Hot Topic – Library Related Privacy Concerns

The International Federation of Library Associations considers privacy to be a basic human right, based on statements from Article 19 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Office of Intellectual Freedom, 2010, pg 8). The United States Bill of Rights also upholds the right of citizens to privacy, and grants Americans access to publicly funded libraries. The American Library Association states that the right to privacy is “essential” to the right of free speech and free association, and created their Library Bill of Rights in response, saying: “The American Library Association affirms that rights of privacy are necessary for intellectual freedom and are fundamental to the ethics and practice of librarianship” (ALA, 2014). Therefore, privacy is seen as a core value of librarianship. For years, libraries have worked to educate patrons on privacy issues and to keep the information provided by patrons confidential. But rapidly changing technology is challenging libraries’ approach to privacy issues. Recent government policies, such as the Patriot Act, make the job of the library much more difficult when it comes to privacy and confidentiality. Libraries are having to change the conversation about privacy issues and work to reevaluate how to handle these issues within the library to ensure that the ethic of privacy is being appropriately upheld.

The ALA maintains that all library professionals have a responsibility to uphold privacy ethics and to facilitate free access to information. While providing access to information without censorship, libraries have upheld basic standards such as withholding patron information from third parties, not monitoring what materials patrons access, and not retaining any information collected in the course of regular patron use of resources (ALA, 2014). In the past, this has been relatively easy. Libraries have disposed of any personal information collected on patrons, such as check out histories and interlibrary loan requests. But with the advent of new technologies, like cloud sharing, this information is not so easily lost. And recent federal laws have made it even harder to deny government requests for information. Libraries continue to try to maintain control over personal information and actively work to resist government violations of privacy rights, but find themselves having to carefully balance lawful requests for information with more stringent, often unethical rights violations from government authorities (ALA, 2014). Federal agents often make this much more difficult by giving federal orders to librarians that tell them that they cannot share the information that the federal government is looking into personal information on patrons in libraries.

The emergence of the internet, Open Access and other communication technologies changes the traditional methods of libraries in regards to privacy issues and concerns. Resources that libraries have conventionally provided in print are now being offered online, and the field is at a crossroads for collecting and managing collections (Zimmer, 2013, pg 29). Web search engines, like Google, provide instant access to millions of information sources, allowing patrons unprecedented access to unfiltered, unverified data. Libraries are having to integrate this new electronic environment into their traditional services, and to approach these platforms as widely accepted sources for their users. But this brings up new questions for library ethics, especially in regards to privacy issues. In the past, intellectual activities have been protected by standards in the library field. But now, unlike in the past, to harness these new resources, libraries have to “capture and retain personal information” in order to “create user profiles, engage in activities that divulge personal interests and intellectual activities, be subject to tracking and logging of library activities, and risk having various activities and personal details linked to their library patron account” (Zimmer, 2013, pg 31). And unfortunately, due to excitement over new possibilities for access, privacy concerns are often being compromised by libraries enthusiastic over new digital possibilities (Zimmer, 2013, pg 36). The lack of clear guidelines that address developments in the new technological age creates a policy vacuum that libraries must consider going forward to further their goal to uphold patron privacy.

The difficulty comes from patron privacy being seen as a “facet” of intellectual freedom. In his article on privacy concerns and electronic resources in libraries, Alan Rubel says: “While electronic resource use, coupled with policies regarding that use, may diminish patron privacy, thereby diminishing intellectual freedom, the opportunities created by such resources also appear liberty enhancing. Any attempt to adjudicate between privacy loss and enhanced opportunities on intellectual freedom grounds must therefore provide an account of intellectual freedom capable of addressing both privacy and opportunity” (Rubel, 2014, pg 184). Vendors of electronic resources provide customized services for patrons, which in turn allows vendors to collect much more personal information on patrons and their usage of resources than ever before. While patrons receive a better product and service, they give up personal information without the ability to control how that information is used. Vendor privacy policies are not usually on par with that of library privacy policies, and vendor ethics do not line up with the ethics of libraries (Rubel, 2014, pg 185). Libraries have to walk a narrow line between service and ethics that is becoming harder and harder to navigate as time goes by. Licensing contracts often require libraries to monitor usage and provide those statistics to vendors. While this information can be used innocently to keep track of what resources are actually needed, it can also be used to track personal usage without patrons ever being aware that this information is being shared.

In their article on the paradox of privacy, Campbell and Cowan state that “Privacy, then, exists at the juncture between the user and the information used. Free and untrammeled exploration of the library’s information resources can only take place if users are free from showing others what they are reading and having to explain why and users need not fear that the information they use will enable others to identify them” (Campbell and Cowen, 2016, pg 493). Technology has the ability to create both positive and negative opportunities for privacy, and Campbell and Cowan point out that the exploitation of personal information can exist without patrons knowing that it is happening. In order to ensure that the true library ethic of privacy is attained in this new world, libraries have to continue to acknowledge the right to privacy, no matter what excuse or rationale is given.

Campbell and Cowan examine the experience of LGBTQ library patrons who use the library as safe space to locate information about their gender and sexual identities. While the library should provide a private place to research this type of information, if that privacy is given up for technological advances, these users could be “outed” and harmed unintentionally. The library assists these users to “identify information [which] requires the gradual evolution of an ability to modulate and control one’s own revelations” (Campbell and Cowan, 2016, pg 501). The library has created an image of itself as a safe space for these individuals to come and do research for themselves, but this can easily change if the library is not mindful of the type of personal data that it is giving out to third parties. Staff need to be trained in how to handle these privacy issues and concerns, and libraries need to be mindful of the electronic infrastructure that we are creating and using to ensure that traditional ideas of privacy can be maintained in a very new technological environment.

Social media is another resource that needs to be examined. While budgets are being cut, social media is a very good way for libraries to advertise services and continue to bring patrons through the doors. Social media allows for multiple opportunities for exposure and advertisement. But social media is a tool for Big Data Analytics to turn users into resources for information. By tagging users, or following a page, patrons give up information about themselves that they aren’t even aware that they are sharing (Campbell and Cowan, 2016, pg. 503). As libraries, we have a responsibility to monitor these privacy issues and to police ourselves to make sure our patrons are aware of the risks, as well as the rewards, of using these types of resources.

Because of a constantly changing digital environment, privacy is an ever evolving concern, and libraries need to be constantly mindful of how we are handling this concern. One way to stay on top of privacy assurance in the twenty-first century is to keep doing what we are already doing, only do it a little better: “The ALA’s Core Value of Privacy rests on an assumption that continues to be valid: namely, that by exercising up-to-date collection management and accurate and effective bibliographic control, we empower users to locate information with a minimum of interference” (Campbell and Cowan, 2016, pg 505). In the future it will be necessary to continue to be mindful of the effects of technology on privacy issues and to be willing to be flexible in how we tackle the use of these technologies. There is no one right answer to the question of how to fully maintain an ethical policy in regards to privacy, but libraries must not overlook privacy in their excitement over new and better technological products. Privacy as a core library value has not diminished: in some ways, it has only become more necessary than ever before.

 

References

ALA Council. (amended 2014, July 1). An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights. Retrieved

July 1, 2016, from

http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill/interpretations/privacy

Campbell, D. G., & Cowan, S. R. (2016). The Paradox of Privacy: Revisiting a Core Library

Value in an Age of Big Data and Linked Data. Library Trends, 64(3), 492-511.

Office of Intellectual Freedom. (2010). Privacy and Freedom of Information in 21st-Century

Libraries. Chicago, Ill: American Library Association.

Rubel, A. (2014). Libraries, Electronic Resources, and Privacy: The Case for Positive

Intellectual  Freedom. The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, 84(2),

183-208. doi:10.1086/675331

Zimmer, M. (2013). Assessing the Treatment of Patron Privacy in Library 2.0 Literature.

Information Technology and Libraries (Online), 32(2), 29-41.

How to Apply for a Second Line Permit in New Orleans

I’m taking a course on Library Instruction and teaching this semester. We were tasked with making a short, active instruction session on some “how to” subject. I did mine on how to apply for a second line permit. I caught a typo after the fact (of course!) and had a couple spots where I stumbled with my voice slightly, but over all I was pleased with how it turned out!

http://www.screencast.com/t/AfbjCKLs0v

 

Discovery Assignment

We were tasked to read a study done on search tools and discovery platforms and replicate the study on a much smaller scale in groups for my Reference and Research class, LIS 2500.

Here were the instructions: LIS 2500 Disc_Assignment_revised

Poster Picture

For a close up: group 2 assessment poster_final

You can listen to our presentation at: http://www.screencast.com/t/XThtWyQm

And our paper:

Introduction:

Group Two was tasked with comparing the efficacy of different search platforms in order to gain a greater understanding of the reference process and the tools available to aid in a reference interview. The group looked at four separate search platforms and compared those searches in order to draw conclusions about the strengths and weaknesses of each. Using a previously published study as a basis for our study (see appendix B for information related to this article), this assessment was created to present our conclusions on the four search platforms used: the University of Pittsburgh’s Library Discovery Platform (PittCat+), EBSCO, ProQuest and Google Scholar.

Background:

Reference services are complex and the tools available for use are many. Libraries offer various search platforms to aid students in finding the right scholarly resources to meet their research needs. Choosing what search platform is best can be daunting for students. However, each search tool also offers a variety of services in order to narrow down results. The library discovery platform gathers all the libraries’ available resources and offers them in one place, allowing students to sort through thousands of offerings. Both EBSCO and ProQuest focus on the resources that those companies publish, which narrows a search down significantly, while Google Scholar searches the Google Databases and offers access to possibly millions of resources. In looking at these search platforms, Group Two looked for which platforms would offer resources that met specific requirements in order to best answer their research questions, using a CRL article (Asher, Duke, and Wilson 2013) as the basis for this process.

Literature Review:

Discovery platforms exist to make research more easily searchable and to help in smoothing out issues in the reference process. By reviewing several articles that examined the efficacy of search platforms, Group Two came to several conclusions. Discovery tools aid users in completing search scenarios and “maximize resource use, minimize student frustration, and ensure libraries’ pivotal role in information use and retrieval” (Foster and MacDonald 2013, 2). Asher, Duke and Wilson concluded in the CRL article which formed the basis of this assessment that “One of the most powerful features of discovery tools is their ability to meet students’ expectations of a single point of entry for their academic research activities supported by a robust and wide-ranging search system” (Asher, Duke, and Wilson 2013, 476). The topic of how Google was used by students when library search platforms are readily available was also a major point of discussion. Mandi Goodsett stated that “Increasingly, libraries find themselves competing for the attention of students with big search engines such as Google and Google Scholar”, which leads to the adoption of Discovery Tools that employ a single search point (Goodsett 2). Google has rapidly changed the face of library searches by forcing libraries to adapt similar looking platforms. Discovery tools appeal to users and more patrons are willing to use discovery platforms with single entry points. While librarians often criticize discovery platforms, all articles read agreed that discovery tools encourage patron use. But choosing discovery platforms can be time consuming and all articles seemed to point out that when librarians could direct patrons to using specific discovery tools, users had better experiences. In general, discovery platforms make the research process easier and most users seem to prefer the main library discovery tool to all else, since it can retrieve results from all items, types and vendors.

Methodology:

In order to create this assessment, Group Two was first asked to read an article which performed a similar study. After reading the article and discussing issues the group had in understanding the article’s study and result, the group was tasked with answering different questions using various search platforms. Each group member created a recording of their search efforts and narrated their thoughts while they did so. Once all searches had been performed, the group as a whole compared the various platforms to reach their conclusions. The group then performed a literature review and compiled this assessment after looking at our own results and comparing them to the literature read. Using the ranking system found in the CRL article (Asher, Duke, and Wilson 2013), the group ranked the articles each member referenced and created the chart found in Appendix A.

Results and Analysis:

While all four discovery platforms used returned articles that met the criteria, the library discovery platform was the group’s favorite search tool. This tool allowed users to refine their searches in a logical manner, while providing the largest number of useful results with the least amount of confusion. The platform performed a search that brought back the widest range of useful resources.

Google Scholar was the group’s least favorite tool. The Advanced Scholar Search portal did not allow as many useful refinements to searches and often provided too many results…in some cases, Group Two was not able to gain access to resources. In other cases, Google Scholar yielded search topics that were not useful and had to be culled out before search results became useable. Also not offered were tools to help patrons ascertain which resources were scholarly, peer reviewed articles. It was agreed that Google Scholar proved the least useful and perhaps the most overwhelming. Group Two would not recommend it to library patrons.

While EBSCO provided quick search results that were easily refined, sorting through its large list of databases to pare the search down to the right topics became overwhelming. However, the EBSCOhost Advanced Search interface is clean, intuitively designed, and easy to read. The available parameters provide a number of useful options to choose from when conducting research without flooding the user with too many options.

In our opinion, ProQuest’s refinements weren’t as adequate as EBSCO’s or the library discovery tool, though they were still better than Google Scholar’s. While the Advanced Search interface is intuitively designed and uncluttered, some of us felt that the Document type selection field provided too many available options to be useful for general research.

While EBSCO and ProQuest offered decent search options, Group Two found that using the library discovery tool easily incorporated both databases, and many of the same resources were found.

References:

 Asher, Andrew D., Lynda M. Duke, and Suzanne Wilson. 2013. Paths of discovery: Comparing the search effectiveness of EBSCO discovery service, summon, google scholar, and conventional library resources. College & Research Libraries 74 (5): 464-88.

Chickering, F. William, and Sharon Q. Yang. 2014. Evaluation and comparison of discovery tools: An update. Information Technology and Libraries 33 (2): 5.

Foster, Anita K., and Jean B. MacDonald. 2013. A tale of two discoveries: Comparing the usability of summon and EBSCO discovery service. Journal of Web Librarianship 7 (1): 1-19.

Goodsett, Mandi. 2014. Discovery search tools: A comparative study. Reference Reviews 28 (6): 2-8.

 

Appendix A:

 

QUESTION 1 Ebsco ProQuest Google Scholar PITT Discovery
Rater 1

Lauren

N/A N/A N/A N/A
Rater 2

Allyssa

 3  3  3  3
Rater 3

Jeremy

 3  3  3  3
QUESTION 3 Ebsco ProQuest Google Scholar PITT Discovery
Rater 1

Lauren

 3  3 3  3
Rater 2

Allyssa

N/A N/A N/A N/A
Rater 3

Jeremy

 3  3  3  3
QUESTION 4 Ebsco ProQuest Google Scholar PITT Discovery
Rater 1

Lauren

 3  3 3  3
Rater 2

Allyssa

 3  3  3  3
Rater 3

Jeremy

N/A N/A N/A N/A

 

 

 

 

 

 

Videos and Article Titles:

Jeremy DeMaris:

Library: http://www.screencast.com/t/I74dqXSEt

  • The effect of volcanic eruptions on global precipitation
  • Updated historical record links volcanoes to temperature changes

EBSCO: http://www.screencast.com/t/5r2MkJRyw7

  • Clarifying volcanic impact on global temperatures
  • Impacts of high-latitude volcanic eruptions on ENSO and AMOC

Google Scholar: http://www.screencast.com/t/ZMYv8rBj6

  • Atmospheric CO2 response to volcanic eruptions: the role of ENSO, season, and variability
  • The effect of volcanic eruptions on global precipitation

ProQuest: http://www.screencast.com/t/dwjsRYl1Zj7

  • Impact of an extremely large magnitude volcanic eruption on the global climate and carbon cycle estimated from ensemble Earth System Model simulations
  • Volcanic contribution to decadal changes in tropospheric temperature

Comments: Allyssa – I scored 3 on all of them. None of the materials were out of date, sufficient context was provided, and the articles directly addressed the research question in each case (in my subjective opinion). Lauren – I scored a 3 for the same general criteria: each source directly addressed the question, I believe they would be adequate for use in an academic setting, they’re up-to-date, and also appropriate for general presentations, in my opinion. Lauren also made some good observations about the appropriateness of particular resources which showed she was thinking about the question-specific requirement for this topic.

Allyssa Yanniello:

EBSCO: http://www.screencast.com/t/Aa3aBJxCxJV

  • Poor and distressed, but happy: situational and cultural moderators of the relationship between wealth and happiness.
  • Money Giveth, Money Taketh Away: The Dual Effect of Wealth on Happiness.

Google Scholar: http://www.screencast.com/t/hhVLD5lJ

  • High Income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being
  • Wealth and Happiness Across the World: Material Prosperity Predicts Life Evaluation, Whereas Psychosocial Prosperity Predicts Positive Feeling

ProQuest: http://www.screencast.com/t/W3avEXHEnI9

  • Resolution of the Happiness-Income Paradox
  • Does Being Well-Off Make Us Happier? Problems of Measurement
  • Income inequality is associated with stronger social comparison effects: The effect of relative income on life satisfaction

Library: http://www.screencast.com/t/5jGiILhcPl

  • Income growth and happiness: reassessment of the Easterlin Paradox
  • Richer in Money, Poorer in Relationships and Unhappy? Time Series Comparisons of Social Capital and Well-Being in Luxembourg

Comments: Jeremy – EBSCO 3, ProQuest 3, Google Scholar 3, PITT Discovery 3. They all hit at least 5 of the 6 rubric points. Lauren – EBSCO 3, ProQuest 3, Google Scholar 3, PITT Discovery 3. However, I do want to say I thought what Lauren said about Google Scholar was very true; the tool is not very good at narrowing down topics, as it does not have an advanced search option. So some of the options were not good for a general project. However, all of the resources hit at least 5 out of 6 rubric points as well.

Lauren DeVoe:

Library: http://www.screencast.com/users/ldevoe/folders/Default/media/6706e4e8-581d-457f-b9ed-356f31059364

  • The civil rights act of 1964 at 50: Past, present, and future.
  • The origins and legacy of the civil rights act of 1964.
  • Civil rights act of 1964

EBSCO: http://www.screencast.com/users/ldevoe/folders/Default/media/33e5c4f7-0d66-4b41-85ff-562e4da7dff3

  • THE SUPREME COURT’S PERVERSION OF THE 1964 CIVIL RIGHTS ACT
  • Going Off the Deep End: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Desegregation of Little Rock’s Public Swimming Pools.

ProQuest: http://www.screencast.com/users/ldevoe/folders/Jing/media/460b2947-83cd-48c6-aed9-d0e044429669

  • Reinterpretations of Freedom and Emancipation, Civil Rights and Assimilation, and the Continued Struggle for Social and Political Change
  • The 1964 Civil Rights Act: Then and Now
  • The First Serious Implementation of Brown: The 1964 Civil Rights Act and Beyond

Google Scholar: http://www.screencast.com/users/ldevoe/folders/Jing/media/40c09666-6a9e-44ea-a8b8-fcc2777a6890

  • Local Protest and Federal Policy: The Impact of the Civil Rights Movement on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
  • Public Accommodations under Civil Rights Act of 1964: Why Freedom of Association Counts as a Human Right.

Comments: Jeremy – Library 3, EBSCO 3, ProQuest 3, Google Scholar 3, Each resource fit the criteria and met the rubric for appropriateness. I thought that Jeremy’s look at Google Scholar pointed out many of the issues inherent and though Jeremy found good resources, it was obvious that there were issues with the platform. Allyssa – Library 3, EBSCO 3, ProQuest 3, Google Scholar 3, all materials met the necessary requirements.

 

Appendix B

What is the goal of the CRL study?

The goal of this CRL study was to judge the efficacy and performance of a few different discovery tools, and to understand how users (in this instance, undergraduate students) utilize these tools to perform research. In addition, the authors of the study were interested in identifying how students approach research problems and what assumptions they make about search/discovery tools (i.e. – whether or not to trust the results returned by a specific tool) in order to help students become better researchers, allow librarians and educators to provide proper instruction, and help users understand how specific discovery tools work to obtain the highest quality resources available. The researchers looked at both qualitative and quantitative data in order to reach their conclusions on efficacy within the use of these search platforms. By focusing on how these platforms were experienced by the users, the study was also striving to “identify and address unmet student needs and instructional requirements” by studying how students use these discovery platforms (Asher, Duke, and Wilson 2013, 465). The authors also wanted this study to be more comprehensive, which is why it looks at more than one discovery platform: “This study seeks to move beyond technical issues and single-tool evaluations to make a more comprehensive investigation that compares how students use different search tools and the types of materials they discover during their searches” (Asher, Duke and Wilson 2013, 466). The study sought to understand why students chose to use certain discovery tools over others, and understand how librarians can better help students who come into the library find the best resources possible through the tools that are currently being used.

How will this CRL article relate to this Discovery assignment?

The discovery assignment is similar to this study, as we are trying to compare the efficiency of different search platforms. Two out of the four platforms we will be examining are also discussed in the study, EBSCO Discovery platform and Google Scholar. Some of the study methods outlined in the CRL article (i.e. – answering research questions using different discovery tools and judging the quality of selected resources) reflect processes we will be involved in as part of the discovery assignment. We’ll also be assessing the tools we use and providing a test case outline similar to the one utilized in the CRL study (i.e. – intro, background, methodology, analysis, results, etc.). This study asked students to evaluate different search platforms with set questions, just as this assignment will. Essentially it seemed that the CRL study was a larger version of this assignment. This assignment seems to encourage a similar process in how this class looks at discovery platforms and judges how to best research a reference questions.

What is the “muddiest point” or main idea that you didn’t understand in the CRL study?

Group 2 did not understand how correlations were calculated for the judgments of each rater using the Spearman’s Rho formula. The purpose of using such a formula was apparent, but it would help to understand how the numbers are generated in order to grasp or ‘visualize’ the derived correlations for each question in order to contextualize this step better. Also, when judging the overall quality of resources generated by each tool and comparing them to each other, the authors talked about ‘statistical significance’ (whether the higher overall score received by one tool compared to that of another tool was statistically significant), but we weren’t able to see any information in the body of the text or in the appendices to help us determine what ratio they were using to determine ‘statistical significance’ (i.e. – a mean score that is 1 point higher than another’s mean score?…or something else?).

So a list of questions that should be asked:

What is Spearman’s Rho?

How is it calculated?

Why was it used instead of a different formula?

What other formulas could be used in a study like this?

Where would we find those and actually implement them in our own projects?

What is meant by statistical significance in this study?

What statistics were being used? Or how were they calculated?

What type of statistics should we be looking at in our own research? Where would we go to find this kind of statistic?

 

Reference:

Asher, Andrew D., Lynda M. Duke, and Suzanne Wilson. 2013. “Paths of Discovery: Comparing the search effectiveness of EBSCO Discovery Service, Summon, Google Scholar, and Conventional Library Resources.” College and Research Libraries 74, no.

ROI in Academic Libraries

In the current climate of economic downturn, ROI is a way for libraries to assess and evaluate the value of e-collections. Libraries are pressured with an increasing need to account for the money that is being allocated towards their collections and services, and to prove that what is being purchased is actually being used. Return on Investment is a way for libraries to “quantify” the value of these collections. While prices for library services are increasing, academic institutions are looking closer and closer at the ways in which academic libraries are using their budgets. Carol Tenopir looks at these issue on her article on ROI in academic libraries: “The value gap occurs when the cost of library collections and services increases over time, while the perceived value declines” (Tenopir 2010, 40).

Tenopir reports that ARL libraries have begun a major project to determine better ways of looking at ROI in academic libraries. While public libraries have many ways to study ROI, academic libraries are just getting started and have not yet adapted the necessary tools for an adequate ROI process. ARL statistics are being collected and analyzed internationally. The University of Illinois started this case study by looking at “the value of the library in the grants process through proposals, the return in grant funding, and grants reporting” which will allow them to see a definable source of library income and how it impacts library budgets (Tenopir 2010, 40). The project will continue to look at grants among more institutions and then, finally, look at other sources that show libraries’ return on investment.

Tenopir concludes: “What we hope to show as the studies progress is that the library’s products and services help faculty be successful, help students be successful, and generate both immediate and downstream income that provides good return for the investment” (Tenopir 2010, 46). When I first heard of ROI, I was almost offended. When purchasing collections and databases for the library, the immediate need and use is not always quantifiable. After further reading, I don’t think that ROI is a bad thing and I think Tenopir explains why very adequately with her conclusion. We are spending large amounts of money for these products, which does in turn affect our services. Why spend money on collections that are not enhancing services to our patrons? I think that ROI is probably a good means of proving the effectiveness of our spending, and is a good way to prove to administration and other library funding services that what the library has to offer is creating a wide and immediate impact. Perhaps in an era where we don’t have to pinch pennies, this wouldn’t be as important. But in today’s academic atmosphere, ROI could become an important tool in proving the importance of the budgets allocated to the library.

social-media-roi

Tenopir, Carol. 2010. “Measuring the Value of the Academic Library: Return on Investment and Other Value Measures.” Serials Librarian 58, no. 1-4: 39-48. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text, EBSCOhost (accessed December 7, 2015).

Librarians as Faculty

In comparing the two blogs, we can see that the issue of tenure is a thorny one. Tenure is often difficult to achieve, and once achieved it complicates the role of academic librarian in a multitude of ways.

Librarians exist in a strange space within the university structure. I think Freedman and Dursi hit the nail on the head when they ask whether librarians are fish or fowl. As they state in their introduction: “Every situation appears to be different and it is difficult to look across our discipline to find a common policy and procedure existing for these topics” (Freedman and Dursi 2011, 284). Librarians occupy liminal space within the university, so the issue of tenure often changes the way they are viewed by other academics within the university structure, as well as how they are treated by the university itself.

Does tenure help or hinder the status of the library profession?

While it may be believed that tenure promotes scholarship and ensures that librarians are in a position to pursue such, it seems that the reality is often the exact opposite. As Farkas states in her blog: “I know at some places, librarians are told that they can take x% of their time for scholarship or that they can take one day/week for it. At most places, that isn’t the case. You try to fit it into your work week while you’re doing your ‘real work’ and are expected to take it home with you because it’s how you’re going to keep your job” (Farkas 2014). Tenure, instead of helping librarians pursue scholastic work, chains them into specific research that doesn’t actually assist them in their mission as librarians.

Fister believes in tenure and says: “What I do notice is that there’s a rather odd disconnect between what the tenure process promotes (especially in the area of contributions to scholarship) and what academic librarian career paths depend on (which is primarily focused on experience managing other people’s work)” (Fister 2014). She sees tenure as assisting her in being the best teacher she can be. She continues by stating: “It involves us in the life of the college through service, and that gives us the opportunity to see our work in the context of the entire institution’s mission and operations. It gives us support (though never enough, it’s there) to be formally curious about the world, the freedom to ask the questions we find compelling, and an obligation to share what we learn for the public good and to speak up when necessary. It tests us to see what we’re made of but, in exchange, guarantees that if we say unpopular things or ask difficult questions, our colleagues will have our back” (Fister 2014). But I fell that these are troubling statements. While the academic library is there to support the mission of the university, the librarian should be supporting the library’s needs (i.e. patron needs) over that of the overall university, and scholarship should be done in support of that mission, not done because it is being forced by the larger university. Also, the ideas of the freedom of information and open discourse should support whatever scholarship is being done and whatever the librarian has to say without fear of reprisal from the larger institution. If librarians (and any faculty) live in fear of the lack of support for their research, than the larger institution has already lost.

In my own personal experience, I think that not having tenure can hinder the position of the librarian within the greater university. I work for an institution where librarians are faculty, but without tenure. They are hired within a promotion track process where they must achieve a certain level of promotion within a certain amount of time before they are offered a permanent contract. Right now, the university I work for is cutting benefits and changing the structure of the university hierarchy. Because librarians do not fit within the faculty/tenured track and yet, are not considered staff, they have been largely left out and ignored in the discussion, leaving our librarians on edge and fearful of their position within the university. From a purely professional viewpoint, I can see where having tenure can protect the status of librarian and make sure that the university treats them as the important members of the academic institution that they are. It is often easy to overlook librarians as scholars and teachers, and the process of tenure makes sure this doesn’t happen.

Do tenure requirements promote reflective practice?

But at the same time, I am pursing librarianship because I do not want to teach on the classroom level like academic faculty do. I also want to publish scholarship that I wish to pursue, not scholarship that I am forced to pursue. I don’t want to worry that my job depends on publication, when service to my patrons is much more important to me. I observe that while publication may help, but there are times when it has nothing to do with the work of librarianship.

Tenure is sort of a trap. There are both good and bad things about tenure. Several people have brought up how badly adjunct faculty are treated, and I think that in many regards, librarians are treated in a similar manner.

We are expected to have advanced degrees and to publish research and engage on a much larger community level such as on national committees and in professional organizations, but we are not seen as faculty unless we obtain tenure.

I don’t think that tenure promotes reflective practices. In fact, I think it does the exact opposite. The profession of librarianship itself constantly encourages that reflective practice and most librarians will continue to seek out new ways to improve what we are doing without the lash of tenure at our backs.

Will you look for a job on the tenure track?

I don’t know whether I will seek a job on a tenure track. The idea of tenure upsets me and I don’t want to have to work for tenure, but at the same time I see what happens when librarians do not have tenure and are regarded with less respect within the university structure. At the end of the day, I think the notion of tenure is something that needs to be addressed at a much higher level, and viewed across the board for the entirety of the university. The downsides of tenure do not just affect librarians, they affect everybody.

phdcomics

Farkas, M. G. (2014, July 23). On tenure, after three years on track [Blog]. Information Wants to Be Free. Retrieved from http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2014/07/23/on-tenure-after-three-years-on-the-tenure-track/.

Fister, B. (2014, July 29). Should academic librarians have tenure may be the wrong question [Library Babel Fish Blog]. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/library-babel-fish/should-academic-librarians-have-tenure-may-be-wrong-question.

Freedman, S., & Dursi, M. (2012). What’s in a Name: Are we fish or fowl? Something’s Gotta Give: Charleston Conference Proceedings, 2011 (pp. 284-­292). doi: 10.5703/1288284314913. Retrieved from http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/charleston/2011/Administration/5/.

Users as Selectors – Traditional Collection Building vs. PDA

Changes in technology and lowered budgets have shifted the focus of collection building from librarians to the hands of patrons. Patron driven acquisitions (PDA) allows libraries to lower acquisitions costs by giving patrons access to a larger amount of electronic resources without having to buy each title (Draper 2013). Vendors provide MARC records for titles dealing with selected subjects, and patrons can choose and download these titles as needed. While libraries have traditionally taken patron input into account when choosing titles for acquisitions, PDA changes the traditional selection model and puts it almost entirely into the hands of the patron. In the past, items have been purchased with the anticipation of patron needs; now items are being purchased only when immediately needed by patrons (Hodges, Preston and Hamilton 2010).  The issue of whether or not PDA should entirely replace traditional forms of collection building is a difficult one. In general, libraries do not have the budgets to keep building collections with items that will not be used by patrons. PDA allows libraries to purchase specific titles only as needed. But PDA also complicates records management, and changes the face of the library’s core collection. Librarians build collections with specific purpose. The items they choose support specific topics and subjects within their institution. Often the library itself has very specific focuses, and part of a librarian’s job is to keep those goals in mind when making acquisitions decisions (Douglas 2011). PDA takes collection building out of the hands of the librarians and changes the focus and goals of a collection.

While costs of subscriptions and databases have continued to rise, ensuring that libraries cannot continue to purchase these types of resources in perpetuity, PDA seems to be the answer many have been looking for. But in many ways it seems like its the easy way out. It puts too much of the collection building into the hands of patrons and libraries will see an increase in very unbalanced subject acquisitions. While written policies help ensure that PDA functions within certain limitations, these restrictions don’t change the fact that collections are being built by patrons who do not see the bigger picture of the collection. Policies need to be regularly revisited, and libraries have to balance the immediate needs of patrons with the needs of the institution and the collection itself (Douglas 2011).

In my personal experience as an library acquisitions manager, PDA is something that patrons don’t necessarily understand. They know that they have immediate access to a title, but they don’t understand the economic impact of their click on a title, only that they have access to the title they are interested in. We implemented a PDA program for the first time last year, with policies for the type and price of the items within the program, just as the OSUL libraries did in the Hodges, Preston and Hamilton article. We set aside $10,000 from our approval budget for this purpose. This original $10,000 was intended to last the entire year, but the budget was gone within the first four months of the program.. We found, in doing a study of the pilot program, that one patron alone had spent $1200 on titles relating to one specific subject. While one patron obviously needed access to these titles, who else will want to focus on this very specific subject? When the patron chose these titles, it was to help their research and had no regard for the research of other patrons within the larger institution.

I see PDA as being a sort of stop gap response to the current budgetary crises in libraries, and to the increased need for items in the present moment. One of the other university libraries in our area has changed to an entirely PDA driven collection because their budget has been cut so significantly that they can only afford titles that they know will fill patron needs. But at the same time, academic vendors are slowly changing their licensing and prices in response to libraries standing up to them and insisting that they can no longer afford such huge price tags. We had a vendor come in last week to introduce their new ebook program, which will for the first time ensure that once an ebook has been purchased by our institution, our institution will actually own that title and will not be renting it, as is the case with many others. We will always have access and not have to pay more licensing fees at the end of a specific period of time. Their pricing was also for multiple users and was more affordable than even the more traditionally affordable ebrary titles. This is an example of how publishers are changing their pricing and licensing policies in a way which might render PDA unnecessary. Another issue with PDA is how vendor generated records flood our catalogs. This might seem like a small thing, but while we have access to these records, we don’t necessarily own them, and this also changes the face of a collection. When looking at the collection as a whole, how do these records affect what we want to be seen? In the end, PDA seems a reasonable response right now, but I wonder how we will view it in the long run?

catalog cartoon

References:

Draper, D. C. (2013). Managing patron-driven acquisitions (PDA) records in a multiple model environment. Technical Services Quarterly, 30(2), 153-165. doi: 10.1080/07317131.2013.759813

Hodges, D., Preston, C., & Hamilton, M. J. (2010). Patron-initiated collection development: Progress of a paradigm shift. Collection Management, 35(3-4) , 208-221.

Douglas, C.S. (2011). Revising a collection development policy in a rapidly changing environment. Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries, 8(1), 1521. doi:10.1080/15424065.2011.551487

Fair Use and “Song of the South”

As an Acquisitions coordinator, I deal with copyright and fair use on a daily basis. Ironically, many of the librarians I work with like to overlook copyright and fair use issues, especially when it comes to purchasing DVDs and media, because licensing for academic institutions for these materials can be very expensive. In these cases these librarians like to cite educational use when it comes to copyright and fair use, in order to avoid having to purchase the more expensive licensing. Very early on, we set policy in place that if a license was available, we would purchase it and we would only buy brand new DVDs to ensure that these DVDs are in good condition, and that they come from legal vendors. These basic policies protect us a great deal right off the bat, and I have to argue with librarians on a regular basis when I refuse to purchase DVDs that don’t meet these basic guidelines. I am always shocked when a librarian tries to get out of buying the educational license when it’s available or sends me a link to a vendor that seems less than reputable.

I recently had a strange situation come up. One of our faculty requested that we purchase a copy of Song of the South. If you’re not familiar with Song of the South, it is an extremely controversial film that Disney produced in 1946. Seen as being overtly racist, it has not been released for home video in the United States: “Disney hasn’t released the controversial Song of the South to American audiences for over twenty years” (Sperb 2010).

Disneys-Song-Of-The-South-1946-Front-Cover-86490

Yet there is still a vast interest in this movie among academics. “…Song of the South lives on, yet the company can’t even really acknowledge the film, much less cash in on it directly. If you were born after 1980, you’ve almost certainly never seen it in full, and it’s unlikely that will change anytime soon” (Lingan 2012). Song of the South is an important film when discussing the Civil Rights movements and cultural trends in early twentieth century American culture. While the film is horribly offensive to today’s audiences, there is a great deal that can be learned from viewing it on the university level. So the member of our faculty essentially wanted a legal copy of a film that is not available legally within the US. There are no new copies that can be purchased directly from Disney. The only copy that we were able to purchase was a copy that was made illegally and was available through a third party seller on Amazon.

So the question was, do we buy this copy or not?

We bought the copy, because it was literally the only copy available and we decided that educational use would protect us if any issues came up.

In viewing this decision from the standpoint of the four factors of Fair Use cited in this assignment, I think this presents an interesting case study. The four factors are:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

This copy was going to be used specifically for education purposes (citing criteria 1, use for…nonprofit educational purposes). It was going to be a major component of our African American studies department and would also be used in Film and Media Studies. The film itself was going to be viewed in full in the classroom setting, so using the clips posted illegally on YouTube, was also an issue (criteria 3). This film was not going to be used for making money from a copyrighted work and from a technical reading of criteria 1, educational use should legally cover the viewing of the film.

Were we correct? I’m not sure. In this rare instance, there is literally no legal copy out there. You can see clips on YouTube, or find a few non-English language versions (when I looked it up just now, I found this German copy). But while the film is going to be used educationally, it is a straight up pirated copy of the original film. This is not transformative, it is not a parody, it is literally an illegally copied version of the original property. But it can also be argued that you can find the full film on YouTube, therefore there is other access to this film aside from pirated copies on the market (ARL 2012).

At the end of the day, we probably should have turned the professor down and told him that due to copyright and Fair Use considerations, we couldn’t purchase the illegal copy of the film. At the time, educational use was used to trump the other issues that we saw in purchasing this copy.

If there are ways in which it seems to violate Fair Use in many ways, in examining it through the ways that courts have determined Fair Use as outlined in this assignment: “Is the use you want to make of another’s work transformative — that is, does it add value to and repurpose the work for a new audience — and is the amount of material you want to use appropriate to achieve your transformative purpose?” then yes, it is absolutely falls under terms of Fair Use. The use of this movie absolutely adds value and repurposes the film for today’s scholars and for future scholars of American race studies.

In this case, I don’t know that there was a perfect answer. Will the film be helpful to our students? Absolutely. Is it an illegal copy? Yes. Is the unique nature and cultural importance of the film criteria enough to justify this purchase? We thought so. What do you think?

References:

ARL. 2012. Code of Best Practices in Fair Use For Academic and Research Libraries. http://www.arl.org/storage/documents/publications/code-of-best-practices-fair-use.pdf

Lingam, John. 2012. “Bristling Dixie: Uncle Walt thought Song of the South would be his masterpiece. Now it’s invisible”. Slate, January 12, 2012, accessed October 25, 2015. http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2013/01/song_of_the_south_disney_s_most_notorious_film_by_jason_sperb_reviewed.html

Sperb, Jason. 2010. “Reassuring Convergence: Online Fandom, Race, and Disney’s Notorious Song of the South.” Cinema Journal 49, no. 4: 25-45. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 25, 2015).