August 29, 2009

Livejournal

We’ve hopped on Livejournal, to take part in communities and reconnect with some people who post there. If you’re a Livejournaler and want to add us, you can find us at http://litwinbooks.livejournal.com

August 28, 2009

“Most People”

Yes, I know I’m supposed to be user-centered and all that, but I think the great wave of populism we’re seeing now is going to lead to bad things. Some friends say it’s a time of opportunity, that maybe the blind rage of the common man can be directed toward support of progressive policies. Perhaps, but with everyone’s attention spans diminishing and few people actually looking into details or questioning assumptions (progress to some of you out there), I tend to think that things are unraveling. And “the people” are only going to get angrier when the middle class tax increases come in a couple of years (as though there was an alternative to transferring debt to the public sector to bail out the global economy).

So as an antidote to the present populist fervor, three quotations that I hope mean something….

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).
– Mark Twain, Notebook, 1904

Most people are not liars. They can’t tolerate too much cognitive dissonance. I don’t want to deny that there are outright liars, just brazen propagandists. You can find them in journalism and in the academic professions as well. But I don’t think that’s the norm. The norm is obedience, adoption of uncritical attitudes, taking the easy path of self-deception.
– Noam Chomsky, in an interview with James Peck, found in the Chomsky Reader

History is the present. That’s why every generation writes it anew. But what most people think of as history is its end product, myth.
– E. L. Doctorow, in an interview in Writers at Work (1988)

August 27, 2009

Free content on the LJP / Litwin Books website

In addition to information about the books we publish, the Library Juice Press and Litwin Books websites have some free content, including some of the content of our books and some additional readings as well. Here are links to the free content available on these sites:

August 18, 2009

Le blog du CFI

From: Franck Hurinville
To: ifla-l@infoserv.inist.fr
Subject: [IFLA-L] French IFLA National Committee : please visit our blog
Date: Aug 18, 2009 9:54 AM

dear IFLA Colleagues,

the Comité Français IFLA – French IFLA National Committee is an independent umbrella association of library, information, documentation associations, institutions and professionals in France. It is committed to supporting the interests of library and information services and their users in France.It promote the fundamental principles of IFLA at a national level within the framework of French libraries. The Committee especially furthers the French language inside IFLA, with the view to promoting cultural and linguistic diversity according to IFLA language policy

Its new blog aims to be one of the main instruments of communication between IFLA’s French and French-speaking members.

Please visit our blog… and practise your French !

leblogducfi.over-blog.com

Franck Hurinville
Vice-president and Webmaster
on behalf of the French IFLA National Committee

August 17, 2009

Something people in the book world often misunderstand about copyright

There is something that people in the book world often don’t understand about copyright. When I say book world I mean librarians, booksellers, reviewers, researchers, authors, and sometimes publishers.

A question that people often want to know the answer to is “Who owns the copyright” to a work, because they may want to know if they are free to reproduce it without permission, or for some other reason. Someone with this question may look at the verso of the title page of the book and see that the copyright is owned by the author, and conclude from that that the author is the rights holder who has the authority to grant permission, etc.

In such a case the author indeed “owns the copyright,” but is not necessarily the rights holder concerning the rights in question.

Most contracts in the publishing world do not involve an actual transfer of the copyright to the publisher. That is quite rare.

To be the copyright owner of a work, which one automatically is when one creates a work in a fixed medium, means owning a bundle of rights regarding the publication and use of the work. Those rights can be split up and traded separately, and for limited time periods, through contractual relationships. So, typically, a publishing contract will give the publisher a limited set of rights for a limited time period, after which the contract might renew itself if no one objects. Those rights might include publication and sale in particular countries, translation into foreign languages, performance, adaptation, etc. Publisher’s contracts often include as many rights as possible, but usually for a limited duration.

What this means is that the copyright information on the verso of the title page of a book does not tell you who owns the rights to the work as they might concern you. Even if it states that the book is “Copyright Wanda Y. Datso, 2009,” the author may not be the rights holder in terms of your question. The only way to find out who owns a particular set of rights to a work is to look at the contracts between the author and other interested parties. Note that the original copyright owner may give up rights to more than one party in a variety of ways – non-exclusively, for limited time periods, and for limited kinds of rights (e.g. translation into particular languages), so more than one party may own different rights to a work at the same time. Also note that the separate rights under copyright can be sold, given away, lent, shared, inherited, under any legal arrangement that people devise.

I think the potential complexity of this tableau of rights is often not realized by researchers who want to find the rights holder to a work. The key things that people need to realize are that “owning the copyright” is not the same thing as being the rights holder, and that the distribution of rights is done through contracts, and can be accomplished in countless, creative ways. (After all, this is the basis of the Creative Commons licenses.)

August 10, 2009

Speaking at Drexel

I should have posted something about this earlier, sorry.

I will be speaking at Drexel in Philadelphia tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday, 8/11/09), at the iSchool, 5pm, Rush Building, Room 014.

They have posted a description to their news site.

If you have a chance to go and you have found out about it here, say hello and let me know…

Professionalism and attitudes toward change

Just a brief note on a topic I will return to later…

I find that librarians think of change in one of two ways:

  1. Change is happening to the profession;

    or

  2. Change is happening in the environment (social, cultural, economic, political) and the profession determines how it will change in response.

These two ways of thinking about change don’t reflect an attitude of embracing it or resisting it, but rather an attitude of greater or lesser professionalism. Embracing or resisting change is something else.

Keith Roberts and Karen Donahue summarize the characteristics of a profession as follows:1

  1. Mastery of specialized theory
  2. Autonomy and control of one’s work and how one’s work is performed
  3. Motivation focusing on intrinsic rewards and on the interests of clients – which take precedence over the professional’s self-interests
  4. Commitment to the profession as a career and to the service objectives of the organization for which one works
  5. Sense of community and feelings of collegiality with others in the profession, and accountability to those colleagues
  6. Self-monitoring and regulation by the profession of ethical and professional standards in keeping with a detailed code of ethics

I think that it is endemic of the period of deprofessionalization that we are in that library managers have begun to say that “professionalism” means performance of ones tasks according to high standards of quality (as judged by them). Thus, support staff and librarians are equally “professional” if management is pleased with their work, a move by management that undercuts the autonomy of professionals.

(I am working on a paper about deprofessionalization at the moment and will share a citation to it when it’s done.)

I think that we have to consider the context of the professional status of librarianship, or lack of it, when we look at the discourse surrounding change in the profession. The professionals who comprise a professional group share a responsibility for the nature and destiny of the profession itself. If it is controlled from the outside, it is not really a profession. That is why so many of us participate in ALA committees and other units. These committees, along with graduate programs in LIS, are where the work is done that maintains the professional status of librarianship.

If you regard change in the profession as something that we have no control over, that we have only to embrace or resist, then you are approaching professional questions with the attitude of a non-professional.

If you recognize that professional questions are not questions of choosing between predetermined options but questions of values, purposes, creativity, inventiveness, foresight, and planning, then you are fulfilling your responsibility as a professional to guide the profession through a changing environment as only its members can.

1. Roberts, Keith A. and Donahue, Karen A., “Professionalism: Bureaucratization and Deprofessionalization in the Academy,” Sociological Focus 33 no. 4 (2000) 365-383.