Current Cites

January 2012

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Frank Cervone, Alison Cody, Peter Hirtle, Roy Tennant

Adler, Prudence S., Patricia  Aufderheide, and Brandon  Butler, et. al.Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries  Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries, 2012.( - Fair use is one of the most important provisions of copyright law for libraries, and it is one of the most difficult to apply in practice. To determine whether a use is fair, a library must consider four factors, which is a complex and uncertain task. It's so uncertain that the Stanford Copyright & Fair Use website says: "Unfortunately, the only way to get a definitive answer on whether a particular use is a fair use is to have it resolved in federal court." No library wants to resolve its fair use questions that way, but every library must make fair use judgments whether there is certainty or not. Consequently, any expert guidance about how to apply fair use, such as this document provides, is very welcome. The editors of this new code have identified eight principles that describe general circumstances that library focus groups felt were likely to be fair. Each principle also includes limitations that describe the outer bounds of the consensus and enhancements that particularly risk-adverse institutions may wish to apply to strengthen their fair use argument. Topics covered include: electronic reserves; publicity and outreach; preservation; digitizing special collections; providing access to disabled students; maintaining institutional repositories; facilitating “non-consumptive” uses of library collections; and creating curated collections of web resources. Though written in part by lawyers, the report does not read like a legal brief. Nor will you find any "bright line" rules that say it is ok to copy 10% or keep material online for ten weeks at a time. Instead, the document can serve as a basis for discussion with administrators and legal advisors as to the level of risk each institution is willing to accept. Knowing what other librarians feel is acceptable behavior can inform that discussion. The associated FAQs and briefing papers on the project's web site are especially valuable. - CB and PH

Brantley, Peter. "The Library AlternativePublisher's Weekly  258(51)(16 December 2011): 24. ( - Whether, when, and how libraries can lend e-books to their patrons has become a source of tension between libraries and publishers. As many commentators in both the trade and popular press have noted, publishers are understandably reluctant to enable a distribution channel that may compete with their ability to market e-books to customers. Brantley argues that if libraries want to be able to loan e-books, the service models they will need to adopt in order to convince publishers to participate will need to be radically different. Libraries, he suggests, could become marketing arms for publishers or could pay royalties on every individual loan of an item (in effect renting books on behalf of their patrons). E-book licenses would be best managed by a me! ga-cooperative on behalf of all libraries. Even legislative change may be needed if libraries wish to be a source for e-books from major publishers. While I doubt if all of Brantley's suggested innovations in library service will be implemented, his article does suggest that given the control publishers have over e-books, e-book lending libraries of the future are likely to be radically different from today's institutions built around library-owned collections. - PH

Bryson, Tim, Miriam  Posner, and Alain  St. Pierre, et. al.Digital Humanities, SPEC Kit 326  Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries, 2011.( - In this SPEC Kit, the authors surveyed ARL libraries about digital humanities scholarship centers or services. About half of the libraries responded (51%). Only 8% had a digital humanities center, but 24% had a more general digital scholarship center that included support for the humanities. Forty-eight percent of respondents provided ad hoc digital humanities services. Thirty-five percent of respondents had dedicated staff for digital humanities support. Digital humanities support is still in an early stage of development, and the authors note challenges such as a "general lack of policies, protocols, and procedures has resulted in a slow and, at times, frustrating experience for both library staff and scholars" and support efforts suffering from "perennial library issues of underfunding and understaffing." The table of contents and executive summary of the SPEC Kit are freely available at: - CB

Hamaker, Charles. "Ebooks on Fire: Controversies Surrounding Ebooks in LibrariesSearcher  19(10)(December 2011): 20. ( - Hamaker looks at the current state of e-books and finds, from a library perspective, that it is sadly lacking. In a myriad of ways, from their malleability and lack of confidentiality to their higher cost, restrictions on lending and sharing, and artificial limitations on functionality, e-books suffer in comparison to owned (rather than licensed) content. Hamaker's description of the deficiencies of e- books and the way they are currently licensed makes one wonder why libraries have even bothered with them. He suggests that librarians and consumers need to unite and demand a different publishing/licensing model for e-books if they are to avoid contributing to the destruction of our cultural heritage. The alternative, he seems to imply, is "just say no" to the e-book licensing options currently available. - PH

Hansen, David Robert. "Orphan Works: Definitional IssuesBerkeley Digital Library Copyright Project White Paper   (1)(19 December 2011)( - With the collapse of the Google Books Settlement, the issue of how best to foster access to and use of orphan works is back on the table for discussion. Earlier this month in its decision in Golan v. Holder, the Supreme Court acknowledged the "host of policy and logistical questions" associated with orphan works and concluded that it is a problem best solved by legislative action. Hansen's timely analysis explores how our understanding of orphan works has evolved since the original release of the seminal Copyright Office report and tries to provide a new assessment of the size of the problem. Hansen suggests that the original narrow concern with unlocatable copyright owners has morphed into a general problem of out-of-print books. While definitionally the two issues may be distinct, in practice both are united by a shared concern with how much effort (and expense) should be spent to secure permission to use works not currently available commercially. When we have a common definition of the problem, we may be able to determine its size. And when we know its size, we may be able to identify the most cost-effective solution. There is a lot of work that still needs to be done; Hansen's study is a useful introduction and jumping off-point for future research. - PH

Lewis, David W. "From Stacks to the Web: the Transformation of Academic Library CollectingCollege & Research Libraries  (November 2011)( - This is a pre-print of a piece slated to be published next year (January 2013), but the topic is certainly quite relevant now and waiting a year to heed Lewis' advice will do no one any favors. Kudos to C&RL for not making us do so. Lewis asserts that the advent of computer networking has fundamentally altered the value proposition of libraries and that our classic way of building collections must respond to this in various ways. After noting particular developments in recent years that "drive change and provide the building blocks upon which new library practices will be constructed," he provides specific advice that includes: 1) Deconstruct legacy print collections, 2) Move from item-by-item book selection to purchase-on-demand and subscriptions, 3) Manage the transition to open access journals, 4) Curate the unique, and 5) Develop new mechanisms to fund national infrastructure. Highly recommended. - RT

Mitchell, Carmen, and Daniel  Suchy. "Developing Mobile Access to Digital CollectionsD-Lib Magazine  18(1/2)(January/February 2012)( - This article presents four case studies on providing mobile access to digital collections. The authors conducted interviews with representatives from Duke University Libraries, Montana State University Libraries, North Carolina State University Libraries, and the Smithsonian Institution. Mitchell and Suchy allowed the interviewees' voices to come through loud and clear, providing some context and commentary on overall themes, but primarily presenting quotes from each respondent. (The exception here is the representative from the Smithsonian - fewer of her responses are included, but the authors link to the Smithsonian's Mobile Web Strategy wiki.) Overall, the takeaways are that flexibility, speed and nimbleness are just as important as taking the time to consider exactly what kind of mobile interface should be created, who will be using it, and what they will be using it for. - AC