Copyright is collaborative

Giving copyright advice has always been something I relish, getting stuck into a new copyright conundrum is a great way of learning about new aspects of copyright and building up my knowledge. I am also grateful to the wonderful network of copyright officers I have built up over the years, so when I get a new query I am unsure of I turn to my copyright community. However, one thing I have always been aware of is that answering so many colleagues queries on an individual basis doesn’t always foster a sense of community. So when Chris reported on his successful Copyright Community of Practice events at the University of Kent, I did what we all do when we see a good idea, I decided to copy it!

Last week we had the first event at LSE and I was delighted to have 11 colleagues attend, including library staff, communications staff (who were all mainly blog editors) and a learning technologist. The topics we had up for discussion were the purpose of the Community of Practice, the new CLA Licence and the Digital Content Store, the digitisation of an important collection of EU Referendum leaflets at LSE and the copyright implications and the recent audit of one department’s Moodle courses by one of our Learning Technologists. Other topics raised during our discussions were: how to cite images licensed under Creative Commons and what the different licences all actually mean, what to do about including screenshots in guides we might be producing in-house, for example when they contain company logos. We also discussed open access and why academic colleagues often don’t think about the copyright transfer agreements they sign, whether pre-prints in word format could be uploaded to Moodle or not and a few other topics. I was delighted by the suggestion from Chris Gilson to write some guidance on copyright for blog editors. I had a search around and most of what I found is American. We also had some suggestions of topics to discuss at the next meeting which we hope to hold at the end of September.

And we had biscuits and tea and I can confirm that LSE staff prefer Jammy Dodgers on a hot August afternoon rather than any chocolate coated biscuits!

A writing and thinking retreat

The gardens at Wolfson College

This week I spent 3 days in Cambridge at Wolfson College, which was the college I lived at for a term in 2011 when I was an Arcadia Fellow. This was one of the most amazing few months of my life, as not only did I get to work for 3 months on thinking about how information literacy should be taught in the future, but I got to work with the fabulous Emma Coonan.

I recall being pretty terrified about being away from home  and spent most weekends fleeing back to London. But I found Wolfson a friendly, welcoming place and somewhere I immediately felt at home. I particularly enjoyed meeting all the other students and fellows from around the world. I made some fantastic friends during my time there and probably had some of the most memorable breakfast conversations ever. I will never forget the breakfast where I was joined by several international fellows who were staying at Wolfson, and we discussed the fall of the Roman Empire. There was a point I recall saying to the professor from Pakistan and the Malaysian Ambassador for the Lebanon, I think we could do with a PowerPoint with a map on it as we discussed Hadrian’s Wall and some of the Roman sites in the Middle East. I started listening to Radio 4’s Today Programme after I left Wolfson to try to recreate these high brow moments before I start my day. It’s just not the same.

This week the canteen was shut so I spent a lot of time on my own, although I did get to spend some time in the wonderful Library, chatting to the College Librarian Meg Westbury about information and digital literacy, our mutual research interests in online learning and phenomenography. I also went on a wonderful walk to The Orchard Tea Rooms in Grantchester and thought of my dear Brazilian friend, Cris, a journalist who was there for the same time as me and who I used to go walking with. I wandered in the beautiful gardens and spent a lot of time in my room writing and reading.

Rethinking Copyright by Ronan Deazley

The purpose of my trip was to try and nail my keynote for ALT-C, which is now in around 3 weeks time. I am so honoured to be invited to keynote this conference, but also slightly terrified as it’s a big conference and one that a lot of learning technologists attend. There was no pressure when I saw the other keynotes I was up against either: Dave White, Donna Lanclos, Josie Fraser, Ian Livingstone and Lia Commissar! I am going to be talking about copyright and e-learning, the subject of my new book, but I really want to make my keynote different to other talks I’ve done before. I started reading Ronan Deazely’s book, Rethinking Copyright while I was away, and have been struck by his writing on what copyright is (and isn’t) and the public domain. So if I can hint a little, then I might be saying something on the history of copyright and on the notion of the public domain. Ronan is the main editor behind the website CopyrightUser, and Chris and I recently wrote the guidance for libraries on this site.

Anyway, mostly what I appreciated while in Cambridge was some perspective on things and some time to concentrate on the subjects I am most interested in. I have spoken before about the importance of finding a place where you can think, and at Wolfson I have definitely found that place, and I was more productive in just three days there than I usually am in a week!

Finding your place

I was asked to make a video about tips for new researchers and I was taken back to thinking about a workshop Emma and I ran twice on doing research as a librarian. We talked about finding your niche and finding a place to think. When I talk about finding your place I mean both of those things. But I also think librarians struggle with their identity as a researcher (as I suspect many people do, undergraduate students for example). But librarians often spend a lot of time helping other people do research and providing ‘support’ when in reality they should be acknowledged as researchers. I am not sure why they are not, but I think changing your own attitude towards your identity might help. If we didn’t have libraries and librarians a huge amount of research would be impossible. We provide access to the literature, we hold archives of huge significance which we help people to navigate and interrogate. We are not just providing a support to the research process, we are underpinning it, we are providing the research with the foundations on which it stands. As we know, all research and ideas are built on things that have gone before. So finding your place is all about recognising, even if you think you don’t do research, as a librarian you probably do. Or as someone who provides specialist advice and support to others on information related issues, then you are in a pretty important place! A house won’t stay up without solid foundations. And good research has to be built on solid information and knowledge.

I think research can sometimes be an exclusive place that makes people feel they are not worthy. Even the language and methodologies, in fact any of the -ologies are horribly scary. That’s not to say anyone can just do research. There are things you need to do properly, like devising a decent research question – and one that can be answered! And finding an appropriate way to collect the data you need. It’s also important not to just go looking for evidence that backs up what you think is true. Having a critical friend with a different perspective to you can be really helpful here. However, for me finding your place is all about finding the topics that you are passionate about, so the research really matters to you. The best research projects I have worked on are ones where I feel like I am making a difference, or helping to develop something that will make a difference, even if just in a small way. And there are lots of different types of research, much of what I do has a really practical application. But that still doesn’t mean I don’t try to read some literature, see what others have done in the field, and develop a robust methodology. One example is the research I’ve been doing with Chris on librarians and copyright – what do they want to learn more about and what aspects of copyright cause them concern? And then let’s try and see what their experience of copyright as a phenomenon might tell us about how to improve things. This research helped us write the recent guidance for librarians on the website. But it should also help us to develop and improve resources like Copyright the Card Game. So, I urge you to start thinking of yourself as a researcher and get out there and try to find your place where you can make a difference!

Conversing about copyright

I was lucky enough to record a podcast with James Clay earlier in the week which is now available from his website. He interviewed me and Chris Morrison as part of a series of podcasts that James records on issues related to e-learning. It wasn’t just a shameless plug for our forthcoming book Copyright and E-learning: a guide for practitioners or Copyright the CaPF_Fortune_Cookie_11062016195137885rd Game, it was great to talk about a range of issues related to copyright and how to approach the issues that using new technologies gives rise to. Some people might think copyright is boring and restrictive, however, have a listen to our podcast and hopefully see that understanding copyright is empowering and there are ways of teaching others about copyright which don’t involve sending people to sleep! It’s also important to think about embedding copyright good practices into the range of training available in your institution and teaching it in a positive way about what people can do. And of course as people who know me know, I do love conversing about copyright, and eating cookies and cake, and talking about Star Wars parodies. It’s all in the podcast and it’s not long until the book is published either! I’ll also be heading to Dublin in just over a week to talk about Copyright and E-learning and play Copyright the Card Game at the DIT E-learning Summer School.

Joining up the dots: copyright and digital literacy

Globe in Austrian National LibraryLast week was a particularly hectic week for me and during the course of attending two events, I once again decided that my job title really does reflect what I do everyday. I often find I meet people who do half my job, I don’t mean they do half as much work as me, but they are a digital literacy advisor, or a copyright advisor and they might do something else as part of their role as well. However, I still find that people don’t seem to have made the link between those two things. But it has always made perfect sense to me, which was why I wrote a blog post for CILIP about it last year, and keep banging on about it to anyone who will listen.

On Tuesday I attended a Copyright Education Symposium, organised by the Intellectual Property Office and CREATe and various rightsholder / representatives from the creative industries, such as PRS, who have a vested (economic) interest in teaching the wider public to respect copyright. I’m going to write a longer blog post on this event on the UK Copyright Literacy website. However, this event brought together a range of people who have probably rarely been in the same room at the same time and who probably have some quite different motivations for being interested in copyright education. The message I wanted to get across was that if the IPO were serious about copyright education then they needed to reframe it as part of digital literacy / digital capabilities, as not only has there been some concerted efforts from Jisc, the QAA and from government in this, it is really the only way it will make sense to people. If you are learning to be creative and innovative, you will need to use other people’s ideas, so an understanding of copyright, like other ethical issues, such as plagiarism has always been part of what librarians try to teach others. Copyright education taught in isolation that focuses on trying to convince people copyright infringement is bad, is probably not going to be very effective in my view. However, copyright education is far more likely to be adopted by teachers if it’s framed in this wider context, and there are a lot of opportunities to enlist librarians in helping in this approach.

On Wednesday and Thursday I was at the UCISA Spotlight event on Digital Capabilities. The first event last year focused on students’ digital literacies and this event focused on staff. The group are largely IT Trainers and learning technologists and as someone who has run a digital literacy programme for staff for 10 years or so, I was invited to speak on ‘Developing digital scholarship and information literate staff.‘ I reflected on how our programme at LSE was taught collaboratively with librarians and learning technologists and how much of the digital literacies were in fact information literacy. it was great to be part of a panel in the afternoon of the second day. Speakers on the day included James Clay, Helen Beetham, David Walker, Ellie Russell, Sarah Knight, Sue Watling, Fiona Handley among others. Terms like digital literacy really do have the potential to bring together professionals from all parts of a university. However I was struck that we do often stay in our silos. I infiltrated my slides with only a passing reference to copyright, in a reversal of Tuesday’s event, however I was struck by how many people then seemed to echo my point that knowledge of copyright and what you can share was a key part of digital capabilities. Helen Beetham was a pains to point out her image of Gandalf on her slides was licensed under Creative Commons. She also made the incredibly important point, that getting it wrong in an online space can expose us and damage our reputation. James Clay made similar points on the first day, and he’s spoken to me several times about wanting to make a ‘copyright lens’ for the digital capabilities framework.

However, for someone who has been championing information literacy for more years than I care to remember, I do find ‘digital literacies’ has something of the ’emperor’s new clothes’. Yes digital is important, and has acted as a catalyst, but I think we could do much to focus on the other literacies we want staff and students to develop, much of which, in my view are about how they find, use, manage and create knowledge and information. I’ve just made a video for the CILIP Information Literacy Group’s ‘Why Infolit’ campaign. So I will end with that – yes digital matters, but it’s how we interact with information that really matters, and librarians have a lot they can offer in this field.

On why there is never enough time

Time by Old Rollei

Time by Old Rollei licensed under CC-BY and available at:

I’m always finding myself running between meetings, switching between projects and tasks, wearing different hats (metaphorically not really – although I do have two hats I like quite a lot!) and wondering why there are never enough hours in the day. I kid myself I can multi-task, but it’s not true (no one can), if I try doing too many things at once I just do them all far less well. So I find myself working on tasks for short bursts of time and then moving on to something else, before switching to something new. Lisa Jeskins told me about the pomodoro technique and I think without knowing it, this was what I had been doing. Apparently it’s good for mental agility, which must be a good thing.

Last week, talking to a colleague she said ‘you like to be busy, it’s how you get so much done.’ And I was struck by this and decided it was probably true. No sooner do I tick one thing off my Wunderlist app, then I’ve added another, or four more tasks. I guess the key to getting things done (yes I have read the David Allen book) for me is good planning and trying not to let too many deadline collide. But sometimes having a lot to do makes me more efficient, whereas a day with no meetings can drag by and be wasted if I am not careful. Some of the things I’ve been working on this week include:

  • Hosting a placement student from UCL who is spending time in LTI and the Library
  • Finishing my guide to copyright for PhD students with our Repository Manager, Dimity
  • Planning the evaluation for this year’s SADL programme and briefing my new research assistant
  • Planning the next London Digital Student Meet-up with Moira Wright from UCL
  • Planning the first conference for LSE POWER – the women’s professional network with a fantastic bunch of colleague
  • Planning a series of workshops for LSE’s Learning and Development Group on sharing good practice in planning, designing, delivering and evaluating training
  • Finishing a co-authored chapter on copyright literacy to be published next year by Routledge
  • Proof reading Copyright and E-learning, my forthcoming book
  • Writing a piece for the Statistics Department website on why their students inspired me through the SADL programme.

On top of this I’ve got plenty going on with ILG work (we’ve just finished judging this year’s Research and Information Literacy award), I’m preparing for a CLA licence negotiation meeting next week and starting to think about my talk on 10 years of digital literacy at the UCISA digital capabilities event next month. But will I slow down? Never! When there are projects to plan, papers to write, conferences to attend and a world of copyright and digital literacy to enjoy! There never will be enough time, but that is what makes my job such fun! That and working with some  great people who keep me motivated!

Lessons from LILAC 16


LILAC experiences – higher or lower than you expected?

I’m giving a webinar with Lisa Jeskins next week and we have been asked to reflect on LILAC 2016 and the lessons learnt. It’s been useful to read some of the blog posts and tweets again and try to recapture the hectic 3 days. LILAC for me is like all my Christmas’s come at once and I want it to last forever, but of course it doesn’t, it passes in the blink of the eye. So it’s what is left behind after the dust settles, the exhaustion is over and the buzzing in my head has stopped, that I want to focus on.

We planned a panel session for the conference close, but concerns over travel meant this was cancelled. Not before I hadn’t written some ideas down about thoughts that struck me over the three days, so these were useful to return to a few weeks later.

I started with this idea that information literacy is like the sea as I was just struck by how many words began with C that had been themes at the conference. There are some parallels with the sea and IL – like the ocean, information literacy has real depth at this year’s LILAC. That’s not to say we’ve been bobbing along at the surface level for the past 11 years, but I feel as a discipline information literacy is really growing in depth. The keynote from Char Booth really highlighted this to me. And yes IL is a discipline, which has rigorous research that underpins it, journals published in the field and at its beating heart, a vibrant community of practice. It’s this vibrancy and passion that stay with me, that the people who teach in this field really care about lifelong learning and they are trying to make a difference. Ultimately we all want people equipped with the ability to deal with what life throws at them, and to have choices about what to do, say and believe. This is what I think we call critical information literacy. It’s far more than critical thinking, or whether a source such as a newspaper or website is trustworthy. It’s about politics and social justice and it’s a big issue that is way more than any librarian can deal with on their own. So that leads me to an important topic, of collaboration. I’ve said it before but its worth repeating. All the best work I do is a result of a collaboration. If you work as a team, yes it’s harder in some ways and requires negotiation, but ultimately what you produce is way better. My recent work with Chris Morrison on copyright literacy shows that, but also the work I’ve done over the years with Emma Coonan, Maria Bell, Debbi Boden, Nancy Graham and Gwyneth Price.

Collaboration is also vital because IL has been about librarians for a long time and this needs to change, we need to bring others into our community. It’s hard to know how to do that with the big L at the start of the conference name – are we being inclusive – possibly not. Do others attend and feel they are imposters, or interlopers? Possibly? We need to talk more to the people at the fringes who come to LILAC but perhaps feel that it’s not quite their space and who feel the need to apologise for not being a librarian. As I said earlier, if we are to tackle the really big important issues about why IL matters, then we need to work with others. It’s too big a job for one professional group alone and by working with teachers, administrators, educational developers, learning technologists and others, then we might get somewhere. This is why I was struck by James Clay’s keynote on Digital Capabilities – this terminology is one that appeals to a lot of groups of professionals, and James recognises the valuable role that librarians play, but we are just one of the players here.

And what about the LILAC newbies, the new professionals and first time attendees? The IL community that exists is built on networks and friendships that in some cases have lasted over a decade. But we need new people and new young professionals to join us and feel welcome and part of this. LILAC is not a private members club, ruled by an elite who control all the power about what happens. It’s inclusive and open and welcoming, we hope, but how can we make it more so? Should there be a LILAC un-conference? Should we let the delegates have more say and control?

What about the programme? Is it too packed? Is it too intense? Do we need more down time for people to just chill and reflect and chat? Or is the intensity part of it’s appeal and charm? I could have walked into any parallel session and I know I would have learnt something and enjoyed it, but at times I felt overwhelmed with what to attend with so much going on all at the same time.

Some of the key themes for me were:

  • creativity – games, play fun, competition, panic rooms, virtual worlds. We had a hugely inspiring keynote by Nic Whitton and Alex Moseley on the role of games in learning where we learnt through play. And I was delighted to take part in the first Lilac Lagadothon, a games competition which was possibly the most exhausting 1.5 hour of my life pitching a new game 6 times!
  • we heard a lot about criticality – critical pedagogy, critical librarianship and the relationship with social justice in talks from our keynote Char Booth and from Alan Carbery and Sean Leahy.
  • there was a strong theme of communities, collaboration and sharing and building on others ideas running through lilac – building networks of interest for example the Google group I set up for librarians interested in or pursuing doctoral research.
  • challenges and challenging were also key at LILAC 2016 – challenging established knowledge, notions of power, social justice
  • capability (of ourselves) but also of others – not just digital capability, but librarians as teachers and researchers.
  • and of course copyright – it doesn’t always come back to this for me, but I think framing copyright as information privilege (as Char Booth did) was really helpful to me and fits with the idea that copyright literacy and education is empowering!

These are just a few thoughts, I hope to share more next week at the LILAC webinar, which will be advertised on the Information Literacy website, but should be next Monday (11th April) at 2pm.