Library Resource Sharing among DAE funded Institutes

Kapil Hari Paranjape

1 Introduction

We discuss the methods currently available to the funded Institutes to share library resources. Most of the remarks below have to with Mathematics but are probably equally applicable to all ``Mathematical Sciences''. The avenues of sharing that are discussed are the newer methods such as electronic scanning and reproduction in contrast with conventional methods such as photocopying and inter-library loan.

To summarise in advance, a pre-requisite to such a sharing is the establishment of a union electronic catalogue -- none currently exists. While current technology can provide means for rapid re-distribution of new (mostly electronic material) there is no real short cut available for archival (paper-based material). Even so this method of document retrieval comes up against a serious stumbling block in the form of the existing copyright and license arrangements under which books, journals and online documents are made accessible to our libraries.

2 Technical Feasibility

Numerous methods of sharing resources are suggested when one discusses the use of electronic media for this purpose. We now discuss some of them below. All methods outlined below require all the collaborating centres to provide databases of titles, authors and abstracts of available material in order to perform searches.

First of all let us take the possibility of scanning documents for re-distribution. In addition to the process given below for documents available in electronic form, the additional step required is to scan the document. This process is almost as time consuming as making a photocopy and is the rate-determining step for this method of document retrieval. Thus this is not significantly an enhancement over document retrieval through Inter Library Loan or Exchange of photocopies.

For documents available at various centres in electronic form the normal usage would be:

  1. A user looks up a common database of available resources at various centres and sends a request for the document to the appropriate centre by e-mail.
  2. The serving centre would then retrieve the relevant document and respond with an e-mail containing the document as an attachment.
The above process could also be easily automated. Retrieval of documents by this method would be significantly faster but it still not be the equivalent of browsing the library in search of relevant books or papers.

In spite of the objections raised above it is clear that the systems outlined above could be used to deliver documents without too much inconvenience to the research workers; especially, if this service could be used to significantly reduce the burden of large library budgets. However, technical feasibility is not the only barrier. The major barriers are Copyright and Licensing issues for library resources which we discuss below.

3 Copyright and Licensing

Before going any further let us take cognisance the common modern forms of copyright that are found on publications today. The copyright statement on a typical book reads:

(Hindustan Book Agency, India)
No part of the material protected by this copyright notice may be reproduced or utilised in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner, who has also the sole right to grant licences for translation into other languages and publication thereof.
A perhaps less common but more liberal form:
(American Mathematical Society)
Individual readers of this publication, and nonprofit libraries action for them, are permitted to make fair use of the material, such as to copy a chapter for teaching or research. Permission is granted to quote brief passages from this publication in reviews, provided the customary acknowledgement of the source is given.

Republication, systematic copying, or multiple reproduction of any material in this publication (including abstracts) is permitted only under license from the American Mathematical Society.
In both cases there is no possibility of making electronic scanned copies of the publication for distribution to the members of all the DAE funded institutes.

While the second license clearly allows certain amount of liberal ``fair use'' this is limited to that dictated by the requirement of convenience to an individual reader.

It could perhaps have been hoped that the digital version of publication would be far more liberal. So let us take a look at the licences of an online publication:

(Science Online)
Basic Permissions
Limited license IS GRANTED to individuals accessing this document and its component documents and/or files for the following personal, non-commercial uses:
  1. Retrieving, Printing, or Electronically Storing a Copy of Any Document or File Mounted on this Server.
  2. Establishing a Link or Links to Any Document or File Mounted on this Server.
Individuals accessing this document and its component documents and/or files ARE NOT GRANTED license to:
  1. Alter a Copy of Any Retrieved, Printed, or Stored Document or File from this Server.
  2. Distribute a Copy (Electronic or Otherwise) of Any Document or File from this Server without Permission from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
  3. Charge for a Copy (Electronic or Otherwise) of Any Document or File from this Server.
In addition to the restrictions noted above, this journal also insists that access to the Online journal be made from a Workstation within the library premises.

The licence for the use of the Online journals of the AMS is excerpted below:

Institutional Subscriber Use Restrictions. The subscription includes authorisation by means of the institution's IP address to allow site-wide online access by authorised users via multiple connections. Authorised users must be employees, faculty, staff, or students officially affiliated with the subscriber, or authorised on-site clients of the subscriber's library facilities. Sites may be academic or non-academic. For academic institutions, different campuses are considered different sites even if they are within the same city. Departments or libraries of the same campus are considered part of the same site. For non-academic institutions, sites are defined as geographically separate units, even if they are within the same city. Each branch, office, or laboratory is a different site.

Thus we see that the licences and copyrights of the entire spectrum of publishers (from the most liberal to the most restrictive) do not permit the copying or storage of documents for re-distribution. The most that is permissible is to make temporary copies of documents for convenience of individual use.

4 Enforceability

It could be argued that the copyright and license restrictions should prevent us from doing that which is technically feasible only upto the point where these restrictions are enforceable (technically or legally). This is clearly a tenuous basis on which to set up as important a service to research as library resources. Such a step can be envisaged only in case of a serious resource crunch. In any case expert legal opinion needs to be sought out if the organisation wishes to move in this direction.

Kapil H. Paranjape