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« Book jackets - can libraries put pictures of book covers on the websites? | Main | Grateful Dead lyrics and copyright - a librarian/annotator's experience »

August 13, 2008

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Is there any difference in terms of copyright law between making a pdf copy or a photocopy of an article?

Sad but true personal story.
As a small-town kid back in the late 50's, early 60's, my parents "always on a budget" (Great Depression era kids that they had been) were afraid I would lose library books and that they would be stuck paying for them.
To me, a voracious reader--whose parents were not "kid-friendly" and seldom bought books--this was devastating! I treated books as Holy Writ and would read everything in sight, from cereal boxes to dad's daily paper. During my years in elementary school and junior high, in feverish excitement, I would read all my school texts the first two days of school.
Naturally, the rest of the school year was a drag.
The point is: tired of begging for a library card, I forged my parents signature, gave a neighbor's address--just in case, got a library card from the local Carnegie library, and spent nearly two blissful years reading books and novels and everything I could carry (three books per visit was the limit).
Unfortunately, as bad luck would have it, I actually could not find one of the books I had borrowed. I spent a frantic, grief-stricken, and teary-eyed two weeks looking for it. It was the end of the world. Here I was: a "forger," a criminal behind my parents' back, and, now--through carelessness--my parent's prediction had come true.
Unknown to me, it had fallen between an arm-rest and the sofa cushion.
Well, my neighbor received the overdue card--with my name on it--in his mailbox, and took it to our house. I got a tongue-lashing and perhaps a spanking (this was back in the early 60's; I used to get spanked a lot for most transgressions; so memory fails on that score and particular occasion).
Less than a week after the card arrived I found the book, returned it, and paid the two-cent-per-day fine--out of my pocket money.
A year later when I turned thirteen my parents relented and I was finally able to get a card.
Today I have been a practicing attorney for nearly three decades.
I suspect my reading habits had a lot to do with helping me overcome clueless parents, and a dead-end teaching bureaucracy at the elementary and high school levels.
My spiritual survival tools in a world of intellectual, emotional, and economic deprivation were the _borrowed_ library books I read _behind_ my parents' backs...
That's my story.
Please make an effort to find out WHY some parents refuse to get library cards for their children.
The answer could be an eye-opener.

Some libraries have requested identification for the child (birth certificate) and then also required identification for the parent. I know this became an issue at one library when parents who had cards blocked for unpaid fines and overdue items started to make up kids in order to get more cards.

Hi Mary,

I can comment about my former place of work (public library in Texas) and my current place of work (public library in Saskatchewan).

In Texas, the library did authenticate guardians if they so identified themselves to staff (it was asked on the form if they were a parent or guardian) by asking for the guardianship papers. The only time the library authenticated parents was in a divorce situation. In that case, the library asked for proof of custody (this was because parents often used the library as a weapon against their spouse by "losing" kids books that the custodial parent would then have to pay for). However, this again relied on the person stating that they were divorced (often the child did).

If a person claimed to be the parent and not divorced - staff would make no attempt at authentication because we didn't see how they could *prove* that they were the parent. DNA? In that area, lots of different relatives carried the child's birth certificate - so that wasn't proof that they were the parent.

As for noting on-line access, there was a place in the ILS to note this but it was checked by default for all patrons (including children). The library's policy was to not restrict access to any materials - that was the parents' job.

At my current place of work, the library only authenticates in guardianship situations, never parents (divorced or not). This library also has a place in our software to note online access privileges - but it is turned on by default for all patrons (including children). It is the parents' responsibility to restrict access to our computers if they so desire.

Long comment... hope it helps.

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