I’ve been familiar with the work of Etienne Wenger on communities of practice for some time and first came across his ideas when I was working at UCL in 2001. At UCL the community of practice concept was used in the context of engaging staff across an institution with learning technologies. I also once had the pleasure of attending a conference where Etienne Wenger gave a keynote and I was struck by the idea of a how apprentices learn a craft or profession through the support of their peers and more experienced staff.
Therefore over the summer when Chris Morrison, Copyright and Licensing Compliance Officer at the University of Kent told me he was setting up a community of practice at his institution for those interested in copyright matters, the idea immediately grabbed my interest. It was occurring to me, partly through the research we have done about librarians’ knowledge and experience of copyright, that there must be a better, more sustainable way of supporting my colleagues at LSE. I was acutely aware that as one person, providing them with support was becoming increasingly difficult, and often my responses to copyright queries were over email, or face to face with one specific individual. It meant the opportunity for others to learn from copyright queries was limited. But also I was limited in how I could learn from others experience and knowledge too.
The first LSE copyright community of practice took place in September 2016, and so far we have held three meetings. The next is coming up on the 9th December and it’s going to be a chance to play some copyright games! The sessions are open to all staff and I’ve tried to keep them informal, so people feel they can bring queries and topics for discussion along on the day. However, I also tend to put a couple of things on the agenda where I think there might be a wider interest in the topic. We’ve discussed topics such as Creative Commons licences, issues related to readings in Moodle, the new CLA Licence, a new library digitisation project of EU referendum leaflets that has involved significant copyright issues and the new UK copyright exception permitting text and data mining. Most importantly we serve tea, biscuits and occasionally some copyright cakes!
The audience has included a variety of staff from across LSE, with quite a number of library colleagues attending fairly regularly. Librarians often get asked a lot of copyright issues in their day to day work, so it is great they can come along and share their experiences. They also are usually very keen to stay up to date and discuss topical issues such as digitisation of orphan works, or scanning readings under the CLA Licence. LSE blog editors have also been another group who’ve attended the meetings regularly, and this has led me to do a separate session on copyright at their blog editors forum. I’m also drafting some guidance on copyright advice for blog editors with Chris Gilson, editor of the LSE American Politics and Policy Blog and Chris Morrison from Kent.
If you fancy finding out more about the Copyright Community of Practice then why not book a place at the next event on the 9th December! If the idea of copyright games doesn’t appeal to you then come along for the biscuits!