Copyright Law Impacts How Libraries Provide Access to E-Books: During a Pandemic, Should It?

Today’s Read:
Congressional Research Service (CRS), COVID-19 and Libraries: E-Books and Intellectual Property Issues (Apr. 28, 2020), https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/LSB/LSB10453

This topic has been on my mind a lot since we all went on lockdown and couldn’t access physical books anymore.  The pandemic has not stopped research, of course.  There are still deadlines to be met.

My focus, as always, is on supporting our LLM students.  They cannot graduate without submitting a research paper, and some of them were still doing research as late as April (the original deadline for LLM papers this year was April 25, although many students got extensions).  To have their access to our print collection blocked by circumstances of fate was very unfair, and I felt so badly for them.

Not to make light of what is a very serious global health pandemic, but there are, of course, a few not-negative ways to spin this.  It wasn’t as if only some of the students could not access print books — the restriction affected everyone equally.  Furthermore, LLM theses are not graded on a curve, at least not as far as I know.  The students do not compete against each other.  When you are writing an LLM thesis, the goal is to do the best and most thoroughly-researched paper you can possibly do under the circumstances you find yourself.

When I was writing my own LLM thesis, I had about 6 weeks to do the bulk of the work because, in Germany, you are not permitted to begin work on your thesis until you finish your LLM coursework.  My leave of absence was nearly over by then, and I really needed to get back to my job in the library (where I had a quick look at some relevant resources in Harvard’s library collection, in addition to wrapping up the writing and editing).  I made it work the best I could.  Could my thesis have been better?  Absolutely, if I hadn’t felt so rushed to gather and process sources, and then pound it out.  But it got done, and it got a decent grade, and I was able to finish my LLM.

I tell that story to show that I really feel for the students, in whatever circumstances they find themselves.  And where they were finding themselves during the final few months of this academic year was locked out of the library, with no access to print books unless they’d checked them out beforehand.

Duplicating print and electronic resources in a sustainably cost-effective way is a conversation that we have been having in our library for a very long time, and restrictions on lending e-books is always a primary element of the discussion.  So I was glad to find the CRS report that I am discussing today, which frames this conversation against the backdrop of the current situation.

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Contemplating Work and Burnout

Today’s Read:
Luisa Barthauer et al.
Burnout and Career (Un)sustainability: Looking into the Blackbox of Burnout Triggered Career Turnover Intentions
Journal of Vocational Behavior, v. 117, 2020
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2019.103334

Now that so many of us are working from home (WFH), I imagine there is a lot of thinking that we can never get away from work. Our worklife is bleeding into our homelife in ways that we have never experienced before.

I personally am struggling with uncertainty, a lack of diverse people to talk to about how I’m feeling about things that bother me, and the sense that every single one of my own shortcomings is (a) amplified, (b) unfixable, and (c) annoying and burdensome to anyone who happens to hear me talk about them. These have been standard thoughts for me in a work context for many years, and I have been practicing not letting those thought invade my non-work life lately. But that practice is, obviously, in tatters right now.

If there was ever a time for working on self-compassion and self-care, this is it, and I am doing it. When we do this, we face a lot of things about ourselves that we may not like that much, and that we are struggling to change. If this is happening to you, you are not alone. You are OK now, and you’re going to be OK later.

This is a rather lengthy lead-up to the article that I am looking at today, but I am not apologizing for that. We must talk about how we are struggling right now so that we can process it all.

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