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James Neal Talks at the Smithsonian

On September 8, Jim Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University, gave a presentation at the Smithsonian Institution titled We Can’t Get There From Here: The Intersection of Research Library Aspirations and Copyright Challenges. Jim reminded us that libraries, museums and archives are living in times of revolutionary changes in user expectations, personal computing, digital preservation, open source, open content, push technology, and a huge shift to mobile technology.  Libraries, museums and archives are facing changing roles as Research and Development organizations, publishers, educators, entrepreneurs and policy makers as we incorporate Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 into our services.

Library Web 2.0 embraces rapid technology development and deployment, perpetual assessment, boundary erosion, and supports the needs of BIG science (massive unstructured data curation, collaboration, extraction, distribution, and simulation). Jim also said these are times for organizational risk taking and new organizational models, and a time to rethink library space planning and identity. As a result we are all feeling anxious, disrupted, and chaotic.

Jim thinks print serials will be a thing of the past within 5 (maybe 10) years and that electronic serials will be the norm.

The last part of Jim’s talk dealt with copyright issues, fair use, reproduction rights, ownership, orphan works, open access to government-funded research, and Section 108 Study Group that has dealt with the promotion of fair use in the digital environment, and has tried to foster a competitive and supportive market for scholarly communication and creative work. The Section 108 Study Group began meeting in the spring of 2005 under the sponsorship of the Library of Congress National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program U.S. Copyright Office and looked at how fair use may need to be amended under the impact of digital technologies. The group had representatives from libraries, museums and archives as well as from the music and film industry and university presses and electronic publishers. After three years of meetings, there were areas of agreement and areas where the group could not agree. Jim said to expect more legislative proposals, congressional hearings and a new round of roundtables and public comment. He concluded with “Fair use is not civil disobedience.”

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