I have been at a national conference of Brazilian university librarians all day. I head back on a 20 hour trip tomorrow, starting at 3am local time, so expect light bloggage, to say the least.
Given that my interactions with Brazilian librarians have been generally brief, accomplished in what is for them a second language, and highly selective, I’m nevertheless quite enthusiastic about the experience. The ones I have spoken with are eagerly embracing the Net as a way in which they can amplify the value libraries bring to the human enterprise of understanding our world.
One sign of this: The question of copyright seems to weigh heavily on just about everyone’s mind. (Keep in mind, of course, the self-selection of those with whom I have talked.) Copyright is only perceived as an obstacle if you are intent on maximizing access to the works of human intellect and creativity. If you are afraid of what open access means, then copyright looks like a bulwark. But, if you are confident that we together â€” with the invaluable aid of librarians, among others â€” can overall steer ourselves right, then the current copyright regime looks like a fear-based reaction.
It is no coincidence (if my limited encounters are anything like typical) that Brazil has been a leader in trying to get some measure of sanity back into the balance of authorial rights and public access.
Even if I happened to run into the handful of Brazilian librarians who see the Net not as a threat but as the greatest opportunity ever for them to advance the mission to which they have devoted their working lives, meeting them has been exhilarating. Thank you.