Today we’re welcoming Sara Benson as a Scholarly Commons affiliate. While Sara has been at the University of Illinois for over ten years, she joined the library staff this August as our Copyright Librarian & Assistant Professor in the Scholarly Communications and Publishing Unit. Keep reading to get to know Sara.
What is your background education and work experience?
I am a lawyer with ten years of experience teaching at the law school level at the University of Illinois College of Law. Prior to joining the College of Law, I worked both in a large international law firm and a small boutique non-profit law firm.
What led you to this field?
When people turn forty, they examine their life and their career goals. The same was true for me. I decided to add to my existing legal knowledge by joining the MLIS program at the iSchool part-time.Through the iSchool, I learned that I could combine my passion for the law with my new love of librarianship by working as a Copyright Librarian—and here I am!
What is your research agenda?
Right now I am working on a large-scale project to study the effectiveness of fair use training on librarians. I believe that fair use can and should be taught to librarians and, despite the fact that it is a complicated area of the law, I think librarians can digest and apply the information in their everyday jobs. Thus, I am currently working on a study to test the outcome of a fair use training session for librarians.
Do you have any favorite work-related duties?
Yes. I already love helping to provide guidance to researchers, students, and scholars about copyright related information. I helped secure the right to film an Indian film at the Tagore Festival and the patron I assisted invited me to take part in the festivities. So, already I am receiving such positive results and feedback, which makes my job a pure joy.
What are some of your favorite underutilized resources that you would recommend to researchers?
I think fair use is not utilized enough in research and teaching as a whole to justify transformative aspects of our jobs as professors and scholars. I think we (as a University) should take advantage of the fair use defense to the full extent of the law.
If you could recommend only one book to beginning researchers in your field, what would you recommend?
I would recommend Kevin L. Smith’s book titled: “Owning and Using Scholarship: An IP Handbook for Teachers and Researchers.” I just read it over the summer prior to beginning my position and it is invaluable.