Message Development

Copyright Education in Libraries Part 2: How Can Librarians Promote Lawful Access, Use, and Preservation?

Evaluate Internal Policies

Identify Copyright Needs

Copyright Information Web Site

Provide Training

Library Copyright Expert


Evaluate Internal Policies: Evaluate your internal copyright policies and practices; update if necessary.

  • Know your institution's overall stance on using third-party copyrighted materials in teaching and learning activities, including in the library. Does your institution encourage the responsible exercise of fair use? Or has it adopted a more conservative position such as outlined in the Classroom Guidelines? Does it require permissions for most uses? Find out what campus policies may affect your library policies.
  • Identify and collect your own library policies, guidelines, and practices. Some of these may be old and some practices may never have been "formalized" in writing. Look in traditional areas like reserves, interlibrary loan, photocopy centers and media collections. Then consider what may exist or be needed for newer services like digitizing special collections, online reference, scanning laboratories, institutional repositories, wikis, and blogs.

Identify Copyright Needs: Identify areas of your library with copyright issues and ensure a consistent attitude and approach.

Areas or departments in your library that face copyright issues regularly usually parallel those with policies or guidelines. (see previous section). You may be surprised to find that the development of services has outpaced development of guidelines or faqs to handle recurring copyright questions and issues. Find out what the practice is and what the common issues are.

It's safe to assume that a library department or unit does or will have some intersection with copyright law although the needs will vary in complexity and frequency.

Copyright Information Web Site: Establish or update your copyright policy and information Web site.

There are many examples of library copyright information web sites. They range from simple lists of links to more comprehensive pages with substantive materials.

Provide Training: Hold regular copyright training workshops for library staff.

Although many librarians are knowledgeable about copyright law, particularly as it relates to library issues, they weren't born that way! Annual copyright basics workshops should be offered for new library staff and any other staff who want a refresher. If the need is great, workshops tailored to specific departments like special collections, collection management, access and delivery services, etc., can also be offered.

Library Copyright Expert: Identify a library copyright point person.

Every university library should have as its goal the designation of a copyright point person. While larger libraries may be more able to fund such a position (particularly if shared with another unit like the Provost's office), this may not be easy for smaller libraries.

Instead, smaller libraries may have to place copyright responsibilities with a librarian whose primary responsibilities lay elsewhere. The reserves or distance education librarian might be a logical choice.


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