Why would one decide to publish a journal on public health? It sound like a rhetorical question, but it may be more serious than we think. The obvious answer is to improve the health of the public. But if that really is the goal, a publisher in public health would need to try to reach the largest audience of the public that was possible. So a recent announcement from one prominent public health publisher casts doubt on that intent, and the purpose of the journal overall.
Recently I was talking with a Duke faculty member and editor of a prominent scholarly journal about ways to improve access to the journal he edits. In the midst of the conversation, I found myself being lectured on the need to get scholarly publishing out from under the control of commercial publishing firms. What were libraries going to do, I was asked, to break the stranglehold that commercial publishing had over scholarship? Fortunately I had some answers for him, and a great deal of sympathy for his perspective. But it was very odd to have the tables turned on me like that; I am usually the advocate for open access and new models of scholarly communications, so it was strange to be treated, even briefly, as a defender of the status quo.
Do librarians really get sued, or threatened with lawsuits, all that often? It is hard to say. My initial impression is that they do not get haled into court very often, but it is very difficult to know about threats. There may be more saber-rattling than we know about, and if such threats actually prevent librarians from taking the challenged action, we might never know about it. That is called a “chilling effect,” and there is a website devoted to cataloging such threats, which librarians should be aware of and, I think, contribute to when appropriate.
Planning and executing a MOOC, a Massive Open Online Course, is not an easy undertaking. It involves a lot of work, including a thoroughgoing reevaluation of pedagogical goals and methods, lots of planning, and extensive technological support to get each module in the MOOC just right. It also involves lots of “new” decisions about copyright.
A quick search of the Libraries’ catalog at my university shows that we have lots of books about how to talk with different groups. The target audiences for these improved conversations include children, liberals, teens, Christians, senior parents, and physicians. We even have a book (which I haven’t read) about how to talk about books [...]
We have seen several decisions in the past few months about fair use and libraries, and so far libraries are coming out ahead. The Georgia State case offered a limited win for libraries, with a decision holding that most of the challenged excerpts provided digitally to students were fair use, but also rejecting the idea [...]
There are two things I know about elephants. First, they have long memories. Second, they are large, ponderous beasts, and getting an elephant to move where you want it to go takes care, patience, and agility. It is that legendary memory that caused the HathiTrust to name itself with the Hindi word for an elephant. As for the second characteristic of an elephant, it came in to my mind as I listened last month to reports about Hathi and marveled at the careful and meticulous work that is being done there to make public domain works accessible to the public. The elephant that is the HathiTrust is indeed being directed with patience and agility.
Ask a librarian how many books she has in her collection, and you will usually get a pretty accurate answer. But ask where those books were printed, and you will get a confused look. Notice I said printed, not published. Our catalog records contain place of publication, but that is not the same as place [...]
There is a rather odd attitude about contracts in higher education, and no doubt elsewhere as well. Many seem to have the idea that a contract contains “magic” language known only to lawyers, and that that language can be effective regardless of the context in which the contract is to function. Often I encounter the [...]
Ever since the Georgia State e-reserves copyright lawsuit was filed in April 2008, the academic library (and faculty who were aware of it) community has been waiting to find out how Judge Orinda Evans would view the provision of digital course readings under fair use. Now we know, based on her May 11 ruling, that [...]