Preparing for #GDPR

The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation, which replaces the Data Protection Act, is due to come into effect in May 2018.  With only a month to go until GDPR is introduced, your employers will almost certainly have taken steps to ensure compliance and (we trust) briefed their employees.  However, if you’re looking to extend your awareness of what is involved, we’ve rounded up some resources that may help:


About the Koha decision, open source and trademarks

Some rights reserved by verbeeldingskr8 on Flickr
Some rights reserved by verbeeldingskr8 on Flickr

You may have seen the tweets or emails circulating asking for help for the Horowhenua Library Trust as they fight to keep the right to use the name ‘Koha’ for the library system they developed and have worked on for the past 12 years. Koha is a Te Reo Maori word which you can read more about on Wikipedia. PTFS/Liblime applied for a Trademark on Koha in New Zealand and this application has now been approved by the Maori Advisory Board.

You can read some of the background discussions between PTFS and the Horowhenua Library Trust Koha Subcommittee attempting to avoid this current situation in the HLT Koha Committee report.

The last few years has seen various disputes between Liblime (and now PTFS/Liblime) and the Koha community. There’s a really succinct summary of these on but at the heart of this latest development is the fact that the organisation that developed (with Katipo Communications) and shared the Koha library management system under an open licence is at risk of no longer being able to use the name they gave it. And, for an example about how trademarks *could* be managed for open source projects, last year’s announcement about the transfer of the WordPress trademark to the non-profit WordPress Foundation provides a welcome counterexample. Eric Hellman also wrote an article about the GPL open source software licence and software trademarking that sums up some of the main issues back when Liblime was first acquired by PTFS.

HLT are seeking help to challenge this latest decision, which you can read more about on the Library Matters blog.

Some useful guides to creating a social media policy

A social media policy is becoming a must-have for libraries and, luckily, there has been a recent flux of guides to help get started. As more and more libraries make use of social networking tools, it’s important that this use is planned and managed alongside (and within where necessary) other library policies.

The Social Media Examiner1 has published an extensive guide to creating business guidelines for social media. This nicely complements the recent 23 Things Oxford workshop and the subsequent guide to writing and managing a social media policy.

For more specific advice, there’s Beyond Slice Bread’s guide to giving your library a Twitter makeover (and also masses of other advice to be found on this blog).

This is not a complete list (yet!) but definitely a few places to get started.

1. hat tip to iLibrarian

The Modernisation Review of Public Libraries – what it does (and doesn’t) say about technology

Public Library Modernisation Review Policy Statement, released this week, looks at some of the challenges being faced by public libraries and the government recommendations in each of these areas.

The issues identified were based on a review conducted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) late last year which received 154 responses. New technologies were expected to be key.

What becomes clear (and what those on the ground already know) is that while the People’s Network (based on £120 million funding from the National Lottery) was an amazing leap in providing internet access across the UK, this was back in 2000 and precious little support was available to keep this up-to-date.

New developments in technology don’t actually feature as much as expected. Many of the recommendations focus on building on (and sometimes formalising) the role already played by libraries in ensuring that free internet access and information literacy skills support is available to all.

A new statutory body (encompassing MLA) is recommended to advise libraries on Digital innovation; including lending, digital engagement, communication and digital content.

And, to skip ahead, Chapter 5 is the one that looks at ‘digitisation’ specifically, with the stated aim that “all libraries grasp the opportunities presented by digitization”.  As mentioned above, one of the Government’s main recommendations is that libraries provide free internet access. As the provision of public services moves online this becomes more pronounced. Libraries are encouraged to support The National Plan for Digital Participation and continue working with UKOnline centres to reach the purported 12.5 million adults in the UK who do not currently use the internet. The MLA/Joint Academic Network (JANET) agreement is proposed as the way to improve broadband internet speeds in public libraries, though this particular recommendation (to actively consider investing in JANET, the education online network, to provide high speed broadband access in public libraries) may fall on deaf ears in the current economic climate.

The inclusion of E-books and e-lending were no surprise *(well, e-books weren’t, e-lending is a made-up word to mean lending of e-books) but it’s positive to see the Government is proposing to include e-books in Public Lending Right (PLR) legislature. This is (now, still) included in the Digital Economy bill.

Perhaps the most surprisingly part of the review, is the recommendation that public libraries actively engage with Web 2.0 technologies and that social networking tools should be available on library computers. Again, this is not necessarily something that librarians don’t already known, but it is still great to see it as a recommendation. The quoted statistic that “92% of respondents to the consultation believe that libraries should be using Web 2.0 while acknowledging that local authority network security policies often restrict their ability to do so” should come in handy for those writing business cases for web 2.0 services in public libraries.  Proposal 38 should also prove useful:

Proposal 38: Government recommends that all libraries allow access for users to social networking sites which are valuable communication tools and part of our cultural infrastructure. 86% provide access at present.

It’s an overwhelmingly positive document, recognizing the vital role public libraries play without being overly adventurous. The focus is on internet access provision and e-book lending rights with scarce mention of audiovisual materials or other technologies in libraries. There is a passing reference to a national catalogue (building on Unity UK) but not enough detail to draw conclusions .Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies rate a mention as part of the stock supply chain. It seems a shame that despite the DCMS Ipsos MORI survey in 2009 — the libraries omnibus — showing that more people were visiting their library to ‘borrow music, films or computer games’ than to use a computer, this isn’t reflected in the report.

This policy statement is obviously just a start of the conversation and quite a distance from turning recommendations into action (and funding) but it does take a long overdue step in recognising the role of public libraries and their staff in providing and supporting access to technology.