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To all,

Thank you for taking up the conversation about the need to #FreeTheStandards
from AASL's currently overly restrictive permissions for use. As Alice
noted, and as I explained in my blog posts on this, I grew frustrated while
trying to lead a workshop of librarians looking at the great new Standards
in Action book. We wanted to use some of the pages in that book, as well as
the standards themselves, and were shocked to discover that the current
permissions block those actions.

First, let me very clearly state that my disagreement with how AASL has
handled permissions for the Standards for the 21st Century Learner should in
no way be interpreted as an intention to break ties with AASL or ALA. I love
AASL and I love the new this case, it is just a bit of tough
love. AASL and ALA do a great deal of good for us and our profession, even
if we are sometimes frustrated with how they act as a large organization.
Over the past few years, I have seen ALA undergo some major changes. They
are working very hard to become more open, transparent, and human. Think of
#FreeTheStandards not as a call to leave AASL, but as a call to renew our
interest and participation in AASL by providing guidance on how we would
like them to proceed with a change.

I know that Julie Walker (AASL Director) and Allison Cline (Deputy Director)
as well as others have talked about this as being an unintentional
restriction. I fully understand that AASL probably did not mean to restrict
our ability to quote our standards in lesson plans, but that is an
unfortunate (and frequent) side effect of restrictive permission statements.

I also know that some people are talking about fair use of the standards.
While I am a huge champion of fair use, I must caution that it is a band-aid
and not a solution to the underlying problem here. Fair use is a tricky
little thing - it is not a law (except for very restrictive face-to-face
usage during credit bearing courses) but rather a guideline. In this case,
AASL's direct and specific denial of usage combined with their claims that
usage may include a fee, means that I would be uneasy about claiming fair
use here. Additionally, copyright infringement claims can be made at will;
AASL can let some people slide by with their claims of fair use and then go
after others in cases where they don't agree with the use of the standards
(i.e. alignment to gaming, a currently very hot and exciting topic within

So please, continue to spread the word about why we need to look at how to
best #FreeTheStandards. My thinking is that a Creative Commons Attribution,
Non-Commercial, Share-Alike license (CC: BY-NC-SA) would provide a trusted
and tested license that has stood up against commercial usage while
protecting our rights for other educational use in schools and districts. At
the same time, remember all the great things that AASL and ALA have done for
us; if you haven't checked out the new Standards in Action book, for
example, I highly recommend it! That is how AASL can continue to profit
while providing free use of the standards!

Again, thank you for your support. I am humbled by how far the cry to
#FreeTheStandards has spread in such a short time.


Christopher Harris, Coordinator
School Library System of Genesee Valley BOCES
Le Roy NY,

Chris Harris - -

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