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Policy, Copyright, and How They Contribute to Knitting and Sleep Deprivation

As many of you know, I’ve been part of a group on campus charged with creating Carleton’s first ever campus-wide copyright policy. We’ve had a policy on copyright ownership, but never a stated policy on the use of copyrighted material.

Well, we began this process almost exactly a year ago, beginning with copious amounts of research into the law, prevalent guidelines, and the policies in place at other institutions like ours. Then we started making decisions: would we adopt a guidelines approach or a personal responsibility approach? Is there an interpretation of copyright law and fair use that not only sits well with the college but also sits well with our lawyer? Will we institute a central copyright office on campus or simply a funding mechanism to help faculty and staff pay for their own permissions? The list goes on and on.

After this, we drafted a policy, sent it to a lawyer for review, and then redrafted it according to the feedback we received. And now, finally, the Board of Trustees has signed off on it. Great. Go us. But…

Now we’re suddenly faced with implementing this new policy, which means we not only have to design and provide copyright education to faculty and staff (with special emphasis on the departmental secretaries). This would be a daunting enough task if it weren’t for the time-frame. You see, we have to have a plan in place for implementation and education… by Monday. Did I mention that our library is overhauling our reserves and e-reserves policies to more fully mesh with the new policy? Well, it is… by Monday.

So this past Monday was the first in my series of at least one copyright related meeting per day this week. On Monday I met with our College Librarian, the head of Loan Services, the head of Reserves, and the Media Librarian to begin this process. Tuesday I met again with the head of Loan Services and the head of Reserves to come up with a list of key policy-points, draft some release forms, brainstorm about possible procedures, and generally have a grand old time in policy land. Later Tuesday I met with the campus-wide copyright group to come up with campus-wide implementation plans and report on the library’s progress with our reserves policy and procedures. Today the original group from the library met again to refine our plan and put it into a form that could be taken to the Dean’s Office. Later this afternoon the head of Reserves took the plan to the Dean’s Office (and met with general approval! Yay!). Tomorrow I meet with the rest of the liaison librarians to see exactly what our role will be in all of this. And Friday I meet with the head of Loan Services and the Associate Dean of the College to finalize the planning for the library’s chunk of this whole process. Then, on Monday, the associate Dean will present all of this at the faculty meeting.

Last week, I had no idea that ALL my time this week would be eaten up by this project.

May I suggest to all of you policy makers out there that if you decide to implement a college-wide policy, you allow more than a week for the planning of that implementation. You never know what unsuspecting librarian might find herself unable to do any of her normal work and who might have to stay up very late knitting herself back into a balanced state of mind. You might find that such a librarian (young, inexperienced, lacking in authority on campus, a policy-writing virgin, and increasingly sleep deprived) might just run out of both imagination and the ability to predict the possible consequences of policy decisions. I’m just sayin…

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