Monday, June 01, 2009

"While ostensibly about museums, the law could have a major impact on how libraries function"

Cornell's Peter Hirtle is concerned with the potential impact of the Brodsky bill on libraries and archives:

"The problem is that while the bill discusses the issue surrounding collecting in museums, it defines museums so broadly that most libraries and archives would fall under its sway. Here is the definition:

'MUSEUM' means any institution having collecting as a stated purpose in its charter, certificate of incorporation, or other organizing documents, or owning or holding collections, or intending to own or hold collections that is a governmental entity, education corporation, not-for-profit corporation, or charitable trust.

"Since almost every library in the state owns or holds collections, for the purposes of the law they would be museums. The law would sharply limit their ability to dispose of any material .... [I]nstead of throwing unwanted items into the trash or putting them in the local library book sale, a library would first have to offer the material to other 'museums' in New York state and then the rest of the country. Proceeds from any sale could only be used to support further acquisitions."