions.

Ritterbush… lots of no-brainer stuff. Is it relevant to your collection development policy? Can you afford it? Who is requesting it? And so on.

Avoid scheduling more than three trials simultaneously to avoid “trial fatigue.” Ritterbush says they only publicize extended trials (>3 months) — the rest are kept internal or only shared with targeted faculty.

For feedback, they found that email is a mediocre solution, in part because the responses weren’t very helpful. The found that short web forms have worked better, incorporating a mix of Likert scale and free-text questions. The tool they use is Qualtrics, but most survey products would be fine.

Ritterbush tries to compose the trial information as a press release, making it easy for librarians and faculty to share with colleagues. A webinar or live demonstration of the product can increase interest and participation in the evaluation.

Ryan says you need to know why you are doing the trial, because that tells you who it will impact and then what approach you’ll need to take. Understand your audience in order to reach them.

Regardless of who is setting up the trials, it would be good to have a set of guidelines for trials that spells out responsibilities.

Kind of tuning out, since it seems like Ryan doesn’t really do anything directly with trials — just gives all that over to the subject liaisons. This would be disastrous at my library. Also, really not happy about her negative attitude towards public trials. If it’s IP-based, then who cares if you post it on your website? I’ve received invaluable feedback from users that would never see the trials if I followed Ryan’s method.

Questions:
What about trials to avoid expensive subscriptions? Some libraries will do it, but some have policies that prohibit it. [We have had sales agents recommend it to us, which I’ve never understood.]

How do you have trials for things when you don’t know if you have funding for them? Manage expectations and keep a healthy wishlist. [We will also use trials to justify funding increases or for replacing existing subscriptions with something new.]

ER&L 2012: New ARL Best Practices in Fair Use

laptop lid comic relief + Dawn and Drew
photo by YayAdrian

Speaker: Brandon Butler (Peter Jaszi was absent)

The purpose of copyright is to promote the creation of culture. It is not to ensure that authors get a steady stream of income no matter what, or to pay them back for the hard work they do, or to show our respect for the value they add to society. It’s about getting the stuff into the culture, and giving the creators enough incentive to do it.

One way it does it is to give creators exclusive rights for a limited period of time. The limit encourages new makers to use and remix existing culture.

Fair use is the biggest balancing feature of copyright. It ensures that the rights provided to the creators don’t become oppressive to the users. Fair use is the legal, unauthorized use of copyrighted material… under some circumstances. And we’ve spent generations trying to figure out which circumstances apply.

Fair use is a space for creativity. It gives you the leeway to take the culture around you and incorporate it into your work. It allows you to quote other scholarship in your research. It allows you to incorporate art into new works.

There are four factors of fair use. Every judge should consider the reason for the use, the kind of work used, the amount used, and the effect on the market. But it doesn’t tell the judges how much to consider or which is more important. The good news is that judges love balancing features, and the Supreme Court has determined that fair use protects free speech. However, since copyright is automatically conferred as soon as the creation is fixed, the fair use judicial interpretations have shifted greatly since 1990 to be more in the balance of the users in certain circumstances.

Without fair use, copyright would be in conflict with the 1st Amendment.

Judges want to know if the use is transformative (i.e. for a new purpose, context, audience, insight) and if you used the right amount in that transformative process. For example, parody is making fun of the original work, not just reusing it. An appropriate amount can refer to both the quantity of the original in the transformative work, and also the audience who received your transformative work. For example, the many photographic memes that take pictures and alter them to fit a theme, like One Tiny Hand.

Judges care about you and what you think is fair. There is a pattern of judges deferring to the well-articulated norms of a practice community.

Best practices codes are a logical outgrowth of the things the communities have articulated as their values and the things they would consider to be legitimate transformative works. Documentary filmmakers, scholars, media literacy teachers, online video, dance collections, open course ware, poets… many groups are creating best practices for fair use.

The documentary filmmakers have had a code of best practice for a long time. They realized that without it, they were limiting themselves too much in what they could create. Once they codified their values, more broadcast sources were willing to take films and new kinds of films were being made. Insurers of errors and omissions insurance were able to accept fair use claims, and lawyers use the Statement to build their own best practices in the relevant areas.

Keep in mind, though, that these are best practices and not guidelines. Principles, not rules. Limitations, not bans. Reasoning, not rote. The numerical limits we once followed are not the law, and we need to keep them fresh to be relevant.

Licensing is a different thing all together. This means you may have less rights in some instances, and more rights in others, regardless of fair use.

For libraries, fair use enables our mission to serve knowledge past, present, and future. We have a duty to make copyrighted works real and accessible in the way people use things now. What will libraries be in the future? How will we stay relevant? We need to have some flexibility with the stuff we have in our collections.

Many librarians are discouraged. Insecurity and hesitation equal staff costs to hire someone to clear copyright questions. Fair use would help, but it’s underused. Risk aversion subsumes fair use analysis.

The ARL document took a lot of people from diverse institutions and many hours of discussion to create it, and it was reviewed by several legal experts. It’s not risk-free, since it would need to stand up in court first (and there are always lawsuit-happy people), but it seems okay based on past judgement.

They hope it will put legal risks into perspective, and will give librarians a tool to go to general counsels and administrations and let them know things are changing. It considered the views of librarians and their values, and they also hope that people will speak out publicly that they support the Code.

Fair use applies in these common situtations:

  • course reserves — digital access to teaching materials for students and faculty, although it should be limited to access by only the appropriate audience
  • both physical and virtual exhibits — if it highlights a theme or commonality, you’re doing something new to help people understand what’s in your library
  • digitizing to preserve at-risk items — you’re not a publisher or scam artist, you’re a librarian making sure the things are accessible over time (like VHS tapes)
  • digitizing special collections and archives — you’re keeping it alive
  • access to research and teaching materials for disabled users — i.e. Daisy
  • institutional repositories
  • creation of search indexes
  • making topically-based collections of web-based materials

Practice makes practice. It won’t work if you don’t use it.