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LIS 950: Libraries and community

The purpose of this seminar is to explore an important topic in library and information studies in depth — in all its intertwined historical, cultural, philosophical, and political aspects — through a graduate reading/discussion seminar. The topic varies each time the course is taught; this time around, we will focus on "libraries and community"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Awa's Proposal

E-resources Licensing and the Academic Library's User Community

From mid 1990's, "licensing" was widely adopted by information vendors as the marketing strategy to sell the electronic information products to libraries. When libraries negotiate with vendors on licensing agreements, how to define "authorized users" of the target e-resources is an issue that both parties have to consider because it is directly related to pricing methods, technical requirements, copyright issues, and so on. Some licenses define users as students, faculty, researchers, and staff of institutions, some include walk-in users of the institutions' library facilities as well, some also permit remote access by authorized users, and include students in distance education programs.

My purpose is to, by studying how academic libraries (or academic library consortia) define their "authorized users" and negotiate this issue with vendors, find out how libraries (or library consortia) define the community that they are serving, and find out whether there are some changes in the way that libraries look at their user community. For now I will narrow this topic down to one library or one library system, say memorial library or UW library system since it is not possible for me to investigate a larger scope in one semester. The specific questions that I will try to answer include:

1. How did/does the library see itself and its user community when defining "authorized users"?
2. If there were/are different versions (in time or for different e-resources) of "authorized users", why? Based on what assumptions and expectations did/does the library make such different policies?
3. If there was/is difficulty balancing the needs of the user community and its own limitation (e.g., financial restriction and technical limitation), how did/does the library deal with the situation?

The primary sources would be the licensing agreements that this library signed throughout the years, the licensing guidelines that they adopted, conference presentations and journal papers of the librarians in this library on related issues, and personal interviews of librarians concerned.

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