Alum Stephanie Roach’s Digitization Internship Inspired Her to Address Copyright Laws

Alum Stephanie Roach’s internship at the Graduate Theological Union sparked her interest in copyright laws affecting preservation of sound recordings and inspired her to submit a formal statement to the U.S. Copyright Office in January 2011. Her comments were based on a research and digitization project she conducted during her Summer 2010 internship at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, California.

Roach worked with the Jesuit Tape Collection at the GTU’s Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, which contains reel-to-reel audio recordings from the 1950s and 1960s. The collection relates to the changing nature of Catholicism in the United States and in particular the San Francisco Bay Area.

As part of her internship, Roach developed metadata requirements for the recordings and researched intellectual property laws that directly affected the digitization of the tapes. “These tapes are at the end of their life-span and need to be digitally preserved,” she said.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, sound recordings created before February 15, 1972 are not presently covered by Federal copyright law. Instead they are subject to a range of state laws which place them outside the public domain and create barriers to preservation efforts.

Roach’s statement, responding to the U.S. Copyright Office’s 2010 Notice of Inquiry, requested that sound recordings be brought under Federal protection to enable full digital preservation and ensure public accessibility.

“The U.S. Congress has directed the U.S. Copyright Office and the Library of Congress to look into the ways in which the copyright law is causing a problem for archives, libraries, and other cultural heritage institutions,” said Roach. “The law is basically at odds with preserving pre-1972 sound recordings. I submitted a statement based on my experience at the GTU, which was a great opportunity to give a concrete example of how copyright law affects digitization and access to recordings.”

Roach also shared her research findings on her blog, LIS Lady. She created the blog in June 2010 as a way to describe her internship experiences and to help establish herself in the library and information science field.

“It’s important to think about creating a professional online identity,” Roach said. “You want to be able to share what you can bring to the table in the professional world, whether that’s in the job market or contributing to the conversation in library and information science.” Roach recommends keeping track of current trends in the profession through Twitter feeds and using a blog to discuss particularly interesting issues.

Roach said many SLIS courses were valuable in completing her internship and developing her blog, particularly LIBR 240 (Information Technology Tools and Applications), LIBR 248 (Beginning Cataloging and Classification), and LIBR 247 (Vocabulary Design). “I also took a LIBR 284 Seminar in Archives and Record Management on digitization and digital preservation, which taught me how to conduct a real digitization project, from funding to execution to evaluation,” she said.

Roach enrolled in the MLIS program in Fall 2008. She completed a second internship at the Bancroft Library in Berkeley in Fall 2010, where she processed two archival collections. One of the collection guides she created is now available in the Online Archive of California.

“I really do feel like my education and experience at SLIS has prepared me for the professional world,” Roach said.

Roach currently works as a Digital Dramaturge to provide research and reference support for the Chabot College Theater’s production of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.” She graduated from SLIS in Fall 2010.