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Article: A Public Service Role For Digital Libraries

Article: A Public Service Role For Digital Libraries

“Argyri Panezi, PhD is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Stanford’s Digital Civil Society Lab. This past spring, she wrote “A Public Service Role For Digital Libraries: The Unequal Battle Against (Online) Misinformation Through Copyright Law Reform And The Emergency Electronic Access To Library Material”, which is available in full-text as a pre-print before it has been peer reviewed.  (You may need to create an account to view and, I believe, should be able to do so for free.)

The abstract begins:


This article analyzes the role of copyright doctrine and case law in preserving the institutional function of libraries—both on- and offline—as trusted and, in principle, neutral hubs equalizing access to credible information and knowledge in societies with structural inequalities. In doing so it examines the ongoing Hachette v. Internet Archive litigation before the US District Court of the Southern District of New York in the context of earlier copyright cases, finding that there is a persistent need for electronic access to library material online.

The 41-page paper is dense, informative, and interesting reading. Panezi discusses relevant litigation as well as some history of both copyright law and libraries. I appreciate her providing all of this information in one spot, which for me makes it a valuable article to remember. I also appreciate nuggets like:

…while access to information is recognized as an important right of all citizens in democratic societies, access to material is not guaranteed. (p. 37)

I had to read that twice! As someone who thinks about materials and access, and what we say about libraries, I know that what she has written is correct. I know…it sounds like semantics – information and material – but how those terms are different is meaningful. Libraries need to ensure that they provide access to materials – to the items themselves. And they need to make sure that their funders understand that. Libraries provide more than access to information; they will provision that item for you in the format you desire.

Yes, much more than that one line stood out to me and I’m sure much more will stand out to you. You might skim it and see want stands out, then give it a deep read.” CC

Posted on: September 8, 2021, 6:18 am Category: Uncategorized

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