Digital Rights Management: The Librarian’s Guide. Edited by Catherine A. Lemmer and Carla P. Wale. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016. 224 p. Paper $55 (ISBN 978-1-4422-6375-8).

As libraries continue to increase their digital offerings, librarians find themselves “at the intersection where the rights and demands of users and content owners often collide” (vii). With this in mind, the purpose of this book is to provide librarians with the knowledge to “influence ever-evolving DRM (digital rights management) in ways that enable them to best serve their users” (vii). Although several books have dealt with the concept of DRM, most address either the broad aspects or the side of the producer (for example, Digital Rights Management: Technological, Economic, Legal and Political Aspects, by Eberhard Becker et al. [Springer 2008] and Digital Rights Management: Protecting and Monetizing Content, by Joan Van Tassel [Focal 2001]). Even an earlier work focused on the librarian perspective, Digital Rights Management: A Librarian’s Guide to Technology and Practise by Grace Agnew (Chandos 2008), looked at DRM primarily through the lens of copyright protection.

However, as this book’s final chapter demonstrates, DRM has become less about copyright and more about protecting owners’ profits, which ultimately creates an information divide. Therefore, a deeper understanding of this technology and ways to advocate for our patrons is essential. Although some of the earlier chapters are densely technical, they provide a foundation for understanding the later applications. While issues of copyright and access have been discussed extensively in library circles, this work addresses newer aspects of DRM. Several chapters (3, 5, and 7) explore the mounting issue of privacy in access transactions and the growing ability to extract and combine smaller pieces of data in ways that threaten privacy. Chapter 4 highlights the need for increased collaboration between technical and public services. Research and scholarly communication see growing restrictions in sharing but could also benefit from balanced DRM in Creative Commons type licensing.

This book’s broad scope in looking at DRM in a variety of contexts and iterations provides a strong overview of the vastness of this issue to libraries whose primary goal is to disseminate information equitably. Also, because it addresses varied aspects of DRM, the book provides readers with information and resources relevant to their daily work. Each chapter presents an explanation of relevant ideas, implications, recommendations for advocacy, and a detailed bibliography. The bibliographies are a great source for enhancing one’s understanding of this complex issues. Finally, the mix of topics and discussions offers a balanced perspective of the challenges and benefits of DRM, and the last chapter concludes with a strong note of advocacy as libraries continue to address this important issue.—Donna Church, Reference Librarian, Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ALA Privacy Policy

© 2021 RUSA