Spotlight: Her theatre work sparked interest in library science

Molly Kleinman's love for theatre played a leading role in steering her to a job as copyright specialist and special projects librarian at Hatcher Graduate Library.

"It's like working in the future," Kleinman says, as new technology continues to revolutionize information gathering.
(Photo by Austin Thomason, U-M Photo Services)

Growing up in Philadelphia, Kleinman and her family shared a love for theatre and musicals. After earning an English degree in 2001 from Bryn Mawr College, she found publishing work with the Wendy Weil Agency in Manhattan.

She assisted with contract negotiations, managed permission requests and reprint rights, developed new contracts for digital and audio permissions, and evaluated manuscript submissions. She also met well-known authors including Alice Walker and Rita Mae Brown.

"It was really exciting and really fun to have contact with authors I read and admired," Kleinman says. "It was usually, 'Hold on a moment and I'll get Wendy for you,' but sometimes it was about their contracts and every once in a while I'd get to read early drafts of their books."

Her passion for working behind the scenes at the Wow Café Theatre on the Lower East Side nudged her toward a career in library science. At the Wow Cafe, she shopped for props, took tickets, ran lights and performed research.

A friend's performance piece "Inside Out" required a slideshow of historical medical images. So Kleinman went to the New York Public Library to collect suitable still photos.

"It was like a treasure hunt. I loved it," she says. "She had a piece on pregnancy dreams, crazy dreams, and I needed to find pictures of birds and Mason jars and all these different things. Finding all of the images and seeing it all put together, it was very cool and really gratifying.

"One of my favorite things as a librarian is digging to find information, and then I had a friend who went to library school and I think after talking with her I thought this is what I want to do."

Kleinman began looking around at graduate programs in library science, and chose U-M. "It's a really good program. And they gave me a scholarship," she says.

Since assuming her position in 2006, Kleinman has coordinated copyright education and outreach for faculty members, staff and students, redesigned and manages the copyright Web site and works on author advocacy initiatives.

The most typical copyright queries she receives include questions from faculty members asking how they can share materials with students.

"People are surprised that everything's copyrighted," Kleinman says. "They find some snapshot on the Internet and they're surprised to learn that it's copyrighted. Then on the other side there are people who have been trained by the record industry or the publishing industry to think that any use of a copyrighted work is illegal, and that's not true, there are fair uses of copyrighted work."

People also are surprised to learn that a creation actually becomes copyrighted the moment it is created, or fixed.

"You do not have to provide a copyright notice on your work to receive copyright protection," Kleinman says. "However, if you are making your work publicly available, it's a very good idea to include a copyright notice, along with your contact information, so that people who want to re-use your work will be able to get in touch with you," she says.

As for professional goals, "Long term, I would love to be a library director," Kleinman says. "In the short term, I love what I'm doing."

The weekly Spotlight features staff members at the University. To nominate a candidate, please contact the Record staff at urecord@umich.edu.