Celebrating Open Access week and the publication of ‘Navigating Copyright for Libraries’

by Sara Benson, Copyright Librarian and Associate Professor, University Library, University of Illinois

Chair, IFLA Copyright & Other Legal Matters (CLM) Committee

One of the many exciting events to happen at this year’s World Library Congress in Dublin was the launch of a new volume in the IFLA Publication Series – Navigating Copyright for Libraries: Purpose and Scope. This volume, conceived and produced by members (current and past) of the IFLA Copyright and other Legal Matters (CLM) Advisory Committee, brings together 20 chapters written by some of the top global experts on copyright law for the libraries sector.

As a primer on the relationship between copyright law and libraries, this book sets out to provide librarians and information professionals with the grounding necessary to understand and articulate copyright in their institutions, consider approaches to supporting copyright literacy, and engage more fully with copyright policy and advocacy at local and international levels. It provides both basic and advanced information, with chapters covering some of the hottest issues facing libraries today, from the impact of artificial intelligence to the call for global support for library exceptions.

But even with this outstanding content, arguably the most exciting thing about this publication, and what we seek to celebrate this Open Access Week 2022, is the fact that it is one of the first two IFLA  Publications Series to be available immediately to download as an open access resource. It will also be available in a fully accessible format, among the first for an IFLA  Publication Series.

With both the editors and the authors including experts on and advocates for open access, from the outset it was clear that the book should be a test case for IFLA to put these ideas into practice. As the work to write and prepare the book progressed over three years from the first planning meeting in August 2019, the importance of the decision only became more apparent. The global pandemic has highlighted inequities in access to information more clearly than ever before and emphasised the imperative to facilitate timely access to knowledge on a global scale.

With the support of CLM and the IFLA Professional Committee, and the assistance of the staff at De Gruyter, the book has been published under the broadest of the Creative Commons licences, Attribution Only. This will ensure it can operate as open education resource (OER), available for all to reuse, remix, translate, update and integrate into local or more targeted resources. Versions using best practice accessibility standards are already on their way, and discussions have started about the first translations into languages other than English.

In its Preface, Navigating Copyright is dedicated to every librarian who has taken the time to read and interpret their national copyright statutes in the hope of finding a solution to an access challenge, and to those who have spoken up and continue to highlight inequalities in access to information and call for change. In this Open Access Week, we celebrate the contribution that open licensing choices can make to achieving this essential goal of knowledge for all.

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