A subcommittee of the ALA Presidential Task Force on Traditional Cultural
Expression has drafted definitions upon which the Task Force will base its
subsequent work. The Task Force will discuss the definitions in a
conference call on 27 September 2010.
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In terms of initialisms, TCE refers to traditional cultural
expression/s; TK refers to traditional knowledge; WIPO is the World
Intellectual Property Organization; IP refers to intellectual property.
"Initial Analysis-Libraries, WIPO, & TCEs
A narrow focus on TCEs , especially the core folkloric performances (hence
a subset of the larger category of TK, and one that would have fewer
direct cultural property implications), can greatly simplify the work of
the Taskforce. In terms of cultural institutions, TCE's are more relevant
to the archival and museum functions than library management functions.
With the possible exception of material culture artifacts, Libraries
should expect limited exposure to TCEs per se. The exercise below
deconstructs that environment for possible levels of Library involvement
and informing the WIPO initiative.
1. Forums--Libraries with Traditional Groups in their collection
scope and/or service populations may provide forums for TCE performances.
If so, the Library is advised:
" Reach out to the Group and qualified scholars.
" Be aware of potential religious and cultural sensitivities or even
taboos and audience limitations may come into play.
" Ensure staff cultural expertise in these matters and/or seek input
from experts in the allied archival and museum fields, as well as to
efforts like WIPO's Cultural Heritage Project--
2. Performance Capture-Archival functions: A Library with original
recordings of TCE performances and related artifacts in their possession
or collecting scope-especially, those filming, taping or otherwise
capturing TCE performances at its forums-should engage similar analysis
and outreach. Operations, however, are archival in nature. They come with
heightened stewardship and preservation concerns. TCE presence thus
strengthens the importance of staff expertise and extending inquiries to
archival media specialists and folklore/anthropological archivists in
particular. In addition to WIPO's concerns for responsiveness to the
cultural sensitivities of the Group, this context may bring contractual
relations with Donors and. The Library thus will encounter access and
intellectual freedom interpretations that differ from traditional
right-of-sale for published materials and the ethics of the field.
Collecting institutions should consider:
" Both individual performer and Group intellectual property rights
may come into play and require assurances of payment.
" Donor's restrictions may be applicable, but should be negotiated
with an awareness of the Group's interests.
" The sensitive nature of certain TCEs may recommend partnerships
with the Group. Such ventures could involve placement of access
restrictions-even to limiting access to members of the Group.
" Mounting TCE events in real time or as captured documentation on a
Web site should be understood as a form of publication. It must take such
rights into consideration.
3. Material Cultural Artifacts-Museum functions: As with performance
capture, stewardship concerns rise. Outreach to museum and preservation
specialist is recommended, as well as appropriate relations with the
Traditional Group. Additional considerations include:
" Cultural Property and sensitivity questions, which extend to
display and possible ownership issues.
" IP rights of the creating artist and the possibility of Group
rights may come into play.
4. Published Materials: Finally, Libraries will primarily engage the
concept-albeit not the actuality-of TCEs in their traditional roles as
managers of published documentation. Librarians must be responsive to the
central Intellectual Freedom tenets of their profession, but still
sensitive to cultural inferences and potential implications under proposed
WIPO extensions to Copyright Law. A library with books and media
collections helping to document TCEs is hence similarly encouraged to
engage the Traditional Groups. Those with a specific collection mandate
and staff expertise should also proactively offer cooperation and forums
for the promotion of TCEs."
School of Information, The University of Texas at Austin
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Project Director, "If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything", a national reading
club for Native children: http://www.ischool.utexas.edu/~ifican
Convener, IFLA, Library Services to Multicultural Populations, Special Interest Group on Indigenous Matters
Trustee, LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund. Find out more at merrittfund.org