Volume 7, Issue 1, January 2000
Telecommunications Electronic Reviews (TER) is a publication of the Library and Information Technology Association.
Telecommunications Electronic Reviews (ISSN: 1075-9972) is a periodical copyright © 2000 by the American Library Association. Documents in this issue, subject to copyright by the American Library Association or by the authors of the documents, may be reproduced for noncommercial, educational, or scientific purposes granted by Sections 107 and 108 of the Copyright Revision Act of 1976, provided that the copyright statement and source for that material are clearly acknowledged and that the material is reproduced without alteration. None of these documents may be reproduced or adapted for commercial distribution without the prior written permission of the designated copyright holder for the specific documents.
Review of: Arlene Bielefield and Lawrence Cheeseman. Interpreting and Negotiating Licensing Agreements: A Guidebook for the Library, Research, and Teaching Publications. New York: Neal-Schumann Publishers, 1999.
by Rob Withers
Electronic resources make up an ever-increasing share of library expenditures and holdings. As the authors of this work note in their preface, it is almost impossible to use such products without first assenting to often complex usage agreements. Overlooking even a small part of such agreements can have catastrophic results. At a recent ALA discussion group, one librarian shared the story of a library which signed a contract that limited use of an online product to faculty and students. Unfortunately, librarians at that institution were classified as staff, rather than faculty; as a result, they were prohibited by the terms of the contract from using this particular resources, and therefore from offering assistance to their users.
Because libraries often purchase materials autonomously from their institutions' purchasing agencies, the task of interpreting, assessing, and responding to these agreements often confronts librarians. The authors acknowledge that professionals, preferably with experience in negotiating contracts, should examine every agreement. The sheer volume of agreements, however, makes it necessary for librarians, researchers, and teachers to understand the impact of the agreements presented to them. Negotiating Licensing Agreements targets such individuals, with the goal of helping them to understand licensing agreements so well that lawyers become "a second pair of eyes, rather than a personal guide through every clause." In addition, the authors also hope that their book will provide those who design and market electronic products with insight into the needs of libraries and other educational institutions.
This book is divided into two parts, "Understanding Licensing Agreements" and "Making Decisions About and Negotiating License Agreements." In the first of these two parts, the authors introduce readers to the contract laws governing licensing agreements, describe the differing types of contract agreements, and examine the types of clauses which may be included in a licensing agreement. Throughout these sections, the authors indicate the possible implications that differing kinds of contracts and different clauses can have upon libraries. The second part of the book provides advice for those evaluating licensing agreements. It offers advice on when and how to negotiate a license, and when libraries should forgo licensed products in favor of un-copyrighted materials. Several appendices and a glossary round out this book.
The authors provide a handy overview of licensing agreements. The middle portions of the book, which survey types of licenses and contracts, are filled with examples of commonly used clauses as well as examples of "red flags" which should be avoided or refused by savvy librarians. The authors avoid the trap of focusing exclusively on one type of library (school, public, large academic, and small academic) and frequently call attention to differences in circumstances which might lead one of these types of libraries to request or require adjustments to a licensing agreement or a negotiating process. Throughout the entire book, the authors are anything but reticent when it comes to evaluating types of licensing agreements or the clauses contained within them. The handy arrangement of the lengthy middle chapter, which discusses examples of clauses, ensures that users will be able to use this work as a reference tool long after their initial reading.
While this volume does provide a sound overview of the licensing process, it also has some significant shortcomings. Most significant is the high price of the book: $60 for a small paperback. This slender work consists of less than 165 pages. In addition, 32 pages of this book are comprised of appendices containing the text of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the International Coalition of Library Consortia's Statement of Perspective and Preferred Practices for the Selection and Purchase of Electronic Information.
In addition, more careful editing would have benefited this book. Several typos--all of which disrupt subject/verb agreement--occur within one dozen pages (between p. 60 and 72). In the concluding chapter of the work, the authors refer to documents available on the web, but do not consistently reference them. Comprehensiveness is also an issue. Although the authors hope that the book will be comprehensive, there are in fact some gaps in this book's coverage. The book's treatment of one set of terms provides an example of this problem. One of the appendices that provides a checklist of evaluation criteria advises librarians to examine whether licensing agreements allow for "authorized users" and "permitted users." The glossary at the end of the book, however, includes a definition only of the former term.
Despite some shortcomings, this book offers a concise overview to beginning or intermediate users.
Copyright © 2000 by Rob Withers. This document may be reproduced in whole or in part for noncommercial, educational, or scientific purposes, provided that the preceding copyright statement and source are clearly acknowledged. All other rights are reserved. For permission to reproduce or adapt this document or any part of it for commercial distribution, address requests to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review of: Mark Smith. Internet Policy Handbook for Libraries. New York: Neal-Schuman, 1999.
by Elizabeth Yakel
The Internet Policy Handbook is a detailed guide for library administrators and department heads with responsibility for policy development in public, school, and academic libraries. It discusses all the elements of an Internet policy that is aimed at library users and the decisions that need to be addressed during its development.
The handbook is organized in a clear and orderly manner that broadly introduces the subject and then treats specific issues in more depth. Chapter 1 discusses overall Internet policy development and examines such issues as when a policy should be written and adopted, coverage of a policy, who should be included in policy development, and promulgating the finalized policy to the library's clientele. Although this chapter presents an example of a very general and minimal policy, it is apparent from the rest of the book that this is not an exemplar. Smith demonstrates that working through the hard questions and articulating these in a policy is a better means of presenting a consistent and fair Internet policy for patrons.
Chapter 2 goes into greater detail concerning linking the library's mission to the Internet policy by asking library administrators to examine the values of the library prior to developing a policy. One very positive point about this chapter is that the author points to a variety of statements articulating differing values and philosophies behind library service, but does not preference one over another. Chapter 3 covers implementation issues, particularly logistical issues of scheduling and facilities design. "Defining Acceptable Use" is the title of Chapter 4. It not only debates the pros and cons of restricting access to Internet content, but also discusses whether or not the library will allow Internet functions, such as e-mail and e-commerce, whether the library will provide patrons with the ability to download information to a file or disk, or if clients will be allowed to use their own personal software on library computers.
The importance of establishing consequences for violating the Internet policy is the topic of Chapter 5. Smith argues for clearly articulating unacceptable uses in a policy as opposed to listing acceptable uses and assuming that all else is unacceptable. Filtering is the subject of the sixth chapter. The chapter examines laws, court cases, and the Library Bill of Rights. If the decision is made to employ filtering software, the Handbook notes that this is only the first of many decisions on how, where, and when to employ these applications. The chapter ends with an explanation of how filtering software works and what problems can occur due to the filtering method employed. Chapter 7 discusses guided use and library policy as an alternative to filtering software. Techniques used to foster guided use include developing library web pages, offering one-on-one instruction and assistance, and supplying print resources that guide patrons to helpful sites, and parental guides or instructional services for parents about how to supervise their children on the web.
Chapter 8 looks at the issue of web publishing policies. This is an important chapter because as the author points out, the use of the Internet by library patrons is not always unidirectional. Libraries may choose to allow other organizations (particularly other non-profit, as well as cultural and civic organizations) and individuals to publish or mount web pages on their servers. This creates two significant issues for consideration: access to the server and content. For example, if others can publish documents on the web using the library's server, will these individuals be given access to the server? In relation to content, some regulation is acceptable to ensure that web publishers from outside the library do not violate copyright law, particularly since the library may also be liable.
The final chapter examines the issues of on-going review of all Internet policies. "Next steps" include the incorporation of patron and staff feedback into the next iteration of the policies, on-going monitoring (either manually or automatic) of web use, and making sure that policies are still applicable as the technological environment changes and evolves. This chapter is short and could have treated the issue of evaluation in greater depth by assessing different measures of evaluating impact and success of a policy.
Smith acknowledges that some libraries (e.g., college and university or public libraries) will be in the position of having the larger entity to which they belong (the university or city) preempt the library by establishing organization-wide Internet policies. The book could have gone into more detail about how a library might influence these policies and best articulate the unique library concerns to the larger institution. In fact, the book does not note that libraries should do some research to ascertain whether or not some higher entity has already created Internet policies for them.
Another limitation of the Internet Policy Handbook is its focus on only the public. The public is not the only group for which library Internet use policies should be drafted. Internet policies should also cover library administration and staff, and acceptable use may differ for staff during work hours than for patrons. In particular, this might be a factor if the library is part of a larger entity (university or municipal government). The exclusion of policies directed towards staff is interesting given the careful attention to policies aimed at patrons.
The Handbook ends with four appendices. Appendix A reprints sample Internet policies. The handbook provides many examples of parts as well as entire Internet policies. There are also references to additional policies found on the web. How long these links will be active is an on-going question. Appendix B provides the full text of National and State Library Association Policies. Many of the American Library Association's policies are reprinted here as well as the policies from five states.
Appendix C is an Internet policy checklist. This appendix provides a list of questions that each library needs to answer before embarking on policy development. This is not an inclusive list of all the questions raised in the handbook, but the checklist provides a good starting point for discussions. The final appendix, Appendix D, is a reprint of the court opinion by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division in the case of Mainstream Loudoun et al., plaintiffs versus the Board of Trustees of the Loudoun County Library, defendant. This court found in favor of the plaintiffs and identified the restrictive access policy to Internet resources as violating the First Amendment. In reading through this opinion, it is apparent that the case revolved around the specifics of the Loudoun County Library policy and that another policy, even one with restrictions, might have been acceptable and not viewed as a violation of the First Amendment. Taken together, these appendices provide added context and resources for library policy makers. These materials could be used as models, orientation materials, or discussion generators for the committee in charge of drafting the policy.
Elizabeth Yakel (email@example.com) is an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Information Sciences. Her specialization is in the areas of electronic records management and archival administration.
Copyright © 2000 by Elizabeth Yakel. This document may be reproduced in whole or in part for noncommercial, educational, or scientific purposes, provided that the preceding copyright statement and source are clearly acknowledged. All other rights are reserved. For permission to reproduce or adapt this document or any part of it for commercial distribution, address requests to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
REVIEW OF: Jade Clayton. McGraw-Hill Illustrated Telecom Dictionary. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.
by Brian K. Yost
The back cover of the McGraw-Hill Illustrated Telecom Dictionary claims, "The world of telecommunications-in one indispensable volume." Obviously, this is quite an ambitious claim. And while this title will serve as an excellent telecommunications reference, it will not completely meet the needs of all users.
In the introduction the author, a communications engineer with American Express, states the many audiences he intends the reference for: "... public telephone company professionals, telephone equipment/services vendors, telephone equipment manufacturers, telephone equipment distributors, as well as instructors and students of all levels that have subject matter relating to computer science, information systems, telecommunications, and electronics." Although Clayton may intend for this title to serve many audiences, it is indeed oriented to the telephone industry.
A 500-page book with 20,000 definitions cannot provide complete coverage of telecommunications. The emphasis on the telephone industry is evident from the entries included. Some of these include Ground Start Trunk, Local Exchange Carrier (LEC), Climbing Belt, and Predictive Dialing. Even within the telephony concentration, the choice of definitions to include seems rather arbitrary at times. For example, there are entries for some Regional Bell Operating Companies (e.g., Southwestern Bell), but not for others (e.g., Ameritech). In addition to the emphasis on telephony-related definitions, the coverage of data networking terminology is also quite good.
The alphabetically arranged explanations are concise and clear. The cross referencing from acronyms to their definitions (and of course there are many acronyms for a book of this type) is very helpful. There are quite good black and white photographs or diagrams for over 250 of the definitions. The images are especially useful for definitions of cable types and interfaces. In fact, additional graphics for this type of definition would be appreciated. The index is very good and provides multiple points of access into entries.
Although a print reference work will become outdated fairly quickly, future editions of the book are planned to keep it up to date.
The subject range of definitions is quite broad. Along with the telephony and networking definitions, there is a scattering of PC hardware terminology such as BIOS, CMOS, and Hard Disk Drive. Some programming languages are included, such as COBOL, C++, and FORTRAN, but not others (e.g., Java). The coverage of computer and information technology terminology, however, is much less complete than the coverage devoted to telephony (as is to be expected with a telecom dictionary).
The subject matter of the appendices also reveals the title's emphasis on telephony and data communications: vertical horizontal coordinates table for United States cities; calling countries from the United States: country and city codes; area codes of the NANP listed by area; area codes of the NANP listed by number; binary, decimal, and hexadecimal conversions; and cabling color codes.
Because of its limitations as a comprehensive computing and information technology dictionary, those looking for a title concentrating on these areas may be better served by a reference such as the Dictionary of PC Hardware and Data Communication Terms (Shnier, M. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly, 1996). Unfortunately this title is no longer in print, but the content is available on the web at http://www.oreilly.com/reference/dictionary/. The more recent Computer Dictionary (Shnier, M. Indianapolis, IN: Que, 1998.) will also likely appeal to users looking for a comprehensive computing dictionary.
The title is a paperback. The paper is of good quality and the binding seems to be quite durable. My review copy was sent U.S.P.S. Priority Mail and arrived soaking wet in a plastic bag.. After drying out the paper and cover were cockled and rippled but the binding was intact.
Overall, this title is a very useful dictionary of telecom terminology, taking into consideration the slant towards the telephone industry. The choice of entries is rather curious at times, and it is by no means a complete dictionary of computing, information technology, or networking. With its emphasis on telephony terminology, it would be extremely useful for systems librarians or other information technology professionals who find themselves working with telephone companies and other telecommunications providers.
Brian K. Yost (email@example.com) is Library Technology Coordinator at Van Wylen Library, Hope College in Holland, Michigan.
Copyright © 2000 by Brian K. Yost. This document may be reproduced in whole or in part for noncommercial, educational, or scientific purposes, provided that the preceding copyright statement and source are clearly acknowledged. All other rights are reserved. For permission to reproduce or adapt this document or any part of it for commercial distribution, address requests to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.