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Weekly News Digest

June 2, 2020 — 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.

Urban Libraries Council's 'Statement on the Role of Libraries in Dismantling Systemic Racism'

On June 1, Susan Benton, president and CEO of the Urban Libraries Council (ULC), made a statement saying the following (in part):

The Urban Libraries Council stands with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and all who are calling for immediate, collective action to end the systemic racism and inequity entrenched in our communities. …

Facing increased barriers to resources and health services, African Americans and other marginalized communities are losing their lives to COVID-19 at a disproportionate rate. During this same period, the U.S. has witnessed the brutal, racist murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

Systemic racism undermines our society and putting an end to it will require all citizens to work together—with the active support of dedicated community and government leaders. As highly trusted institutions and essential foundations of civic infrastructure, public libraries have a unique and vital role to play in advancing equity and addressing racial divides.

Twenty-first century libraries are pillars of safety, inclusion, diversity and democracy for the communities we serve. Libraries provide equitable access to information and digital resources for all people, regardless of race. They provide safe, respectful and welcoming spaces for civic discourse and the expression of diverse voices. Through carefully curated collections, community partnerships and targeted outreach, libraries intentionally engage and serve the needs of all populations. And, increasingly, libraries are taking bold stands and speaking up to call out and combat social injustice.

 For more information, read the press release.

NAMLE and Education Organizations Come Together to Create the National Media Literacy Alliance

The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) formed the National Media Literacy Alliance, “a network of leading education associations united in an effort to advance media literacy education as a necessary element of a complete 21st-century education in America. At a time when misinformation threatens civil discourse and the very nature of our democracy, the Alliance will work to ensure that students across our nation have the critical thinking skills necessary to navigate our ever-expanding modern media landscape.”

Its founding members include the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). They “will work together to support their network of educators in integrating media literacy education into their classrooms, reference media literacy in their instructional standards, include media literacy content in their respective national and regional conferences, and contribute to NAMLE’s annual State of Media Literacy Report to better track and analyze the practice across the country. Twitter provided initial funding for the Alliance.”

For more information, read the press release.

The New York Times' Photos of the Nationwide Protests Against Police Violence and Racism

The New York Times published a photo essay and map, last updated on June 1, of the protests that have occurred in more than 140 cities across the U.S. “in the days after George Floyd, a black man, died in police custody. … Thousands have taken to the streets to express their anger over racism and police violence.”  Follow the newspaper’s ongoing coverage of the protests here.

For more information, read the article.

'We Must Remember George Floyd. And We Must Do More.' by Skip Prichard

Skip Prichard, president and CEO of OCLC, wrote the following for the company’s Next blog:

We sometimes refer to libraries, archives and museums as ‘memory institutions.’ That’s not a bad description. But it’s not complete. Because memory implies something that is in the past. Something that isn’t active. And so much of what happens in the work we do for our communities happens now, today, this very minute.

What is happening now requires a response. We must speak out against racism and injustice.

I don’t often comment on the news headlines, even on my own blog. But the events of the last week leave me with such a strong mix of disbelief, anger and sadness that I feel compelled to do so on behalf of myself and OCLC.

We all share values that vehemently oppose this horrible act. We also oppose the systems and ongoing injustices that led to the killing of George Floyd. …

[U]nderstanding racism and knowing what to do to fight it are different. I am on a lifelong journey to learn, understand, and improve. …

At OCLC, we’ll be dedicating Friday June 5 as a day for our staff to reflect on these events, to engage, be active and support the African American community in a way that is in line with their values. …

OCLC stands in solidarity with our libraries and the communities they serve to oppose systemic racism and injustice. Resources for individuals, families, and communities to talk about racism, racial identity and the way these forces shape every aspect of society are available at, ‘Talking About Race,’ a web portal from the National Museum of African American History and Culture. …

OCLC WebJunction’s two-part article series, ‘Racial Equity in the Library,’ for library staff to start or to continue the process of understanding, listening and conversing can be found here. We have also joined in the signing of a letter to the Columbus City Council, near our headquarters, declaring racism as a public health crisis.

For more information, read the blog post.

'Microsoft Lays Off Journalists to Replace Them With AI' by Tom Warren

Tom Warren writes the following for The Verge:

Microsoft is laying off dozens of journalists and editorial workers at its Microsoft News and MSN organizations. The layoffs are part of a bigger push by Microsoft to rely on artificial intelligence to pick news and content that’s presented on, inside Microsoft’s Edge browser, and in the company’s various Microsoft News apps. Many of the affected workers are part of Microsoft’s SANE (search, ads, News, Edge) division, and are contracted as human editors to help pick stories.

‘Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis,’ says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement. ‘This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, re-deployment in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic.’ …

Business Insider first reported the layoffs ... and says that around 50 jobs are affected in the US. The Microsoft News job losses are also affecting international teams, and The Guardian reports that around 27 are being let go in the UK after Microsoft decided to stop employing humans to curate articles on its homepages.

For more information, read the article.

APA President Explains the Toll of 'Living in a Racism Pandemic'

Sandra L. Shullman, president of the American Psychological Association (APA), made a statement on “the mental health consequences of recent high-profile violent events targeting African Americans.” She states, in part:

The deaths of innocent black people targeted specifically because of their race—often by police officers—are both deeply shocking and shockingly routine.

If you’re black in America—and especially if you are a black male—it’s not safe to go birding in Central Park, to meet friends at a Philadelphia Starbucks, to pick up trash in front of your own home in Colorado or to go shopping almost anywhere. 

We are living in a racism pandemic, which is taking a heavy psychological toll on our African American citizens. The health consequences are dire. Racism is associated with a host of psychological consequences, including depression, anxiety and other serious, sometimes debilitating conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders. Moreover, the stress caused by racism can contribute to the development of cardiovascular and other physical diseases. …

The American Psychological Association urges those who are experiencing trauma in the aftermath of these tragedies to practice self-care. Connect with family, friends and other community support people, talk about your feelings and limit your exposure and that of your children to news media and viral videos. Seek professional help if you need it.

For more information, read the press release.

COVID-19 NEWS: 'Exact Editions Freezes Institutional Subscription Prices for 2020/2021'

Exact Editions announced, “The prices of digital institutional subscriptions to hundreds of magazine archives through … Exact Editions will be frozen for the 2020/2021 academic year.” The archives are available via remote access for institutions and are fully searchable; accessible from web, iOS, and Android devices; and integrated into library catalogs.

“Due to the strain that the global crisis has put on academic and corporate libraries around the world, we have frozen prices to ensure that digital resources will still be as accessible as possible over the coming year,” says Daryl Rayner, Exact Editions’ managing director.

For more information, read the press release.


OverDrive Updates Sora With High-Contrast and Dyslexic Font Modes

OverDrive announced that its Sora student reading app now allows students to “view both individual ebooks AND Sora’s entire interface in both dyslexic font and high contrast modes.” Users can enable these settings individually or both at once, and they can enable them for a specific title after the book is open in the app.

“High contrast modes, which adhere to a specific contrast ratio, make colors easier to distinguish. This can improve readability and app navigation for those with low vision or colorblindness,” OverDrive notes. “It can also be beneficial for those who experience the loss of contrast sensitivity that typically accompanies aging, which means high contrast modes can help readers of all ages. … Dyslexic fonts are popular because they can help alleviate some symptoms of dyslexia, like the turning and swapping of letters. Though not intended as a cure for dyslexia, students may find that dyslexic fonts improve readability.”

For more information, read the blog post.

ALA's Executive Board Speaks Out Against 'Violence and Racism Toward Black People'

ALA’s Executive Board published the following statement:

The Executive Board of the American Library Association (ALA) stands with the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) in condemning violence and racism toward black people and all people of color.

The ALA Executive Board endorses BCALA’s May 28 statement, in which the caucus decries the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Department officers and cites Floyd’s death as ‘the latest in a long line of recent and historical violence against black people in the United States.’

The ALA Executive Board stands in solidarity with BCALA, with library workers, with library users, and with members of the communities we serve and support who are susceptible to acts of prejudice, threats of violence, and even death based solely on their race or ethnicity. The pervasive racism present in our nation denies its residents equal rights and equal access and as such is a barrier to the goals of this Association and to the wider profession.

For more information and the rest of the statement, read the blog post.

COVID-19 NEWS: Patron Point Is 'Helping Libraries Configure Notices as They Re-open Their Locations'

Patron Point announced that libraries using Patron Point Notices are getting some new features to help them reopen their branches. Right now, these are available for Sierra ILS users, but Patron Point is working on developing these updates for Polaris and Horizon/Symphony as well as other systems.

An example update is the following: “We can suppress notices for specific pickup locations if they are not yet open, but items have been checked in. Useful for a rolling opening of branches. The notices will be sent when the branch opens and you remove the branch from the filter list.”

Libraries have full control of the contents of the notice email: “We only reserve one portion of the email for the table of items to pick up. That includes the title, pickup location (optional), and the pick-up by date (optional.). But you can add curbside pickup scheduling links or cross promotions anywhere in the email.”

For more information, read the news item.

'Copyright Alliance Statement on Book Publishers' Infringement Suit Against Internet Archive'

The Copyright Alliance issued a statement on the Association of American Publishers’ lawsuit against the Internet Archive (IA), which alleges copyright infringement on behalf of multiple U.S. book publishers.

“The suit asks the court to enjoin IA’s mass scanning and distribution of literary works that it offers to the public through its ‘Open Library’ and ‘National Emergency Library,’” says Keith Kupferschmid, Copyright Alliance’s CEO. He continues:

For too long, IA has brazenly scanned and distributed published works while refusing to abide by the traditional contours of copyright law. We understand that, to date, IA has illegally reproduced more than 1.3 million scans of books for the purpose of distributing them to the public in direct contravention of the rights of authors and publishers. IA would like the public to believe that the books are rare and older titles used for research, but in reality, they are scanning and distributing recent works, fiction and non-fiction, thrillers and kids’ books—all without the authority of publishers and authors and well beyond the scope of what is permitted by copyright law. These activities—which are done in spite of the fervent objections of publishers and authors throughout the country—demonstrate a complete disregard for the rights of authors and publishers, for traditional libraries that follow long-standing book lending protocols, and for members of Congress who have carefully crafted America’s copyright laws to balance the rights of creators with the interests of traditional libraries.”

For more information, read the press release.

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