Large Language Models and Library Electronic Resources: More Questions than Answers

Guest Post by Sara Pike

As generative tools like Chat GPT and Gemini become more popular, libraries are facing new questions about electronic resources licensing and use. Subscription resources provided by libraries open up a world of content and it might not always be clear how that content can or should be used. For example, can articles from library databases be scraped in order to train Large Language Models (LLM’s)? Is it ok to load an article into a chat bot in order to request a summary? Does this violate the agreement many schools have against sharing content with third parties? When it comes to LLM’s, what constitutes ethical use of content that was created by someone else?

Recently, the New York Times brought a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft claiming the companies used millions of articles from the publication to train chatbots in a breech of copyright. These chatbots then became competitors with the Times for those seeking online information.

Librarians will likely see clauses about the use of electronic publications related to large language models popping up in license agreements as content creators and copyright holders seek to protect their work. And as some sectors push for the rapid advancement of this technology, stressing the benefits it may bring, we will still need to grapple with ethical and other considerations related to potential harms. As educators, this includes bringing these issues into conversation spaces with students and colleagues and hopefully charting the way forward together.

James grills, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Country Statistics and Information

by Lorraine Heffernan

Are you trying to do research on a particular country? You may be interested in their political or economic climate. You may be interested in their history. Or you may be interested in working or building a business there. Government data and statistics are often published in publicly accessible platforms and private companies help to analyze and organize that information. The library has access to up-to-date country reports and can direct you to numerous government sources and others to fill in the picture.

Ebsco’s Business Source Complete (BSC) database is the first stop. Enter the name of your country of interest, select “country report” under Publication Type and then hit Search. You will find monthly risk updates from S&P’s Country Monitor, lengthy analyses from Marketline, single page summaries and more. ProQuest’s ABI/Inform Trade & Industry database also has country reports with 10-year forecasts. Search for Fisk Report (name of country) and you will get reports for the country and reports for that country’s industrial sectors.

If your research is business related, Marketline does industry reports by country that are also found in BSC. You will find reports such as Marketline Industry Profile: Haircare in China or Marketline Industry Profile: Savory Snacks in India. The database IbisWorld also profiles industries for some of our largest trading partners, such as Oil & Gas Extraction in Mexico or Commercial Banks in China.

There are numerous .gov resources available. The first stop should be the State Department (https://www.state.gov/) where you will be given travel risk information and a description of US relations with the country of interest. From here you can link to many other .gov resources including the Commerce Department’s guides. The next stop is the Office of the US Trade Representative (https://ustr.gov/). Then on to the CIA (https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/). You can also go directly to the Country Commercial Guides without going through the State Department site (https://www.trade.gov/country-commercial-guides).

For an international perspective, use the OECD (https://www.oecd.org/), the World Bank (https://www.worldbank.org/en/where-we-work) or the United Nations (https://data.un.org/en/index.html).

If you are researching an Emerging Markets nation, get a Boston Public Library eCard and use their database EMIS. “EMIS operates in and reports on countries where high reward goes hand-in-hand with high risk. We bring you time-sensitive, hard-to-get, relevant news, research and analytical data, peer comparisons and more for over 197+ emerging markets.”

And finally, don’t forget to check on the country’s own government agencies and websites. Most have at least some access in English and if you can read the local language can offer great depth of information. Google Ministry of (Finance? Economy? Health? Labor?) (country name) and you will usually find the .gov you are seeking. For example, googling Ministry of Economy Argentina gets you this result: https://www.economia.gob.ar/en/ which has some information in English and offers English speakers help with material only available in Spanish.

Image source: www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-globe-335393/

A Shift from Print to Digital for UMassD Master’s Theses

by Judy Farrar

The University has required graduate students to deposit two physical copies of their Master’s thesis in the library since 1990. The library then had them bound as hardcover copies.  One copy went to the Archives and Special Collections as the record copy that did not circulate, and the other went to the shelves of the library for circulation.  The College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) and the College of Engineering began depositing them in the library years before the requirement. Currently there are over 2,000 hard copy theses and dissertations in the Archives and Special Collections, 1970-2017. These can be viewed at anytime during Archives and Special Collections open hours.  In 2017 the University shifted to accepting theses and dissertations in digital form only.  The library makes them available, full text, in the Digital Archives.  The record copies are preserved by the Archives. To browse the collection, see the landing page at https://umassd.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/discovery/collectionDiscovery?vid=01MA_DM_INST:umassd_library&collectionId=8187867480001301

For a convenient way to browse by College and Department, see the library’s page on UMD Theses and Dissertations at https://lib.umassd.edu/find-borrow-request/theses-and-dissertations/

For a specific title or author search Primo, the library’s online catalog at https://lib.umassd.edu/

If you need help finding a thesis published before 2017, contact the Archives and Special Collections at libarchives@umassd.edu

How the Library Can Help with Your Course Materials

by Kari Mofford

Course Reserve services in the library are an excellent option for connecting students to required reading, especially at the start of the semester. Students may be waiting for the Amazon truck or a bookstore voucher and risk missing a reading or two. If you have a personal copy of a required textbook, the library can catalog it temporarily and make it available at the main desk for borrowing. Course Reserves offer a backup on days when a student has forgotten their book at home. We discuss openly licensed teaching materials and their cost-savings to students a lot on this blog, but OER are not the only way to be mindful of student budgets and access considerations. Materials under traditional copyright can also be shared and distributed when Fair Use is applied.

While the Library does not have textbooks in the collection, we encourage all faculty who are using print textbooks and/or course materials to place them on Course Reserve at the Library.  You just need to read our guidelines and fill out a request form.  Students may then check out items using their UMass Passes for a short period.  You can choose 2hr, 4hr, 24hr, 3 day, or 7 day for loan period to use.

Our library has a great collection, both in print and online with most of our journal articles available electronically.  If your class needs to access an article or chapter from an e-book for a class assignment, rather than saving it as a PDF in myCourses, just add the Permalink (example below) to your myCourses instead.  Not only does that clear any copyright issues, but it actually helps us to have better usage statistics which is important when we have budget decisions with the collection.