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Weekly News Digest

March 13, 2018 — 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.

CLICK HERE to view more Weekly News Digest items.

A New Braille E-Reader Is Heading Into Production

According to The Digital Reader, a U.K.-based startup, Bristol Braille Technology, is developing the Canute, a Braille-reading machine that will cost about the same as a new iPhone. The company calls the Canute “the world’s first viable multi-line refreshable Braille e-reader; a ‘Kindle for blind people.’” The reader’s final preproduction testing pilot is planned for this month.

For more information, read the blog post.

Library of Congress Publishes Historical Supreme Court Cases Online

The Library of Congress made more than 35,000 Supreme Court decisions—spanning 225-plus years—freely available online for the first time. These decisions had been published in bound editions of U.S. Reports, a series of official case reporters dating from the Supreme Court’s first decision in 1791 as well as earlier, colonial-era courts. Users can search the cases by date, name of the justice authoring the opinion, subject, and main legal concepts in play.

For more information, read the press release.

ALA and AASL Denounce Florida Bill for Arming Librarians

ALA president Jim Neal and American Association of School Librarians (AASL) president Steven Yates released a joint statement on Florida Senate Bill 7026, which allows librarians, counselors, and coaches in Florida public schools to carry firearms. They said, in part:
School librarians work with classroom teachers to provide instruction integral to the curriculum and offer additional informal learning opportunities for students. School librarians are invaluable teachers who offer an enriching learning environment for students and colleagues throughout the school. Firearms in our school libraries, as in any other classroom, will undermine the sense of security that is critical to students and divert school librarian attention away from the core focus of student learning.
While we are all too aware of the gun violence that affects the communities that we serve, including our schools, we do not believe that allowing the arming of school librarians with guns is the answer to preventing violence and mass shootings. Schools need more resources, including the expertise of a certified school librarian for teaching and learning.

For more information, read the press release.

Apple Will Acquire the Texture Digital Magazine Service

Apple signed an agreement to acquire the Texture digital magazine subscription service, which offers unlimited access to 200-plus magazines for a monthly fee.

“We’re excited Texture will join Apple, along with an impressive catalog of magazines from many of the world’s leading publishers,” says Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of internet software and services. “We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users.”

For more information, read the press release.

DPLA Rolls Out Redesigned Website

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) redesigned its website,, to be more user-centered and to focus on the organization’s tools, resources, and information for researchers and learners. Additionally, “content that primarily serves DPLA’s network of partners and others interested in deeper involvement with DPLA can now be found on DPLA Pro.” There are new features, such as Browse by Topic (so far, topics include photography, baseball, and the American Civil War); User guides for educators, family researchers, developers, and others (customized guides of the most relevant DPLA resources and tips for using them); and Search and Discovery (the ability to preview content from partners’ collections and see Rights Statements logos and Cite This Item buttons on item pages).

For more information, read the press release.

The Science Behind Amazon's Echo

An article from ZDNet explores the technology behind Amazon’s Echo to show why it “sometimes does creepy things” when it misinterprets sounds. David Gewirtz writes, “Alexa is triggered by what's called a ‘wake word.’ It will respond to a wake word of Alexa, Echo, Amazon, or Computer, depending on which you choose in your Amazon Echo preferences. … Alexa, and the other AI voice systems, have overcome (at least mostly) a huge technical challenge. How do you filter through all the noise (literally, noise) in an environment and know when to respond?”

For more information, read the article.

Pew Unveils Latest Survey Results on Americans' Reading Habits

Pew Research Center released the results of a new study showing that about 18% of Americans listen to audiobooks, up from the 14% who did according to its 2016 study. About 74% of Americans have read a book (in any format) in the past year (and 67% read a print book). Americans read an average of 12 books each year; typical Americans read four books a year. Print books are read exclusively by 39% of Americans, and 29% say they read books in print and digital formats.

For more information, read the article.

Findaway Adds Educational Videos to Playaway Launchpad Tablet

Findaway updated the Playaway Launchpad tablet with a collection of learning videos, movies, and TV shows for children. The Launchpad Video catalog, which expands quarterly, currently features content from National Geographic, Sesame Street, The Berenstain Bears, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and more. It is curated by age, subject, and theme, and collections are divided into STEAM, English Language Arts, Animals & Nature, Science, Creativity, etc. Adults can use Launchpad Video’s screen-time controls to monitor children’s usage.

For more information, read the press release.

Digital Science and Katalysis Start Pilot for Improving Peer Review

Digital Science worked with Katalysis to launch a pilot project that will use blockchain technologies to support the peer-review process. With help from Springer Nature, they will use this initial phase to “look at practical solutions that leverage the distributed registry and smart contract elements of blockchain technologies.” In later phases, they will establish a consortium of organizations that will work on solving peer review-related scholarly communications challenges.

For more information, read the press release.

Send correspondence concerning the Weekly News Digest to NewsBreaks Editor Brandi Scardilli
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