|Weekly News Digest
April 6, 2021 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.
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ALA Releases Report on the Effects of COVID-19 on Libraries—Plus Banned Books
ALA published “State of America’s Libraries Special Report: COVID-19,” which serves as “a snapshot of the library communities’ resilience, determination, and innovation in unprecedented circumstances. The State of America’s Libraries report is released annually during National Library Week, April 4–10, and this year’s issue focuses on the impact of the novel coronavirus on all types of libraries during the previous calendar year.” An example of the findings: “Coronavirus opened a floodgate of misinformation. Library staff worked to eradicate misinformation about COVID-19, which was infused with xenophobia and especially Sinophobia, resulting in a surge of bigotry against Asian or Chinese people. Throughout 2020, librarians responded to misinformation about vaccines, the census, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the 2020 Presidential Election.”
Additionally, “attempts to remove library materials continued during the pandemic, despite many libraries and schools closing or moving their activities and services online. … In 2020, more than 273 books were challenged or banned. Demands to remove books addressing racism and racial justice or those that shared the stories of Black, Indigenous, or people of color grew in number. At the same time, books addressing themes and issues of concern for LGBTQIA+ people continued to dominate the list.” The top 10 most challenged books of 2020 were the following:
- George by Alex Gino
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
- All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
For more information and explanations for why each book was banned, read the press release.
'Should All Conference Talks Be Pre-Recorded?' by Peter Murray
Peter Murray writes the following for the Disruptive Library Technology Jester (DLTJ) blog:
The Code4Lib conference was last week. That meeting used all pre-recorded talks, and we saw the benefits of pre-recording for attendees, presenters, and conference organizers. Should all talks be pre-recorded, even when we are back face-to-face? …
For organizers and presenters, pre-recording allowed technical glitches to be worked through without the pressure of a live event happening. … Attendees and presenters benefited from pre-recording because the presenters could be in the text chat channel to answer questions and provide insights. Having the presenter free during the playback offers new possibilities for making talks more engaging: responding in real-time to polls, getting forehand knowledge of topics for subsequent real-time question/answer sessions, and so forth. …
For those with the means and privilege of traveling, there can still be face-to-face discussions in the hall, over meals, and social activities. For those that can’t travel (due to risks of traveling, family/personal responsibilities, or budget cuts), the attendee experience is a little more level—everyone is watching the same playback and in the same text backchannels during the talk. I can imagine a conference tool capable of segmenting chat sessions during the talk playback to ‘tables’ where you and close colleagues can exchange ideas and then promote the best ones to a conference-wide chat room. Something like that would be beneficial as attendance grows for events with an online component, and it would be a new form of engagement that isn’t practical now.
For more information, read the blog post.
There have been several announcements about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives recently.
On March 30, NISO (National Information Standards Organization) shared “two important actions to support increased [DEI] in its work and its community. First, following Board approval of the NISO DEI Policy in January, a full DEI Committee has now been formed, led by NISO Board member Maria Stanton, who is Director of Production at Atla. Second, later this year, NISO will be hosting a workshop on DEI and standards, organized by the Committee, to help identify and prioritize key areas of opportunity and development.”
On March 29, Kanopy introduced two new collections “[t]o make it easier for libraries to ensure their streaming video collections contain films for people with different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs”—“Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, a curated collection of over 200 films from key suppliers like Video Project, First Run Features, and Film Movement that cover a wide range of DEI topics” and a “hand-selected package by Women Make Movies, more than half of which are produced by women from different cultures, as well as by LGBTQI women, older women, women with disabilities, and women of color.”
On March 25, eLife extended its partnership with PREreview, “an open project aimed at bringing more equity and diversity to the scholarly peer-review system.” The organizations “are now continuing their joint efforts to involve more early-career researchers, and researchers from communities that are traditionally underrepresented within the peer-review process, in the public review of preprints. PREreview will work with eLife to extend [their existing] series of preprint journal clubs and develop a framework for scaling the PREreview Open Reviewers program to reach more research communities globally. They will also help create new ways to increase the engagement and use of eLife’s early-career reviewer pool.”
On March 24, ACRL’s Choice publishing unit launched “a new content vertical, Toward Inclusive Excellence, focusing on racial justice. … [It] will explore issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion, particularly as they affect the library community. The vertical is anchored by a weekly updated blog … and will incorporate podcasts, webinars, and research reports. Contributors and participants will include administrators at every level, faculty, and other members of the library community.”
Congressional and State Legislature Updates
Two bills have been introduced that info pros should watch closely.
First, on March 24, Rep. John Joyce (R-Pa.) introduced a bill, “the Guarding Readers’ Independence and Choice (GRINCH) Act, which would safeguard access to historical literature and combat growing threats to Americans’ First Amendment rights. … In recent weeks, classic authors, including Dr. Seuss, have been criticized for materials deemed to be offensive by the media. The GRINCH Act would protect authors and literature from the cancel culture that has become intertwined with public education [by prohibiting] states and local government agencies from receiving funding under the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program if they ban books. For further details, read the full text of H.R. 2147 … here.”
Second, Publishers Weekly reports:
A Maryland state bill that would ensure public libraries the right to license and lend e-books that are available to consumers is headed to Governor Larry Hogan’s desk.
After passing the Maryland General Assembly unanimously on March 10, the bill sailed through the final steps of reconciliation this week, and is now ready to be signed into law. Hogan is known in Maryland to be a strong supporter of libraries, and library advocates say they are hopeful he will sign the bill. …
First introduced in January, the bill (HB518 in the House of Delegates and SB432 in the Senate) specifically requires that ‘a publisher who offers to license an electronic literary product to the public to also offer to license the product to public libraries in the State on reasonable terms that would enable public libraries to provide library users with access to the electronic literary product.’
In addition, ALA released a statement “welcom[ing] the release of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, an outline for modernizing the nation’s infrastructure. The plan includes certain investments in educational infrastructure, workforce development, broadband, and energy efficiency; however, the plan omits funding for library facilities, such as the bipartisan Build America’s Libraries Act … [which] would provide $5 billion to support long-term improvements to public and tribal library facilities in underserved areas, such as communities of color and rural areas, while also creating jobs. … The Build America’s Libraries Act currently has 85 bipartisan House sponsors and 12 Senate sponsors, and is supported by 30 organizations. … ALA is asking library advocates to urge the White House and Congress to ensure library facilities are included in any infrastructure package.”
Access Partnership: 'U.S. Supreme Court Rules on API Copyrights and Trump's Use of Twitter'
Dileep Srihari and Logan Finucan write the following for Access Partnership:
On Monday April 5th, the United States Supreme Court decided two cases with important long-term implications for tech companies. The first allows software companies to re-use portions of APIs developed by others, while the second will add momentum to calls for regulation of social media platforms. …
Google v. Oracle … has important implications for future software development. Although ‘fair use’ determinations will be fact-specific, Justice Breyer’s opinion focused on the ability of programmers to transfer their skills. This may impact companies that have invested in developing their own software ecosystems, or that seek to benefit from well-established ecosystems developed by others. The ruling will likely lead to further attempts at copying and more litigation as the boundaries of ‘fair use’ in software are explored further. …
In Biden v. Knight First Amendment Institute, the Court dismissed a lawsuit against President Trump on behalf of users he had blocked from his now-defunct Twitter account. The lawsuit alleged that President Trump was acting in a governmental capacity on Twitter in his use of @RealDonaldTrump, hence blocking users was a violation of their free speech rights. The Court dismissed the case as moot, which was widely expected since he no longer holds office. (Biden’s name was substituted in the case since Trump was sued in his official capacity and Biden is now President.)
For more information, read the alert.
ACS Spreads Awareness for Chemists Celebrate Earth Week Activities
The American Chemical Society (ACS) is sponsoring the Chemists Celebrate Earth Week (CCEW) campaign, April 18–24. It has the theme Reducing Our Footprint With Chemistry. ACS notes, “Chemistry helps promote a more sustainable world through recyclable plastics, cleaner-burning fuels, environmental monitoring, green chemistry initiatives and other advances. Each year, the CCEW environmental awareness campaign provides an opportunity to cherish the Earth and recognize how we can reduce our impact on it every day.”
Anyone can get involved by planning virtual activities, sharing educational resources such as Celebrating Chemistry, encouraging students to participate in a digital illustrated poem contest, using the CCEW design toolkit, and more.
For more information, read the press release.
ALA Sponsors Dan Rather Event on Take Action for Libraries Day
ALA, along with United for Libraries and Booklist, is presenting a free live conversation with Dan Rather on Take Action for Libraries Day (April 8) from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. CDT. (Registration is recommended.) According to the press release, “Venerated journalist Dan Rather, in conversation with Booklist’s Donna Seaman, will discuss his book ‘What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism’ (Algonquin Books). This collection of original essays, co-authored by Elliot Kirschner, examines the freedoms that define Americans, the values that renew us and the institutions that sustain us. Rather will reflect on the role of libraries as one of these sustaining institutions and discuss how we can unite to secure their future.”
For more information, read the press release.
REALM Project Plans Webinar on COVID-19 Vaccines
The REopening Archives, Libraries and Museums (REALM) project is hosting a 90-minute webinar at 3 p.m. EDT on April 15 titled Understanding COVID-19 Vaccines: A REALM Project Webinar. The presenters, including Crosby Kemper (director of IMLS) and Elisabeth Wilhelm (co-lead of the Vaccine Confidence Team, part of the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force), “will provide information on vaccine education, including resources available to help address vaccine misinformation in the community. They will also share aspects of what is known and unknown in the scientific community about vaccines, along with a general update about the REALM project.”
For more information and to register, visit the webinar’s description page.
Libraries Can Now Order JSTOR Ebooks Using Rialto and OASIS
JSTOR’s 100,000-plus ebook titles from more than 275 publishers are now available via ProQuest’s Rialto and OASIS marketplaces. The ebooks are DRM-free and can be ordered title-by-title, with demand-driven acquisition to follow.
“At a time when demand for ebooks is higher than ever before, libraries need simple workflows to manage their acquisitions,” says Rebecca Seger, VP of institutional participation and strategic partnerships at JSTOR. “Working with ProQuest enables us to expand the options available to libraries to support their established ebook workflows.”
“We are pleased to offer libraries the option to acquire JSTOR ebooks through their primary acquisitions workflow for greater efficiency,” says Audrey Marcus, VP of product management at ProQuest. “JSTOR is highly respected by librarians and users alike—and integrating their ebooks into Rialto and OASIS exemplifies the ProQuest value of delivering choice.”
For more information, read the press release.
Exact Editions Offers Digital Subscriptions to New Archaeology Magazine
Archaeology magazine The Past is providing a digital subscription service for individuals and institutions on the Exact Editions platform. With a subscription, readers can get access to the first issue (April/May 2021) along with all future bimonthly, digital-only issues as they are published. The magazine is written and edited by archaeology experts and features the latest discoveries, research, and big ideas from around the world.
“With double the content of all comparable titles, and covering the whole of human history, it’s full of compelling content,” says Nadia Durrani, the magazine’s co-founder. “We’re really excited to be able to offer archaeology devotees such a superb digital subscription, which will only grow in value as future issues build up to form a valuable archive of content.”
For more information, read the press release.
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