Librarians and Licensing
A few months ago, a colleague approached me with an interesting request. He wanted me to review a prospective job posting for a new position he was hoping to fill in his organization. If my colleague moved forward with his plan, he would hire a high-level executive whose primary responsibility would be to negotiate and sign contracts to buy electronic resources.
This position seemed to be tailor-made for a librarian. The position would report to the head of a large institution that values instant and timely access to a wide range of sources, and would be a lead official for an organization with several large information centers stretched across a number of different territories. Further, the position would partner with the organization’s general counsel to handle contract negotiation duties.
The organization’s annual electronic content budget is comfortably in the seven-figure range, and my colleague seemed willing to pay far beyond the embarrassingly low salaries I have seen for various electronic resource librarian positions.
In commenting on the job posting, I told the colleague that the prospective position seemed like a fabulous opportunity. The person in that position would have to deal with a variety of information, legal, and business issues: changes in copyright law; providing content for increasingly smaller devices; juggling different delivery formats; and the possibility of having to educate the general counsel on these content licensing issues.
(It is rare that in-house counsel has expertise in content licensing because it is an unusual procurement function to those outside the information profession.)
Unfortunately, I also expressed dismay that he may have to surrender his hope of filling this position with a librarian, since my experience and observation has been that too few librarians – new or experienced – have any experience or training in buying content.
When I started writing Information Today‘s “Intellectual Property” column a year ago, my first piece was about the paucity of copyright education, both in ALA-accredited library schools and through continuing education channels for experienced librarians. Now, in this article, I’ll discuss another yawning gap in contemporary information professional education: the lack of training in licensing electronic content.
An Information Today exclusive.
K. Matthew Dames. Librarians and Licensing. Information Today. March 2007. Page 18.
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