Teaching Copyright Law through Participatory Involvement in an Unconference Setting


  • Amanda McCormick University at Buffalo
  • Stephanie A. Adams The Law Office of Stephanie Adams, PLLC
  • Hope Dunbar State University of New York College at Buffalo
  • Sarah Mclean-Plunkett Buffalo & Erie County Public Library




An “unconference” is an attempt by librarians and other professionals to work outside of the traditional conference model. Presenters are encouraged to break out of traditional modes of presentation and try new methods of engaging with the participants. We submitted an idea for a session focused on demystifying domestic and international copyright law and discussing how the law affects libraries and archives. Modern librarianship demands at least a basic understanding of copyright and intellectual property issues, and librarians have reported that they lack training and knowledge in this area. We determined that we did not want to present a formal lecture on copyright in libraries, especially given the freedom and intellectual experimentation encouraged by an unconference setting. Instead, we determined that the best way to present copyright principles would be to share examples of real-life scenarios with the participants and assist them in applying the principles of copyright law to those situations. We hoped that participants would build confidence in their ability to respond when copyright issues arose at the workplace. This paper outlines the approach we took to prepare and present this unconventional session, and it includes an assessment of the results.


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