ATG Hot Topics 7/16/15

Erin GallagherBy Erin Gallagher                                   

Bonjour!  This week, French citizens and Francophiles all over the globe celebrated Bastille Day, which commemorates the day on which the Bastille (a massive prison in Paris) was stormed by citizens as part of an ongoing and volatile revolution.  It has since become one of those European national celebrations that Americans enjoy identifying with, particularly in times of heightened social unrest (like, now).

With revolutionary ideas in mind, let’s look at one of the hottest topics in the library cosmos as the moment: the impending nomination of the new Librarian of Congress.  James Billington’s announcement that he will retire at the end of 2015 has catapulted the library world to the front pages of several news sources, not because American news readers are particularly interested in library news, but because of the implications this retirement has for hot button issues like copyright and information sharing in the digital age.

People are buzzing and speculating about what the new appointment might mean for copyright issues, which have become increasingly contested and publicized in the past couple of decades.  Did everyone else know that the Librarian of Congress wields the power to excuse certain copyright violations?  That power has massive implications in a world centered on the internet.  Though Billington historically deferred to the Copyright Office when considering exemptions, no one knows what to expect from the new Librarian.  The hope among librarians and information professionals is that the new Librarian will be more proactive and vocal about sharing these exemptions and how they can benefit information dissemination and intellectual freedom.  Wherever your interests lie in this story, it’s exciting to see libraries and library issues in the public eye.

This blew my mind: did you know there have only been 13 Librarians of Congress since 1802?  It must be a compelling position!  I’m sure the perks speak for themselves.  You know, the ability to loaf around all day reading every book in the Library of Congress and all that…

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