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Weekly News Digest

May 19, 2022 — 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.

'Texas A&M Weighs Sweeping Changes to Library' by Josh Moody

Josh Moody writes the following for Inside Higher Ed:

The Texas A&M University system is working on a plan that would make sweeping changes across its 10 libraries. Those changes, still being discussed, would include asking librarians to relinquish tenure or transfer to another academic department to keep it.

The plan grew out of recommendations from MGT Consulting, which Texas A&M hired in June 2021 “to conduct a high-level, comprehensive review of major functional areas,” according to a company report. But as administrators have suggested additional changes, including to employee classification, faculty members have pushed back, arguing that proposed structural changes to the library system will do more harm than good.

They are especially concerned about a proposal that would end tenure for librarians. Experts note that tenure for librarians, which is somewhat common in academia, though not universal, can be crucial for academic freedom, especially in a political environment in which librarians are under fire.

For more information, read the article.

Organizations Team With ALA for the Unite Against Book Bans Campaign

ALA recruited a coalition of 25-plus groups that aims “to empower individuals and communities to fight censorship and protect the freedom to read. Organizations including the American Federation of Teachers [AFT] and the Authors Guild have joined [ALA]’s Unite Against Book Bans campaign to raise awareness about the recent rise in book challenges in public libraries and schools.” The coalition consists of advocacy groups, education leaders, businesses, nonprofits, civil rights groups, and more. ALA notes, “These groups are uniting around the principles of reading as fundamental to learning, the right of readers to access a variety of books, and the need to work together to protect that right.”

“Book bans are about limiting kids’ freedom to read and teachers’ freedom to teach,” says Randi Weingarten, president of AFT. “Parents agree—they want their children to learn the lessons of the past in an age-appropriate way, even as certain politicians try to turn classrooms into cultural battlefields and censor what gets taught. The majority of these bans target titles with racial and LGBTQ themes, cruelly erasing young readers’ lived experience. And while it’s uncomfortable to talk about tough issues like genocide, slavery and racism, reading honest history helps kids learn the good and the bad about our country and emerge as well-informed, engaged citizens of the world.”

“All of us who understand the importance of literature must ban together to fight this misguided, coordinated attack on our country’s literary culture. That is why we joined Unite Against Book Bans and continue to implement programs such as our recently launched Banned Books Club,” says Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild.

For more information and the list of groups supporting Unite Against Book Bans, read the press release.

'Thomson Reuters to Review Human Rights Impact of Its Data Collection for ICE' by Bill Budington

Bill Budington writes the following for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):

EFF, along with many other organizations, has loudly sounded the alarm about data brokers and the myriad ways they can collect data on unsuspecting users, as well as the numerous dangers of public-private surveillance partnerships. One of the companies that has sometimes flown under the radar, however, is the Canada-based media conglomerate Thomson Reuters. But after coming under increasing criticism for its provision of surveillance technologies to and contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the company has announced it will conduct a company-wide human rights assessment of its products and services. This comes on the heels of multiple years of investor activism where a minority shareholder, the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU), joined the Latinx rights organization Mijente in urging Thomson Reuters to cut its ties with ICE.

For more information, read the article.

PEN America Responds to Texas A&M University News

Jeremy C. Young, senior manager for free expression and education at PEN America, issued a statement condemning Texas A&M University’s proposed plan to remove tenure and faculty status for its librarians. He writes:

This plan at Texas A&M is fundamentally misguided. Texas is at the epicenter of a nationwide book banning frenzy, and the state’s lieutenant governor has made no secret of his political attacks on higher education. Given their unique role in the academy, librarians are obviously implicated in these political battles over free expression, literature, and knowledge. Now, at Texas A&M, they may have to participate in these battles without the rights and privileges of academic freedom and shared governance, free speech protections, eligibility for tenure, and representation in faculty senates and on faculty committees. The consequences for research, teaching, and learning in the university community could be grave.

For more information, read the press release.

Underline Science Gets New Funding to Help Build Its Digital Video Library

Underline Science, which recently launched the Underline Digital Video Library (DVL), has raised $2.5 million as part of a Pre-Series A round of funding led by venture capital firms South Central Ventures and Dutch Founders Fund. As a result, South Central Ventures’ Jure Mikuz and Dutch Founders Fund’s Laurens Groenendijk are joining Underline Science’s board of directors. The new funding will help Underline Science enhance DVL’s features and content.

According to the press release, “The mission of Underline [Science] is to improve researchers’ access to quality scientific conference lecture video content. Historically, if you did not attend a scientific conference, you would miss out on all of the conference’s lectures. … DVL contains 26,000+ videos (Health Sciences, Life Sciences, Engineering, Technology, Social Sciences, and Humanities). The video content [is] from the world’s prestigious scientific societies and universities, like IEEE, Endocrine, AIP, lecturers from MIT, Harvard, Facebook, Google, etc. Each video is complete with abstract, English transcription, bio, picture of the author, and most importantly, a DOI (digital object identifier), which ensures that the video can be searched and discovered.”

For more information, read the press release.

The Scholarly Kitchen Looks at the Future of Academic Conferences

Marco Marabelli writes the following in “Guest Post—Hybrid Versus In-Person: What Will Be the Future of Academic Conferences?” for The Scholarly Kitchen:

Healthcare, I believe, taught us a very important lesson during COVID, as it served as a natural experiment in how current technologies were being underused before an impelling need required their adoption. And a similar consideration should apply to conferences. When the pandemic first forced most, if not all, scientific gatherings to move online, it became apparent that the population attending (online) conferences was substantially different than in the past. More people from less wealthy universities (in the US) and worldwide were joining international conferences for the first time. This also included PhD students (generally with low travel budgets) and junior faculty, for whom it is extremely important to attend conferences and build networks. …

Our data analysis highlighted three distinct issues related to attending conferences, which were substantially mitigated by remote options. First, financial issues: most people reported that they were able to attend an international conference for the first time, as they couldn’t otherwise afford travel costs. Second, flexibility: several study participants noted that they could better manage their professional and personal (family) commitments by attending remotely and being able to watch recordings of sessions. … Last, safety: this concerned health (because of COVID), but also other aspects of travel safety. For instance, people reported being afraid to travel because of their citizenship, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs. … [C]onnectivity issues and more challenging ways to network during ‘around the clock’ meetings were mentioned as downsides. But, overall, the message was clear: hybrid conferences would increase the attendance of people from low-income countries, with benefits substantially outweighing the challenges.

For more information, read the blog post.

'Conservative Parents Take Aim at Library Apps Meant to Expand Access to Books' by David Ingram

David Ingram writes the following for NBC News:

In several states, apps and the companies that run them have been targeted by conservative parents who have pushed schools and public libraries to shut down their digital programs, which let users download and read books on their smartphones, tablets and laptops. …

A school superintendent in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, pulled his system’s e-reader offline for a week last month, cutting access for 40,000 students, after a parent searched the Epic library available on her kindergartner’s laptop and found books supporting LGBTQ pride. 

In a rural county northwest of Austin, Texas, county officials cut off access to the OverDrive digital library, which residents had used for a decade to find books to read for pleasure, prompting a federal lawsuit against the county.  …

In years past, parents might not have been able to find out what’s in a library collection, giving students a certain measure of freedom to roam the stacks. Now, they can easily search digital collections for books with content they object to and ask school administrators to censor or limit access with a few mouse clicks.

For more information, read the article.

SAGE Becomes Exclusive Publisher of Developmental Psychology Titles by Laura Berk

SAGE’s US College division entered into an exclusive partnership with developmental psychology expert Laura E. Berk, who is distinguished professor emerita in the department of psychology at Illinois State University. SAGE is now the exclusive publisher of Berk’s titles. In summer 2022, four of Berk’s books will be available in print and digitally from SAGE: Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Ninth Edition; Infants and Children: Prenatal Through Middle Childhood, Ninth Edition; Development Through the Lifespan, Seventh Edition; and Exploring Lifespan Development, Fourth Edition. Berk is working with SAGE on revised editions of the titles, to be released in 2023.

“Laura Berk’s unique author voice, inclusive approach, and ability to make research accessible to students have established her as one of the most respected and trusted authors in higher education,” says Michele Sordi, SAGE’s EVP and head of the US College division. “SAGE’s stability, secured independence, and shared values make SAGE a special place for authors to partner with us in publishing innovative pedagogical content for generations to come.”

For more information, read the press release.

Apple Develops IT Training Courses and Certifications for Its Devices

Apple announced the following:

As companies expand their use of technology, employees are demanding to use iPhone, iPad, and Mac at work, resulting in an increased need for IT professionals skilled in supporting and managing Apple products.

To help meet this growing demand, Apple today launched updated professional training and certifications for IT support and management. The training has been completely redesigned and moved to an online, self-paced format. Users can demonstrate their competency with two new exams and earn certification from Apple. …

Two new Apple Professional Training courses—Apple Device Support, and Apple Deployment and Management—are available today on The courses are sequential, and build on skills and concepts as the user progresses. At the completion of each course, new certification exams are available to demonstrate competence achieved at each level with corresponding digital badges from Apple. Each exam costs $149, and certification can be displayed on resumes, online profiles, and job boards, enabling users to stand out in job searches—and employers to find qualified candidates.

For more information, read the news item.

'Biden Announces Program Offering Discounted Internet Service' by Aamer Madhani and Will Weissert

Aamer Madhani and Will Weissert write the following for the Associated Press (AP):

President Joe Biden announced [May 9] that 20 internet companies have agreed to provide discounted service to people with low incomes, a program that could effectively make tens of millions of households eligible for free service through an already existing federal subsidy. …

The $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year included $14.2 billion funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides $30 monthly subsidies ($75 in tribal areas) on internet service for millions of lower-income households.

With the new commitment from the internet providers, some 48 million households will be eligible for $30 monthly plans for 100 megabits per second, or higher speed, service—making internet service fully paid for with government assistance if they sign up with one of the providers participating in the program.

For more information, read the article.

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