Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Good Challenge

I spent several hours at the Reference Desk this week, observed an interesting session on Copyright, and read a little more of MC's Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).  It was a decent week, but filled with some good challenges.

During one of my shifts at the Reference Desk, a student came to seek help in finding books about a certain subject containing pictures about the subject.  This student was planning to spend a little time teaching children about specific instruments, but wanted to show pictures of these instruments.  I spent a few minutes with this student looking in our library catalog.  We used a keyword search and found a few results, but nothing for children.  I showed the student how to find other books in the catalog and then explained where to find the books within the building.  The student seemed to have a puzzled look on her face when I provided a brief explanation about the call number of the book and a description of where the call numbers were in proximately to the other books in our collection.  I sent the student to retrieve some books that we found and encouraged her to return to the desk if these were not sufficient.

Shortly after the student left the desk, I tried to find juvenile books relating to the instruments specified and found a few strong candidates.  I found the student near the section where I sent her to find the first set of books and was able to help her find the juvenile section for these other books.  Unfortunately, she did not feel that the juvenile books were sufficient for her intended purpose and said she would find some pictures on the internet.  This was slightly discouraging because it seemed that "the internet had won."  I had this sinking feeling like our library did not have what our patron wanted, but the internet could provide it for her.  I tried to find books to possibly recommend for future situations similar to this, but realized how hard it would be to buy all of the books our students will ever need.  After this challenge was over, I decided to think about how to address an issue like this in the future.

Toward the end of the week, I was invited to attend a class session for the Professional Writing course.  The students in the class had researched the copyright issue and presented their findings.  I learned a lot about concepts such as publishing, copyright, registered copyright, fair use, public domain and various aspects of hyperlinking.  The students discussed the differences between a registered copyright (c) - a copyright officially registered with the government - and a general copyright - something that is "published" or put down in writing.  We also learned about how one can modify a logo or trademark to create a new product without infringing on copyright laws as long as certain factors are met.  If the new product confuses consumers because it looks too similar to the original, copyright infringement may occur.  If the new product is very similar to the original and it competes in the same market or for the same dollars, it my cause copyright infringement.  Also, if the original product is very popular and extremely recognizable, the new product may cause some infringement if it is very similar to the original.

Some of the students discussed other areas of copyright that I knew very little or nothing about.  A couple of students talked about photography.  They said that there is an automatic copyright for all photos which belongs to the owner of the camera taking the picture.  Even if a photographer is a free lance photographer and gets paid for taking photos, the copyright belongs to the person taking the photos.  The main exception is when a photographer works for a business or corporation that owns the camera and pays the salary of the photographer.  In this situation, the business or corporation owns the copyright to the photos.

An extremely new area to me is one that deals with hyperlinking.  One of the students taught us that we are never to link to a website if it says something about not linking to it.  We also learned about in-lining, framing, and confusion of authorship.  In-lining is when someone creates an html that uses information from another page, but makes it look as if the information belongs to the new site instead of the original site.  Framing is where information is placed on a website near or within the same frame of a related item, especially a competitor's item.  For example, if one t-shirt company was able to place a link for their product on another company's website that also sold t-shirts.  Another unethical use of links is when someone makes it easy to confuse the author.  To be more specific...if an individual makes it look as if he or she is the author of a webpage when that is not the case.  In the end, we were encouraged to ask permission, to be conscientious of other people's works, and to be smart about how we use certain things.

After a good, but challenging week I am ready to keep pushing on.  I am getting closer to the home stretch and have about four weeks left in the semester.  Let's see how the semester ends!

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