Sunday, December 12, 2010
For the past few weeks I have not posted anything about copyright because I have been busy studying the issue. The more I read, the more I learn about the complexity of the issue. On Friday night I was talking to someone who is close to completing law school. Someone over heard us talking about copyright law and started to ask a question. He wanted to know if he could use a picture from a book. I stated that I am not a lawyer and even if I were a lawyer, the answer would depend on nature of the book and picture. "It depends," according to my sister, the lawyer is a common answer lawyers (and scholars) give.
Copyright is a very complex issue that involves intellectual property, financial rights, and reputation. Yes, some people sue for copyright violation when the monetary damages are insignificant.
The words "public," "publicity," and "publish" come from the same Latin source. When a work is "published," the public can read and learn from it. In my next article about copyright I will talk more about what is the public domain. Here is an imaginary scenario. Later this week, I'll give another.
What do you do to publicize your work? How do you protect your copyright? How do you earn money for the fruit of your labor?
Answers: There is no copyright protection. Once the book is finished by you, there is no copyright protection. It is not within your right to prevent people from copying your words. In fact you may be happy that people copy your work and distribute it. However, it is your intellectual property and people who don't attribute the work to you are guilty of plagiarism. You are not mad when you see accurate copies since there is no tradition of being paid directly for your printed work; you don't even know what you are missing or losing.
To earn money your publisher organizes public readings. You travel around London giving private, dramatic readings of your book. Soon you have people coming to weekly readings and paying you modest, yet satisfactory compensation. By the end of 1439 300 hundred people are listening to you each week. To earn more, the publisher hires other readers for public readings. Even though you get very little additional compensation you are thrilled to find by 1445 10,000 people have heard about your book and at least heard one chapter.
Your publisher learns about movable type and sets up a printing press in 1446. Since he knows your book has an audience, he decides to print your book for his first year in the printing and publishing business. What are you entitled to: copyright protection, fees, royalties, nachas (bragging rights) points, rights to derivative works?
Sorry, the answer is none of the above, save a little fame and publicity for your public readings. There is no common law or legislative copyright. Not only is there no economic protection, there is nothing to stop another publisher from printing and selling your book. You are not protected from someone who wants to make a derivative work such as a drama or musical based on your work. Once the book leaves your hand you have no rights and once the book is published it is in the public domain. To secure fair compensation for both author and publisher, the law needs to be changed. Since people have a right to profit from the fruit of their labor, laws were needed to protect the authors' and publishers' rights to earn a living.
For next time -- You are wondering in the Judea Dessert and you find a scroll that turns out to be the work of a previously unknown prophet. What are the copyright challenges?
fn 1 This picture is for demo purposes only. It is copied from The Friedberg Genizah Project Website http://www.genizah.org/Manuscript_Samples.htm. It is a page of poems by Donash.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
I don't exactly know when I bought this mixer, but I'm think it was between 1979 and 1984. That makes it at least 26 years old of making cakes and other goodies. Previously I used a hand mixer. This stand mixer meant I could add ingredients without stopping and resting the machine. This mixer was made in the U.S. with a yellow plastic housing.
It took a a couple of weeks before I could decide which model to purchase. I thought Kitchen Aide machines were the top of the line for home mixers. Besides the fact they cost more than I could afford, one of my neighbors reported they had owned several Kitchen Aide machines that wore out after about 4 years. I searched for the best balance of features, cost and availability. I found the descendant of my mixer. A classic stand mixer from Hamilton Beach. I found the best deal on November 24 on line. I got a discount for ordering on line and saved shipping by picking it up in the store.
Here's a picture of the new machine. The case is brushed stainless steel and the machine is made in China. This machine looks stronger and better made than the 26 year year old machine. Is it going to last 25 years? The old machine goes the the garbage can today. Good bye sweet memories. Hello to new ones.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Last week I received the following question: "A question of earth-shattering importance that occurred to me ... When and why was it customary for students to bring an apple for the teacher?"
He asked the question of me because he though this was a linguistic question. We have expressions such as, "an apple for your teacher." I speculated that giving an apple to the teacher was a supplement to their small salaries. That was incorrect.
As a crop apples began to be cultivated in the mid-19th century. It didn't take long for people to discover how to keep apples edible for many weeks after harvest. Apples became a convenient snack for school children. They were easy to carry and became a sweet ready-to-eat treat. Teachers even gave them out as rewards.
Eating apples did have one problem for teachers who wanted disciplined, silent classrooms, students couldn't eat them quietly. Apples snap when bitten. Look at this quote relating what went on with an apple in the classroom from The Ohio educational monthly, Volume 34 page 257 1885 “ A Bit of Experience” by R. M. Streeter, of Titusville, Pa.,
Now, I like apples; and I suppose I have done what that boy has just been doing a good many times in my life. I saw him when his head went into the desk; when that big bite left the apple I heard it, and I saw every eye in that neighborhood turn to me to see if I knew what was going on. From that day to this the rest of those schoolboys believe that I never knew about that apple being eaten.
Students would hide their heads and eat snacks. In order for teachers to prevent this noisy behavior, they would require the students to leave their apples on the teacher's desk. Students who ate apples in secret would also drop the apple cores on the floor or throw them against the walls causing a mess and a walking hazard. (see The R.I. schoolmaster: Volume 7 1861 Page 235.)
From this it is a small jump to bringing an apple for the teacher.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
On Friday I was at a meeting at another college. Since I needed to take notes I used one of their computers. The background screen had a big "NO" -- no food, no cell phone use and no hats. The institution does not allow hats to be worn in the building.
A kipah or hajib (Muslim woman's head covering) is not considered a hat for this prohibition.
What really bothered me as well as a fellow librarian was the size of the word "no." The whole screen presented a negative image. Both of us said that restrictions could have been phrased in the positive such as : "Please respect the rights of others using the computers. Use your cell phone and eat in designated areas only."
I understand that food can get into the books and keyboards. Conversations on cell phone could disturb someone viewing a scholarly article. But please tell me how a quiet hat disturbs others. I did think of some amusing reasons for wearing a hat -- 1)Improper thought waves can be filtered through a hat and escape harmlessly rather than being forced to exit through the mouth; 2) Since the school's brain scanning device can not penetrate a hat, mind control is more difficult; 3) Computer users can hide flash drives in their hats or hair; 4)Baldness or buzz haircuts can be hidden; and 6) Teachers can say, "keep that idea under your hat."
Seriously -- in a well managed organization getting to "yes" is much better than forbidding an action. If one figures out a way to permit something it can be more easily controlled. If an action is forbidden that people want to do, they will find ways to hide the activity. Saying "yes" indicates more trust than "no." If one can't trust their people, they have bigger problems than hats.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Since writing part 1 of this series I have been humbled by the massive amount of research that others have done in the area of history of copyright. Copyright protections developed over a long period time starting in about 1489 and continuing to the most recent copyright laws. However, all the laws left areas that unclear or ambiguous. There are many gray areas of copyright and intellectual property protection.
Public domain is the designation for works not protected by copyright. Public domain works include: 1) Works for which the copyright has expired, lost or never acquired; 2) Works not eligible for copyright (e.g. works written by a government agency); 3) Works designated by the author as public domain; 4) Works without tangible forms (e.g. ideas, words spoken in private); or 5) Common knowledge or facts (e.g. a recipe for chocolate milk or French toast). Titles of books can not be copyrighted, but under some conditions they can be trademarked. While the individual facts or data points may be in the public domain, the data base and its access software may be protected.
Authors before the beginning printing did not see a need to protect their intellectual property. Josephus used the uncredited accounts and descriptions of events to write his histories, but we can’t find fault because he did not write with the same rules of scholarly citation that we use. In the Talmud rabbis frequently said something in the name of their teacher or rabbi. They also quote the Bible. This is a way of adding credence to the statements; standing on the shoulders of giants.
Until recently people didn’t understand intellectual property in the same way as physical property. For example: if someone steals John’s wallet, John doesn’t have anymore. It someone steals John’s words, John still has them. No one thought copying of ideas was a problem. Once printed and published many works were considered in the public domain.  When money was associated with intellectual property, authors, creators, and inventors wanted protection.
Several streams of legal protections developed. The commercial rights of businesses were protected from ancient times. See part 1 where I mention two cases from the Talmud. In medieval times the guilds protected their members. Since printing didn’t exist before the 1450’s no guilds developed. Patents were granted for a limited period for processes and technology. Trademarks are words, phases, or graphics that are associated with a business. The beginnings of copyright were for the business and commercial rights. The second stream protected authors and creators of works. This author protection was not fully developed until the 19th century. Before then, authors had not control of their words and derivative works.
Protections for intellectual property and the right to print and publish materials are similar, but sometimes competing philosophies or protection. Intellectual property rights reside with the author or creator while the commercial rights for the production and sale are protections for the printer and publisher. Both aspects of protection recognize the right to be compensated for the fruits of one’s labor. Copyright protections developed very slowly and at first only protected the printer/publisher.
|Reading from an open Torah scroll|
Before the printing press in order to “publish” a work, one needed an army of scribes. To give you some idea of the costs involved let’s examine the production of a modern manuscript. A Torah scroll that is used in the synagogue must be written by the hand of a trained scribe. The scroll has more than 10,000 lines and could take 850-900 hours to create and get it ready for the end users. The cost of a scroll with its wooden holders and cover varies from about $25,000 to $80,000. A printed book with the vocalized Hebrew text of the Torah, an English translation and commentaries costs about $30, which is probably less than an hour of preparation time. The printed book is about 1/850th (.001176%) of the cost of the hand written scroll. Is it any wonder that printed books and periodicals soon became the first mass media?
Shakespeare copied many of the plots of his plays from history or other people’s work. He has been accused of copying long sections of earlier works and inserting them into his plays. His plays while in their original production had a fluid text. No contemporary thought he was guilty of plagiarism. On the flip side; many of our common phrases find their roots in Shakespeare and no one thinks twice about using them. If you say, "True is it that we have seen better days," do you think of the play, As You Like It Act 2 scene 7? However, if one says, “To be or not to be,” most people know this from Hamlet.
Common law derives its force from the consent or public policy of the people. Since common law is based on the decisions of the court, it is also called case law. These decisions amplify, define, and interpret statutory law. Common law is sometimes thought of as the “unwritten law,” but court decisions in state and federal courts are published in decision reporters (e.g. Illinois Decisions and Northeastern Reporter) and Jewish law decisions are published as books of responsa. Common law remains in effect until a legislative body passes a law making the rule null and void or another court decision overrules a previous decision. Most countries that were colonies of Great Britain (including the U.S., Canada, and Australia) adapted the English common law. 
Plagiarism is the uncited copying of someone else’s work. A pirated work is copied and sold without permission of the author, creator or original publisher. A pirated work does not deny the author. Since in the 19th century American works were not protected by copyright in other countries, British publishers printed and sold pirated copies of American works and American publishers pirated British works. This was legal. Copyright is limited by time and place. The need to cite an author’s work is forever.
For a work to be considered copyrightable the creator must have intent to create a new work. For example: Case A. A girl has a doll protected by copyright such as “Barbie.” Her brother takes a hammer and crushes the skull. The girl throws the doll into the trash amid the other broken toys parts, papers and debris. Case B. An artist takes a “Barbie” doll crushes the skull and uses the crushed body with some common household trash to create a sculpture. In case A, the girl had no intent to create anything new. This is not a copyrightable event. In Case B the artist has the intent to create a new work. The new work is copyrightable.
Case C. A printed copy of classic work accidentally had two chapters missing. Case D An editor revises, abridges, and comments on Tolsky’s War and Peace. Case C is not copyright because there was no intent to abridge. The editor in Case D has intent for a new creative work and the result is copyrightable.
On August 28, 1963, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Martin Luther King delivered his moving and historic, “I have a dream” speech. King was a master of rhetoric and delivery. Parts this speech were delivered at other times and places. The end of the speech departed from the prepared text and became something list a Baptist sermon.  He includes Biblical references and allusions. Under the 1909 copyright law in effect then, speeches were in the public domain, but not performances or published speeches. Spoken words were not considered tangible and not protected by statutory copyright. Because Dr. King distributed copies of his prepared remarks at the time of the delivery and the delivered version was different, the copyright status of the speech was disputed. 
In 1994, CBS, Inc. produced a historical documentary series entitled "The 20th Century with Mike Wallace." One segment was devoted to "Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 1968 march on Washington. The speech was recorded by CBS. Other radio and TV networks also broadcast and recorded the speech. That episode contained extensive footage of the speech; CBS never sought permission to use the speech or offer to pay royalties. Dr. King did register the speech and the Copyright office issued a registration of copyright on October 2, 1963. For the next twenty years King and his estate had copyright protection and did license its use.
The Estate entered into litigation. CBS obtained summary judgment for dismissal from the district court. The Estate appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals 11th District. The Copyright Law of 1909 was the source of analysis for this case because that was the law when the speech was given and Dr. King obtained copyright registration. According to the 1909 statute common law copyright existed from the moment of creation until general publication, when works had to fulfill the statutory requirements. The Court of Appeals reversed the District Court and sent the case back to the lower court. The Court held that a public performance of a speech is not the same as publication. The Courts did not rule on all the issues because the parties settled. This case demonstrated that delivering a speech is a performance. No matter what the size of the audience a performance is not considered publication.
The case of Walter v. Lane ( AC 539) was seminal case in the rights of an author for copyright of his own work. Reporters from The [London] Times newspaper took down shorthand notes of a series of speeches given by the Earl of Roseberry. The notes were transcribed, edited, and later printed in the newspaper as verbatim speeches. The Respondent in the case published a book including these speeches, taken substantially from the reports of those speeches in The Times. The court was asked whether the reporters of the speech could be considered "authors" under the terms of the Literary Copyright Act of 1842. After several court cases The House of Lords, said the rights to the speech reside with the author.
How does strong copyright protection benefit to society? Which of the divergent viewpoints of copyright benefit the reading public? Protection should reward effort, capital risk, and creative effort. Since publishers who put up the money for publication, they get a much larger share of the book’s sale than the author. The contrasting viewpoint is that the work must be new and show creative intent i.e. the copyright belongs to the author or creator.& The law of the United Kingdom roughly follows the publisher’s viewpoint; in the United States the law roughly follows the second. In the end the reading public who funds or purchases the works pays the bills. In theory if the public gets value for their payments they will buy more books and other protected works, then both the publishers and the authors can succeed. Without fair remuneration, the authors will quit creating and the publishers will go out of business.
 For example MARC catalog records are in the public domain, but vendors such as OCLC and Library of Congress charge for data base services and forbid the copying of the data base or significant parts.
For a fuller explanation of public domain and advise on how to use public domain materials see: The Public Domain: How to Find & Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art & More / By Stephen Fishman. 5th ed. Berkeley, CA, Nolo, 2010. Some chapters are available online from Google Books.
 For example a case may be appealed to a high court or a new court ruling of the same court may, based on new laws or circumstances, over turn an earlier ruling. Some Supreme Court cases radically changed the way we do things. The web site http://www.lectlaw.com/tcas.htm Historic Court Decisions has a list of case that are historically significant. Included are Marbury v. Madision, (1803), Dred Scott v. Sandford, (1857) and Miranda v. Arizona (1966).
 Louisiana and Quebec are two exceptions. Since they were settled by French settlers, they adopted the French Napoleonic Code.
 The ideas for these cases come from “Copyright In The Dead Sea Scrolls : Authorship and Originality” by David Nimmer (Houston Law Review 38:1, Summer 2001. Retrieved from: http://www.houstonlawreview.org/archive/downloads/38-1_pdf/HLR38P1.pdf)
 See: “I Have a Dream“ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Have_a_Dream for more details.
 See: Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc. v. CBS, Inc. (194 F.3d 1211 (11th Cir. 1999)) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estate_of_Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.,_Inc._v._CBS,_Inc.
For a pdf version of this article visit: The Librarian's Lobby home page
(Received via e-mail and reproduced with permission)
At 01:33 AM 11/17/2010, Rich Stiebel wrote:
Both articles are very interesting on the history of, and the need for copyright protection, but they do not seem to address the current problem of "Under what circumstances can a Library that purchased VHS or cassette tapes copy (transfer) them to CD or DVD formats to enable circulation to users." A similar question is "just around the corner" with Blue-Ray DVDs, and will continue into the future as new media are developed. It would seem that the authors would have been compensated for their efforts when the original tapes were purchased.
Can you shed any legal light on this question?
Dr. Stuhlman's reply--
Even though chapter 1 paragraph 108 of the copyright law "Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction by libraries and archives" addresses this issue, so far in my research this is a gray area. The writers of copyright laws did not imagine all the ways we have of digitally sharing and copying content. In the beginning of printing the printers just wanted to recoup their investment from the first printing. As a non-lawyer, I do not give legal opinions. As a librarian, in a future article I will give my opinions from a librarian or scholar point of view. One solution may be a library licensed copy that would give the library rights for copies. Libraries would have to pay a higher cost than home users. Cash strapped libraries won't like that idea.
While having Libraries purchase an item with a "special" license that would allow them to copy the information to a more modern media would seem to "solve" the question I posed, it would not answer the question about all the existing material on CDs, DVD, VHS, or cassette tapes that were purchased prior to such special licenses being available.
It would seem that any solution to the problem would have to satisfy all the "stake-holders" currently in the business and meet a set of fair standards. Since I'm not an expert in the media production and distribution, a starter set of standards might include:
- Allow a library to copy purchased media to a newer media format with the result being only one format would be circulated at a time.
- Assure that the creator of the media received their fair royalties, but only once.
- Assure that the original producer of the original media received fair compensation, but again, only once per item.
Yes, you may use my prior comment as well as this one, if you choose, for your blog. We DO need a reasonable legal resolution to these questions. Thanks for researching the history.
Dr. Stuhlman's reply-
I agree that we need some better solutions. Perhaps the law could include a reasonable time limit (say 10 years) to insure the producers sold out their first printings?
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Last week a librarian queried a listserv about what to do with the library's cassette tape collection. Since few readers want to use cassette tapes, librarians want to have a media that will circulate. A company answered saying that they offer a fee based service that would copy cassette tapes to CDs. I stated that this copying could violate copyright law. Many librarians gave answers that indicated they never read anything authoritative about the law. The answer from the company claimed this was within fair use. I was bothered about this discussion enough that I want to shed some light on issues of the purpose and history of copyright and why we care should.
In the next few columns I will explore copyright issues, history, and philosophy. Many questions for further investigation and thought will be raised. Copyright law is part of Title 17 of U.S. Code. The full copyright law of the United States may be found on the Copyright Office web site: http://www.copyright.gov/. The site has links to the full text of the law, publications explaining aspects of the law, forms, and links to search copyrights. In addition to the letter of the law, the Librarian of Congress has an obligation to make rule interpretations. Many aspects of the law are written to comply with parts of the international copyright treaty under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. The Berne Convention dates from 1886 but the U.S. didn't join the convention until 1988.
I am not a lawyer and I write this only as an interested librarian and scholar. In preparation of this article, I talked to a lawyer who is on our faculty. He was not aware of the 1978 changes in copyright law that did away with "common law copyright." I heard from a librarian in Australia who told me that Australian law and practice concerning use of materials in schools differs greatly from American practice. The Australian government has an arrangement with publishers to purchase licenses that allows schools to more easily use copyrighted materials. (See the first comment for a further explanation.) There is no way in a series of short articles I could cover all aspects of copyright. There articles will relate some of the history and philosophy of the issues. For a ruling you will have to ask an attorney knowledgeable in the law and its application.
Copyright is the set laws and interpretations granting some form of exclusive rights to the owner, author, or creator of an original work. The rights include the right to publish, copy, distribute, adapt, and reformat to another media, the work. These rights can be licensed, transferred and/or assigned by means of a contact or agreement. The rights cover both the intellectual rights and the physical manifestations or expressions of the the work. The term of the exclusive right is limited by law.
The term of copyright and the automatic copyright protection are part of the Berne Convention. For many years the United States refused to be part of the Berne Convention. There was a fundamental difference between the Anglo-Saxon and French concept of copyright. In English law copyright protected the economic rights of the author; in French law creative rights are protected. Under the French version, copyright protection is automatic upon creation because this protects the creative and intellectual rights. In English law registration was required to show that the work is protected for economic purposes. A notice of copyright was required in British and American law to claim copyright. Before international copyright agreements, works had to have separate copyright claims for every country. National copyright laws protected only works created within that country. That meant that British works printed in the United States did not compensate the authors or original publishers. This was considered piracy by such authors as Charles Dickens and Benjamin Disraeli. Starting in 1837 they fought against this sanctioned literary piracy. Professor Philip V. Allingham discusses the tug of war between authors and printers.  which led to bilateral agreements and led to the 1891 manufacturing clause of the Platt-Simmonds Act granted reciprocal rights to publishers to obtain U.S. Copyright protection. After a U.S. copyright was obtained, it was illegal to import a foreign edition. The authors and publishers were satisfied, but the U.S. public had to pay more for books. 
The full text of the Berne Convention is here: http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/index.html The Copyright Office has a publication discussing the international copyright relations of the U.S. called, International Copyright Relations of the United States http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ38a.pdf. This publication lists the countries and the treaties involved. Some of the treaties are part of the international agreements and some are bilateral. There are a few countries (e.g. Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan) without any copyright relations.
Privilege and Property. Essays on the History of Copyright / edited by : Ronan Deazley, Martin Kretschmer and Lionel Bently, (Open Book Publishers, 2010) discusses the history of copyright law. The law has its roots in a wide range of norms and practices.
When the printing press was invented, copying became easier. Printing and publishing were new business concepts. In 1469, the German master printer Johannes of Speyer  obtained a five-year exclusive privilege to print in Venice and its dominions. In the Netherlands early copyright privileges were based on the royal desire to control and censure what could and could not be published.
Speyer's monopoly on printing in Venice was hardly distinguishable from other commercial licenses granted in Venice. Printing was viewed on the same level as other technological advances of the Renaissance. This was a business transaction and the Venice government had no connection to intellectual rights or property. However, this became an important first step to establishment of state granted copyrights.
There are aspects of Jewish law dating from the Talmud that could relate to commercial protection. In Baba Batra 21b there are two cases where commercial rights are protected. The first is the setting up of a hand mill and the second concern the rights of a fisherman.
"Rav Huna said: If a resident of an alley sets up a hand mill and another resident of the alley wants to set up one next to him, the first has the right to stop him, because he can say to him, 'You are interfering with my livelihood.'
May we say that this view is supported by the following: 'Fishing nets must be kept away from [the hiding-place of] a fish [which has been spotted by another fisherman] the full length of the fish's swim.' ... Fish are different, because they look about for food. "
The rabbis of the Talmud recognized that merchants have a right to a protected territory, but also every business is not the treated the same.
The printers and publishers in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries did not have legal copyright protection from central governments. Shakespeare never owned the copyright to his works. Below is a copy of the title page of the Merchant of Venice, printed by J. Roberts in 1600. The verso of the title page is blank and no where does the author or publisher claim any copyright. J. Roberts does not even claim to be a publisher.
 Nineteenth-Century British and American Copyright Law, http://www.victorianweb.org/misc/pvabio.html , by Philip V. Allingham. Mark Twain was so annoyed with Canadian printers printing his works without paying royalties, that he attempted to establish temporary residency in Canada. He also was annoyed at American printers who favored British authors of American authors because they could be distributed without paying royalties.
 This remained the law until 1954 with two liberalizations. One allowed for the importation of foreign language materials and the other allowed a limited U.S. copyright for 5 years and 1500 copies of the book. Over the objections of printers and publishers, the U.S. joined the Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) in 1954.
 An excellent source of primary documents on the history of copyright in Italy,
Germany, France, Britain, and the United States is Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900),http://www.copyrighthistory.org/htdocs/index.html published by Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge,England, UK.
 For the full English translation of the text visit: http://www.copyrighthistory.org/cgi-bin/kleioc/0010/exec/showTranslation/%22i_1469%22/start/%22yes%22
 Just to give you an idea of how complex the issue of copyright is, David Nimmer, a lawyer in Los Angeles and adjunct law professor at UCLA edited, Nimmer on Copyright, an eleven volume set. His father wrote the first edition of set in 1963. He has written five books dealing with copyright and intellectual property. Copyright law must be in the genes. Nimmer wrote a 44 page article, "In the Shadow of the Emperor: The Hatam Sofer’s Copyright Rulings" which appeared in The Torah uMaddah Journal in 2008-09. Available online: http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/745799/_David_Nimmer/02._In_the_Shadow_of_the_Emperor:_The_Hatam_Sofer%E2%80%99s_Copyright_Rulings in which he quotes these sources and other responsa dealing with an 1807 case in Roedelheim, Germany concerning the printing of a Mahzor. This article does require further discussion.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Teaching research skills is not easy. After I wrote part 1 I read a few questions on a librarian’s listserv that seem not very well thought out. They were asking for help for questions that they should have first done some searching. For example, “Do you have any articles on [fill in a topic]?” Sometimes the answer involved a quick search of a data base. Hardly anyone keeps such information at their desk or in a nearby article file. Another person asked, “Does anyone use OPAC in their library?” If I understand “OPAC” to mean online public access catalog, I would guess that anyone who uses a computerized library management system has an online public access interface to the catalog.
While we like to say that there are no “stupid” questions, the questions must be formulated so that an answer may be given. Also before asking a question is a public forum, the questions should show some understanding of the topic and if they are a librarian or scholar, they should indicate what has already been tried and did not give satisfactory results. The questions above do not show any this typ of preparation. The first question shows not only a lack of search skills, but laziness. If the question included what was already tried or some statement of understanding the topic, it would show a spark of wisdom. How can we teach that research takes hard work when we don’t do the preliminary investigations?
Librarian and teachers are skilled at helping people better formulate questions. Let’s use the I (issue) R (Research tools) A (Analysis ) C (Conclusion) methodology to analyze some questions.
Question: What kind of oven would one use to bake a batch of 24 loaves of bread at a time?
If this questioner came to you “off the street” a quick answer would be, “A big one.” The question does not state the size of the loaves. I happen to have special baking pans for small loaves. I can easily bake 48 loaves at a time in my home oven. First examine the background to the question. I’ll pretend that I interviewed this questioner and here is what I found— this questioner is an expert baker, who understands how to handle many kinds of dough and flour mixes containing white and whole wheat flour of several different hydrations. He wants to move away from commercial gas fired ovens and wants to explore use of wood burning ovens.
Then the answer is to direct him to sources of wood burning ovens both the kind that can be built and the commercial ones for purchase. There are many web sites with good information on wood burning stove. http://www.traditionaloven.com/ and http://www.heatkit.com/html/bakeoven.htm are two examples. The questioner is now pointed in the right direction and the analysis and conclusion is in their court.
Question: A librarian looked in the data bases supplied by her library and found a citation and abstract, but the library didn’t have access to the full text of the article. The librarian asked her fellow librarians for help just in case they knew of another source or could help in searching.
The issue and research tools steps were completed by the librarian, but proved inadequate. After verifying that the citation and search were correct, I looked for other sources for the article. None existed in any library that I have access to. Interlibrary loan was the only other option. This librarian just needed a little help to make sure that what she did was correct.
Careful research takes time.
Monday, October 25, 2010
A few days ago a school librarian friend asked me for advice on teaching 6th graders research skills. The sixth grade teacher, who is new to the school, asked for help. Asking the librarian for help is a good sign because the librarian has tried since the beginning of the school year to interest the teachers in visiting the library for research help. The librarian told me on many occasions that the teachers complain that they have no time for the librarian to teach research or library skills. Yet, the teachers don't act as if they even know how to use the data bases or other library resources.
A long time ago when I was in library school if one needed to do an electronic search, one needed to make an appointment with the librarian. Before going to the computer terminal (no PCs in those days) the searcher discussed the search strategy. Since online time cost so much money, it was more cost effective to spend time thinking before searching. The librarians would help with the formulation of search and research questions. Online time to search could cost $50 or $100 per hour depending on the data base. Even at this price a search could save hours of tedious research in the paper indexes. Today one can performs hundreds of searches in an effort to find answers to research questions. However, because of all the information out there, one needs to learn to create an efficient search strategy and patiently search for answers. Research takes time; there are few instant answers to tough questions.
Computerized data bases (and yes data bases existed before computers) were the by-product of computerized typesetting used to print paper indexes. A data base is created by human beings, not automated computer searching. The indexer enters the author(s) title, subjects and other searchable fields. The indexer has to decide how to use the rules for entering names and the controlled vocabulary of subject headings. There is a reason that data bases cost a lot of money and search engine do not charge the public for their use. Search engines index based on algorithms; they can't manage ambiguity and conflicting information.
The sixth grade teacher had assigned them topics concerning countries, but the topics were very general. The student were told to investigate aspects such as food, art, geography, culture, and politics.
Use IRAC as a methodology or reminder for research steps.
I stands for Issue or Interest. Understanding the questions concerning the issue and background is the first step for the sixth graders' research project. In order to look up anything one needs to formulate the questions. What interests you (the researcher)? What aspect of the subject is interesting or what bothers you? Since the student does not know much about the subject, reading a general encyclopedia or text book is the way to start. Many teachers say, "Don't use the encyclopedia!" What they should be saying is "Let's learn how to properly use the encyclopedia as a valuable research tool." Students could read 2, 4 or 20 articles before learning enough to formulate useful research questions.
R stands for Research tools. What electronic or print resources are you going to use to find the answers? Librarians take courses in data base searching and reference to gain background to guide searches. Google, reference books, data bases are part of the tool set to find answers. What are their relative strengths and weaknesses?
A is for Analysis. After using the tools to find resources and reading the materials, how can you apply the information to solve the problem. If there are multiple issues, how can they be broken down before analyzing them? What kind of bias is present in a source? Triangulate resources to try for a more accurate picture of subject. If three sources point to the same answer, one can be more certain of the truth than when two sources disagree. Analysis is the reconciliation of the parts of the problem to enable one to understand the whole.
C is for Conclusion. The thesis states the problem and outlines the questions. Write your paper using the analysis of the facts and sources to support your thesis. The conclusion answers the question(s).
Versions of this research strategy are applicable to all academic levels and ages of students. The sources and the ability to analyze them vary with the student's age and academic ability. Thinking, confronting ambiguity, and analysis are part of the critical thinking skills that are required in all disciplines.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
This morning quite without intention I attended an appreciation ceremony at the local Jewel supermarket. For the past few months (it seemed to take forever) the store has been getting a physical remodeling. New refrigeration units, new floors, new lights, new signs, and a rearrangement of merchandise were added. For many weeks the merchandise was moved around so much it was hard to find things or make a plan for navigating the store. I don’t visit every aisle.
As I was listening to the speeches I asked myself, “What can libraries learn?”
First, show appreciation to your staff, your readers, your administration, and your vendors. You are a team. Success means that you can work together. Lots of times we complain about administrations that don’t understand the role of libraries in the learning process, teachers who don’t ask for help, or readers who can’t formulate a question. Many times this morning, I heard people praise others for understanding the needs and processes within the store and its remodeling project. This store has a large kosher section. The corporate visionary of ethnic marketing wears a yarmulke and beard. He praised the store, the district and the corporate management for all their help and understanding. He called them his friends and colleagues. They thanked the food vendors because the mix of products sold changed. A representative of the city of Evanston was there to hear thanks to the city of Evanston. When people understand the common goals, the road to success is much smoother.
Yesterday I read a column about the repair process of an IT department. The process and the paperwork became more important than helping the customer. The author was teaching us that satisfactory results come from understanding common goals. Keep the goals in mind -- for a business more revenue; for a library helping people with their information needs.
When people do their jobs, thank them. When people work together for common goals, thank them more.
Second, the customer is a partner in the process. No library exists only for the staff. The staff serves the customer when there is only one customer or a whole city or country full of customers. Constant and continuous improvement depends on communications.
In my library we have been having problems with copiers and the process of getting them fixed for several years. The administrative “penny pinchers” treat the library copiers the same as departmental copiers. The library copiers are the only public access copiers on campus. They get more use by more people than copiers in academic departments. The library copiers break down almost daily because the machines get hot and can’t take the heavy volume of work. After years of frustration with an administration that won’t listen, the library prepared a survey to find out if the students are satisfied with the copier service. We started encouraging written feedback that we can present to the administration.
We also started to count the people who walk into the library. The security gates count who comes into the library, but before yesterday we didn’t keep track. In four hours the gates counted more than 400 entrances. Just by walking in the readers are giving us feedback.
Third, set good examples. This morning the speakers recognized the employees that greeted everyone with a smile and/or an offer for help. In this store, employees offer assistance at all times with and without a question from the customers. In libraries this is the same model to follow. Offer help. Yesterday I noticed someone looking perplexed. He couldn’t figure out how to print from the computer. I showed him how to print from the program and how to use the printer control program. Offer help before being asked. Smile and say hello as often as possible. Talk in soft, friendly, helpful tones. Be careful where and when you complain.
Fourth, manage your projects well. A store remodeling project takes lots people in lots of departments working together. Someone needed to create the vision. The first step to any project is to understand the goals and make sure your team is on the same page as the visionary. Getting everyone on board to work with the plan is no easy task.
The store required skilled tradesmen to install machines, devices, electrical connections, plumbing connections, etc. They needed vendors for all the new equipment and supplies. They needed changes with their food suppliers. All the timings of people and objects needed lots of project management. Don’t create a project without goals.
Fifth, keep people informed. For a remodeling project or any other major project, tell the public what to expect. Show the public that you are progressing and the end result will be worth the inconveniences. When the merchandise was being relocated, Jewel had people to help customers find the new places for the products. For a library project keep the people informed. Publicize the progress and the success. Refer back to my previous columns and use all the communications options that I mentioned.
Make great signs. The Jewel has signs that inform the public of the contents of each aisle. Last week I saw someone taking pictures of the picture on the wall above the Kosher Marketplace section. I thought the picture was well done and wondered why they wanted a picture. One of the pictured people was a relative.
However, be warned there are people who ignore signs. For security reasons the elevator in the library does not go to the first floor. Above the elevator call buttons is a clear sign telling the user that the elevator does not go to the first floor. People have to use the steps or the elevator outside of the security gates to go down. Even faculty members can’t seem to read signs. Despite this, yesterday I made new signs marking the exits.
Sixth, be happy. There are things that happen that no one could anticipate. Be happy that project is complete. One of the speakers kept saying, “Thank God.” The best plans, the best people, the best products, don’t come together by accident. There are forces that no one can control. Take time to thank God who made us all.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Does your library offer superior services? Have you paid attention to my previous ideas about how to tell the world about your services? Now is time to step back. Marketing is not just about your products and services it is about focusing on the needs of your readers, users and stakeholders. Many PR and people have a great difficulty stepping back and examining what the people you are reaching really need or want. (The difference between “needs” and “wants” is another topic for exploration. For now let’s assume they are the same.)
All of the Web 2.0 communications possibilities need to be used to listen and understand the needs of the library users. Attention to them will build long term relationships and get you closer to achieving your long term goals. As the needs of your users change, your goals should evolve to meet the needs. That is why communications is so important.
Think about coffee. You can buy beans and brew your own or you can have someone do it for you. You can go to Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, or Target for coffee and pay different prices. Each place may have a good product or a great product depending on what the marketer says or the consumer feels at the moment. The marketing that focuses only on the product tells you about one part of the business. What buyer problem does each place solve? Perhaps one wants a place to sip a cup of coffee while accessing a wi-fi connection? Perhaps one wants a drink during a shopping trip? Perhaps one wants a convenient place to meet a friend or client? Perhaps Starbucks saves you the time needed to prepare your own coffee? If you were marketing coffee, would you segment the marketing to appeal to different needs? Is the goal of Target to sell coffee or create a shopping experience? Is the goal of Starbucks to sell coffee or offer a place to enjoy a special coffee based beverage?
Now think about information. How do you want "information" to fit into the library's marketing plans? One can own a book or borrow one. One can get a new book from vendor or borrow a copy. One can get information from the open Web or use a data base (the hidden web) purchased by the library. Readers can sit in the library and do work or pay to sit in a coffee shop. Is the library a place for information or just a place to meet friends or quietly read? How do the goals address users' needs?
The approach of library marketing should also think of all the needs of the users. Multifaceted marketing requires a plan. Standard marketing education uses the four P’s – product, place, price, and promotion. That is nonsense for both businesses and libraries because it does not address the needs of the users. To succeed under the new rules for communication, focus on what the readers need. In a school or academic library the focus may be closer to what the readers need for their classes. In a public library the needs and wants may be intertwined. When you understand what the users need and want, create compelling programs with collections tuned to the present and future needs of readers and researchers. Put the organizational goals first and the best programs will follow. Market how the library will help the readers. Some readers need information, some recreation, and some need a place.
Marketing and PR people sometimes have difficulty making their goals sync with the rest of the company. When I was working for a state agency the marketing people promised bank customers a computer program to help them use some agency services. However, they neglected to tell anyone to create the program. Marketing wanted to solve a need, but forgot to work with other departments in the organization. This is a foolish waste of time and tarnishes the institution’s image. Think about the goals of pre-Web marketing departments – “Let’s run some ads, do a few trade shows, place some articles in the press, increase Web site traffic and that will generate leads for sales people.” These are not the goals of the organization.
Organizational goals should have ways to measure success. A goal for a library program may be to reach new readers or to introduce new ideas. Success may be the number of people participating in program or creating a change in one or two people. Businesses may focus on sales leads, number of visits, or numbers shipped, while they should focus on creating long term relationships and continuing revenue. Educators and librarians know that the effects they have students may take years to flower. Long term organizational goals of libraries are sometimes found in mission statements. Here is a sample of a generic message that can be edited for many kinds of libraries.
The mission of the Memorial Library is to provide materials and programming for the readers, staff, and community.
The Library collection will consist of materials in all media that will enable members to enhance their life experiences and provide the resources for study and recreational reading.
The Library strives to provide intellectual and social stimulation through a positive library experience that will further enhance each individual’s identification with life long education.
The library staff is committed to excellence in its service to all users.
A measure for success would measure if the provisions of the mission are fulfilled. Does the collection supply the reading needs of the students? Is the building adequate to fill the space needs of the readers and collections? Are all the actions of the library staff striving for excellence? Once you have the right goals, keep the marketing and PR activities focused on the goals by learning about your users and potential users and how to full their needs.
If we want success, we must examine what is failure. If a salesman makes ten customer calls and makes only one sale, has he failed nine times? If he made enough revenue for the company and compensation for himself with the one sale, a 10% sale rate is acceptable. If the salesman and the organization learned from the no-sale calls how to do better, they succeeded in moving toward a goal of creating long term revenue. If the salesman did not work hard or learn from the no-sale calls, he failed. A library must look at every program, product, and service and figure out what went right and where is the room for improvement. Failure occurs when the task is not completed or they do not learn from experience. Excellence comes from constant improvement based on experience, knowledge, investigation and communication.
Once you have a marketing plan that is based on institutional goals and communications with your stakeholders, stick to your plan. Many people will tell you that you are wrong. Many will fight your plans to communicate directly with your stakeholders. They will base their “advice” on what they learned in another time and place. They will tell you bloggers are geeks or crackpots who don’t know anything that matters. They will tell you to focus on the “four P’s.”
They are wrong. They are thinking about the wrong goals. They are mistaken about the power of the Web. Again, they are wrong.
You are reading this online, written by a librarian who grew up without a home computer. I graduated college before the personal computer existed. However, I bought a personal computer before IBM sold their first PC. I learned about the power of the computer for communication. I am not a geek. You can learn, too. You are what you publish. The Web is a powerful tool to spread your message.
With this article I am taking a break from writing about PR and marketing. Now is the time to turn the pixels over to you. Tell me what you want to learn about marketing. What is important about spreading the word about libraries and information systems in general and how can you turn the general into the specific for your library? What kind of topics should I cover in future columns? In the era of Web 2.0, information flows in two directions from the writer to the public and from the public to the writer. Please think of the principles of marketing and spread the word that libraries are the place.
Monday, September 27, 2010
In the “old days” press releases were for the press. An organization sent a press release to every newspaper, TV, or radio station they could and hoped that one of more would print a story. Many years ago I asked a magazine editor why some of the articles in his computer publication looked like carefully researched articles and some looked like “warmed over” press releases. He said because some “articles” were supplied by the organizations and were just press releases. When I wanted to raise public awareness for an issue at my children's school I supplied most of the text for a reporter. The ideas were mine, but the public thought the reporter wrote the article.
This is an older way of using press releases. In the financial markets screens display news feeds all day long. The screens sometimes display releases directly from the companies involved without editing from a reporter or editor. If Boeing got a large order of airplanes or IBM made a new discovery, they would put the news on the wire. Traders seeing the news react sometimes based on this news. That is why the financial summaries on the evening news report rises or falls of stock prices based on news events. Data bases within Factivia and LexusNexis give professionals and library users access to this news feeds. (These data bases are usually available in businesses and large university libraries. They are not available in the Chicago Public Library or the college where I work.) Listservs, direct e-mail, and groups send news releases to their members or users. Not everyone  in the PR business agrees that direct contact with the consumer is the best idea. I am of the opinion that PR people in the library should use any method, media, or technology to spread their message.
In business many people say that one must innovate to stave off the boredom. I don’t entirely agree. Within the library we must revise and grown on the established while we are seeking new ways to attract and encourage new users of our resources. The press release should be one of the ways we communicate not just with the press but with all interested or potential users.
A press release is an announcement to the public. It is not an opinion or explanation of how to use a library resource. There may be a semantic argument with the PR professionals. If sent to the “media or press” the item should be aimed at the “press.” If aimed at the consumer or public, it is “news.” For that reason we should be talking about “news releases.” Announcements or news releases may be made for the mundane or the special. For example at the beginning of the school year the library could announce the library hours. This is mundane, but important for everyone to know so that they can come only when the library is open. An announcement about a special award for a librarian is special and interesting, but not very important in the everyday use of the library.
New releases are written with the same style and language as a newspaper article. They should start with a catchy headline and indicate something about the content. The tone should be informative, direct and non-opinionated. Write in the language of the intended readers. Obviously if audience is children or teenagers, write at their level of understanding. The news release is more of a one-way information flow than other forms of information that are meant to be exchanges. Remember that once on the Web search engines will find your words.
Rules for News Releases
1. Don’t just send news for “big” events. Find good reasons to send regular news. New releases are for single topics that can’t wait for a full newsletter treatment.
2. Target your users, readers, and stakeholders. Don’t be concerned with the media.
3. Since the releases will be on the Web, include keywords that users with search engines are likely to use.
4. Include something compelling that will encourage comments or visits to the library.
5. Add tags for social media for additional exposure.
6. Make the length appropriate for the message. If more information is required, drive them to your web site, blog, podcast, or encourage a library visit. This is a news release not a summary report.
7. Make a separate section on your web site to gather new releases for future consultation.
Tell people what you want them to know about your library, your programs and your people. News releases do not always need to be cold and bland. Sometimes there is room for humor.
 Steve Rubel in his blog article, “Direct-to-Consumer Press Releases Suck” (http://www.micropersuasion.com/2006/01/directtoconsume.html) January 19, 2006 disagrees with David Scott. Rubel says, “I feel strongly that fluffy press releases that are not for the press are bogus. I am adamant that we should not be spamming the press releases wires. ... Put your energy into launching blogs and engaging in direct-to-consumer conversations.”
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Last week I was reading volume one of, Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period, by Erwin R. Goodenough (1893–1965. Goodenough was a professor at Yale University in Jewish Studies. He was born in Brooklyn, New York into a Methodist family, but he did not practice any religion. While studying at Harvard from 1917 – 1920 he was influenced by George F. Moore, a Christian Harvard professor who was expert in the Talmud and Judaism of the first centuries. Goodenough earned his Ph.D from Oxford University in 1923. While preparing his doctoral thesis, published as The Theology of Justin Martyr (Verlag Frommannische Buchhandlung : Jenna, 1923). In the preface he departs from the conventional wisdom that Judaism and Hellenism are mutually exclusive. He states that many Hellenistic elements of early Christianity were derived not from the pagan world, but directly but from the already Hellenized Judaism In his, Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period, he seeks to show the influence of Hellenism on the Jews and document the art and symbolism of the Jews. He examined artifacts and documents from many libraries and museums. He said that seeing artifacts is like a pictures without understanding the context that a text offer.
The section I read, chapter 1 of volume 1, The Problem,” he describes a lamp with seven openings for wicks. On the upright back of the lamp (a 1913 gift of Rebecca Darlington Stoddard) is a picture of David (ΔΑΥΙΔ) and Goliath (ΓΟΥΛΙΑΔ) with the names in Greek letters. He has a black and white reproduction of the lamp in a later volume. The catalog was created by Paul Bauer (published in Yale Classical Studies, I (1928) p.4-5) says that the style of letters fits the 1st century. Bauer dated the lamp as 3rd-4th century Christian. When Goodenough saw this description, wrote Baur for an explanation. Bauer said that since everyone knows the Jews had no art; it had to be a Christian artifact. Since Christians didn’t exist in the first century, the lamp had to be from a later time. Goodenough later explains (volume 5 pages 105-107) that the palm tree and the idea of a seven wick lamp are Jewish symbols and are reminders of the Temple of Jerusalem. He found 182 examples of the use of the seven branched menorah. This lamp was the inexpensive version of a seven branch menorah. If the lamp was created before the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, it could be argued that the David and Goliath were symbolic of the Jewish struggle against the Romans. If created after the destruction its seven lights are a remembrance of the Temple that was already destroyed.
The seven branched menorah (candelabra) was a symbol used in the Temple. When the Temple was destroyed the rabbis said making an exact 3D menorah reproduction was forbidden. Flat pictures and sculptures without the full branches are allowed. Today the symbol is found in almost every synagogue. The middle branch is replaced or topped with a Star of David or a blank spot.
When I saw Goodenough’s discussion, I had to investigate. I found a color photograph on the web site of Yale University Art Gallery. ecatalogue.art.yale.edu/detail.htm?objectId=2288. The letters are not clear, but are legible. The web site still had the incorrect description of Paul Bauer. I wrote to the museum stating that the mistake was written about in 1953 and that should be enough time to fix it. They answered back acknowledging the mistake was based on the bias of Paul Bauer. Today the web site no longer has the word “Christian” on it, but still has the 3rd-4th century as the date. I can’t argue with them about the date as I have never seen the item. The museum has no record of the item’s providence before it was presented to the museum.
Goodenough’s careful scholarship has largely been ignored. Very few scholars today realize that he brought together pieces of the story of confrontation of Greek and Roman society with Judaism that previous scholars never knew existed. He wanted to understand how the symbols contribute to our understanding of ancient Judaism. Some claim that his work was over shadowed by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. While I knew about his books for many years, I never read them. The copy I acquired sat on a library shelf for more than 50 years and looks as if no one had ever touched them. Now some 45 years after his death, scholars should start to understand the fresh approach to the study of Jewish interaction with other civilizations and how Christianity was following some Hellenistic Jewish trends and not taking over some of the ways of pagans.
1. The Preliminary Catalogue of the Rebecca Darlington Stoddard Collection of Greek and Italian Vases was published by Yale University in 1914. This lamp (item 654) was part of the collection. The catalog is available online : www.archive.org/details/preliminarycata00baurgoog.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Blogs can be effective in getting quickly prepared messages to the public. A blog can be like a newspaper columnist’s message, a new report, personal journal, or a semi-scholarly short article. Indeed many newspapers, popular magazines, and trade magazines have paid reporters who produce blogs that are published electronically and never appear in the print version. Instead of waiting for a whole issue of a library newsletter to be produced, a librarian may produce a short article and send it to the public. With the use of a blog many librarians within the library can write personal or official library messages. Search engines index blogs and make them available immediately. Reporters, marketing people, and other searchers rely on blogs to find experts and to get a feeling as to what people are thinking about.
A blog allows ideas to be pushed into the marketplace and receive comments. The blog is a way to both push ideas and get feedback from comments. Sometimes the comments provide interesting ideas and can change a stream of though. Some bloggers learn about their audience through comments. “Dumb” and “smart” ideas are recognized. A weak idea many need clarification; a great idea may be promulgated to many other libraries. David Scott claims that his blog have gathered more than 200,000 views and thousands of comments. So far I have not seen as dramatic results as he claims. Last week I had about 550 views and 12 comments. Most comments appeared in the comment section of the blog and others were received via e-mail or chats. I want comments because it shows people care enough to write and it is a kind of reward. Blogs add value to the organization. For example the Illinois Library Association has a weekly e-mail newsletter with a list of blogs. Before it was shut down the North Suburban (Illinois) Library System had a page that gathered the first paragraph of library oriented blogs and linked to the whole article. This blog was linked from there.
The technology to create blogs is easy and efficient to use. This blog is being produced with Blogspot (http://www.blogger.com/home), which is part of Google. With Blogspot’s integration with Google, one can login to once and you are logged in to them all. Wordpress (http://wordpress.org/) is blog system that requires a download. They claim 12.5 million downloads. According to the site “Usage of content management systems for websites” (http://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/content_management/all) Wordpress has a 12% market share of content management systems (CMS). Typepad is a third example (http://www.typepad.com/). Typepad charges a monthly fee that varies with the features. The software creates all the HTML code to make an attractive blog site, edit content, and allow comments.
Comments are controlled by the blogger. They may allow readers to leave comments and remove inappropriate content. I use this feature to only allow comments I approve since I have received comments in Korean that contained a hidden link to a porn site. Variant and even negative opinions may be a good thing that can add credibility by showing both sides to an issue. If the readership is passionate enough to write a comment they are reading it. Is that not the reason you are writing? Comments can be used to find out what people are thinking about the library.
Since blogs work both ways, you can monitor other blogs for comments about your library or libraries in general. Google Alerts is one way to use key words that will send you a message when the keywords are triggered. I have a Google Alert set to my name. I get an e-mail alert whenever my name appears in a web site indexed by Google. Organizations do monitor blogs. I mentioned a department at a university and within a few minutes my monitoring software showed they had read my posting. They did not send a comment.
The blog writer must be dedicated to a love of writing and communicating. Even a 400 word article (one typed page), can take a healthy amount of time. If the message is worth telling; it is worth telling it well. Some weeks I have a lot to write and some weeks I have nothing to write. I regularly read some blogs on Inside Higher Education (http://www.insidehighered.com/) While some posts may be written quickly because they are more expository than research, others could take 2 or more hours to research, write, and edit .
If you love to write or have someone at your library who does, enter the blogosphere and use the blog to spread your thoughts and learn from the readers.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Students frequently report that their English teacher says, "don't use the Internet or encyclopedias" for research. Sometimes I have to fight my mouth to prevent yelling and screaming at the absurdity of this limitation. This kind of of thinking is outdated. Sometimes I translate the teacher's comments to, "Don't use unreliable web sites. The Internet is just a way of communicating." Using the Internet for communication is the way we share scholarly knowledge.
Sometimes the students ask to see the scholarly journals. When I tell them they are online, they act surprised. They repeat the claim that they are not allowed to use the Internet. I tell searching data bases for articles is the way we do research today. Since the library changes so rapidly, we encourage teachers to visit the library and collaborate with us. Sometimes I wonder if the English teachers have visited not just our campus library, but any library since the day they graduated with their last degree. Teachers need to make sure their information is current. If they did not keep up with changes in the interpretation of the copyright law they would not know that a ruling made last summer effects how one may use video clips in the classroom.
Last week a newly hired English teacher did come to speak with the librarians. He wanted to give his students an assignment to help them learn to use the library -- music to our ears. I gave him advice and a link to the library introduction PowerPoint presentation. Last night he stopped by to thank us for our help. We have an ally and partner. I wish others would follow his example. [Note: As I was revising this article, another English stopped by and talked about research and library resources.]
The librarians here have been collecting questions and comments that amuse us. Here are a few --
1) My professor said not to use the Internet.
2) My professor said not to use any encyclopedias.
3) Does the library have [insert title of a book]? (They have no idea of how to even find the catalog.)
4) Can I photocopy? or Where is the photocopy machine? (The library has a huge sign pointing to the copy center.)
5) I can only use books. (When they are searching a current topic, frequently no one has written a whole book on the topic.)
6) No one told me when the book was due. (It is our routine to remind them of the date or time due due for reserve books.)
In an attempt to teach students how to evaluate web sites they are told to use sites with the upper level domains EDU, ORG, or GOV. They are told this is an indication of reliability. WRONG! The domain does not indicate anything. Anyone can get any domain. While usually EDU is means a college or university. Anyone attached to the institution can post pages to their individual web sites without anyone reviewing them. Anyone can post reliable or not reliable information. The information may be current or not.
Users need to be able to understand the bias of the web page creator. A business is going to post the best information about their business on their site. They will want to have the correct information for names and contacts. Their news releases and product information on their web site will present a favorable point or view. If you want product reviews or critical information about the company, then you will need to look elsewhere.
Blogs, press releases, news articles, scholarly articles and other materials published on the web need to be evaluated as any print materials. They may be valuable, worthless or something in between. Even this blog has a bias. I try to present information that is accurate, but it is still mostly my ideas and opinions. I tell students they need to triangulate sources and use their sehel (common sense) to figure out what is reliable and what is not. If the ideas presented don't agree with each other, the student needs to figure out what is true and what is mistaken. If they can't tell, ask for help from a teacher, librarian or other reliable source.
Assume nothing. Check to make sure you are up-to-date so that obsolete or out-dated information or practices are not shared or promulgated.
Notes: Links to changes in the interpretation of Copyright Law. These are interpretations, not changes to the text of the law.
Library of Congress Copyright Office www.copyright.gov
Exemption to prohibition on circumvention of copyright protection systems for access control technologies
Entry of the exemption in the Federal Register of Aug. 6, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
There was a time (I call Library 1.0) when the library was the main source of the storage, organization, and distribution of academic and scholarly materials The library was the “jewel” of the institution in the era of Library 1.0. When choosing a college or university students frequently used the quality of the library as one of the criteria for their decision. With the increasing amount of electronic distribution of materials, this is no longer the case. We are in the era of Library 2.0.
One commodity of education is student learning. Goals need to be created that foster learning. At the university level that means supporting and promoting research. In other schools it means using critical thinking to use the results of that research. Parents, students and the community expect education to provide a basis for the next step in education or form the basis for career placements. The students want to enhance their earning potential. Stakeholders count on institutions to demonstrate they have achieved their goals. Libraries can no longer rely on a belief in their importance; they must demonstrate and prove their role in the education process. The value of a library in the eyes of the users and stakeholders must be publicized and demonstrated through action.
A business centers its goals around a desire for revenue. Businesses exist to add value and create revenue growth for the owners. This does not mean they don’t serve their public or have lofty intentions, but rather they think of how all their actions can increase revenue, gain new customers and retain the current customers. A non-profit organization needs to question, “What is their revenue?” Monetary revenue is not a main goal, but the library still needs money to run. The library still needs to gain new customers and retain the currents ones. Exact metrics from web sites are hard to measure precisely because the metric’s description may be flawed. Does the number of visitors to the site matter or does the one written comment out weigh all the traffic numbers? The web content must match the goals of the library. If the ultimate goals include the spread of knowledge and literacy, the web site should reflect this.
Web content may be powerful or subtle. The site may include instructional materials, tool for searching, and notices of future events. One goal should be to increase the reach of the library and show the community the power of the information services. The library should demonstrate leadership in the information distribution field. Web content builds the reputation for the library. The library home page is the public face for the people who are regulars and those who will never even visit your building.
The actual goals need to be defined for each library. Here are some high level goals to build upon: 1) Be the community’s resource for information in print, non-print and electronic sources; 2) Increase literacy in the community; 3) Provide recreational reading materials; 4) Be a safe place for the free exchange of ideas and information.
Revised Sept 14, 2010. First two paragraphs were added.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Recently I saw the following ad for a librarian. I edited it to remove indications of the organization’s name or location. This description includes many of the skills that it takes librarians many years of training and experience to do well such as management, collection development, ordering new materials, building a collection, assisting readers in the finding of materials, keeping library users informed of new acquisitions, cataloging materials, and providing reference services.
1> Run library of 4000+ monographs, periodicals, and DVD's.
2> Create catalog records in digital catalog for new additions to collection (using Resource Mate)
3> Order books, DVD's, and periodicals that staff requests
4> Assist staff & visitors with finding books and materials
5> Check in and display incoming periodicals
6> Send out library updates to staff on new acquisitions and interesting articles
7> Assess books donations for retention value
8> Classify books in both Dewey and Elazar systems; create books labels, and shelve
9> Provide reference services as needed
MLS graduate with good organizational abilities, and interpersonal skills.
This is not a small school or non-profit organization. It is a large professionally run organization that distributed more than $130 million in grants to more than 100 agencies. One $54,850 grant went to an Israeli library for a program in language and literacy development. You should have guessed by now why I am annoyed with this agency. For all of the required professional librarian skills, this is a volunteer position. All the above activities are supposed to be accomplished in 4-8 hours per week by a volunteer not paid professional.
I’m not against volunteers. I volunteer my time for my synagogue. I contribute my expertise and time to make the community a better place. Officers volunteer and provide management and leadership many hours each week. The synagogue could not run without volunteers. I volunteer for my professional librarian groups. I use my writing, teaching, and other skills to further my profession. I am not paid for writing articles. There is a line between what I would and would not do as a volunteer. I would run volunteer a program; I would not catalog materials or build a collection without compensation. I would answer a question; I would not sit for four hours on a regular basis and help all comers with skilled reference services without compensation.
Would this organization ask a lawyer, dentist, doctor or plumber to come to the office every week without compensation?
Volunteers can be used effectively in a library program. They work with and under the direct supervision of a librarian. Susan C. Eubank, the librarian at the Denver (Colorado) Botanic Gardens, writes in the article, “Volunteers in the Helen Fowler Library at Denver Botanic Gardens” (Colorado Libraries 25:3 Fall 1999) “…the Library would not exist without volunteers. Denver Botanic Gardens is a non-profit organization that has used volunteers from the beginning and the Library continues that tradition.” Volunteers in the Library at Denver Botanic Gardens run the book sale and some of the mundane and less time dependent tasks, such as shelving, processing new books and data entry. These tasks can be done on their schedule without any pressure to do it now. Many of the volunteers are there for the long term and have been there longer than the librarian. They are strong advocates for the library within the Botanic Gardens and good for public relations within the community. The organization and the individuals benefit from the arrangement.
Kathy Ishizuka has a different point of view (“School libraries struggle with layoffs” in School Library Journal 49:2 18-19 F 2003). This article reports on the situation of schools with budgetary problems using volunteers in elementary and high school libraries. In schools without librarians there is no collaboration on assignments with faculty, no collection development, and no instruction in research skills.
Alan Jacobson, volunteer coordinator at the Oak Park (Illinois) Public Library wrote in American Libraries (“Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can Do More, Volunteer. American Libraries v. 41:5, May 2010 p. 39-41) about how a library can use volunteers to help serve the public. He claims volunteers augment staff. In a letter, (“Reader Forum, “ American Libraries v. 41:9, September 2010 p. 7) Brenda Knutson strongly disagrees with Jacobson. She claims that articles such as Jacobson’s encouraged the Los Angeles City Council to lay off staff.
What conditions should one volunteer professional expertise? When you are member of a community or professional organization, you are helping the organization and yourself. When you help your children’s or grandchildren’s school you are contributing to the school and the education of your family. There may be good reasons to volunteer for the organization mentioned in the above ad. However, the organization should requite from within and not listserv for professional librarians. As professionals we have to promote ourselves and show information services are valuable to the organization and the community.