Much ado about licences and subscriptions

  • This resource is free – therefore we don’t have a subscription
  • Why do we need a licence if the subscription doesn’t cost anything?
  • Why can’t we give walk-in users or retired members of staff the same access to e-resources as current students and staff?
  • I don’t pay for this resource, therefore it is free
  • Why can’t I share my login with my housemate/friend/partner?
  • Logging in to library resources is a pain – why do we have to do it?
  • If the library has bought this resource, why can’t we do what we like with it?

I am regularly asked these types of questions, and this blog post distills the essence of my responses.

What is a licence?

To license means to grant permission.  A licence may be issued by a licensor to allow a licencee an activity that would otherwise be forbidden.

What is a license?

An American licence :) Licence and licenseSee also: practice/practise, and advice/advise.

But it’s ‘licensor’ in both British English and American English…

Examples of licences

The CLA licence is well-known in universities, where it allows University members limited rights to legally copy, share or re-use legally works which would otherwise be covered only by copyright law (which prevent others from copying or reproducing someone’s work).

Examples of licencees

A licence can be agreed between a licensor and an individual licencee (e.g. relating to ebook on a personal ereader), or by an organisation on behalf of and for many individuals (e.g. a university library, for the library’s users).

In the example of the university library, a licence will usually have a section relating to authorised users, which sets out which library users are included in the agreement.  By omission, it also indicates the types of users which are not permitted.  This is why some user groups such as walk-in users are allowed access to some e-resources and not others, because we can only legally give them access to resources whose licences name walk-ins as authorised users.

E-resources access is limited to authorised users only by the use of authentication – usually by logging in with a valid university user ID and password.

What is a subscription?

A subscription is an arrangement to receive something.  It can apply to publications which are updated on a regular basis, such as journals, where the subscriber receives the new content at intervals as part of the agreement; or to a database, or archive database.

Subscriptions often involve payment, but not always. Examples of payment-free subscriptions include databases to which a national agreement is in place to allow access for users in higher education, but for which individual universities are not required to pay.

It is important to realise that even if a subscription is free, a licence will usually apply nonetheless.

 Multiple meanings of “free”

“Free” can mean that no payment is involved, or it can mean that users are at liberty to use a product or service as they wish.  Because “free” can mean these two very different things, it is helpful to use the terms “gratis” (no payment) and “libre” (liberal use) to differentiate between them.

A gratis subscription is rarely also libre, sometimes because of the relevant licence, and almost always because of copyright law.

See also my post An introduction to Open Access for academics, explaining gratis and libre in terms of Open Access.

Liability and awareness

If the terms of a licence are not followed, there can be a range of consequences.  It is important that users who will be bound by such terms are made aware of them.  This is why the CLA Licence is displayed next to university library photocopiers, and when accessing a database, users are often asked to accept the terms as part of the process of logging in.

Unfortunately, the wording of many licences is verbose and impersonal, which leads to many people not reading the details, or realising that they have important legal consequences.

“I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the above Terms and Conditions” is often reported to be a checkbox ticked by software users without reading the documents, let alone agreeing to them.  It also annoys my academic colleague Chris Baldwin, who teaches Contract Law, and has to point out repeatedly that ‘conditions’ means the same as ‘terms’, making the duplication a grammatical tautology.

The lack of attention paid to reading the small print has been the subject of pranks where clauses included forfeiting your soul, or assigning your firstborn child to the licensor for the duration of eternity (the “Herod clause”).   Luckily for the licencees, these clauses were not enforced.  The moral is: read the terms.

Apple terms and conditions

Adam & Eve: the first people to not read the Apple terms & conditions

Source: Reddit (warning: some fruity language in the comments)

Resource discovery and hard-to-reach users

I gave this presentation at the recent EDS Conference in Liverpool.  EDS stands for EBSCO Discovery System, a type of resource discovery interface which allows users to explore a whole library collection from a single search page, rather than multiple catalogues (e.g. for books, e-resources, and special collections).

Find out more about the EDS Conference on the conference site, and from Emma Coonan‘s Storify summary.

EDS and hard-to-reach users

What makes a group hard to reach?

Presentation slide 1Hard-to-reach users fall into 4 broad groups:

  1. Can’t – obstacle such as geography or technology e.g. partner college students and staff; IT/email issues
  2. Won’t – passive non-engagers e.g. students, library staff
  3. Shan’t  – attitude of change-resistance or even hostility e.g. academics, library staff
  4. Last mile, or the last 10%, or the high-hanging fruit – law of diminishing returns.  It’s hard to get everyone on board. Give yourself a break about this group – you can’t force them; you can only provide opportunities for them to engage.

The adoption curvePresentation slide 2

Source: Rogers, E. (2003) Diffusion of innovations, 5th ed. New York: Free Press, p410.

The adoption curve is often applied to technology, but applies to all change.  People respond to innovations in very different ways.  Rogers groups these behaviours as innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.

User behaviour typesPresentation slide 3

  • Innovators – first to adopt, risk-tolerant, social
  • Early adopters – more selective, highest opinion leadership, and highest social status.  These are the people with influence, not the innovators.
  • Early majority – after a slow start, the innovation is taking hold once this group are on board.  They are seldom opinion leaders, but have above-average social status.
  • Late majority – a sceptical group, with little opinion leadership, and below-average social status.
  • Laggards – these are the last to adopt, as they treasure tradition.
  • Also – leapfroggers! When former resistors upgrade, they will often need to skip several generations in order to reach the most recent technologies.  Maybe you know someone who has never had a home computer, but has a tablet.  Another example is telephone networks in rural areas – landlines were too expensive to set up, but once mobile phones and better reception became commonplace, such communities went directly to having mobile phones, skipping over the landline stage.

StrategiesPresentation slide 4

Use different approaches, and with different groups of people, as the implementation of your resource discovery tool progresses.

Pilot it with the innovators – these people will enjoy testing the system, and will perceive bugs or gaps as challenges to overcome, rather than as flaws of the system.

Nail it with the influencers, whose buy-in you need in order to bring the early majority on board.  This is a time for final tweaks only; the system itself must be reliable by this point.

Scale it with the early majority, and milk it with the late majority.  Do what you can for the laggards, and don’t be too hard on yourself and your marketing efforts if they refuse to join in.

Although the resistance of the laggards is an obvious obstacle, the late majority can also be a difficult group to win over because they tend to be sceptical.  Continuity makes people feel secure (especially in academia), and the late majority may feel stressed if they can see that those around them have adapted and they haven’t.  Furthermore, if they took an entrenched negative view early on, it will be hard for them to change their minds and come on board.

Tailor-made messagesPresentation slide 5

Tailor-made marketing messages are essential for spreading awareness of and engagement with your new discovery tool.

For whom? Consider your audience.  Different messages for different users.  Are you communicating with new students, returning students, academic staff, library staff, other groups?

What?  Sometimes the core message is enough; others may need more detailed or more technical information.  Pitch your message according to how much your target group need to know.  For academics, use flattery – a key academic liaison technique!  This could involve making it clear that interface is primarily for students, or aiming high with detail in the hope that 10% might be retained.  Academics are impressed by someone who knows details, even if they don’t understand them.

When? Don’t just do it once!  Repetition.  Don’t be afraid to do virtually the same thing again and again.  Repetition.  Other factors, not least of all the participants’ willingness to co-operate, and need for your information, will be different each time.  Repetition…

How?  Recycle and repackage your messages.  Use a variety of methods: live presentations, demos, leaflets, videos, screenshots, handouts, webpages – different media appeal to different people.

Don’t give up hope with laggards – one of them may be a leapfrogger!  If you have an academic who resisted the shift from print to electronic journals, a new tool could provide a way for them to appreciate the flexibility of e-journals from a different perspective.

We need to talk: using structured time to facilitate unstructured chat

Have you ever wished you had more opportunities to chat informally with your colleagues, to get to know them and learn from each other in a relaxed atmosphere, with no agenda, minutes, or actions?

Here’s a solution: use structured time to facilitate unstructured chat.

In many workplaces, employees are scattered between offices, buildings, and campuses. Mechanisms exist to bring us together for formal meetings, but we rely on fleeting moments to build relationships, chat about problems, and share helpful tips.

People are often full of goodwill about chatting over coffee or welcoming unscheduled drop-ins, but these Want-Tos are often squeezed out by our Have-Tos, and they fall down in our list of priorities.

Enter: a series of monthly get-togethers to help us make time to chat, and seed crystals of collaboration and support.  At Sunderland University Library, we did this for the first time in 2013-14, and named the series Professional Practice Forum (PPF).

Crucially, these sessions are put into diaries just like formal meetings, and each one has a theme in order to provide focus, and help attendees to justify their time there.

To help attendance across a range of working patterns, PPF sessions are scattered across different times of day, and different days of the week. For each month, a facilitator is appointed, and they are responsible for choosing the theme, how it will be approached, and organising the venue.

Our themes this year have included blogging, information skills teaching, hobnobbing with students (“the biscuit one”), dissertation support, technology and distance learners, TeachMeet, and student support for maths and study skills.

The theme provides a core topic for discussion and exchange of ideas, and our conversation will often veer off in other directions.

Here is some feedback from this year’s participants:

  • Useful networking opportunity especially working with [colleagues] I wouldn’t normally see/talk to. 1 hour a month when I take the time to think specifically about my professional development. Wouldn’t do this otherwise.  Intro to TeachMeet idea made attending one less scary.
  • I found the practice sharing aspect to the forum particularly useful and it gave everyone an opportunity to contribute and share their practice with colleagues.  Thanks everyone!
  • The sessions I attended were not only interesting but a good opportunity to discuss practices with colleagues – we don’t really get to do in other areas e.g. team meetings.
  • Useful opportunity both to share ideas and practices but also picked up some new information which I didn’t previously know about.
  • A really valuable forum for liaison discussion and sharing ideas/best practice. I really enjoyed the sessions and have used material either developed/created from ideas discussed here or shared from others in my liaison and skills sessions. Looking forward to seeing what’s on the agenda for next year!

So, if you and you colleagues sometimes feel that you could benefit from some less formal interactions alongside your official meetings, try this format of structuring the opportunity to meet, then letting the conversation flow.

#ISEWLib2014 at the University of Helsinki Library

1 Designing society through thinking

University of Helsinki welcomes administrative staff from Erasmus partner universities to network, benchmark and share their expertise with colleagues around Europe. International Staff Exchange Weeks [ISEW] provide a unique opportunity to update your professional skills and revise your routines.

2 ISEW welcome

Photo credit Veera Ristikartano

I applied to the ISEW Library programme and was among 15 people chosen to visit the University of Helsinki from 2-6 June 2014.  I had been looking forward to it for months, and it truly was an amazing week.

3 The ISEW crew

#ISEWLib2014 participants (and 3 of our Finnish hosts); photo credit Veera Ristikartano

The 2014 participants were: Lorena (Spain), Renata (Poland), Ursula (Eire), Katarina (Sweden), Maria (Greece), Mantas (Lithuania), Monica (Norway),  Sandrine (France), Katrin (Germany), Massimo (Italy), Jordi (Spain), Tine (Belgium), Sigridur (Iceland), me (England), Fiona (Scotland).

Here is a roundup of my highlights from this week:

And some fun things:

I looooved that my name has been spelled “Wilkinsson” on the #ISEWLib2014 programme – feeling more Nordic by the minute.

Kalevala for children; in Savon; in Swedish; in Finnish

Kalevala for children; in Savon; in Swedish; in Finnish

After the sauna on Wednesday evening…

Did you hear that, England? I just got nekkid with colleagues for the cause of international co-operation. You're welcome. At the library staff party, where we were all give leis to wear, and there were games and exuberant dancing

54 Antti Veera Laura

Antti, Veera, me – photo credit Veera

Finnish has a reputation for being difficult to learn but perhaps it’s not so hard after all…

55 Kuusi palaa
A huge THANK YOU to the library staff from the University of Helsinki who put together an excellent programme and made us feel so welcome it was hard indeed to go home at the end of the week.

#ISEWLib2014 Libraries at the University of Helsinki

Main post: #ISEWLib2014 at the University of Helsinki Library

4 Colour coded zones

Colour-coded learning spaces

At start of last academic year, all new students at the medical campus were given a tablet computer each. But we still can’t assume that all students at have their own IT equipment.

51 Name badge

Staff badges – staff choose for themselves which language flags to display

Post-graduates and “lost-graduates” – people who have finished their course but not sure what to do next! These are found in or near libraries all over the world, and now I know a name for them :)

5 Donate a textbook

Donate a textbook – but with money, not out-of-date editions!

Idea from Columbia Uni, NY: employ ‘newly-minted’ PhD graduates on library teams to provide recent user experience (UX) input

7 Kitchen

Little kitchen for students. Can heat own food (or baby food) in microwave

Mobile storage units which students can rent for a few euros. Side is open - secure once locked away

Mobile storage units which students can rent for a few euros. Side is open – secure once locked away

Service design project @HULib objectives and scope. Goal was not just to have a beautiful and functional new building, but also to offer world-class services.

25 Antti objectives and scopeIt was important for @HULib to be seen as one university library service, and harmonise service and branding across campuses.

26 Antti user studyFour different user types emerged from customer profiling: lingerer, visitor, investigator, patron.  These users types describe behaviour rather than individuals.

Achieved change in service culture: strategy and service promise; user-centred & participatory design processes/methods/tools.  Across the group, we recognised that it is difficult to strike a balance between catering for younger students, and keeping older patrons and academics happy.

Having lots of different types of seats caters for different user needs, and makes them easier to replace.

27 If there are no books at all

“If there are no books at all, students don’t think about it as a library space”

28 ISEW participants

Love these little glasses of flowers to bring some of the Finnish summer indoors! Photo credit Veera Ristikartano

From Antti Virrankoski‘s presentation on the learning centre project at Kumpula Campus. Library space usage, according to exit poll (2011):

32 Library space use exit poll

Library space usage, according to exit poll

Requirements for the new learning spaces: individual , group and teachings spaces; comfort, accessibility:

33 Conclusions learning space

‘Count the traffic’ customer behaviour profiling method by Tord Høivik.  After the redevelopment at Kumpula, there will be more seats, more computers, more flexible working spaces; and better accessibility, comfort, and infrastructure.

See also: Learning spaces at the University of Warwick Library

#ISEWLib2014 Minerva Plaza learning environment

Main post: #ISEWLib2014 at the University of Helsinki Library

Mikko Halonen introduced us to the Minerva Plaza building, which is like a tech petting zoo!

9 Minerva PlazaThe big presentation room is called the Owl’s Nest, and it’s surrounded by smaller rooms with their own technology equipment.

10 Time lapse video

Time-lapse video showing how flexible the Owl’s Nest learning space can be!

Some academics don’t like the glass walls of the Owl’s Nest – everyone can see what you’re doing; and some are tech refusers.

No point having devices if you have no idea how to use them to teach – showing academics how is key part of Minerva Plaza.

Kirsti Lonka has written about Minerva Plaza and its use – see this presentation from slide 19  and my own notes from her talk on engaging learning environments at the IFLA satellite conference on information literacy.

We tried out Flinga (live shared desktop) by NordTouch:

11 Flinga

Flinga

Flinga has been valuable in encouraging discussion and engagement in conferences, as well as with students.  It lets people type rather than talk.  Non-native speakers of English in our group said they felt more comfortable with this.  Conclusion: Flinga is a great tool to use in presentations or during courses. It combines discussing, learning and interaction!

#ISEWLib2014 Digital Library Services in Finland

Main post: #ISEWLib2014 at the University of Helsinki Library

Leena Saarinen‘s presentation on Digital Library Services – Finnish structures and interfaces

National Library of FinlandFinna is the single search interface for the collections of many Finnish libraries, museums & archives.  Go and search Finna (e.g. Moomin, pulla, Sibelius, Tove Jansson, anything!) and look how many results there are :)

National Historical Newspaper and Journal Library

Finto – Finnish thesaurus and ontology service

Mentioned in session: reCAPTCHA system, which protects websites from bots and helps digitize the text of books – here’s an example:

46 reCAPTCHA

And a warning!

47 Google owns you