Copyright and coursepacks
I’m busy learning all about copyright as I am currently exploring whether the library will take on the role of preparing and providing printed module course packs for academic departments.
Many academic departments already provide their students with printed handouts or course packs of some type and the library could play a larger role in the production of these by offering copyright clearance and can act as a central facility for the distribution of such packs leading to less strain on academic departmental resources as well as reducing strain on the library in terms of the provision of multiple copies and photocopies being kept in the SLC.
After an initial scoping of various academic departments, support for the library’s provision of such course packs have arisen from a need for:
- All material included in each course pack will be copyright cleared by the library.
- Students will not have to locate the material in the library themselves, therefore increasing student efficiency and reducing the strain on library materials and services.
- Successfully implemented at both UCL and LSE.
- Advantageous for distance learners.
- Students generally appear very keen, cuts the costs of buying recommended textbooks etc. Aids in the widening participation strategy, allowing material to be more easily available to all.
- Potentially more useful for 1st year students to get them started (an important caveat to note is that this may remove their exploration of the library services at an early stage).
- Advantageous for courses where text availability is poor.
- Copyright restricts the content of the course packs thus influencing their effectiveness.
- Experiences of other UK Universities has highlighted the difficulties in selling such course packs, with some Universities making a financial loss in doing so.
- Costs and finance have been flagged as a major concern for all interested parties along with distribution methods and the general logistics involved.
- Some departments prefer to give students more openness in what they read and also feel that this would be a method of “spoon-feeding” information to their learners.
- Numerous responses have queried why the library is only interested in producing paper-based course packs and not electronic. The shift to digital online resources such as document scanning, e-books and journal articles has reduced demand for hard copies and as such some of the more successful course pack provisions in other universities have declined in recent years although there is still some interest and demand. Students are expressing a rising preference for online resources although this then can place additional strain on IT systems. It should also be noted that print and digital packs will not always be transferable due to the licensing and restricted access of e-materials. This means that it may not be possible to host the packs online and use a “print-on-demand” system.
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