Copyright Awareness Roundtable: Wednesday July 23rd @ 12:00-1:30pm, NCB 293

This Wednesday, the PLG is hosting a roundtable looking at the role of copyright in contemporary librarianship. The speakers below will be discussing their professional experiences with copyright initiatives and the emerging issues affecting library patrons and service. Please join us!

Copyright Awareness Roundtable
Wednesday July 23, 2014
12:00 – 1:30pm
North Campus Building 293, UWO

Bobby Glushko, Scholarly Communications and Copyright Librarian
University of Toronto Libraries

“Bobby Glushko leads the Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office at the University of Toronto Libraries.  In his role there he directs and coordinates scholarly communications and copyright policy, works with faculty, staff, and students on those issues, and supports other divisions of the library in their efforts.  Bobby holds degrees in information science from the University of Michigan, and in law from the University of California at Berkeley.  He is particularly interested in the library’s role as an academic nexus, and its role in creating and making available copyrighted and public domain content.”

Tom Adam, Project Manager and Special Advisor to the Provost
The Copyright Literacy Project @Western

“At Western, responsibility for copyright belongs to us all. Building and implementing a comprehensive copyright literacy strategy for the university is the goal of this sixteen month project. The three project outcomes are to:

  • Design copyright information resources, tools and services and put them into action
  • Create and deliver copyright information sessions and workshops
  • Plan the long term sustainability of copyright literacy at Western

We also are building on the foundation that the library is the go-to place for everything with respect to copyright. Western’s librarians and library staff must gain knowledge and comfort about copyright and the changing copyright landscape in Canada in order to respond to the copyright needs of the Western community.”

Professor Sam Trosow, Associate Professor
FIMS and Faculty of Law, UWO

“Prof. Samuel Trosow will address how the broad user’s rights, now an integral part of Canadian Copyright law, are being implemented in Canadian libraries and educational institutions. How do the recurring conflicts between these user’s rights and licensing agreements and other institutional policies impede their effective implementation and realization? What is the role of the library community in defending the rights of their patrons in light of these persistent conflicts?”

Response to the USask TransformUS project and fate of Prof. Robert Buckingham

In early May, the dean of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) was fired for writing an open letter called “Silence of the Deans,” criticizing its new restructuring plan, TransformUS. The university justified its actions, saying that Professor Buckingham had betrayed the trust of the university administration by publicly criticizing the TransformUS project.

TransformUS is the name of the University of Saskatchewan’s restructuring plan aimed at reducing costs and making the University more fiscally efficient. U of S estimates it will save $25 million in total and will be more likely to avoid incurring a deficit in the future.  Over the course of 2013 to the present, the plan has moved from the development stages to implementation. In November 2013, a report was released by the prioritization task force dividing all current academic programs into quintiles: candidates for enhanced funding, maintained funding, reduced funding, program reconfiguration and program dissolution.U of S has reallocated $5 million to invest in the growth of programs in the first quintile, giving them “priority” status.Most of the cost savings will come from restructuring academic programs, senior administration and support services. This includes disbanding the College of Graduate Studies & Research and redistributing its functions amongst the 12 remaining colleges. The plan also includes consolidating U of S library services and reducing the number of print resources available in the libraries in favour of increased student space.

Regardless of the language used, we are particularly concerned with the closure or ‘reconfiguration’ of the Law, Education, Engineering and Veterinary Medicine libraries as part of the TransformUS project. Consolidating four of seven campus libraries will have a profound impact on their respective faculties and students, not to mention the inevitable job losses. Emphasizing study space for students is not an end in itself and does not make a library if librarians and collections are off-site. This consolidation devalues the expertise of departmental librarians by making their services less accessible and furthermore risks overloading the remaining ‘full-service’ libraries. It also devalues the departments the libraries are associated with. This is particularly disconcerting as the College of Veterinary Medicine and several Engineering programs have been identified as candidates for enhanced resources, suggesting that any fiscal rationale for these actions is misplaced. Furthermore, a law school without a law library is not taken as seriously in the larger academic community and may have more difficulty hiring new faculty and attracting students.

If services like embedded librarianship are being considered, as suggested by Acting Dean Ken Ladd, these developments must be emphasized. Describing the project primarily in terms of space allocation is a slight to librarians and those who benefit from their services.

Basic researchers continue to struggle for research funding while industrial projects are given favour by NSERC, CIHR, and SSHRC (CAUT’s commentary on NRC transformation). According to USask’s research website, the Industry Liaison Office works to, “Accelerate the Commercialization of University Research & Knowledge and Create Economic Value & Opportunity by Transferring University Research & Knowledge to Society.” This flies in the face of conventional scientific progress. Scientific discovery is an exploratory progress that cannot be guided by the whims of industry. Scholars from every discipline are trained to investigate by building upon the work of their predecessors; in this way, the research guides itself.

After the unwarranted firing of Dr. Robert Buckingham, former Dean of Public Health, university administration has undergone several changes in recent weeks with the resignation of Provost Brett Fairbarn and the firing of President Ilene Busch-Vishniac. It is crucial that the administration seriously consider not only how they handle critique but how this demonstrates the flaws inherent in TransformUS. Repairing a damaged reputation does not mean falsely projecting a united front but instead gaining confidence from concerned faculty and students by prioritizing their input on the future of the university.

Some USask students have organized a public reaction to the TransformUS strategic plan. They argue that TransformUS is based on the false premise that an economic crisis is imminent. As a public, educational institution, USask should not be concerned with its financial future to the point where it places a higher priority on its profit margin than on the quality of research and education. We are deeply concerned that establishing partnerships with industry in the excessive capacity of Western University’s recent STEM-focused strategic plan and USask’s TransformUS will stifle research creativity and take away opportunities for faculty and graduate students to take on original research projects.

A previous version of this post incorrectly identified Dr. Buckingham as the Dean of Health Sciences and not Public Health and contained outdated information about the status of TransformUS. These oversights have been corrected.

Response to the New Strategic Plan at UWO

On January 24 2014, the University of Western Ontario’s senate passed its new strategic plan, “Achieving Excellence on the World Stage,” which includes increasing the funding for faculties within the STEM faculties. However, once again, a significant number of faculties are underrepresented in this plan, in particular, FIMS, Arts & Humanities, Music, etc., many of which are already struggling financially. We of the London Chapter of the Progressive Librarians Guild, are concerned about the repercussions of the senate’s choice for our education, but also for academia more broadly which depends on university-wide funding in order to support the advancement of knowledge.

From the budget meeting on January 24, we fear that the University of Western Ontario is selectively favouring research within the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) disciplines. The decisions from the strategic-planning meeting serve only to create an artificial divide throughout the different aspects where education is entrenched. This divide between STEM and non-STEM places artificial limitations on progress, particularly where interdisciplinary research has been increasing in academia. This is crucial to recognize as interdisciplinary research is necessary for creativity and innovation to take hold and produce results that are so valued as expressed by the reasons for this budget cut. Thus it is a grave mistake to enforce this division that fosters too many boundaries for knowledge to be disseminated and developed upon. Essentially, new perspectives are lost and there are varied consequences to this undertaking.

The threat to the structural foundation of creativity exposes narrowly-envisioned goals and long term consequences, one of which includes the devaluation of non-STEM through the shifting of their positions in the larger university context. This is part of an increasingly intensified trend where the definition of education is limited by narrow characteristics, one of which rigidly sets what specifically constitutes “research” and what by default automatically falls out of the plan. Automatically then there are assumptions created by which disciplines are valued and this is reflective of the goals of an education organization. Professors and students should be encouraged to explore their interests without the pressure of proving the value of them. If targeted research funding is allowed to happen, it will undermine the university’s purpose as an institute of higher education. While the administration believes that this strategic plan will stimulate innovation in the sciences, it will in fact only serve to stagnate the scientific process by drowning out new ideas, which could potentially come from any discipline. A short article by Mexican physicist Guillermo Contreras (2002) provides a well-reasoned argument for the value of basic scientific research.We worry about the repercussions of this progress and its implications on“education” in general and thus the direction of the institution.

However, while the STEM faculties already have healthy finances, many other departments at Western must reallocate their budgets to remain financially solvent. FIMS has put forward two hypothetical scenarios in response to attempts to reduce their budget in the face of future austerity. Both scenarios involve cuts to the much used Graduate Resource Center (GRC), increases in already decently large class size, and large cuts in limited duty hires who provide important services for the students; teaching both specific and general classes which keep class sizes smaller and bringing in diverse talent. At a time when enrollment in the FIMS program is growing and tuition is rising, it is hard to see how such cuts are in the best interest of students at Western. This is a great personal concern for our members; we fear the effect that these cuts would have on our education.

Despite our disappointment in these events, we would also like to discuss the commendable behavior of the FIMSSC who disseminating information regarding issues surrounding Western’s Strategic Plan. The PLG would like to take this opportunity to commend the FIMSSC on their initiative in disseminating information regarding issues surrounding Western’s Strategic Plan. In a short period of time they were able to effectively reach out to the FIMS community on the implications of the proposed Plan and the budget cuts that could ensue, and the future of Western’s research in the social sciences to the student body. In just under a week they were also able to mobilize students for a peaceful demonstration and collectively take a stance on the university senate’s proposed cuts. A silent protest took place outside the room where the meeting was being held. Protestors were mostly FIMS students and grad students. Some of the protestors were allowed into the meeting room and stood along the back wall holding signs expressing their discontent with the strategic plan while the vote was taking place.

Unfortunately the Strategic Plan was approved, leaving us at the PLG and FIMS to ask, what’s next? A common issue at FIMS is that of ensuring longevity in our initiatives. While the immediacy of the Strategic Plan was a catalyst in garnering student involvement, as long as false comparisons and assumptions are made between STEM and non-STEM departments, the safety and funding of our faculty and research will continually be under threat. It is imperative that younger generations of students become involved especially those in undergraduate studies and those just starting their graduate degrees.

We also see the need to combine efforts with other faculties, including those in the STEM departments. The Strategic Plan neglects not only us at FIMS but also the Arts and Humanities, Social Science, and Music departments as well. To fortify our efforts and augment our cause, cross-faculty collaboration must occur. The PLG will be taking time to talk with other students and focus our attention on one-on-one interactions beyond the FIMS community. We feel that this would be most effective in informing others and generating further interest. Non-STEM faculties need support in order to change the current academic discourses that privilege STEM faculties. We fear the implications that this privilege will have on academia and the broader advancement of knowledge. We invite any like-minded individuals to join us as we continue to act against this issue.

Response to Federal Library Cuts

The Progressive Librarians Guild, London Chapter, strongly condemns the recent closure of Federal departmental and science libraries. We believe that the justification for the closures is false, and that the lose of the library’s resources and skills of the librarians will be devastating to the federal departments, scientific research, and the Canadian public.

According to a statement by the Minister of Fisheries and Ocean, “The primary users of DFO libraries, over 86%, are employees of the Department. An average of only five to twelve people who work outside of DFO visited our eleven libraries each year. It is not fair to taxpayers to make them pay for libraries that so few people actually used.” This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of federal libraries, which is to serve the public by being a resource for government researchers and scientists. The libraries’ value is not indicated by how often the public accesses them, but rather by the information they provide to federal workers. These libraries provide essential support and services to their departments. Many of the librarians have specialised  skills, and many government libraries hold (or held) unique collections relevant to the departments they serve. With these budget cuts, services to Canadians will be negatively affected.*

Along with the closing of physical buildings, much of the materials collected in these libraries have been either moved into storage, given to other organisations, or destroyed. In March of 2013, the physical collection of the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development (HRSDC) was phased out. This included the largest collection of books in Canada on the social sciences.  Without these materials, the department will be less able to make informed policy decisions and provide accurate advice to Cabinet.

We call on the current government to reinstate funding to Library and Archives Canada, and to commit itself to supporting the federal library system, as opposed to continuing their assault upon it.

 

List of Library closures from the Canadian Association of University Teachers

Canadian Heritage

  • LAC’s Staff Resource Center closed on November 1, 2012.

  • As of April 2013, the Public Service Commission (PSC) was in the process of closing. Plans regarding the disposition of PSC’s Library collection had not been finalized.

Citizenship and Immigration (CIC)

  • The CIC library closed on March 31, 2012.

Environment Canada

  • National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy was eliminated. Its library was closed on March 31, 2013.

Foreign Affairs

  • The Documentation Service and library of the Canadian Cultural Centre at the Canadian Embassy in Paris closed on June 21, 2012.

Human Resources and Skills Development

  • HRSDC closed its libraries in Gatineau, Quebec, and Montreal on March 31, 2013.

National Capital Commission

  • National Capital Commission Library closed in 2012.

Intergovernmental Affairs

  • Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is expected to significantly reduce and eventually close its library.

Public Works and Government Services

  • PWGSC closed its library on May 31, 2012.

Transport, Infrastructure and Communities

  • Transport Canada closed its library in 2012.

Consolidated

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

  • CRA is consolidating its nine existing libraries into one, the location of which has yet to be determined. Environment Canada

  • Parks Canada will consolidate five libraries into one. Regional libraries located in Calgary, Winnipeg, Quebec City, and Halifax will be consolidated into the Cornwall, Ontario location.

Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)

  • The DFO will close seven of its libraries, leaving two principal and two subsidiary locations. Consolidation completed September 2012. Researchers have serious concerns about the consolidation and de-accessioning process which insiders indicate was not well thought out and has been rushed.

Natural Resources

  • Natural Resources Canada is set to close six of fourteen libraries in 2012-2013: two in Ottawa, one in Varennes, Quebec; one in Edmonton, Alberta; and another in western Canada. In 2014, another Ottawa library will be closed.

 

*http://www.cla.ca/Content/NavigationMenu/CLAatWork/Advocacy/CLA_Member_Toolkit-Federal_Library_Budget_Cuts.pdf

The End of Access Copyright at the University of Western Ontario

On December 11, 2013, the University of Western Ontario announced that they were unable to reach an agreement with Access Copyright and that they would not renew a contract with the organization. The London chapter of the Progressive Librarians’ Guild would like to commend the university for their decision, which promotes the fair use of copyrighted material for education.

 

Our chapter believes that an agreement with Access Copyright limits the fair use of materials in academia to the detriment of education, but also scholastic advancement. We believe that the Canadian Government has clearly defined academic fair use for the benefit of the academic community and that Access Copyright limits the rights defined for Canadians in the Copyright Modernization Act.

 

This semester the PLG would like to acknowledge this advancement, but also promote this decision within the university with the objective to better inform university’s students of their educational rights with copyrighted materials.

 

Response to the AUCC Fair Dealing Guidelines for Universities

 

We, the members of PLG London find the AUCC guidelines to be problematic. We are concerned that blind adoption of these guidelines on the part of university administration would not support the best interests of students, faculty and librarians here at Western – and at other colleges and universities. Because many of us are Western students, moving into professional roles, some in academic libraries, we feel it is our responsibility to address this issue.

First, it is important to take into account the context in which these guidelines were created, which was to support – York University in its litigation with Access Copyright. That context has influenced the overall tone and feel of the guidelines, which comprise a conservative, excessively restrictive interpretation of the Copyright Act. Second, perhaps because a legal team authored these guidelines, it lacks a perspective relevant to the academic community they affect. We are concerned that the guidelines were developed from a defensive position and that they do not reflect the long-term needs of students and faculty here at Western and elsewhere.

These nine “guidelines” are presented as inflexible rules, and contain several unnecessary concessions. For example the circumstances under which digital locks may be circumvented hasn’t been fully settled, yet in the guidelines they automatically take precedence over user rights as a prohibited activity. Similarly the statement that limitations contained in licenses trump users’ rights is also an unnecessary concession as this issue has not been settled in Canada.

The short excerpt, 10% restriction on musical works, is presented as a firm portion, yet the term “short excerpt” itself is problematic and needs to be open to a more flexible interpretation. As numerous commentators point out, the risk in making such concessions prematurely could send the wrong message about what educational institutions consider to be fair dealing, and could result in more restrictive interpretations in the future.

This inflexibility and restrictiveness not only goes against the spirit of the Copyright Act itself, but it fails to recognize several recent developments including the addition of education to the statutory fair dealing categories and the strong endorsement of fair dealing by the Supreme Court of Canada. It doesn’t make sense to constrain the creative and intellectual activities of the educational community as the AUCC guidelines attempt to do.

Alongside our major concerns with the how this restrictive language affects faculty and students are our concerns regarding the language and format of the guidelines. Specifically, the number and length of the guidelines themselves are excessive; they are also repetitious, and contain overlapping content. This discourages the educational community, students in particular, from accessing and exploring them, or even grasping their content.

We fully appreciate the need for guidelines to be adopted, but we want to see policies that work and make sense for the audience they are affecting. This means guidelines that are easy to understand and use, and ones that reflect the current state of Canadian Copyright law.

The University of Western Ontario has a responsibility to students and faculty to offer a space for research, learning, and critical dialogue. To support a needlessly restrictive interpretation of Copyright Law is antithetical to that purpose.

We recommend that the administration instead consider the CAUT Copyright guidelines (http://www.caut.ca/docs/default-source/copyright/revised-caut-guidelines-for-the-use-of-copyrighted-material-(feb-2013).pdf) as an alternative to those provided by the AUCC. The CAUT guidelines are divided into 5 sections, dedicated to themes, not specific types of works. This avoids overlap in content and makes it easier for the reader to hone in on the issue that is affecting their decision-making at the time. It is also organized hierarchically, capturing the essence of fair dealing and topics of interest to the general user. It is not divided into subsections for specific user groups, but instead presents information as it applies to multiple user groups. The model proposed in the CAUT guidelines is more relevant to our current educational context, and applies better to the ways information is being created and shared today.

The PLG, London Chapter recommends that colleges and universities reject the AUCC guidelines, and instead consider adoption of the CAUT guidelines. We also recommend that decision makers in educational institutions consult Lisa Di Valentino’s May 2013 study “Review of Canadian University Fair Dealing Policies” (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2263034) to understand how other Canadian universities have addressed the issue.

PLG Letter re: Western Library Review 2013

Ms. Janice Deakin
Provost & Vice-President (Academic)
Office of the Provost
University of Western Ontario

August 12th, 2013

To Ms. Deakin:

The Progressive Librarians Guild – London Chapter would like to offer our input in response to the request for insight into the 2013 Western Libraries Review. As members of the Western community, patrons of Western Libraries, and library science students, we appreciate the chance to voice our concerns about several aspects of Western Libraries.

Studying in this program means that students have knowledge and ideas about a range of library-related issues: why they are important, what they need to improve, and what they need to do to reinforce their relevance. Our background means that we are uniquely suited to note areas of concern and improvement, as well as offer suggestions and possibilities.

Firstly, we feel that Western Libraries must do more to actively engage with and support the MLIS community and students. The library needs to offer more professional experiences to MLIS students by giving them priority to the part-time library positions that Western Libraries offers each year. While we understand that preference is given to undergraduates for retention purposes, it is more beneficial to offer those positions to students who see it as more than just a job, and will invest themselves accordingly. Our education has equipped us with theoretical and practical knowledge about working, using, and improving libraries that we will be able to apply in a meaningful way. However, we need to be given the opportunity to do so. As co-op placements become increasingly difficult to secure in our program, every possibility to gain work experience in a library setting is invaluable. As the MLIS is considered a professional degree, students are not able to become Teaching Assistants; these part-time positions would provide much needed financial assistance, given that all of us are on our second or third degree.

Additionally, Western Libraries could do more to work with the MLIS students by offering brief tours of the behind-the-scenes aspects of the library (such as technical services or administration) since it is difficult to gain an accurate understanding of these environments from classroom lectures alone. With such a large and active library system on the same campus as a thriving and dynamic Library and Information Science program, it only makes sense that the library would actively seek out ways to support the profession and build meaningful relationships with its local LIS community.

The second area on which we would like to comment on relates to the physical space and overall utility of Weldon Library. As the biggest library on main campus, Weldon Library sets the standard for library space on campus. However, we have noticed that there is an overall lack of care for the physical environment at Weldon. Surfaces and stacks are often covered in dust and litter is left on tables and workstations. This lack of cleanliness is not good for the collection, nor does it create a welcoming environment for students and faculty to study in and engage with.

Additionally, steps should be taken to make finding books at Weldon library easier. Better access to materials in the stacks could be achieved by having better (by which we mean larger and more obvious) signage, phones on each floor that connect to the reference desk or a librarian, a book finder application (similar to Ryerson University, where one can pinpoint the physical location of a book via a digital map), or the presence of a roving librarian to check in with students. Improved signage to indicate stairwells would also make Weldon easier to navigate, as its overall layout is not intuitive.

Western Libraries could improve its relationship with the LIS and Western community as a whole is through open and regular communication. Western Libraries must make it a priority to use social media sites effectively to open up dialogue with students and make the library seem more accessible, friendly, and dynamic. Even the option to subscribe to an electronic newsletter would be helpful for students and faculty. The fact that Western Libraries does not engage the larger community in any meaningful way—with the exception of the LibQual survey—is extremely problematic. Not only does this further denigrate the importance of the library’s collections and physical space, but it removes a valuable opportunity to solicit feedback from the campus community. Although Western Libraries exists to serve the needs of faculty and staff, it is failing to communicate how it does so. Rather than communicate through isolated communication channels, a holistic communication strategy needs to be developed to keep the Western University community informed about library services and that also invites feedback and participation.

Finally, we believe that it is of the utmost importance that Western Libraries takes an active role in educating students and faculty about copyright and fair dealing. As the schools moves forward by ending its agreement with Access Copyright, Western Libraries must provide education and guidance about user rights when it comes to using copyrighted works for educational purposes. The current Copy and Copyright: A Guide for Students, Professors and Staff at Western University on the Western Libraries website provides an email address for Access Copyright as a contact for more information. An impartial librarian should be the person who educates and supports students and faculty about user rights and copying guidelines, not a third party with a vested interest.

Additionally, Western Libraries should offer regular sessions about copyright to faculty members and graduate students, because information about copyright must be easy to find and comprehend. Universities that have excellent resources about copyright include the Robertson Library at the University of Prince Edward Island, the Dr. John Archer Library at the University of Regina, and Ryerson University Library and Archives. These resource sites are easy to find, emphasize the flexible nature of fair dealing, offer on-campus contacts and services that can help provide more information, and most importantly, they reassure the community that the library will support their user’s rights.

As Western Library users, future and current library professionals, and members of the Western University community, we appreciate this invitation to offer our insights into the current service and facilities of Western Libraries. We hope that you find our comments useful when conducting your review.

Sincerely,

Matthew Barabash
Elizabeth Blackall
Anastasia Gould
Lukas Miller
Ali Versluis
Jessica Windsor
Elsa Wong
Kathryn Ziedenberg

on behalf of the Progressive Librarians Guild – London Chapter