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Weekly News Digest

July 28, 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.

COVID-19 NEWS: 'Contact Tracing: How Ireland Built Its App and What It's Doing Next'

Daphne Leprince-Ringuet writes the following for ZDNet:

While most Irish residents were busy preparing for the country to go on full lockdown on the weekend of the 21 March this year, Colm Harte, the technical director of software company NearForm, was having another kind of Saturday.

Ireland’s Health Services Executive (HSE) had called his team that day, and with a pretty heavy-duty request: to build a working and safe Bluetooth-based contact-tracing app that could be rolled out nationwide to help fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Ideally, as soon as possible. 

Harte accepted the challenge. A few months later, Ireland’s Covid Tracker app launched, and was downloaded more than a million times in the first 48 hours. According to Harte, all things considered, ‘it went extremely well’. …

Crucially, the company is working with Northern Ireland to release an app based on Google and Apple’s protocol, which would work on both sides of the border. The Northern Irish app will be built on the same platform as its Irish counterpart, although Harte stressed it will be completely different in its design and functionalities, in order to meet the specific needs of the region.

Expected to launch in a few weeks, the tool would make Northern Ireland the first part of the UK to have fully functioning contact-tracing technology, in a rather unflattering contrast to the recent NHSX app fiasco.

It is on interoperability that Harte and his team are focusing their efforts now. As countries exit lockdown and travel starts gathering pace again, having contact-tracing apps that can work across borders seems to be the obvious next step.

For more information, read the article.

COVID-19 NEWS: APA Releases Latest Survey Results About Stress in America

The American Psychological Association (APA) published the results of its latest survey, which shows that majorities “of Republicans (65%) and Democrats (88%) report that they find [that] preventive measures like wearing masks and physical distancing are reassuring, and [they] agree that it is stressful to be around others when they do not take these steps (66% Republicans, 87% Democrats).”

As for stress caused by the pandemic, “Most adults from both parties say the current amount of uncertainty in our nation causes them stress (67% Republicans, 76% Democrats), and similar proportions cite the political climate as a significant source of stress in their life (62% Republicans, 77% Democrats).”

In addition, 60% “say police violence toward minorities is a significant source of stress. This number has nearly doubled since 2016 when fewer than 36% said the same in that year’s annual Stress in America Survey when APA first started tracking this data point. … On a positive note, more than 3 in 5 U.S. adults (63%) agree the current movement against systemic racism and police brutality is going to lead to meaningful change in America.”

These statistics come from the “Stress in America 2020: Stress in the Time of COVID-19, Volume Three” report. Volumes One and Two were released in May and June, respectively. “This is APA’s third ‘pulse check’ of the nation’s stress and mental health to gauge the impact of the pandemic and civil unrest.”

For more information, read the press release.

COVID-19 NEWS: 'Librarians Alarmed About Coronavirus Safety at D.C.'s Reopened Public Libraries'

Julie Zauzmer writes the following for The Washington Post:

When the District’s public libraries began gradually reopening in late May, many residents rushed to check out books for the first time in six weeks. By mid-July, the library was opening its doors for six hours a day, five days a week, for patrons who could come inside to borrow items and spend time using public computers at 14 locations.

But librarians say the reopening has been poorly handled, exposing both staff members and the public to potential coronavirus risks. They also say library managers have kept staff in the dark about colleagues who come down with the virus and have struggled with cleaning protocols and mask requirements.

‘We want people to use our services, but this is one of those things where we just don’t think it’s safe yet,’ said one library staff member, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared losing their jobs. ‘We think this has been rushed. We’re here. We’re still showing up to work. We want to help people. But it’s not safe.’

The head of the library system, Richard Reyes-Gavilan, said in an interview that he understands workers’ concerns, but he believes residents should feel they can check out books without fear.

‘We are being very cautious,’ he said. ‘Our staff, in most cases, are front-line workers now, and they’re delivering a crucial service for residents who want libraries and need libraries. But I get it. This is a situation that was unfathomable to us just a few months ago, so I think some anxiety is perfectly natural. … That’s why, I think, we’re taking it as slow as we have been.’

Many library systems regionally and nationwide have reopened slower than D.C. Montgomery County is still only checking out books curbside, not allowing patrons in the building as D.C. libraries are. Prince George’s County began offering only curbside checkout this week. Richmond’s public libraries announced Thursday they would end the in-person services that they had resumed, returning to curbside pickup only until at least Sept. 8.

The frustration among D.C. librarians, shared on employee email lists and in conversations inside the 14 open branches, prompted a planned demonstration outside the Northeast branch on Wednesday evening to warn neighborhood residents about what they say are the risks of visiting the library. It was canceled due to severe thunderstorms.

For more information, read the article.

COVID-19 NEWS: 'School Librarians Lead During Pandemic Learning Conditions'

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) published School Librarian Role in Pandemic Learning Conditions, a chart that demonstrates school librarians’ “critical role in meeting the needs of learners in a constantly changing learning environment.” It examines three back-to-school scenarios (face-to-face learning, blended learning, and distance learning), each in relation to five roles of school librarians (instructional partner, teacher, leader, information specialist, and program administrator). The chart can be downloaded with supplemental resources that share information about the learning environments and their possible challenges and opportunities.

“The beginning of a new school year is quickly approaching, and in many parts of the country, decisions about reopenings are still being made,” says Kathy Carroll, AASL president. “Some of us will continue to work virtually, some will return to the building, while others may have to navigate a hybrid model. Regardless of how the year begins, school librarians will be ready.” She adds, “When we talk to our administrators about our plans and strategies, the information contained in the chart and resources can be used to provide evidence of the important role of school librarians. … By working together, school librarians will continue to be leaders in education, regardless of our circumstances.”

For more information, read the press release.

Digital Science Celebrates Its 10th Birthday

Cameron Shepherd writes the following for Digital Science’s Perspectives blog:

On 7th December 2020, Digital Science celebrates its official tenth birthday (though it existed as ‘Project Babbage’ more than a year before it was launched publicly). To mark the occasion, we will be releasing a few birthday posts over the course of the year. …

October 2020 will mark 10 years since the term ‘altmetrics’ was first coined. Made famous in a manifesto authored by Jason Priem, Dario Taraborelli, Paul Groth, and Cameron Neylon, altmetrics, or alternative metrics, promised a new, better way to capture the reach and influence of any form of scholarly output.

In the context of a community that had embraced digital and was increasingly frustrated with the limitations of the Impact Factor as a measure of impact, altmetrics were an exciting new idea that promised to change the way we understand research outcomes forever.

So, where are we now? The last 10 years have seen a huge growth in the development, use and adoption of altmetrics. Numerous service providers have emerged, with Altmetric (owned by Digital Science) often noted as the most recognised of these, and publishers, institutions and funders have increasingly integrated these new data into their websites and workflows.

Their use, and the nature of the data itself, has changed over time, and new applications of these insights are still emerging each year.

For more information on the history of altmetrics, read the blog post.

CBC Introduces New Content on Its Being Black in Canada Website

Canada’s national public broadcaster, CBC, rolled out the expanded Being Black in Canada website—originally launched in 2018—which features “the stories and experiences of Black Canadians, highlighting narratives that matter to Black communities including relevant news pieces, individual successes, and historical content.” It offers profiles, opinion pieces, video and audio materials, and other content from across all areas of CBC. CBC has been producing content under the Being Black in Canada brand since 2013.

“I am excited by the opportunity of this website, which will undoubtedly play an important role in helping us move forward. Being Black in Canada offers a window into the struggles while celebrating the culture and achievements of Black communities,” says Barbara Williams, CBC’s executive VP.  “I have been moved by the many conversations I have been having over these past months. By the incredible openness of our Black employees to share their painful experiences, even when they may have felt they had already shared so many times. By the rawness of the stories, the intensity of the emotion, the sadness that surrounds the frustration. I can only imagine how hard these experiences must have been. Most recently, we heard from Dexter Brown and Imani Walker about their painful experiences while working at CBC. They bravely opened up so that we can learn and do better as an organization. And we will.”

For more information, read the press release.  

FOLIO Makes Library Implementation Easier

The FOLIO open source project unveiled its newest named release, “opening the way for many sites to adopt FOLIO. The Goldenrod Release signifies the completion of Version One (V1) ILS functionality for the FOLIO Library Services Platform (LSP). … The Goldenrod Release includes core functionality that will allow libraries to move to FOLIO from their current, traditional Integrated Library System (ILS) or LSPs.”

“With libraries actively implementing FOLIO, the project has hit an essential milestone envisioned when we began—functionality allowing libraries to move to the open source LSP. We are now excited to continue to work on additional features and functionality to respond to requests that extend or innovate with the FOLIO platform to better serve libraries,” says Jesse Koennecke, outgoing chairperson of the FOLIO Product Council.

FOLIO’s next release, scheduled for October 2020, will be called Honeysuckle.

For more information, read the press release.

Innovative Signs Library Partners for Its New Patron Engagement Platform

Innovative announced that six U.S. public libraries have joined its Development Partner program to provide input on Vega, Innovative’s new patron engagement and discovery solution. This “ultramodern platform … promises to increase engagement and amplify collections of all types, helping public libraries strengthen and advance their crucial role in communities across the world. The first release, Vega Discover, offers interconnected search results that are more accurate and relevant, and an intuitive design that makes it easy for people to uncover content with the simplicity they expect from modern technology. The Vega platform will expand beyond discovery to include intelligence, analytics, marketing tools and services for public libraries, and easily integrate data and third-party software.”

Discover will be available to the development partners in August 2020.

For more information, read the press release. 

ProQuest Now Offers Audio Descriptions on Popular Videos

To make videos more accessible to visually impaired users, ProQuest added audio descriptions to its most-watched titles in Academic Video Online and ProQuest One Academic. According to the press release, “Audio description adds narration to a video, describing its on-screen images. … [ProQuest] will continue to add more upon request by a library at no charge. … Audio-described video is the latest feature to improve accessibility of content within Academic Video Online. Searchable, scrolling transcripts are also available for most of the database’s nearly 70,000 titles, assisting those with hearing impairments and language obstacles.”

“ProQuest built this feature—a first for the academic streaming video market—after collaboration with and feedback from many of our trusted library partners. They believe, and we agree, that educational products need to be accessible to all students and faculty, regardless of ability,” says Sarah Brennan, ProQuest’s video product manager. “Accessibility is a key piece of our product development strategy, and this new feature is one example of how we’re working with libraries to accommodate more users.”

For more information, read the press release.

ACRL Publishes Job-Search Handbook

ACRL published Get the Job: Academic Library Hiring for the New Librarian by Meggan Press, “an accessible, constructive handbook that can help you navigate the academic library job search and hiring process.”

For sale as a print book and an ebook, this “concise, practical guide to the job search for librarians interested in a career in academic libraries … opens with concrete suggestions for how to direct your education toward full-time employment and get the most out of student experiences. The majority of the book is dedicated to the job hunt itself, covering the various steps of the academic hiring process, breaking each step into manageable pieces, and providing lots of tips and insights from the perspective of the search committee. … Finally, there is guidance for after a job offer, providing tips on negotiation and concluding with practical advice for the first year of a new job.”

For more information, read the press release.

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