VCU Libraries Advisory Committee
4th Floor Conference Room, James Branch Cabell Library
February 17, 2012 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Charlotte Arbogast, Meredith Byrk, Corey Davis, Jose Dula, Linda Hughes, Laura McLay, Whitney Newcomb, Peter Nguyen, Lisa Phipps, Amy Throckmorton, Katheryn Witt
Absent with notice
Etti Baranoff, Tehra James, Kathy Kreutzer, Faye Prichard (chair), Jeanne Schlesinger
Les Harrison, Roy McKelvey, Patricia Strong
Guests: Michael Snow (Pharmacy student), guest with Lisa Phipps; Yuki Hibben, Assistant Head for Special Collections & Archives
Staff: John Duke, Jeanne Hammer, Teresa Knott, John Ulmschneider, Pam Fraga (recording secretary)
Dr. Hughes opened the meeting by saying she had agreed to serve as chair for this meeting in place of Ms. Prichard, who was unable to attend.
Review and approval of agenda
The agenda was approved as presented.
Review and approval of minutes from January 2012
The minutes were approved as presented.
Copyright and fair use: update on latest developments and legal proceedings - handouts
Mr. Ulmschneider thanked Dr. Hughes for agreeing to serve as chair.
Mr. Ulmschneider discussed the legal challenges to the exercise of fair use rights by universities, and the potential ramifications of these challenges for higher education in terms of both access and cost. The first handout summarized a case filed by multiple publishers against Georgia State University for alleged violations of the copyright laws in postings by faculty and the GSU library to electronic services, such as Blackboard, for academic purposes. GSU claims that it is not in violation because the use was for the classroom and therefore is protected as fair use; moreover, GSU asserts that as a government entity, it cannot in any event be sued for the alleged violations. The case is now before a judge for decision. Mr. Ulmschneider note three important points in the discussion that followed:
- Some commentators note that the 1976 copyright act explicitly said that making multiple copies of published articles for classroom use is not copyright infringement. It did not address the “transformational use” in making copies.
- Fair use is a right within the law and not an “exception” to copyright.
- If the plaintiffs win this case, the relief would cost higher education a tremendous amount of money.
The following points were raised during the ensuing discussion:
- Libraries purchase access. The VCU Libraries generally does not agree to restrictions in the use of library materials for its community, such as restrictions on classroom use.
- To comply with publisher restrictions on use, requests for copies from other libraries often require the VCU Libraries to first photocopy the hard copy then send an image file of the copy, increasing the expense of interlibrary loan.
- Copies made by an instructor should be restricted only to classroom use by members of the class.
- There can be legitimate concern about compliance when reproducing materials for services such as Blackboard if access is not restricted only to students enrolled in the class.
- Other rules and restrictions apply in the use of copyrighted materials in instructional and research settings, so faculty members must use due diligence and careful consideration in decisions related to the use of such materials.
- Publishers do monitor use by faculty and students. A large download of articles might result in loss of access for the particular computer used to download the articles. Excessive downloads could even result in loss of access for the entire University community.
Mr. Ulmschneider then gave an overview of the initiative by faculty members at some institutions (particularly in Europe) to boycott publishing or working with Elsevier, a major Dutch publisher of many well-known academic journals. The second bundle of handouts included materials from faculty members and others that advocate for boycotting the publisher because of the high cost of many of their materials (http://thecostofknowledge.com/). Mr. Ulmschneider reported that over 6,000 signatories have joined in the boycott. This is a complex issue without consensus opinion about the call to action by some faculty. Many Elsevier journals remain a high-prestige venue for publishing by faculty. An alternative to commercial publishing advocated by many is Open Access. These may be used with care and due diligence to help individuals and institutions make decisions about exercising fair use rights.
Mr. Ulmschneider reviewed the third handout, summarizing guidelines developed by the Center for Social Media and the School of Law at American University regarding the exercise of fair use. These documents identify fair use practices in libraries that appear to be in wide use and have survived scrutiny so far, although not necessarily in the future. The Center has produced several such summaries of practice regarding the use of copyrighted materials in different fields.
Mr. Ulmschneider reminded faculty members to be attentive when signing publishing agreements: they may wish to retain certain rights to their work that some publishing agreements might take away. He also said that VCU Libraries already subscribes to a number of open access journals and will be glad to help faculty publish in these alternate venues.
Reports and Discussion
ARL status for VCU Libraries: What does it mean? - handout/online PowerPoint
Mr. Ulmschneider discussed the Quest for Distinction goal of Association of Research Library (ARL) membership for the VCU Libraries. He compared VCU with other universities in Virginia, with other members of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL), and with ARL libraries, noting that VCU is at the bottom in library funding in all peer group lists. To become an ARL member, an institution requires library funding at a level appropriate for a research university. In addition to this quantitative benchmark, the funding must be invested in ways that achieve qualitative distinction for the university and its library system. Among other things, ARL-level funding at VCU will allow VCU to meet such goals as:
- Research-level access to journals and to books, media, and other elements of the scholarly record
- Longer operating hours for library facilities, including around-the-clock library service
- Stronger assistance to users of the library and its resources, including students enrolled in non-resident, web-based programs
- Improved student understanding of how to evaluate and manage information sources, and a much better command of issues related to plagiarism , attribution, and copyright
- University-wide education and support for matters related to copyright, author’s rights, alternative publishing venues, and management of research data
- Built out infrastructure to support a digital press and other digital initiatives for the VCU community
Mr. Ulmschneider noted that VCU’s investment goal for the VCU Libraries will position the library system at about rank 75 among the existing 114 ARL libraries (where 1 is highest and 114 lowest), about the same as several of its Quest peers. He pointed out that VCU is classified by Carnegie as a Research University (Very High Research Activity). Of the 108 RU/VH institutions, 88 are ARL members (of the 20 non-ARL institutions, many are small-enrollment or graduate-focused institutions, such as Yeshiva University, Carnegie-Mellon University, University of Alabama-Huntsville, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, etc.). He also noted that the Board of Visitors is supportive of the ARL membership goal for VCU.
Update on facilities upgrades at Tompkins-McCaw
Ms. Knott reminded the Committee that it had previously been reported that there was no funding for renovations for the second floor of TML. Since that time, the Vice-President for Health Sciences has agreed to collaborate with VCU Libraries to fund the renovations. This collaboration is a first for VCU, and on behalf of all the MCV Campus students, the VCU Libraries extends its thanks to Dr. Retchin for his understanding of the needs of the MCV student community. She also reported that renovations in the basement have already started and that the front steps will be replaced when the weather warms up.
VCU Libraries programs - multiple advertisement mailers as handouts
- "One Singular Sensation: The American Jew and the Musical Theater," lecture by Dr. Jack Spiro, January 19, 2012
- "Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority," Black History Month lecture by Tom Burrell, Feb. 22, 7pm - 9 pm
- Southern Film Festival, Feb. 24-25
- "Intersections: Art and Science," exhibit at TML, March 8-22
- Yusef Komunyakaa, Pulizter Prize-winning poet, March 22, 7-9 pm
- "Jerusalem: A Tale of Three Cities," 27th Annual Brown-Lyons Lecture, by Dr. Jack Spiro, March 29, 7:30 pm
Demonstration and discussion: book art at VCU
Ms. Hibben brought with her a collection of examples of book art. She explained that book art is a distinctive art form in which artists create works of art using the concept of a “book” as the expressive media. Special Collection and Archives in Cabell Library houses one of the top ten book art collections in the country. Most book art pieces wither are unique, one-of-a-kind pieces, or are published in very limited runs. Among different forms of book art represented among VCU’s 3,000 volume collection are “pop-ups,” “tunnel books,” and books with images carved into the pages. Students in many different disciplines use the collection, including students in the School of the Arts, the English Department, the Brand Center, and the gender studies program, among others, as well as Art Foundation students and contemporary art and poetry students. The collection is open to the public and to other universities, colleges, and high schools. Ms. Hibben invited the Committee members to spend more time with the book art samples after the meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 3:10 pm.