A librarian’s perspective

Molly Kleinman, the fourth speaker of the lecture series (see posts below),  is a copyright specialist and librarian at the University of Michigan. Her job hinges on allowing people to achieve their research goals, and her job at times can be impeded by copyright laws. 

I asked her if she viewed Google as a threat to libraries. They’re not, to her. They actually make her job easier and serve as just another tool.

She also mentioned how libraries and their special databases are often unrecognized, since Google uses them extensively but never tells you that they are using a library’s database.

A big concern Molly has with copyright is that in the pre-Web era, libraries could buy a phyiscal copy of a book or journal and keep the tangible copy as long as it did not disintegrate. Now, she has seen an increased trend in licensing content. Basically, the libraries are owning less and less physical materials, and hence are owning less physical content. When they license the information, the terms of a license contract dictate the terms of use. These terms often mean no copying, no backing up, no storing in other devices, and no saving on the shelf. This means the library has to keep re-paying the content owner for re-newed access to the information periodically. This has been great for content owners who have shifted their information to digital platforms. But this is bad for the consumer who now no longer owns any tangible product where the data has been stored.

If this keeps happening, used book stores might be out of business some day?