My library school class is attending the Texas Library Association Conference "together" as part of our course work so we met last night to talk about what sessions we wanted to attend and about a framework for reflecting on them. The class is research and issues so obviously one of the things we're thinking about is what issues are "hot" and what research is or might be done to illuminate them. One of our (ok, at least my) guiding questions is what should we (librarians) be studying?
So with that in mind I attended a session this morning on Digital Natives and Intellectual Property given by two librarians at Illinois State University. They've done and are doing a huge research project on the issue of illegal downloading of media on college campuses and have created an initiative called the Digital Citizen Project based on some of their preliminary results. I was surprised at the depth of their work and how well it was presented. They provided the audience with their purpose, goals, data collection and analysis methods, and preliminary conclusions clearly and concisely. It was very well done.
What I got out of it personally was, potentially, a new lens for looking at copyright as it applies to e-resources and e-journals. Their discussion of the complexities of implementing legal peer-to-peer network on their campus sounded a lot like the complexities that I face in implementing access to e-journals. It's something that I'd like to investigate further and so I eagerly await the publication of their research results.
We had lunch with a group of Texas A&M System library directors and e-resources librarians and hosted by Ebsco. This (somewhat to my surprise) was viewed with interest by my classmates and professor as an opportunity to discover the "real" issues that are being dealt with in Texas academic libraries (which makes sense, I just had never thought of it that way). As usual the discussion was lively and an excellent opportunity to learn about some of the things that Ebsco can do for us to help us resolve some of our issues. For instance, we talked about how many libraries have implemented a turn-key (proprietary) electronic resources management system but how very few of them are actually using them efficiently or effectively. There's an issue for you: we need a way of keeping track of and providing information about our electronic resources (for instance whether a license allows us to the materials in a resource to fill interlibrary loan requests or in e-reserves for our students). The only ones I know that are really being used to their fullest potential are the ones that have been developed in house by the big research libraries. There are open source solutions of course but even those are not cost-free (another issue!).
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