Columbia University Libraries and LYRASIS Announce Virtual Copyright Education Center Pilot Project

LYRASIS, a global non-profit membership organization providing technology and content solutions for libraries, museums, archives, and research communities, and Columbia University Libraries’ Copyright Advisory Services join forces to pilot a new Virtual Copyright Education Center. This pilot will introduce a robust, progressive curriculum designed to enable cultural heritage professionals to move beyond a basic understanding of copyright. An initial copyright course will be made free of charge and distributed publicly. Advanced classes will be distributed through LYRASIS Learning, the LYRASIS online continuing education platform for libraries and knowledge professionals worldwide. The pilot will include business planning with the goal of developing a sustainable service model and will be the first pilot delivered through the new Research and Innovation division of LYRASIS.

Highlights of the new partnership between LYRASIS and the Libraries include:

  • Five new online copyright education classes to be available through LYRASIS Learning;
  • LYRASIS will work with an advisory group of world-class experts to guide the pedagogy and business planning; and
  • The idea for the Virtual Copyright Education Center grew out of a LYRASIS Catalyst Fund Award in 2017 granted to the Libraries’ Copyright Advisory Services, which demonstrates the member-led innovation pipeline developing at LYRASIS.

Over the past several months, facing new demands for continued access to knowledge resources while balancing the challenges of the global pandemic, knowledge communities are increasing the number and type of digitally available resources for their users. While this is a major opportunity, it also underscores an urgent gap in the knowledge, know-how, and education about the risk involved in communicating copyright-protected content digitally. Many, if not most, copyright advisory offices and experts in the field cannot meet the demand for copyright advisory services. This pilot of five new classes and business planning for a virtual education center seeks to address the issue of scale and infrastructure in delivering copyright education online.

The pilot project is the product of a $30,000 LYRASIS Catalyst Fund Award given to the Libraries’ Copyright Advisory Services in 2017 that funded research into the feasibility of a Virtual Copyright Education Center. It led to additional financial support awarded to the Libraries from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to hold a roundtable discussion in July 2019 to further explore copyright education approaches for the twenty-first century.

The Catalyst Fund is a seed fund program operated and funded by the Research and Innovation division of LYRASIS to kickstart innovative ideas and projects for member organizations that have the potential to scale for maximum impact on the wider LYRASIS community.

Director of Research and Innovation at LYRASIS, Erin Tripp, says of the pilot, “This demonstrates how LYRASIS is creating a place where ideas flourish. We need outlets to explore, gain support, procure additional funding so ideas can take on a life of their own. That’s at the heart of our new division and why I am so pleased that the first-ever pilot program led by the Research and Innovation division will be with one of the Catalyst Fund’s first-ever recipients.”

“As a nonprofit that is committed to seeking and supporting innovation for libraries, archives, museums, and research organizations worldwide, LYRASIS is thrilled to announce this new pilot, which grew out of our Catalyst Fund,” says CEO of LYRASIS, Robert Miller. “Our goal is always to identify and foster the best ideas from our members and help them grow and scale in a way that can impact the full community and become vital services and programs that help solve the sticky challenges that cultural heritage organizations face. We are proud to roll out this series of classes, alongside the world-class team at Columbia University Libraries, as a way to help our members stay ahead of the curve in this new COVID environment.”

The Libraries’ Director of Copyright Services, Rina Elster Pantalony, agrees, “Since the advent of digitization projects, there has long been a recognition that both copyright educators and professionals working in cultural heritage organizations needed advanced and innovative copyright solutions to assist them in making their collections available and usable online. A Virtual Copyright Education Center meets both the needs of copyright educators and cultural heritage professionals by providing educators with the ability to amplify reach and scale and by providing cultural heritage professionals with access to advanced copyright education. And the demands of the new COVID environment have only magnified both these needs.”

This pilot project will run between September 2020 and June 2021. New copyright education classes will be developed and announced jointly by LYRASIS and Columbia University Libraries this fall. Advanced courses will be available through LYRASIS Learning via subscription or à la carte class registration.