Infomancy n. 1.The field of magic related to the conjuring of information from the chaos of the universe. 2.The collection of terms, queries, and actions related to the retrieval of information from arcane sources.

A Followup on the Standards

July 11th, 2009 by infomancy

The problem is that [a really cool desire to use the standards] is exactly why I brought up this issue for discussion. Under AASL’s current permissions for use, you CANNOT use the language. CANNOT put the standards into Rubicon Atlas (or another curriculum mapping program). CANNOT even link to the pdf document on your website or in an e-mail. I know that Alison Cline wrote back yesterday saying this could be “easily taken care of” but it cannot. We need to change the policy that guides use of the standards.

Let me put this a different way. Think of the AASL permissions for use as a web filter. Those permissions are filtering our access to the standards just like a web filter blocks us from sites. The problem here is that AASL is running what is called a “white list” filter; the most restrictive kind of web filter that checks each attempt at access against a list of allowed sites. What might work better is a “black list” filter that presumes that use is okay except for a select few instances that are denied.

Why is the white list so bad? Well, each new attempted use of the standards must be checked against a list. That places a huge chilling effect on innovation with the standards. If I want to use these great standards, I can only do those things that have been done before and are on the approved list. For example, the current permissions do not allow librarians to quote the standards in their lesson plans. While Alison Cline has assured us that oversight will be corrected, what about the next thing? If permission is added for librarians to “quote standards on their lesson plans”, they still won’t have permission to add them to curriculum maps. What if someone wants to have a standard of the month to share at faculty meetings? That is a new permission that would have to be added. What if a state or district wants to apply the standards and create a local adoption plan? Again, that is currently denied and would have to be added.

Seems to me that it would be much easier to presume that we, the member librarians who wrote the standards, can do what we wish to push forward implementation of the standards in a non-commercial way. Instead of freezing innovation by making librarians look over their shoulders for the copyright police as they attempt to navigate a restrictive list of allowed uses, open up the possibility of new uses. We can keep patching up the cracks in the permission list as they are identified, or we can instead change the policy and create a new vision for innovative use of the standards that respects members and encourages adoption.

Therefore, I am suggesting that the member-authored AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner be released under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike (BY-NC-SA) License [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/]. This would mean that instead of having to check for permitted use, librarians could instead make use of the standards in non-commercial ways provided they meet some requirements. The use would have to be attributed back to AASL, it could not be commercial, and any resulting derivative work (like a state adoption plan or district implementation or handy admin guide) would have to be freely shared under the same license.

Doesn’t this meet the requirements of what we want to do? It protects the standards by preventing commercial use while allowing us, the members, free access to our standards.

5 Responses to “A Followup on the Standards”

  1. LarryN the LibraryN Says:

    It would seem that the concept of allowed unless expressly forbidden would be a good concept here.

  2. Anne-Marie Gordon Says:

    It’s interesting to note that for years now, the Information Power excerpt available as a .pdf on the AASL website–the part that outlines the Information Literacy standards for student learning–was published under a CC license. I’m curious as to why AASL’s new standards were not automatically published with the same permissions.

  3. Tom Kaun Says:

    For years I have kvetched about how closely ALA–not just AASL–holds the reins on its products. As a member of the organization I can certainly understand the need to make money off of the materials produced by ALA. Nevertheless, I have found the organization to be one of the stingiest around when it comes to sharing information. It seems somewhat ironic that our own organization’s behavior, based in great part on the free flow of information, is in such antithesis to this philosophy.
    The reassurance that these permissions are coming doesn’t really give me much confidence in that ever transpiring. Why aren’t these considerations made as documents are being produced and not years after the fact?
    I love making stuff and sharing it. I think it’s the way we grow and progress as a society. ALA needs to figure out a better way in this ever-opening world how to better manage it’s information resources for the best use of all.
    BTW, OCLC isn’t much better.

  4. joycevalenza Says:

    Thank you, Chris, for asking the questions! I wondered and blogged about fair use and its relationship to the documents today: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/blog/1340000334/post/1590046559.html

  5. Free the AASL Standards « The Unquiet Librarian Says:

    [...] On July 11, Chris followed up with additional information on just how severely restricted we as school librarians are from even linking to the PDF document: Under AASL’s current permissions for use, you CANNOT use the language. CANNOT put the standards into Rubicon Atlas (or another curriculum mapping program). CANNOT even link to the pdf document on your website or in an e-mail. I know that Alison Cline wrote back yesterday saying this could be “easily taken care of” but it cannot. We need to change the policy that guides use of the standards. [...]