Bethel Libraries

Hosting Conversations about Scholarship, Community, and Lifelong Learning

Presenting: bluebox!


BUL’s latest and greatest creation is an A+ example of library collaboration.

The Inspiration:

At the annual Academic and Research Library Division conference (ARLD Day, for short) a number of Bethel Librarians learned what was going on at other Minnesota academic libraries.  An especially intriguing lightning round from the University of Minnesota’s Wilson Library about “Pop-up Libraries” as part of an outreach initiative seemed like something we could tailor to our community.

From student centers to farmers’ markets, a group of librarians at the U of M have created a bookmobile that “pops up” all over campus–challenging the stereotypes of what a library is and isn’t.

With a Twist:

Taking the concept of a bookmobile and giving it a fun twist, the Bethel Librarians developed “bluebox” – a redbox parody that highlighted our extensive feature films collection.  We thought it would be fun to highlight our DVDs rather than books to introduce something from the library they might not expect.  We decided to pop-up twice before fall break–once on Freshman Hill, once in Kresge Courtyard.

The response:

Was overwhelmingly positive.  In only 4 hours over 2 days, bluebox loaned 68 DVDs to 33 patrons, including students, faculty, and staff!

While it is cool that the BUL has Mad Max, Furious 7, and Avengers 2, what is more important is the positive impact we had on Bethel’s community.  Students learned new things about our friendly staff, awesome DVD collection, and, well, even that Bethel has a library. Meeting our students where they’re at, building positive relationships, and making our presence known on campus were what we were hoping to achieve, and did we ever!

Bluebox’s debut was an enormous success.  We plan to pop-up before some other holidays – so keep an eye out for our big blue cart around campus.



There are other fun things going on in the BUL this fall!  Our first DIY Festival takes place this Wednesday, October 28 from 1:00-2:30 in the library!  Learn how to thread your eyebrows, change a bike tire, make a coffee mug cake, and more!

International Open Access Week is Here October 19th – 25th

International Open Access Week is this week, October 19-25, 2015. Open access is an important movement that seeks to ensure access to the scholarly literature that you need for your research. You may have run into a common problem when you use Google and have to pay for an article, called paywalls, or search the library databases and come up empty because we can’t subscribe to the resources you need.


Paywalls image courtesy of

Why should this matter to you? Want to know more? This 3-minute video quickly clarifies what open access is:

Open Access 101

Open Access 101

Check back for the next blog post for specific ways that libraries are working to help you get what you need related to open access.



Happy (belated) Birthday Rights!

Good Morning to You and Happy Birthday from Everyday Song Book

By now you may well have heard about last week’s ruling by a federal court that global music company Warner/Chappell’s claim to own the copyright for the song Happy Birthday to You (yes, the one everyone sings at birthdays) was invalid, as were the claims of all of the companies that have charged royalties for the use of the song during the last century.  If you’re at all like me, you probably had no idea that anyone would even try (much less succeed at) charging others for singing such a ubiquitously-used song, especially not to the tune of $2 million per year!  Most people, to the extent that they thought about it at all, probably assumed the song was already in the public domain (i.e., free for anyone to use however they like). But it wasn’t and it took pieces of evidence like a copy of the full-text version of the songbook held at the University of Pittsburgh Libraries to come to this ruling.

I’ll leave the explanation and analysis of the history behind this whole case to those better qualified to write about it, but I wanted to reference it as a reminder that it is important, and often helpful to more people than just yourself, to do your due diligence when dealing with issues of copyright.  Taking the route of least resistance (e.g., automatically paying license fees, assuming that a work is under copyright, leaving an assignment as it is when changing it slightly could make a use a fair use, etc.) can cause you to pay fees or scrap resources unnecessarily.  Furthermore, it allows larger companies to profit in inappropriate ways, as in the case of Happy Birthday.

An Illustrative Mistake

Here is a recent experience from my duties as the new “copyright guy” at the Bethel University Library.  This week I was helping a staff member secure rights on behalf of a professor to use something in an online course.  We went through the Copyright Clearance Center to get a quote for the use the professor wanted to make, and we found that pricing was only available by special request for this particular resource.  We made the request, and the CCC came back with a prompt and very reasonable per-student quote.  The problem is that we were also contacted separately by the rights holder in response to the CCC request, and they granted us permission to use the resource free of charge.  In other words, despite the rights holder wanting to grant us permission for free, the CCC still saw fit to try to charge us (marginal as the fee admittedly was) on a per-student basis for securing rights to use the source.  There was no notice from the CCC that the quote they were giving us consisted entirely of their service charge.

I don’t include this story primarily to malign the CCC for charging what they feel is a reasonable fee for the service they provide (though I do think their representation of this charge in their invoicing process is highly questionable).  I include it because we probably ought to have contacted the rights holder in the first place to ask for permission.  Given who the rights holder was and the presence of their work in the CCC’s database, I assumed they charged for all use of their work, and that even if we did ask directly, it would probably take much longer to hear back from the rights holder than we had.  Based on these assumptions, I didn’t bother even recommending that the professor contact the rights holder.  Given that in reality it took a single email exchange (that we didn’t even initiate!) and two days to get the rights we wanted, making those sorts of assumptions is a mistake I won’t make again soon.

If you have any copyright-related questions you can contact me at or consult the Library Copyright Guide.