Sunday, 8 March 2015

My Carnegie Library Lab project

Did you know that Selma, the recent film about an episode of Martin Luther King’s life, does not use his actual speeches? It is because of copyright issues.
Have you ever tried watching a music video on YouTube, and instead it showed you a message: “This video contains content from … who has blocked it on copyright grounds”?
Copyright is everywhere - so how do you know what you can and can’t do? Where can you find free works that you can legally use?

CC BY-NC-SA Chris Messina
(Source: Flickr)
From these questions, my answer obviously is: libraries can show you. Libraries are here to share knowledge and facilitate access to information, so we should help people know their rights and discover free content. But how do we do that? How do we attract attention to this problem and the role libraries can play? How do we start changing people's attitudes?
And that's when Carnegie Library Lab came along...

Carnegie Library Lab is a programme of the Carnegie UK Trust which aims to develop leadership and innovation in public libraries. For me, applying was the opportunity to bring together my interest in copyright issues (some of my colleagues would say I'm a bit of a copyright geek!), my belief in the role of libraries, my envy at seeing super cool things happening in France or the US (but not much in the UK) to promote public domain works and users' rights online - and do something with it all.

And then - quite extraordinarily - my project was one of the seven selected (Hehe!) If I'm honest, I'll say that one of my library managers, who did tell me my application was very good, also admitted that they didn't quite expect it to win as my project looked quite... radical!!

Now, there is a lot of work to do to implement it but it is also one of the most exciting things I've worked on! Thankfully, I can rely on colleagues for help and support (poor @biblioluke has been roped into it again) as well as the wonderful Carnegie Library Lab gang - formally known as the Carnegie Partners. As part of the programme, the Carnegie Trust has provided me with a mentor: Dominic Smith, on top of being an artist and digital curator, also has a PhD in open source (how cool is that?!)

The first hurdle for me to overcome was finding the project a proper name. It wasn't easy - finally I picked one that had both a literary reference in it (I have never read any Ian Fleming novel, but his titles are just perfect for parody) and the potential to spark an interesting conversation on the duration of copyright...

So to sum up: Commons are forever is a project developed by Newcastle Libraries with support from the Carnegie UK Trust. It aims to empower members of the public about their rights to use creative works that are free of copyright, i.e. in the public domain, and to in turn share what they create with others.
This will be achieved through a series of events to take place from April 2015 to March 2016. Ideas (to be developed / enhanced / changed / scrapped / revived) so far include: a debate on copying, a “where to find free ebooks” session, a hackday using library data, participation in Wiki Loves Monuments, workshops with local artists and Makers to give attendees the chance to use and re-use expired intellectual property (e.g. library collections in the public domain) and share the new works created under a Creative Commons license via a LibraryBox...
The name's Library. I'll-show-you-where-to-find-copyright-free-stuff Library.
Prepare yourself to hear a lot more about this project on this blog (and elsewhere?) in the year to come!

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