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Weekly News Digest

February 23, 2021 — 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.

MasterClass Recruits Roxane Gay for a Class on Writing for Social Change

MasterClass announced that Roxane Gay is teaching Writing for Social Change for the platform. The press release states, “Through honest discussions around the intersections of race, sexuality, gender and other social justice issues, Gay will teach members how to own their identity, write about trauma with care and courage and hone their voice to contribute to the world in a positive way. Gay’s class is now available exclusively on MasterClass, where subscribers get unlimited access to all 100+ instructors with an annual membership.”

It continues:

By harnessing her distinguished perspective as an author and Black feminist—with an added layer of sharp humor—in her MasterClass Gay will show members a path for using the written word to make a positive impact in the world. Tapping her famous works as case studies, Gay will pull from her celebrated essay collection, Bad Feminist, to analyze her approach to writing as a cultural critic, and break down her memoir, Hunger, as an example of how to write trauma with care and courage. For members new to writing, Gay will provide candid and accessible insight into determining the right questions to ask themselves before putting pen to paper. More experienced writers will learn how to address purpose, voice and writer’s block, as well as navigate the business of writing and engaging with their audience on social media. 

For more information, read the press release.

SAGE Campus Adds Seven New Courses Covering Critical Research Skills

SAGE Campus rolled out seven online courses that “help instructors teach critical skills such as data gathering and literacy and to support researchers in their publishing endeavors.” Nine more courses will follow in July, giving SAGE Campus a roster of 27 courses and 250-plus hours of material. Faculty members can use SAGE Campus to assign courses and track students’ progress as part of flipped classrooms or asynchronous teaching, and courses can be supplemental material or replace face-to-face learning.

The seven new courses, “available for institution-wide access through library subscriptions,” are Statistical Significance, Gather Your Data Online, Introduction to Journal Publishing: Why Publish?, Publishing for Impact, Research Question, Present Your Research, and How to Write a Journal Article Pt. 1: Putting Your Article Together.

For more information, read the press release.

'Pursuing the Holy Grail of Library eBook Models' by Steve Potash

OverDrive’s founder and CEO Steve Potash writes the following on his blog, Thoughts From a Digital Advocate:

I have been following the news of the recent Mars landing and the exciting exploration plans that have begun. The flawless landing and early images sent by the rover represent the culmination of years of dreams and aspirations of hundreds of scientists and engineers. I have one request for the NASA team to add to the experiments and discovery on the red planet. Can they scan the Martian landscape to find a digital book lending model that satisfies and balances the interests of libraries, schools, authors, and publishers?

I ask this question because we have yet to uncover the answer to this vexing and urgent issue on Earth. Like the Mars rover appropriately named ‘Perseverance,’ OverDrive has persevered for 20 years on behalf of libraries with authors and publishers to advocate for fair, flexible, and reasonable terms for library lending of popular titles. Last year we saw meaningful progress with dozens of publishers enabling more affordable options for acquiring rights to their collection. But we are still searching for the Holy Grail access model. We have been on this quest since the first public library permitted download of a New York Times bestseller (thank you HarperCollins—circa 2004). While we are still seeking to deliver ever-improved value to our partners, I am proud of the incremental gains in this journey from the past year.

For more information, read the blog post.

ARL Shares Statement on the Biden Administration's Priorities

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) released a statement that “commends the Biden-Harris administration’s intention to rely on scientific integrity and evidence-based policy-making to address its priorities of COVID-19, racial justice, the economy, and climate change. We are 125 major research libraries from across the United States and Canada that are committed to equitable, barrier-free access to information.”

The statement continues, “We look to this administration to go even farther to connect scholarship and government through the development of collaborative research agendas, build trust and lead to more instances of public engagement, imagine a renewed role for social and behavioral science, and ultimately improve equitable policy development and implementation.”

For more information, read the news item.

IMLS Releases Findings From Pre-Pandemic Public Library Materials Study

IMLS unveiled a research brief, The Use and Cost of Public Library Materials: Trends Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, which “explores trends of physical and electronic collections expenditures and circulation, including comparisons among subgroups by locale and population size served.” The brief answers questions such as, “Do electronic materials enable libraries to provide greater value to their communities than traditional print materials based on cost per item circulated?” Findings include that from 2014 to 2018, “the percentage of libraries offering electronic collection materials increased from 80 to 90%” and “median cost for physical items circulated increased by 11%, while median cost for e-circulation decreased by 26%.”

“As you’ll see in the brief, the growth and use of electronic books, online databases, and technology has continued to increase through the years, making digital collections a resource libraries continue to heavily invest in,” says Crosby Kemper, IMLS’s director. “We see that the focus on patron health and welfare and community development and cohesion are more critical than ever. And, as always for public libraries, the importance of reading as the basic skill and best support for improving people's lives remains a constant in American society."

For more information, read the press release. 

Associated Press: 'NY Sues Amazon, Saying It Didn't Protect Workers From Virus'

Joseph Pisani and Michelle Chapman write the following for the Associated Press:

The New York attorney general is suing Amazon over COVID-19 safety protocols, accusing the company of being more concerned with making money than protecting its workers from getting sick.

The lawsuit … involves two Amazon facilities in New York City that employ more than 5,000 workers. It alleges that Amazon failed to disinfect those facilities when infected workers had been present; didn’t contact workers when they were exposed to the virus; and made employees work so much that they didn’t have time to disinfect their workstations or stay socially distant.

‘While Amazon and its CEO made billions during this crisis, hardworking employees were forced to endure unsafe conditions,’ said New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed the lawsuit.

For more information, read the article.

CCC's RightsLink for Scientific Communications Simplifies OA Agreements

RightsLink for Scientific Communications from Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) “is now being used to simplify the management of Open Access (OA) agreements between publishers and more than 800 institutions and funders in 40+ countries.” The service supports a variety of OA agreements, including Read and Publish and Community Action Publishing and can speed up the implementation of OA Membership deals.

“RightsLink is now the most widely adopted market solution for scholarly publishing with support for OA institutional agreements, [article-processing charge] payments, and alignment with mandates such as Plan S,” says Emily Sheahan, VP and managing director of information and content solutions for CCC. “Not only does it help lower operating costs, but when it comes to data security and privacy, publishers and institutions count on RightsLink.”

For more information, read the press release.

TeleRead Talks Panorama Project

David Rothman writes the following for TeleRead:

Major publishers have favored well-off whites in hiring and other HR matters. Consider all the low-paying or unpaid internships, not to mention a bit of an Ivy League bias at certain houses. The industry, yes, has made some progress. But a new report from the Panorama Project suggests in effect that publishing could benefit from much more, if it wants to tap the minority market to the max.

Black and Hispanic people actually ‘engage’ more with books than does the general population, says Dr. Rachel Noorda at Portland State University, a coauthor of ‘Immersive Media and Books 2020: Consumer Behavior and Experience with Multiple Media Forms.’ …

‘This is book engagement, not necessarily buying,’ Dr. Noorda emphasizes to me, and that’s an important distinction. Still one can only view the report as powerful ammunition for diversity advocates and those eager for publishers to look beyond elite audiences. …

For more information and survey results, read the blog post.

'Canadian Libraries Increasingly Scrapping Late Fees to Boost Access to Services' by Maryse Zeidler

Maryse Zeidler writes the following for CBC News:

[T]he Richmond Public Library joined a growing number of public libraries across Canada that have entirely eliminated late fees.

Long considered a tool to encourage patrons to return materials on time, in the past few years hundreds of public libraries have decided that late fees do more harm than good by pushing away low-income and disadvantaged readers. 

In the past few years, nearly 300 libraries across Canada have recently eliminated late fees, many of them in Quebec. Recent converts include public libraries in Burnaby, B.C., Lethbridge, Alta., Kingston, Ont., and Winnipeg.

‘When we see families checking out 40 books at a time, all it takes is one day and they can hit that fine threshold,’ said Susan Walters, chief librarian at the Richmond Public Library. 

For more information, read the article.

Business Insider: 'Google Fires Top AI Ethicist 2 Months After Co-Leader's Ousting, Leaving Its Ethical AI Team Headless'

Hugh Langley writes the following for Business Insider:

Google has fired Margaret Mitchell, the founder and former co-lead on its ethical AI team, following an extended investigation that has kept Mitchell locked out of her corporate account since January.

It means both leaders on Google's ethical AI team now say they have been fired, leaving the future of the group unknown.

Mitchell announced the news on Twitter … by simply writing ‘I’m fired.’ Google confirmed Mitchell was fired in a statement to Insider. …

‘After conducting a review of this manager’s conduct, we confirmed that there were multiple violations of our code of conduct, as well as of our security policies, which included the exfiltration of confidential business-sensitive documents and private data of other employees,’ a Google spokesperson told Insider. …

Google may have hoped these moves would quell weeks of unrest in its AI division, but Mitchell’s firing is likely to further rankle many employees. 

For more information, read the article.

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