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Understanding librarians’ experiences of copyright: findings from a phenomenographic study of UK information professionals

Morrison, C.M. & Secker, J. (2017). Understanding librarians’ experiences of copyright: findings from a phenomenographic study of UK information professionals. Library Management, 38(6/7), pp. 354-368. doi: 10.1108/lm-01-2017-0011


Librarians and information professionals increasingly need to deal with copyright issues in their work, however evidence suggests that they can lack confidence and often refer queries to a dedicated copyright specialist. This study explores the professional experiences of copyright of a group of academic librarians in the UK, with a view to devising appropriate copyright education strategies.

The research was conducted using phenomenography, which is a qualitative approach from education. Data was collected though group interviews to explore the variation of experience. Four categories of description were devised which are placed in an outcome space.

There were four qualitatively distinct ways that librarians experience copyright in their professional lives, including viewing it as a problem, as complicated, as a known entity and as an opportunity. The variations in experience relate to a variety of factors such as the librarians’ role, ideology, level of experience, context and whom they might be dealing with.

This is the first study of this nature, building on quantitative findings from a multinational survey. It concludes that librarians need to be taught about copyright in a way that acknowledges and addresses the challenges so that they can view it as empowering and as part of wider information literacy initiatives.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Published by Emerald, 2017.
Publisher Keywords: copyright education, information literacy, phenomenography, academic libraries
Subjects: Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Departments: Professional Services > Learning, Enhancement and Development
SWORD Depositor:
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