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Weekly News Digest

April 17, 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.

CLICK HERE to view more Weekly News Digest items.

'Why American Students Haven't Gotten Better at Reading in 20 Years' by Natalie Wexler

Natalie Wexler writes in The Atlantic, “Schools usually focus on teaching comprehension skills instead of general knowledge—even though education researchers know better.” The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), released every 2 years, shows that “[m]ath scores have been flat since 2009 and reading scores since 1998, with just a third or so of students performing at a level the NAEP defines as ‘proficient.’ Performance gaps between lower-income students and their more affluent peers, among other demographic discrepancies, have remained stubbornly wide.”

On April 10, “a panel of experts in Washington, D.C., convened by the federally appointed officials who oversee the NAEP concluded that the root of the problem is the way schools teach reading. The current instructional approach, they agreed, is based on assumptions about how children learn that have been disproven by research over the last several decades—research that the education world has largely failed to heed.”

For more information, read the article.

Library of Congress Unveils Digital Collection of Benjamin Franklin's Papers

The Library of Congress announced that Benjamin Franklin’s papers are available online. The approximately 8,000 items in the collection mostly date from the 1770s and 1780s and feature drafts of and notes on the Treaty of Paris; diplomatic correspondence with John Adams, King George III, Thomas Jefferson, and others; notes on his scientific observations, such as electricity; and more. 

For more information, read the press release.

Judge Rules in 'Right to Be Forgotten' Case

According to an article in The Guardian by Jamie Grierson and Ben Quinn, “A businessman [NT2] has won his legal action to remove search results about a criminal conviction in a landmark ‘right to be forgotten’ case that could have wide-ranging repercussions.” A London judge made the decision on April 13, and he “rejected a similar claim brought by a second businessman [NT1] who was jailed for a more serious offence.” Both businessmen, who were not named, had requested that Google remove search results that mentioned their criminal cases. When Google refused, they took the company to court.

Grierson and Quinn continue, “Explaining his decision, the judge said NT1 continued to mislead the public, whereas NT2 had shown remorse. … He said his key conclusion in relation to NT2’s claim was that ‘the crime and punishment information has become out of date, irrelevant and of no sufficient legitimate interest to users of Google search to justify its continued availability.’”

For more information, read the article.

W3C Urges Adoption of New Web Authentication Standard

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and FIDO Alliance “achieved a major standards milestone in the global effort to bring simpler yet stronger web authentication to users around the world,” according to the press release. FIDO submitted Web Authentication (WebAuthn), “a collaborative effort based on Web API specifications … that can be incorporated into browsers and related web platform infrastructure which gives users new methods to securely authenticate on the web, in the browser and across sites and devices” to the W3C. The W3C advanced it to the Candidate Recommendation (CR) stage—“a precursor to final approval of a web standard. …” The W3C is encouraging online services and web app developers to implement it, and Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla have agreed to support it in their flagship browsers.

For more information, read the press release.

Gale's Digital Resources Can Now Be Integrated With a School's LMS

Gale introduced an integration that allows students and educators to access the company’s digital resources from within their learning management system (LMS). According to the press release, “Gale has achieved conformance certification for Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI) 1.0 and Deep Linking from IMS Global Learning Consortium,” which means “educators can seamlessly integrate their library’s Gale content into learning management systems that support LTI and Deep Linking such as Schoology, Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle and others.” They can use a single sign-on and streamline their workflow to meet their needs and improve student engagement.

For more information, read the press release.

ALA Talks Better Broadband Access for Tribal and Rural Libraries

ALA hosted a panel on April 12, during which “Tribal librarians and rural telecom experts advocated for leveraging the federal E-rate program to improve broadband access in Tribal and rural areas. The discussion, moderated by National Museum of the American Indian Librarian Elayne Silversmith, focused on how broadband connectivity and telecommunications infrastructure in Tribal and rural regions advances education, provides economic opportunity and can close the digital divide.”

“Public libraries across America provide internet-enabled technologies and other resources to meet the needs of their communities. And yet Tribal and rural library broadband capacity currently falls far short of the FCC’s benchmarks set for U.S. home access,” said Jim Neal, ALA’s president. ALA notes that the Tribal Connect Act of 2017 (S 2205) “would expand Tribal lands’ eligibility to participate in the E-rate program” for helping public libraries and K–12 schools get affordable broadband access.

For more information, read the press release.

Library-Focused Podcast Gets Rolling on New Season

Ingram published a blog post by Donna George (director of product management for Ingram Library Services) that discusses its podcast, Two Librarians and a Microphone, which is currently in its third season. The podcast covers topics such as library neutrality, fake news, and bold programming. “As a librarian, doing the research to prepare for the podcast was probably the most gratifying part of the process,” George writes. “We were able to find both books and articles that tie into the stories we hear from [library customers].”

For more information and an episode list, read the blog post.

FOLIO Gets Support From Latin American Library Company

EBSCO Information Services and Latin American open source provider Infoestratégica entered into a relationship that “is designed to ensure that libraries adopting the FOLIO Library Services Platform (LSP) will be able to rely on hosting and services support. The agreement secures Infoestrategica’s pledge to provide FOLIO application and support services backed by EBSCO hosting technology and data services.” The companies will work together to support the Latin American libraries that will go live with FOLIO as their LSP starting in 2019.

For more information, read the press release.

ProQuest Updates eLibrary for Students

ProQuest enhanced its eLibrary online resource to help students of all ages complete their assignments. It “features a rich collection of full-text, editorially-created content on thousands of research topics that span more than 150 subject areas—people, places, historical events, current events, broad curricular themes and more,” according to the press release. “The new eLibrary interface responds to students’ demands for visual-appeal and intuitive design. Its Research Topics pages are easy to find and display the most common assignments and subjects up front, simplifying user workflows.” Additionally, it now has responsive design, and users can cross-search its content with other ProQuest content to which their institution subscribes.

For more information, read the press release.

Google Introduces AI-Powered Games

Nick Statt writes in The Verge that “Google today announced a pair of new artificial intelligence [AI] experiments from its research division that let web users dabble in semantics and natural language processing. … [T]hese advances in AI are integral to its business and to its goals of making software that can understand and parse elements of human language.” The first is Talk to Books, which “lets you converse with a machine learning-trained algorithm that surfaces answers to questions with relevant passages from human-written text.” When you make a statement or ask a question, it responds with sentences from books that provide relevant responses.

“It is a legitimately neat and super polished product,” according to Statt. “Ask it a question like ‘why is the sky blue?’ and you’ll get a number of different answers displayed in clear text, sourced from books on the subject, like, ‘The Rayleigh scattering of light by molecules in the atmosphere gets stronger as the wavelength decreases.’… Of course, as you might suspect, there are some limitations here. The tool is better for answering raw factual questions and doesn’t perform quite as well handling complex geopolitical questions or topics of modern cultural and historical importance.” He concludes, “Talk to Books is a fun way to explore the web in a semantically natural way.”

For more information and to learn about the second AI experiment Google released, read the article.

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