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Weekly News Digest

July 27, 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.

Ex Libris and Lean Library Join Forces for Better Discovery and Searching

SAGE’s Lean Library teamed up with Ex Libris to allow “users to query their library’s Primo or Summon service from wherever they start their search online, on sites such as Google, Google Scholar or Wikipedia. For example, when a patron is using Google Scholar to search for content, the Lean Library browser extension enables them to surface relevant results from their library’s instance of Primo or Summon, directly alongside the Google Scholar results.” This will improve the discovery process for patrons and help libraries promote their collections and resources, bringing libraries deeper into the research workflow. According to the press release, “The Lean Library–Ex Libris integration will be available to Primo and Summon customers using the new Lean Library Futures service.”

For more information, read the press release.

ALA Requests Input on Its Librarian Learning Objectives Document

ALA announced that it is looking for feedback on its new document, Skills for 21st-Century Librarians: Learning Objectives for Library Programming, which explores next steps for creating a programming curriculum for library workers and students. According to the press release, “Library workers, library school instructors and administrators, students and others are invited to read the report and submit feedback. The public comment period will end August 16.” It goes on to state the following:

Through its Skills for 21st-Century Librarians project, ALA convened a task force of 12 leaders in libraries and library education to explore how library programming skills can be taught in library degree programs and professional development trainings.

Working with Knology, a social science research organization, the task force met virtually from January to June 2021. The result of their discussions are recommendations for learning objectives within nine core library programming competency areas: Organizational Skills, Knowledge of the Community, Interpersonal Skills, Event Planning, Creativity, Content Knowledge, Outreach and Marketing, Financial Skills and Evaluation.

For more information, read the press release.

Exact Editions Aggregates Articles on Climate Change for Free Resource

In collaboration with more than 50 of its publisher partners, Exact Editions introduced a freely accessible Climate Crisis resource page that features nearly 150 articles from digital issues that are typically available only via subscription. The publishers selected the articles, the oldest of which was published in 1989.

Updated monthly, the page is divided into eight sections: Agriculture, Biodiversity & Conversation, Climate Activism, Climate Literature & Art, Climate Politics, Deforestation, Fossil Fuels & Pollution, and Renewable & Sustainable Resources. Schools, universities, and other educational institutions (along with individuals) can use the page as a teaching tool for multiple disciplines.

For more information, read the press release.

EveryLibrary Shares the Tangible ROI of the Public Library

Oleg Kagan writes the following in “The Return-on-Investment From Your Public Library Is Unbelievable!” from EveryLibrary’s Medium account:

Wise investors know a good deal when they see it, which is why so many people who are smart and rich love their public library. It’s simple, really, if you consider what the average U.S. household pays for library services (~$7.50/month) and put that next to a public library’s vast offerings, the point is obvious. …

It’s true: for every dollar that communities invest in library services they get five back! …

Note, these are not abstract benefits like how libraries help build a stronger Democracy, or how they inspire curiosity in people, a library’s ROI is the institution’s worth in cold hard cash. This doesn’t just translate to value for the individual either, a well-funded library raises surrounding property values, helps develop an intelligent workforce (making your area attractive for cutting-edge companies), and makes local social services more efficient.

For more information, read the article.

The U.K.'s 'National Disability Strategy: Tech Is the Opportunity, Collaboration Its Realisation' by Robert McLaren

Robert McLaren, head of the Policy Connect think tank’s Health & Accessibility team, writes the following in a blog post for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology:

[On July 28,] the [U.K.] Government published its National Disability Strategy. Their aim in the strategy is to unlock opportunity and improve disabled peoples’ lives through initiatives and reforms across all areas of government—from transport, to jobs, to the courts, and more.

These are long-standing challenges but there are also new opportunities before us: one that stands out is the development and wide availability of smart technology. When we get it right, technology can be used to remove barriers and increase opportunity for disabled people—and bring the benefits of accessibility to all. I’m severely dyslexic myself and wouldn’t have attempted to write this article without the use of both everyday tools like spellcheck and more specialised literacy software. The mainstreaming of digital technology can create a platform, allowing each user to personalise tools to suit their own accessibility needs.

It’s clear from the National Disability Strategy that policymakers are ready to grasp the tech opportunity with both hands. Look across the strategy, and technology is a key factor in plans for innovation, employment, services and more. The flagship announcement is to explore the case for ‘A world-leading Centre for Assistive and Accessible Technology’.

For more information, read the blog post.

'Two Metadata Directions' by Lorcan Dempsey

Lorcan Dempsey, VP of membership and research and chief strategist at OCLC, writes the following on his blog:

Libraries are very used to managing metadata for information resources—for books, images, journal articles and other resources. Metadata practice is rich and varied. We also work with geospatial data, archives, images, and many other specialist resources. Authority work has focused on people, places and things (subjects). Archivists are concerned about evidential integrity, context and provenance. And so on. …

Metadata allows applications and users to act more intelligently, and this becomes more important in our increasingly involved digital workflows and environments.

Given this importance, and given the importance of such digital environments to our working, learning and social lives, it also becomes more important to think about how metadata is created, who controls it, how it is used, and how it is stewarded over time. Metadata is about both value and values.

In this short piece, and in the presentation on which it is based, I limit my attention to two important directions. Certainly, this is a part only of the larger picture of evolving metadata creation, use and design in libraries and beyond.

For more information, read the post.

Andy Serkis Lends His Voice to New Lord of the Rings Audiobooks

RBmedia’s Recorded Books, after tapping actor and director Andy Serkis to record a bestselling audiobook version of The Hobbit, is bringing him back for J.R.R. Tolkien’s full Lord of the Rings trilogy. The audiobooks are due out on Sept. 16, 2021, at various online outlets, but preorder is available now via Audible and (Recorded Books is the North American publisher; HarperCollins is publishing the audiobooks throughout the rest of the world.)

Serkis says, “Walking back into Middle-earth over 20 years after my first life-changing adventure there and experiencing it all over again—this time for many weeks alone in a sound booth—has brought in equal measures of pure joy, sheer madness, immense pleasure, and a level of psychological and physical fatigue I have never quite experienced the like of before. Having now completed the quest and been ‘there and back again … again,’ I realize what a phenomenal privilege it has been to have had the opportunity to read this sublime work once more. My only hope, now, is that I have done it justice, and that the listening experience conveys the power and beauty of J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece.”

For more information and a preview of the audiobook, read the press release.

A Defense of the Internet Archive

On the IFLA-L group email list, Marie Lebert shared the English translation of an article she wrote in the French journal ActuaLitté, titled “A Senseless Lawsuit: ‘The Internet Archive Has a Heart, and Knows How to Use It’”:

When I heard about the lawsuit for copyright infringement launched on 1st June 2020 in the US by four major publishers (Hachette, Penguin Random House, Wiley, HarperCollins) against the Internet Archive for its Open Library, I couldn’t believe it. I thought this was a bad dream, that turned into a nightmare with the lawsuit scheduled for trial from 12 November 2021. …

The Open Library includes books from public domain (2.5 million) and copyrighted books (1.4 million), like any library. The ebooks are scans from printed books owned by the Internet Archive through purchase or donation. The scans are image files in PDFs. Many books are out of print and don’t have a commercial ebook version. …

During the pandemic, because all the physical libraries were closed and their digital libraries swamped with requests for loans on a one-to-one basis, and because all the schools, universities and training centres were closed, the Open Library launched the National Emergency Library (NEL) on 24 March 2020 for three months, until 30 June. …

All of us could go on reading and studying despite lockdowns, illnesses, and hard times to make ends meet. The NEL saved our daily thirst for knowledge and even our sanity during these hard times. We don’t have the money to buy piles of books at and the likes.

Because of the copyright infringement lawsuit launched by four major publishers on 1st June 2020, the National Emergency Library (NEL) closed its doors on 16 June instead of 30 June 2020 as planned first. The Open Library resumed its loans on a one-to-one basis. And the lawsuit is proceeding in order to have all the copyrighted books removed from the Open Library. …

The Internet Archive has repeatedly asked these publishers to work with its team and not against it, and to discuss a partnership to serve readers, libraries and booksellers. These publishers don’t seem interested.

For more information, read the article.

'The Vital Importance of Data for AI: Interview With Rick McFarland ' by Ron Schmelzer

Ron Schmelzer, managing partner and principal analyst at Cognilytica, writes the following for Forbes:

Reinforcing the importance of the role of data in AI and advanced analytic systems, Rick McFarland, Chief Data Officer—LexisNexis Legal & Professional shares his insights at an upcoming Data for AI virtual event on August 5. In an interview with Forbes, he shares some perspectives on the role data takes for AI projects at his organization. …

Q: What are some of the unique opportunities you have when it comes to data and AI?

Rick McFarland: AI is only as good as the data used to train and feed it. And LexisNexis has one of the largest repositories of legal data in the world. But, as any data scientists will tell you, having raw data is half the battle. What makes our data special is that, since the invention of the computer, we have had thousands of lawyers on staff enriching, summarizing, identifying entities, mapping citations, etc., on this massive corpus. Therefore, we also have the other half of the data scientists’ requirement: we have petabytes of training data. We have all the raw building materials for AI development. Our data scientists have almost unlimited opportunity to create AI products and features. …

Q: Can you share some of the challenges when it comes to AI and ML adoption?

Rick McFarland: In the professional world (e.g., Legal, Medical, and Scientific), the bar for AI and ML is very high, so the adoption rate is much lower than in the consumer market. In these professions, where people’s lives or freedoms are at stake, the cost of being wrong has significant consequences. For these professionals to rely on an AI application means that it must perform well and must be accurate consistently. With one wrong answer, trust in that tool is breached—recovery is long and perhaps not even possible. For LexisNexis to release any AI to the professional marketplace, it must meet that high bar. 

For more information, read the article.

WebMD Buys The Wellness Network to Provide More Video Programming

WebMD Health Corp. acquired The Wellness Network, “a multiplatform company focused on point-of-care, video-based patient education for hospitals and health systems. The acquisition builds on the core competencies of WebMD’s digital and online patient education solutions with The Wellness Network’s suite of point-of-care, video-based programming supporting patient engagement and post-discharge adherence. The Wellness Network's solutions span multiple formats including bedside television, online and tablet as well as mobile and telehealth applications,” the press release notes. The Wellness Network also offers five hospital TV channels—including ones focused on maternity, relaxation techniques, and acute care and hospital safety. The terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.

“The Wellness Network shares a core mission with WebMD Provider Services to enable education to be integrated into patient workflow, enabling our customers to inform, educate and support patients and caregivers through the healthcare journey,” says Dave Ross, The Wellness Network’s CEO. “WebMD’s extensive reach with health-seeking consumers and patients enables us to broaden our ability to deliver understandable and empowering content for the benefit of patients, hospitals and health systems.”

For more information, read the press release.

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