Managing Intellectual Property in Digital Libraries: The Roles of Digital Librarians

Managing Intellectual Property in Digital Libraries: The Roles of Digital Librarians

R. F. Quadri (The Federal Polytechnic Offa, Nigeria) and O. A. Sodiq (The Federal Polytechnic Offa, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3093-0.ch017
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The advent of digital libraries has revolutionized dissemination and utilization of information in this modern age. However, intellectual property constitutes a major barrier to the development of digital libraries. This chapter examines the roles of digital librarians in the management of intellectual property, especially copyright, in digital libraries. Digital librarians are expected to safeguard intellectual property in digital libraries by controlling the utilisation of copyrighted information resources and educating their user communities on the copyright status of information resources. The need for digital librarians to increase their digital collections through digitization and partnership with other digital libraries is also discussed.
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Libraries are compendiums of knowledge obtainable in the past and present times of human societies. Throughout the course of human history, libraries have served as dependable repositories of human knowledge and intellect in diverse fields of human endeavour. These treasures of human knowledge are enshrined in information resources such as books, serials, microfilms, theses and audiovisual materials which are properly organised and made available for the consultation of library users. With the aid of these information resources, libraries provide accurate information to their patrons, educate them and offer a variety of specialised services which are vital to the satisfying their information needs. However, in this information age, the conventional library setting which is restricted to physical structures stocked with books and other information resources is increasingly being replaced by digital libraries. This transition of libraries from conventional scenes to digital platforms becomes expedient due to the need for libraries to continuously offer improved services to their users’ communities.

According to Oseghale (2008), library services must create a balance between specific research and information needs and a usable collection of information materials to meet the needs of the institution’s academic programmes. Budd (2004) also observed thata library is no longer a passive information repository; it is now a locus of the social phenomena that contribute to knowledge. The overall consensus is that libraries need to become more “digital” and offer ubiquitous and seamless access to its resources by users anywhere and anytime (Papazoglou et al, 2007).The advent of digital libraries has a significant impact on the information industry affecting the generation and dissemination activities of information providers such as libraries, archives, publishers, academic institutions and the eventual usage of such information by users. Digital libraries have been the prerogative of the developed world, and due to the advancements and affordability in computer and communication technology, they are, though slowly, getting importance in other countries (Vijayakumar and Jeevan, 2002).Digital libraries came into existence with their own unique characteristics which must be properlymanaged by digital librarians in order to meetthe rising information needs of their users’ communities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Literacy Skills: A set of skills that enable users to locate, store, retrieve and use information contained in digital collections optimally. These skills are essential for the effective utilisation of digital libraries.

Academic Communities: A group of people in higher educational institutions who continuously engage in core intellectual activities such as teaching, learning and research. They include lecturers, students and researchers who interact for scholarly purposes and utilize digital libraries in their daily activities.

Library Consortium: Collaborative effort aimed at sharing information resources among libraries with similar objectives so that the collective strength of the cooperating libraries can facilitate improved teaching, learning, research and information service delivery to users. Library consortium is a strategic alliance among libraries with similar objectives aimed at improving access to information resources in different disciplines.

Digital Librarians: Library and information science professionals who are responsible for the acquisition, organisation, storage and dissemination of the digital content of digital libraries to their users’ communities. They serve as links between the digital libraries and academic communities.

Intellectual Property: Sets of legal rules and regulations which ensure that the scholarly and mental output of individuals enshrined in tangible inventions are well- protected and rewarded. Intellectual property includes patents for inventions, copyright, trademarks, industrial designs.

Digital Libraries: Electronic repositories of information resources in all disciplines and areas of human endeavours which are consciously acquired, documented, maintained and made available to defined user communities through communication networks. Unlike conventional libraries, digital libraries are not confined to physical structures and can be accessed by a large number of users without space, distance and time barriers. The terms “ virtual libraries ”, “ electronic libraries” and “ libraries without walls ” are used synonymously in the literature to imply digital libraries.

Copyright: The legal rights given to the creator of an intellectual work to print, publish, reproduce, distribute and others to do same. It is an integral aspect of intellectual property which is aimed at protecting authors and enabling them to derive maximum benefits from their mental output.

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