Friday, 8 April 2011

Copyright for library staff, and a bit of networking

Yesterday I attended a course run by AULIC (Avon University Libraries in Cooperation) on “Copyright for library staff”, led by library copyright guru Graham Cornish. I have recently been given responsibility for copyright issues in my campus library (although there is a librarian responsible for copyright across the whole library service, so I’m in no way alone on it, happily!), so when this course came up I thought it would be helpful to attend, as I knew nothing about copyright, and we recently had a somewhat complex enquiry from a student wanting to use AV material in her dramatic performance, demonstrating that it is something that we need to be aware of. 

The course lasted a whole day, during which Graham took us through copyright and how it applies to us, clearly and thoroughly. He began with an overview of copyright - what it is, what the various laws are, what is covered by copyright, what rights owners/authors have, and the concept of fair-dealing – before moving on to “library privilege”. He explained the various licences under which libraries run their operations, discussed the issues that arise in the digital world, and all along encouraged us to ask questions, which were all answered. His knowledge of copyright and how it works in and affects libraries was breath-taking. I now feel that I know a lot more than I did, and, importantly, that I know where to find the information that I’ll need to answer copyright queries. 

Something that the course really demonstrated to me was how important copyright is in academic libraries, and how much it affects our whole operation; it’s not just a case of putting up a poster telling students they can photocopy x% of a book.  Copyright impacts on every aspect of the day-to-day workings of a library, from inter-library loans to storing past examination papers digitally, and I feel now that it is really helpful to have some knowledge (or at least to know where the find the relevant information) of copyright, whatever role you have in the library. I shall certainly be taking what I’ve learnt back to work with me – I and a colleague are planning to write a basic guide to AV copyright at some point during the summer – but I also think it will be useful for my work in a broader sense, in helping me to understand how the general operation of the library works.

I also wanted to write about a little bit of networking that I did afterwards. I didn’t speak to many people during the course itself – I think the layout and size of the room wasn’t very conducive to networking – but I did meet someone who I follow and have spoken to on Twitter. I ended up going to the pub with them and a couple of other people it turned out I also follow, some other colleagues/ex-colleagues of theirs, and someone who I met at the Chartership course a few weeks ago. When it comes to networking, I am a firm believer in using purely social events, such as going to the pub, and talking about things other than libraries (on Twitter as well as in real-life), to make friends, rather than simply acquiring “professional contacts” in a more formal, exchanging-business-cards-at-a-conference way; I look forward to seeing them again, and I shall definitely get on with arranging that Bristol/South West LISNPN social!

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