What Not to Withdraw

I recently ran across an interesting circular from the U.S. Copyright Office:

‘Best Edition’ of Published Copyrighted Works for the Collections of the Library of Congress

While this short and succinct write-up shares the non-technical language which guides the Copyright Office in the decision of which “best edition” to deposit with the Library of Congress, it strikes me that this might be a thought-provoking resource in this age of pondering “what to withdraw” in libraries. The following material formats are addressed:

  • printed textual matter
  • photographs
  • motion pictures
  • other graphic matter
  • phonorecords
  • musical compositions
  • microforms
  • machine readable copies
  • works existing in more than one medium

Addressing the bibliographic decision of versions / edition, the circular states:

“Where differences between editions represent variations in copyrightable content, each edition is a separate version, and “best edition” standards based on such differences do not apply. Each such version is a separate work for the purposes of the copyright law.”

And a separate work for the purposes of withdraw and retention considerations, right? Food for thought.

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3 Responses

  1. What a great find Holly. What do you suppose they mean by “With protective coatings rather than without (except broadsides, which should not be coated)”? Are we talking type of paper (clay/polymer coated or highly calendared being better than non-coated paper?”.

    I’m also assuming that the Library Binding over Commercial Binding means a traditional library buckram over a modern publisher’s binding?

    There is a LOT here for discussion. I was just thinking about the Ithika “What to Withdraw” discussion at ALA, too.

  2. I’m entirely unsure what they mean by protective coatings (see I. Printed Textual Matter, point 12). Certainly not lamination of flat paper materials?! At first I thought perhaps boxes with a water resistant acrylic coating, but your thought about clay-coated / calendared paper seems spot on.

    Some specifications for best editions / copyright are completely off target for the purposes of withdraw decisions in a library. The V. Phonorecords section, for example: keep the digital over the vinyl, vinyl over tape, open reel over cartridge, cartridge over cassette. For the purposes of copyright, material format issues don’t merit the distinction that different versions / edition do, though our preservation perspective would certainly allow us to argue differently (the bits and bytes on a compact disc are quite different than the analog contents of a vinyl record).

    I need to do better diligence and research before I say too much on the “What to Withdraw” paper and Ithaka. On the surface, I find it perplexing that the non-profit / think tank arm of JSTOR is informing the library community that they can keep peace-of-mind by deaccessioning print journals in favor of long-term (and ongoing cost $$$) electronic subscription access. I don’t agree with withdrawing physical materials in this ever digital age, but there’s something, well, off about this. I must be missing something, so I’ll explore more and post further thoughts here soon.

  3. I mistyped! A biblio-freudian slip, perhaps. My second to last sentence in the comment above should have read, ” I don’t oppose the withdraw of physical materials in this ever digital age …” Library spaces are changing, and print journals are not as searchable, portable, occasionally downloadable, or remediable as their electronic counterparts. Give me the choice between accessing an article online from my sofa with my dog or bundling up / going to the library and laying hand to 10 pounds and one year of buckram-encased issues with a so-so index, and I’m opting for the sofa access model. But the “What To Withdraw” report boggles me, from subtitle (“Print Collections Management in the Wake of Digitization” when they only deal with print journals with online subscription content option — a small segment of a library’s print collection, wouldn’t you say?), to source, to long-term and ongoing subscription content cost. But as I promised: I’ll be giving it another read … and if the authors permit, asking a few questions of them that we can post here.

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