By Jonathan H. Harwell, Georgia Southern University
Aside from Hurricane Irene, there’s another quiet storm a-brewin’ around the right of first sale. Along with more talk about ILL for e-books, there’s a new US appeals court decision that relates to the right to sell or ILL books printed in other countries. It seems that a man had become a millionaire by buying Wiley textbooks cheaply in Thailand and re-selling them on eBay from the US. Michael Kelley has the lowdown in Library Journal: http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/home/891663-264/court_rules_first_sale_doctrine.html.csp
As you’re probably aware, the Statistical Abstract of the United States has been on the chopping block. Librarians have been rallying in support of keeping it (see the Facebook page, “Save the US Statistical Abstract!”), and now it’s made headlines in the mass media. Robert J. Samuelson kicked it off in the Washington Post with “Don’t kill America’s databook.” He proposes a contingency plan: “If Census doesn’t rescind its misguided death sentence, the agency could contract with some wealthy private foundation to support the abstract. With a little imagination — not the government’s strong point — sales of the Stat Abstract might even turn a profit. MacArthur Foundation, Gates Foundation: Are you listening?” In the New York Times, Paul Krugman adds, “Killing the publication for the sake of a tiny saving would be a truly gratuitous step toward a dumbed-down country.” Political blogs have been spreading the word as well.
Another library-related story making mass headlines this week is an anthropological study in Illinois, which finds that students in academia need librarians but don’t ask for our help, often because they don’t know what we can do for them. Steve Kolowich got the story rolling with “What Students Don’t Know” at InsideHigherEd, and it was reprinted in USA Today. As one student says, “I don’t think I would see them and say, ‘Well, this is my research, how can I do this and that?’ I don’t see them that way. I see them more like, ‘Where’s the bathroom?’” Oof. Now what are we gonna do about it?