It has been a busy time for those of us who watch the doings of the Copyright Office. In addition to releasing a massive report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization, about which I have written here, the Copyright Office (CO) is the subject of a piece of legislation introduced as a discussion draft on June 3. The bill, if it were officially introduced and ultimately enacted, would remove the CO from the Library of Congress (LC) and establish it as an independent agency of the federal government, under the Executive Branch. Then, while we were still considering the ramifications of this idea, came the announcement on June 10 of the pending retirement of Dr. James Billington, who has been the Librarian of Congress for the past 29 years.
All eyes are on the Library of Congress (LC) as the iconic institution approaches what promises to be a transformational time. When long-standing Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced his plan to retire in January 2016, bets started flying on who would be the best new leader. The job, to be filled by President Barack Obama’s appointment, with confirmation from Congress, is an exciting and challenging one.
“I am not a librarian, but I am THE librarian!” Daniel Boorstin said to me several times when he was Librarian of Congress. It seemed to amuse him, and it only slightly annoyed me. There had been some controversy over President Gerald Ford, like so many before him, appointing a distinguished elder scholar to lead the Library of Congress (LC) rather than a credentialed, experienced librarian. Of the 13 Librarians of Congress, only two were really librarians.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) on April 16 introduced the “Breaking Down Barriers to Innovation Act,” a bill that would make significant changes to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which gives the Library of Congress the power to grant exemptions to DMCA’s ban on circumventing digital rights management (DRM) software, encryption, or other digital restrictions.
President Barack Obama’s $3.9 trillion budget for fiscal year 2015 proposes slight cuts in federal library spending, strongly promotes a variety of early education programs, and funds an ongoing mission to connect students to high-speed Internet in their schools and libraries.
In some ways, romance novels are the dirty little secret of the literary world. Largely ignored by mainstream critics, regularly maligned by academics, and sometimes hidden away even by their readers, romances are nevertheless responsible for as much as 50 percent of annual mass market paperback sales in the U.S.. Now, the organizers of the Popular Romance Project (PRP) are trying to rewrite the narrative, bringing romance to the attention of those who might not already pay attention to the genre by showcasing its diversity and depth and the community of authors and fans that drive its enduring popularity.
Hachette Book Group on May 29 announced plans to provide unabridged audiobook recordings for free to the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), a division of the Library of Congress (LOC). Select backlist and new titles, including new releases, will be available through NLS’s Talking Books program by the end of 2013
This country’s fascinating and invaluable patrimony of recorded sound and culture is at risk. Libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies have approximately 46 million recordings in their collections and more than six million are “in need” or “in urgent need” of preservation, according to the National Recording Preservation Plan released by the Library of Congress (LC) in December. The condition of another 20 million of the recordings is unknown, and these numbers do not include important material in private hands.