December 13, 2006

Looks a lot like Christmas

Alloway Library staff decorated a tree for The Spirit of Christmas Celebration, held on campus at the beginning of December. We didn't win a prize but I think we all agreed that it was fun! A special thanks to all who participated whether it was decorating, planning, gathering supplies, or stringing popcorn.

Popcorn stringers

Decorating the tree in front of the bookstore

Our theme centered around birds and books

Not quite finished Posted by Picasa

Photos by Sharon Vose

The judges' descision was final!

Classic docs sent back to the vault

Copyright material too costly to renew.

Val Ross, writing in the Dec 6, 2006 Globe and Mail highlights an issue that affects Alloway Library's media collection and any student or instructor who uses media in the classroom.

How does this affect Alloway Library users? Take Donald Brittain's The Champions, for example. This National Film Board of Canada trilogy explores the careers of Pierre Trudeau and René Lévesque. Alloway Library has the series on VHS videotape. If those tapes become damaged or lost however, the program can't be replaced -- because, explains Ross, rights to much of the footage used in this production have expired.

"And it won't become available until the NFB decides that it is worth its money to renew the cost of image clearances," says Samantha Hodder, executive director of the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC)

Thanks to spiralling copyright licensing costs, payable to whoever holds the copyright (unions, archives, creators, corporations) -- and thanks, too, to the rising cost of insurance to protect against copyright claims -- more and more public film footage is no longer available to the Canadian public, nor for use by Canadian creators. Even though you the taxpayer paid for a National Film Board production of Canada release, you may not be able to see it.

That's the message of the DOC's new white paper, released yesterday by the 700-member organization. The Copyright Clearance Culture and Canadian Documentaries, written by Ottawa copyright lawyer Howard Knopf, cites many eyebrow-raising cases. An example: Quebec filmmaker Sylvie Van Brabant's film Remous/Earthwalk has been withdrawn from public circulation because its main character sings 30 seconds of a recognizable tune whose rights the National Film Board has deemed too expensive to renew.

The cost of paying to use archival footage has been increasing, in part, the white paper notes, because underfunded institutions such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and NFB have taken to using licensing fees as a revenue source. Filmmaker Avi Lewis was told that it would cost him $187.50 per second for CBC footage of his own grandfather, former NDP leader David Lewis, uttering the phrase "corporate welfare bums." The younger Lewis backed off.

The white paper also details how imminent changes to Canadian copyright law -- probably coming early in the new year -- could make matters even worse. The DOC has also sent the Departments of Heritage and Industry a letter -- signed by more than 130 filmmakers, including Oscar-winner Denys Arcand and Emmy-winner John Kastner -- urging that Ottawa's forthcoming copyright legislation incorporate the idea of fair use and users' rights.

"The urban landscape is saturated with trademarks, jingles and signs. We must not be constrained by restrictions on incidental use," filmmaker Kevin McMahon said. "If I inserted a wide shot of Yonge Street into one of my films, most lawyers would advise me to seek the permission of every merchant, billboard owner and advertiser." Lacking that, McMahon said, he would have to remove the shot.

December 10, 2006

Alloway Library staffer collects books for needy grade one class

A once-empty box beneath Alloway Library's brightly coloured Christmas tree is a box quickly filling with books destined for a needy inner-city school right here in Langley. Inspired by Lady Mary Wortley Montague's epigram No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting, and aware of a need, Alloway Library's administrative assistant, Sharon Vose has organized a campaign to collect and deliver books, or cash, to encourage a class of 17 Grade One students whose parents do not have extra money for books.

Working with the teacher, who has asked for "simple, emergent type books geared to 6-year olds as well as several special needs children in the class," Vose is collecting books that will become part of a classroom library. Children's books not suitable for this class will be donated to another class in the school or to the Langley Christmas Bureau.

To date, 20 beautiful books have been dropped in the collection box. Alloway Library users and blog readers are encouraged to add to the collection. The last day for cash, gift card or book donations is December 15.

December 07, 2006

Dotto demos!

I've recently cited Steve Dotto's enthusiasm for libraries and the online databases they provide. Here's a short clip from his Dotto Tech show demonstrating just how to use them. In this segment Dotto demonstrates some of the features and benefits of licensed database usage in comparison to using a Google search and walks viewers through the process of logging in, selecting a database, conducting a basic search, and then refining the search to get useful results. He also plugs Ask a Librarian services!

December 06, 2006

The Hidden Library

It's not unusual for first time visitors to Alloway Library to walk around the main level and then ask "Where are all the books?"Many do not realize that nearly 210, 000 books and media items are shelved on the upper and lower floors of the library. But many more library users are unaware of the size of an even less visible collection, our online resources.

A statistical report showing total searches and sessions for EBSCOhost products hints at the scope of Alloway Library's online resources and shines a light on a part of our collection not easily visible to library visitors. The library subscribes to 55 databases supported by the EBSCOhost platform. These include Academic Search Premier, ATLA Religion Database and for all the faculties in TWU's academic galaxy. Each database may access thousands of periodical titles. In the first 11 months of this year, over 290,000 searches were run in some 91,000 sessions. In November alone, over 2600 online periodicals and publications were accessed through EBSCOhost products.

Compare those figures to last year's in-library statistics: 190,000 people visited the library, and 145,000 items circulated. Our reference staff fielded 4500 questions. When you consider that EBSCOhost is only one of several database platforms (Web of Science, ProQuest and WilsonWeb are some others) and each platform supports thousands of publications, you start to realize that Alloway Library is much more than a collection of books in a building.

Although online resources are not as obvious as shelves of books, usage statistics indicate that many library users have discovered Alloway Library's hidden collections.

These ten EBSCOhost periodical titles accounted
for nearly 2,500 hits in November 2006:

Economist 600
Explicator 467
Maclean's 381
USAToday 249
Harvard Business Review 218
Lancet 212
Foreign Affairs 167
Time 167