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Davidson’s library is relatively small, especially in comparison to many of the edX institutions. We don’t have in-house counsel like some larger libraries and haven’t been given any additional resources for MOOC support. The college’s general counsel is wonderful and always willing to answer questions, but it’s been up to me to foresee and to tackle the IP challenges DavidsonX might face. As I began thinking about these issues, I did what any good librarian would do and started to research.

Since MOOCs are so new, there’s not a lot of information yet, but I did find some very useful resources that helped me to frame my initial thoughts. I’ll share them here for anyone else who is in the early stages of thinking about the role of libraries in relation to MOOCs, especially as it relates to copyright:

What quickly became apparent was the need to educate MOOC faculty about what materials could be used in their courses. I made a guide for faculty members who were creating MOOC proposals and which I hoped would also be useful as we started creating our MOOCs. Honestly, I think the guidelines have been more helpful for me than for the faculty. I’ve discovered that DavidsonX faculty members are more reliant on me for locating copyright-friendly resources than I had anticipated. I’m enjoying the opportunity to work closely with the DavidsonX team in this capacity, but it is more time-consuming than I had expected. It has also put me in the position of feeling like the “copyright cop,” which isn’t always a happy place to be for this librarian. In future posts, I will explore some of the many IP challenges I’ve encountered while working on the DavidsonX courses. I am also excited to talk about some of the other ways that the library has become involved with MOOCs, including research support and information literacy instruction. Although copyright is an important aspect of MOOC support by libraries, it’s certainly not the only part. I’m grateful that it brought me to the DavidsonX team, and I’m looking forward to seeing where we’ll go next.

Sara Swanson

Sara Swanson is assistant director for information literacy at Davidson College. This piece was originally written for the DavidsonX Blog