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Weekly News Digest

May 13, 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. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

CLICK HERE to view more Weekly News Digest items.

U.S. Book Show to Feature High-Profile Speakers

The U.S. Book Show announced more speakers for the May 25–27 virtual event. Oprah Winfrey will serve as opening keynote speaker on May 25 at 10:45 a.m. EDT to promote her new book, What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing, written with child psychiatrist and neuroscientist Bruce D. Perry.

Keanu Reeves will attend on May 25 at 3:00 p.m. EDT to promote the first volume of his graphic novel, BRZRKR. He will be in conversation with Matt Kindt (his co-writer), Ron Garney (the illustrator), and Calvin Reid (senior news editor of Publishers Weekly).

The show had previously announced three other big names: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who will deliver the May 27 opening keynote and discuss her children’s book Pinkie Promises, and Brian Selznick (bestselling children’s book author) and Padma Lakshmi (host and executive producer of Top Chef, promoting her children’s book Tomatoes for Neela), who will also speak that day.

For more information, read the press releases.

RBmedia Buys the Audiobook Publishing Business of McGraw Hill Professional

RBmedia acquired the audiobook publishing business of McGraw Hill Professional. The sale includes its back catalog of titles along with a multiyear agreement for RBmedia to become the exclusive audio publisher for all new titles, which cover the business, lifestyle, and technical fields, among others. The audiobooks will be available for download via Audible, iTunes, Google Play, and more.

“Leveraging RBmedia’s unique abilities in spoken audio will help us reach business and trade professionals and all those striving to advance their education or careers,” says Scott Grillo, president of McGraw Hill Professional. “RBmedia creates exceptional audio productions that serve our authors well and will help them monetize audio rights at a high level. Our publishing program will be stronger because of this unique collaboration.”

This acquisition “adds to our existing strength in business audio and establishes RBmedia as a valued partner for publishers and authors in this important category,” says Troy Juliar, RBmedia’s chief content officer. “We look forward to growing the audio audience for McGraw Hill Professional’s content and its talented authors.”

For more information, read the press release.

Adam Matthew Digital's Quartex Adds Handwritten Text Recognition Transcription

Adam Matthew Digital’s Quartex platform launched Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) Transcription, a feature that “creates automated, fully searchable transcriptions of manuscript assets with a single click.”

“This exciting launch uses innovative AI technology to recognize a disparate range of characters, languages, and handwriting styles with a high degree of accuracy,” says Khal Rudin, managing director at Adam Matthew Digital.

Congregational Library & Archives (CLA), among other institutions, worked with the Quartex development team to test HTR Transcription on manuscript samples. Zachary Bodnar, CLA archivist, notes that “18th century handwriting is difficult to read at the best of times, but with HTR Transcription, we have an opportunity to help break that barrier to understanding and using our resources. Further, HTR’s ability to make names that appear in text searchable will be an immense boon to genealogists, researchers, and all our users.”

For more information, read the press release.

Innovative's Vega Discover Implements Curated Showcases for Library Materials

Innovative’s Vega Discover tool “now offers library staff the ability to create curated showcases. Showcases display a visual carousel of items to the library’s specifications and will automatically appear throughout the Vega Discover interface when relevant, helping libraries promote their entire catalog of items and encouraging virtual exploration.”

Vega’s use of linked data means that showcases of resources are “directly related to the source topic or resource, not just loosely connected by a broad keyword.” To replicate the experience of browsing library shelves, libraries can customize the showcases to relate to their individual communities (by featuring local authors, town history, etc.) and to promote little-known items.

For more information, read the press release.

Research Square and Kudos Offer New Tools for Getting Research More Exposure

Research Square partnered with Kudos for a new package of communication products and services that will help preprint authors increase the exposure of their research. The press release shares the following:

[The package] combines the Kudos Pro platform with services supported by staff at Research Square and includes the development and hosting of research web pages, communication management tools, and audience engagement metrics. 

The service elements of the package, provided by Research Square staff, will include professionally-written research briefings with key messaging for specific target audiences, and plain language summaries of works, which can range from individual research articles to collections of research deliverables. 

The companies will work together to set up and promote web pages on behalf of researchers, meaning minimal skills or time are required for authors to benefit from the package. 

For more information, read the press release.

ALA Spreads Awareness of the FCC's Emergency Connectivity Fund Program

ALA released a statement from its president, Julius C. Jefferson Jr., regarding the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officially agreed to implement. Per an FCC press release, “This $7.17 billion program, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will enable schools and libraries to purchase laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and broadband connectivity for students, school staff, and library patrons in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Jefferson states, “After months of advocacy by ALA, we are pleased the FCC has released the rules that will govern the $7 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund. Since the dial-up days, libraries across the country have stood in the digital gaps to connect our communities, especially for people who would otherwise be left behind. The pandemic has brought to light the yawning depth of those digital gaps as well as the extent to which Americans rely on libraries to fill them. ALA will continue to work to make sure libraries have the information they need to apply for and receive these emergency funds to serve more people.”

For more information, read the press release.

'Perlmutter Addresses Copyright Issues at First House Oversight Hearing' by Blake Brittain

Blake Brittain writes the following for Reuters:

U.S. Copyright Office director Shira Perlmutter told the House Committee on the Judiciary … that she agreed with an office report from before her tenure finding that part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act had become ‘unbalanced’ and ‘out of sync with Congress’ original intent.’

Perlmutter also outlined the office’s priorities and addressed representatives’ concerns about other aspects of the copyright system during the oversight hearing, including resale rights for artists and the forthcoming Copyright Claims Board. …

Perlmutter began her testimony … by noting the office’s progress in implementing the Music Modernization Act—which among other things will simplify licensing and collecting royalties from streaming music services—modernizing the office’s technology, and preparing to launch the Copyright Claims Board, the office’s small-claims tribunal scheduled to begin operations in December. …

She also said the office’s future priorities included continuing to modernize, opening the copyright system to more participants—focusing on underserved communities—and hiring a chief economist.

For more information, read the article. Studies Global Web Trends

Paul X. McCarthy and Marian-Andrei Rizoiu write the following in “We Spent Six Years Scouring Billions of Links, and Found the Web Is Both Expanding and Shrinking” for

The online world is continuously expanding—always aggregating more services, more users and more activity. Last year, the number of websites registered on the “.com” domain surpassed 150,000,000.

However, more than a quarter of a century since its first commercial use, the growth of the online world is now slowing down in some key categories.

We conducted a multi-year research project analysing global trends in online diversity and dominance. Our research, published today in Public Library of Science, is the first to reveal some long-term trends in how businesses compete in the age of the web.

We saw a dramatic consolidation of attention towards a shrinking (but increasingly dominant) group of online organisations. So, while there is still growth in the functions, features and applications offered on the web, the number of entities providing these functions is shrinking. …

The authority, influence and visibility of the top 1,000 global websites (as measured by network centrality or PageRank) is growing every month, at the expense of all other sites. …

The web started as a source of innovation, new ideas and inspiration—a technology that opened up the playing field. It’s now also becoming a medium that actually stifles competition and promotes monopolies and the dominance of a few players.

Our findings resolve a long-running paradox about the nature of the web: does it help grow businesses, jobs and investment? Or does it make it harder to get ahead by letting anyone and everyone join the game? The answer, it turns out, is it does both.

For more information, read the article.

Studies on Better Comprehension and Memory While Reading Print Versus Digital

Naomi S. Baron writes the following in “Why We Remember More by Reading—Especially Print—Than From Audio or Video” for The Conversation:

As a professor of linguistics, I have been studying how electronic communication compares to traditional print when it comes to learning. Is comprehension the same whether a person reads a text onscreen or on paper? And are listening and viewing content as effective as reading the written word when covering the same material?

The answers to both questions are often ‘no,’ as I discuss in my book “How We Read Now,” released in March 2021. The reasons relate to a variety of factors, including diminished concentration, an entertainment mindset and a tendency to multitask while consuming digital content. …

When reading texts of several hundred words or more, learning is generally more successful when it’s on paper than onscreen. A cascade of research confirms this finding. …

Educators need to be aware that the method used for standardized testing can affect results. Studies of Norwegian tenth graders and U.S. third through eighth graders report higher scores when standardized tests were administered using paper. In the U.S. study, the negative effects of digital testing were strongest among students with low reading achievement scores, English language learners and special education students. …

The discrepancies between print and digital results are partly related to paper’s physical properties. With paper, there is a literal laying on of hands, along with the visual geography of distinct pages. People often link their memory of what they’ve read to how far into the book it was or where it was on the page.

For more information, read the article.

Ex Libris Studies How Students and Faculty Members Engage With Course Materials

Ex Libris shared “Managing, Accessing and Using Course Materials,” the results “of a study that looks at how course resources are being selected, managed, accessed, and used today in higher education in the United States. The trends highlighted in the report reflect the new emphasis on remote teaching and learning.” The study, which was conducted by independent research agency Alterline, surveyed 103 faculty members and 257 students in the U.S. The study’s report includes the following findings:
  • Faculty members are bearing the administrative burden of managing course resources. Only 15% of faculty members reported that they receive help from a teaching assistant, instructional designer, or someone else in managing tasks related to course materials.
  • Academic libraries are underused by the faculty in the search for new course materials. Faculty members use web-search results, recommendations from peers, and other sources more frequently than the library to find new course materials.
  • The move to online learning has created new pressure on the faculty to assist students in accessing course materials online. Key difficulties involve finding digital versions of physical resources, managing broken hyperlinks, and obtaining resources that are behind paywalls.
  • Faculty members are making an effort to reduce the cost of course materials. The report shows that 64% of faculty members have revised their choice of course resources because of cost. A substantial minority of faculty members (34%) went one step further, selecting only those course materials that are free for students.

For more information, read the press release.

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