When Emily Finch was an undergraduate, she found a paper from the nineteenth century that she knew would clinch her junior year seminar paper, but her institution didn’t have access to it. But, as she told her advisor, “I had a friend who attended another school that did have access and that was willing to give me her log in.” Her excitement lasted until her advisor “stopped me dead in my tracks and said I could not pursue this resource because it could violate copyright law. At first I was baffled, because I knew just enough about copyright that I was confident I would be able to use nineteenth century material without fear of infringement, but was frustrated to learn a license could prevent my access to it.”
That frustration led to a passion for learning more about the relationship between law and access, which led her to her current position as our first Community Fellow at Library Futures.
“My biggest hope for our digital future,” says Emily, “is for access for all. In 2022 digital is a way of life; the internet is more than just a tool, it is a fundamental resource and when access is restricted it directly furthers gaps in equity and opportunity across racial and socioeconomic lines. ‘Digital’ is not new, but digital technologies continue to rapidly develop. My greatest fear is that in attempts to bring law and policy into the digital age we fail to do so without appropriate safeguards for privacy and in ways that abuse the opportunity to address the impacts of digital technologies in favor of commercial or extraneous interests.”
In her new position, Emily will be helping libraries understand the complex intersections of information and technology with an eye to lessening those gaps, not widening them. “The best part of copyright/research consultations is that even if using one source becomes more stressful for a patron, the way they start to think about resources and feel empowered about using and sharing content by the end of the session is the greatest thing to witness,” she said. As the Library Futures Community Fellow, Emily will be working to empower our community and beyond.
Emily currently serves as Scholarly Communication and Copyright Librarian at Kansas State University and has been accepted into the University of Miami School of Law as a JD/Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law LLM candidate.
Like many of us, Juliya Ziskina was always “an internet person.” From Neopet and Geocities to learning HTML to jazz up her MySpace, Juliya grew up online. But when an English teacher gave her a burned CD of Girl Talk, she fell in love with remix culture and fair use, and, as she said, “I’ve never looked back since.”
As Library Futures’ first Policy Fellow, Juliya will be employing her passion for fair use in copyright law to develop policy around digital content in libraries that will ensure equitable access for all involved–an issue she sees as vital to maintaining the kind of internet she grew up with.
“My biggest fear is that virtual spaces are becoming more centralized and that algorithms are replacing human decision-making. Our digital rights are at stake because we are delegating so much control and power to just a handful of companies,” said Juliya.
“My biggest hope is that the internet retains its spirit of openness and that we collectively find a way to overcome digital information barriers. More importantly, I hope that people will become more aware of (and act on) the challenges facing the future of the internet.”
Juliya is a New York City-based attorney with a JD from the University of Washington, where she co-founded an open access initiative. She has served in the King County, Washington prosecutor’s office and for the New York Conflict of Interests Board and is currently an attorney with Quinn Emanuel.
We are thrilled to have Emily and Juliya as part of the Library Futures team, and we look forward to working with them to provide equitable access to knowledge in the service of the public good.