Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Getty's Free Images

A few weeks ago, Getty Images offered millions of it's photos available for free online for websites, blog posts, and other digital (non-commercial) uses. Not all of their photographs are available for free use, but each one that is will be an embedded photo including Getty's name and the name of the photographer

No doubt the release of these photographs is in response to copyright infringements that are so easily perpetrated online. This response to copyright has started a number of conversations on usage rights, and compensation to both Getty and supplying photographers. Samples of that conversation can be found below:

"The Price of "Free"" - Library Babel Fish blog by Barbara Fister

"Getty Images Confronts Online Copyright Infringement With A Carrot – And A Stick" - Compound Eye blog by Alex Wild

"What Getty Can Teach Us About Copyright" - Symbiartic blog by Kalliopi Monoyios

And, it is always important to review the "right" way to use (or reuse) photographs online. Here's a review from the Lifehacker Blog:

The Best Ways to be Sure You're Legally Using Online Photos

When using photographs for educational purposes, the water can get even murkier, so for plagiarism and copyright help check out the library's research guides: http://libguides.bridgewater.edu/mackguides

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Data Privacy Month

The month of February has been designation as Data Privacy Month to provide an opportunity for awareness and conversation concerning the place privacy has in our digital lives. Websites such as EDUCAUSE and the National Cyber Security Alliance have provided resources for librarians and patrons alike to strengthen their awareness of privacy issues and what they can do to safe guard their privacy. Many of us are not aware of the extent that our computers, smartphones, and apps are transmitting our information to others, or how easily it is for hackers to break into our devices and accounts.

NPR's TED Radio Hour on Jan. 31st highlighted some interesting voices in the conversation of our notions of privacy and the issues surrounding it. This included John Wilbanks' talk (embedded above) on whether medical privacy policies are actually harming patients by not allowing researchers access to their data. The speakers' five points of views highlight the complexity of the issue and are worth checking out.

As always, keeping informed on an issue is the best way to make a decision that's best for you.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New database: Gale Artemis Literary Sources

Today the library is rolling out a new database in our collection, Gale Artemis Literary Sources. The database combines all of the Gale resource we already subscribed to into one easy to use interface. Instead of navigating to both Literature Resource Center and Literary Criticism Online, you can now search once and view the entire collections of both. Features of Artemis also allow for easy citing and printing, along with easier evaluation of search results.

If you have any questions about using the resource please let us know! Or, you can watch the following short videos (produced by Gale) for an introduction.

·         Basics (3:26)
·         Searching(8:25)
·         Using Term Frequency & Term Clusters (2:20)
·         Working with Documents (2:57)

Happy Searching!

Friday, January 17, 2014

reality check for MOOCs?

Online education has been a growing segment of higher education for many years. However, in the past few years the idea of online classes has morphed into a new trend of MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. Many of claimed that these courses will revolutionize higher education, allowing for masses of people to take courses less expensively or even for free. There are inherent questions about these courses though: will the provide the same level of instruction? How will the credit system work? Will the huge number of students in one class help or hinder the students?

Since the classes are so new (most of them starting in 2012), it wasn't until 2013 that educators got any sort of data regarding the success of MOOCs and as Eric Westervelt reports on NPR's website (in his article: The Online Education Revolution Drifts Off Course,) Massive Open Online Courses may not be the solution we had hoped for, at least not right now.

Westervelt reports on findings by a University of Pennsylvania study that showed that very few MOOCs students actually actively interacted with the course, and even fewer actually finished it. Anecdotal evidence in the report showed that students missed the social interaction found during in-person classes, and felt lost in the size of the classes.

These findings help to illustrate the limitations of today's online learning environment. While we are becoming more comfortable with the online world, we still need the in-person social aspect to help us interact with our learning and to feel more comfortable with it.

While 2013 doesn't mark the end for MOOCs it does perhaps show that they need to continue to evolve in order to be the educational revolution that many thought that would be.

Monday, January 13, 2014

What should we expect from libraries?

We all have different expectations about the world. We assume that something should be a certain way, but often don't recognize these unconscious expectations. As a librarian, I have certain expectations of what a library should be and it's role in the community, and from time to time it is good for me to analyze and critique these assumptions. It's important to understand my assumptions and expectations because they might differ from those of a faculty member, student, or other visitor. For the library to be effective we must make sure that our ideas and our patron's ideas are consistent. 

 Librarian Barbara Fister, at her blog Library Babel Fish, lists some assumptions she has on what a library should be and do:
  • A place to learn how to explore ideas independently
  • A place to share and expand knowledge
  • They should help with productivity
  • Open to disorder and alternate viewpoints
  • The library should be a place for the common good
What do these assumptions mean? Fister is advocating for a library that serves it's patrons and their needs to be informed citizens. A library that is a safe place to learn and expand knowledge. At the Mack Library we have similar assumptions: that a library exists to supports our patron's and their learning. We develop a collection that supports their academics endeavors and provides a safe productive place for patrons to study, learn, and create.

But, I wonder if our patrons have expectations and assumptions that are a little more concrete. Maybe they have the assumptions that:
  • The library will be open when they need to use it
  • The library will have the information that I need when I need it
  • There will be a person available to help me with any questions I may have
  • The building will be clean, quiet, and comfortable for me
Are these assumptions any different than the ones we have? Not really. They all deal with creating, expanding, and producing knowledge. Our patrons often see their library use as a very personal interaction with our building, collection and staff. While library staff tries to balance these personal assumptions with its goals for the community as a whole.

While at times this might seem like a precarious balance, communication between library staff and their patrons can ensure that we all have valid expectations as to what the library can provide to it's community.

So, what do you expect from your library? What services do you assume will be available?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Technology and the digital breadcrumbs that you leave behind

Online privacy, and the data mining of companies and governments, is all over the news lately. But few realize the scope of data that is collected. In the fall, NPR did a series of stories on the information that is collection and how it can be used. You can read the first story in the series, "Your Digital Trail, And How It Can Be Used Against You" to see how every bit of our lives contains information that is mined by one entity or another, even if we don't realize it.

It is important to consider the information we present, or may present, to others online. It is also important to consider who may have access to that information. Though we cannot prevent the mining our information, awareness can help us be more proactive about what we do (or say) online.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Creative Commons 4.0

Last week, Creative Commons released a new version of their licenses, which were developed as a easier to use alternative to traditional copyright. The licenses make it easier for the producer and the consumer to understand what rights are reserved and what usages are available for a document, image, or other content.

You can read about the new release on their news blog, which contains additional links to information about the changes to version 4.0. The changes, in part, are meant to help with global level licensing and to help violators correct their usage without loosing their access to the content.

If you are not familiar with Creative Commons, the video below is a good introduction.