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Weekly News Digest

December 21, 2009 — 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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Library Associations Raise Google Book Search Pricing Concerns to DOJ

The American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) recently sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) asking for ongoing judicial oversight of the Google Book Search settlement, if approved. (The letter is available at: http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/AntitrustdivASA-FINAL1.pdf)

The library associations urge the DOJ to request the court to review the pricing of the institutional subscriptions to ensure that the economic objectives set forth in the settlement agreement are met. Libraries, as the potential primary customers of institutional subscriptions, are concerned that the absence of competition could result in profit-maximizing pricing.

The associations also expressed disappointment with the DOJ's failure to urge the parties to the settlement, which include Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers, to require representation of academic authors on the Book Rights Registry board. As the groups explained in their filings with the court and in their meeting with the DOJ, academic authors wrote the vast majority of the books Google will include in its database. Without representation of academic authors, the Books Rights Registry may establish a pricing model that maximizes profit rather than public access to academic works.

Source: ARL

Flat World Knowledge Partners with Bookshare to Make Free College Textbooks Accessible to People with Print Disabilities

Flat World Knowledge (www.flatworldknowledge.com), a publisher of expert-authored, open content college textbooks, became the first dedicated college textbook publisher to supply its digital textbooks to Bookshare (www.bookshare.org), claimed to be the world's largest online accessible library for people with print disabilities.

Approximately one to two % of the U.S. population has print disabilities that qualify for Bookshare. This agreement will benefit more than 75,000 Bookshare members who are blind or who have low vision, a physical disability, or a severe learning disability that affects reading. In addition, the open content license will allow other users to benefit from accessible content: students who are English language learners, those who have mild or undiagnosed disabilities, and those who benefit from multi-modal reading with a combination of simultaneous highlighted text and computer generated speech.

The agreement comes at an important time for thousands of cash-strapped postsecondary institutions that currently spend millions of dollars each year to scan and convert texts into accessible formats for their students with print disabilities. These institutions, which are already suffering from budget cutbacks from state, local and private funding sources, can access these textbooks from Bookshare at no cost.

The initial agreement covers 11 high-quality digital textbooks, mostly weighted toward business and economics, as well as an additional 50 titles under development. The titles under development, to be released over the next 2 years, cover general education subjects such as algebra, psychology, genetics, sociology, and media and society. Within 2 years, Flat World's Bookshare catalog will include most of the 25 highest-enrollment college courses.

Flat World Knowledge will supply its textbooks directly to Bookshare as digital XML files. This will bypass the typical paper-to-digital scanning process, eliminate scanning errors, and allow students to access the books more quickly. Bookshare will convert Flat World Knowledge books and make them available in DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) and BRF (Braille Ready Format) formats. DAISY files are versatile electronic files that allow students with print disabilities to easily navigate through a book, manipulate the appearance of text and pages, and select preferred voices and their rate of speed. These options support individual reading styles and enable multi-modal reading with simultaneous text and computer-generated speech. Students with print disabilities and Bookshare memberships can read the texts via free ebook software from Bookshare, and all students with reading challenges can use other common DAISY software applications and hardware devices that support DAISY or BRF.

Source: Flat World Knowledge and Bookshare

Zoho Reports Launches Out of Beta

Zoho (www.zoho.com) announced that Zoho Reports (http://reports.zoho.com), its online reporting and business intelligence tool, is now out of beta. It works with hosted and traditional (in-house, behind a firewall) business applications and databases for reporting and analysis. Users can fetch and upload data into Zoho Reports from Oracle, Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, and MS Access databases. Zoho Reports helps businesses make better sense of their data by providing useful insights through powerful reporting and analytics, which transforms to informed decision making.

Features include a drag-and-drop interface, SQL queries, a highly secure environment, and a range of reporting components, including charts, pivot tables, tabular view, and dashboard components. Zoho Reports lets users securely upload spreadsheets and tabular data such as .CSV, .TSV, .XLS or .HTML files. Users can also add data directly using the spreadsheet-like interface.

New functionalities in this release include the following:

  • Dashboard view-Users can collate similar reports and view them all on a single page. For instance, a dashboard page consisting of 10 reports can be displayed in a "5x2" (five rows and two columns) format.
  • iGoogle gadget-Users can embed the gadget version of Zoho Reports in their iGoogle home pages, giving them ready access to their reports and dashboards from their iGoogle page.

Like other Zoho products, Zoho Reports offers a generous free edition. And the pricing plans start at $15 per month (for 250,000 rows and 2 users). For more information and a video introduction, see http://arvindnatarajan.wiki.zoho.com/Zoho-Reports-going-out-of-Beta.html.

Zoho provides a comprehensive suite of online business applications. More than 2 million users use Zoho for their business, productivity, and collaboration needs. To date, Zoho has launched 21 different applications - from CRM to Mail, Projects, Invoice, and Wiki. Zoho is a division of ZOHO Corp., a privately-held and profitable company with headquarters in Pleasanton, Calif. and offices in Austin, New Jersey, London, Tokyo, and Beijing

Source: Zoho



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