Copyright literacy as a journey

Last week we were delighted to keynote the CILIP Scotland conference held in Dundee. It was our first joint keynote and we had spent considerable time preparing our talk and slides, discussing what we wanted to say and the approach we wanted to take. Most talks about copyright are not noted for their entertainment value, but in the spirit of our creative approaches to education, Chris and I wanted to do something different. We like bringing in elements of interactivity to our talks and last week was no exception. We used the polling software Mentimeter to ask delegates about their feelings about copyright (see below), we held a quiz which resulted in Chris throwing chocolates around the room and of course we modeled our 2017 tour t-shirts, a parody of the Guns N’ Roses album ‘Appetite for Destruction’ (see above).

We’ve been on this journey towards copyright literacy now since 2014 when I first found out about the international survey of librarians started by Tania Todorova and I invited Chris to help me run it in the UK. We were intrigued at finding out how UK librarians would compare to others around the world. Since then we’ve carried out further research using phenomenography to investigate further the experiences of copyright in the professional lives of librarians. We each told the CILIPS conference delegates our personal journeys that led towards an interest in copyright literacy and we shared an insight from George Lucas, creator of one of our favourite films Star Wars. We also talked about the important privileges that librarians have and the impact that avoiding or being fearful of copyright can have on our sector.

Adapted from Alfred Leete’s Kitchener Wants You poster

‘Copyright literacy is a journey not a destination’ may be a cheesy phrase I came up with when writing the keynote with Chris (we’re thinking it might work on a fridge magnet). But what it really means is that addressing the challenge of copyright is not just about developing an extensive curriculum to ‘upskill’ librarians about copyright matters. For us, copyright literacy is more than just learning copyright facts – it’s a different and more critical approach that recognises there are no easy answers with copyright. You need a framework for tackling queries and a supportive community to share your experiences with. You also need to become comfortable with a level of uncertainty and the idea of taking risks. Librarians are not natural copyright ‘officers’ – they are educators rather than trainers (and if you were at CILIP Scotland you’ll remember my anecdote about the difference – if you weren’t ask me about it sometime!). But we reflected on what a world without copyright literacy looks like and the problem with fear and confusion. We ended with a rallying cry asking librarians to own copyright, as it belongs to us all and it is highly central to many of the big issues in our profession. We were delighted to see Nicola Osbourne live blogged our session, so provides a full report on the keynote and there were some great tweets from our session, a few of which we have included below:




So the next stop on the journey for us is the UUK/GuildHE Copyright Summer Event on 20 June, followed by the CILIP Conference in Manchester on 5 July at which we’ll be playing copyright the card game, but this time with some fresh new cards. Hopefully see you out there on the road somewhere and remember, may copyright literacy be with you always.

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