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Weekly News Digest

September 29, 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. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

CLICK HERE to view more Weekly News Digest items.

Testing Out Artificial Intelligence-Based Art Generation

Sherin Shibu writes the following in “I Tested Out an AI Art Generator and Here’s What I Learned” for ZDNET:

[The] Midjourney [tool] allows anyone to generate unique, creative pieces with just a command. The only element that the AI art generator requires from a human being is a prompt: The user types in whatever they want, and the AI gives them four new images within 60 seconds. …

Perhaps most interesting is that these tools are asking us again to think about exactly what is art. Is it the intention, the execution, and/or the reception of art that makes it art? Far be it from me to guard the definition: artistic expression encompasses many forms. With AI art, however, the puzzling aspect is that in selecting images and displaying them, the AI artist takes on more of a role of a curator in a digital museum of work than the standard artist who delivers the work from start to finish. 

For more information, read the article.

'How Libraries Became Refuges for People With Mental Illness' by Anthony Aycock

Anthony Aycock writes the following for Slate:

I am the director of the North Carolina Legislative Library, which is part of the state legislature. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of state agencies were closed. My library was not. Word of this must have gotten around as our reference numbers shot up. Callers were asking about subjects—unemployment benefits, small business loans, birth certificates, job-hunting resources, filing for bankruptcy—that were not in our purview. Why? We were one of the few places to answer the phone. And listen. And try to help. I’m convinced we did help, even if we didn’t solve their immediate problem.

We helped by being ministerial. By being focused. By being present. Listening isn’t just a librarian skill–it’s a human skill, and a slippery one. It seems facile: just let the other person talk. To do it well, however, we have to shut off our editorial side. Our stand-up-comic side. Our judge-and-jury side. In short, we have to shut off our brains and just be … what? Nothing. Just be.

For more information, read the article.

Kanopy Introduces Subscription Model Focused on Pre-Curated Collections

Kanopy “announced a new subscription model that provides public libraries with more choice and budget flexibility. Kanopy PLUS (Public Library Unlimited Subscriptions) provides unlimited, all-you-can-watch access to pre-curated collections at a fixed price. Alongside the flagship pay-per-use model, this new subscription service provides another option for libraries to connect patrons with Kanopy’s award-winning film catalog.” The first collections, PLUS Packs, comprise 250–300 titles chosen by Kanopy’s staff librarians. More will be added in the future.

The following are the PLUS Packs available now:

  • Favorites: A mix of patron and staff favorites that spans the breadth of the full catalog, including Joe BellHowards End and Dial M for Murder.
  • Easy Viewing: Fun, charming and delightful titles that engage and entertain, such as My Afternoons with MargueritteCharade and Life Animated.
  • Diversity: DEI titles aimed to celebrate our differences, including Miss JuneteenthWhale Rider and Ken Burns: The Central Park Five.
  • World Cinema: International titles that span comedy, drama, romance and more. Titles include TransitNowhere in Africa and Downfall.

For more information, read the press release.

Mozilla Research: 'Does This Button Work? Investigating YouTube's Ineffective User Controls'

Becca Ricks and Jesse McCrosky write the following for Mozilla:

YouTube is the second most visited website in the world, and its algorithm drives most of the video views on YouTube. Previous Mozilla research determined that people are routinely recommended videos they don’t want to see, including violent content, hate speech, and political misinformation.

YouTube says that people can manage their recommendations and search results through the feedback tools the platform offers, but we heard from people that they do not feel in control over their experience with the YouTube algorithm. We surveyed 2,757 participants about their feelings of control in relation to the platform and we learned that many people feel their actions don’t have any effect on YouTube recommendations.

To test whether these experiences are backed by data, we evaluated the effectiveness of these controls for real users of the platform. Powered by Mozilla’s research tool RegretsReporter, 22,722 people donated data about their interactions with YouTube. This study represents the largest experimental audit of YouTube by independent researchers, powered by crowdsourced data.

For more information, read the report.

PLOS Research: 'Open Access Doesn't Need APCs'

Sara Rouhi, director of strategic partnerships at PLOS, writes the following:

The [business] models we introduced in 2020 began as an experiment to systemically address the barriers publications fees pose for many researchers and prove that APCs are not the only way to support Open Access. More sustainable—and equitable—models exist. …

At PLOS we are committed to co-creating pathways to Open Access and Open Science as we carry our mission forward. A piece of that is ensuring our approach to Open Access solutions are not one-size-fits-all. It’s the reason we don’t have just one institutional partnership model for all of our journals, but several that cater to the needs of the journal research communities, and the bodies who financially support researchers’ work. …

The uptake of these models is incredible. Doubling the number of institutions is gratifying, but, on a personal note, I take greater pride in spreading Open Access publishing worldwide. This is great for institutions and PLOS, but even better for researchers.

For more information, read the blog post.

Omneky Improves on Artificial Intelligence-Based Art Generation

AI-driven marketing platform Omneky “announced that it now offers personalized prompts for image generation by combining the power of GPT-3 and marketing data. The platform’s innovation will fine-tune its text prompts and improve the overall performance of AI generated images.”

“One of the greatest challenges of AI image generation can be prompt engineering, coming up with the right queries to ask the AI code,” says Hikari Senju, Omneky’s founder and CEO. “We solve this problem by having GPT-3 generate prompts based on the marketing data we collect. Now users are not taking their best guess at what text should be used, but have data driven decisions at their fingertips.”

For more information, read the press release.

The Library Corp. Joins Unite Against Book Bans

The Library Corp. (TLC) is now part of ALA’s Unite Against Book Bans campaign for engaging the public in the fight against censorship.

“This non-partisan campaign leverages the reach of national organizations representing librarians, educators, parents, authors, publishers, distributors, champions for civil liberties, civil rights, and equality, and more,” the press release notes. “Research shows that a large majority of Americans across the political spectrum oppose book bans, yet efforts to remove books continue at an unprecedented pace.”

For more information, read the press release.

Library of Congress Taps EBSCO to Build a New Collection Management Platform

The Library of Congress (LC) announced that it awarded EBSCO Information Services a “contract to further develop and implement a new, open-source IT platform that will revolutionize how the [LC]’s vast physical and digital collections are managed and made accessible for the public, Congress, Library employees and other institutions.” The Library Collections Access Platform software application will consolidate and facilitate physical and digital collections management operations. It will also provide users with a streamlined discovery process and new ways to obtain metadata, and it will use the BIBFRAME bibliographic description standard that is based on a linked data model.

EBSCO will use the FOLIO open source library services solution to provide a new platform that meets the LC’s IT requirements and user needs. “When the platform is fully operational,” the LC notes, “it will enable users to perform comprehensive searches of the extensive collections of the world's largest library. The system will have more advanced IT security controls and will accommodate evolving technology and growing digital content.”

For more information, read the press release.

Jisc Shares a Cyberattack Story From a Member Institution

Jisc explored the process of identifying and rectifying a cyberattack with The Lincoln College Group’s group director of IT, information management, and projects, Graham Harrison. Harrison explains, “Getting the IT estate back within such a short space of time was a good result, but it created a lot of stress, pressure and anxiety for a lot of people; and not just technical staff. Teachers, administrators, managers and students were affected, as well as key stakeholders like suppliers and employers.” The aftermath of the attack lasted 17 days, during which “the launch point for the attack was identified and secured: more than 80 servers were fully restored, 1,600 desktop and laptop computers across multiple sites were wiped and reimaged, and passwords were reset for 1,000 staff and 5,000 students,” says Harrison.

Jisc notes, “At the time of the attack, Graham felt Lincoln College Group had a strong level of traditional security measures like firewalls, anti-virus, anti-malware, policies, processes and procedures in place.”

For more information, read the news item.

Penguin Random House Dives Into BookTok

Marty Swant writes the following in “Inside Penguin Random House’s Play to Reach Avid Readers on TikTok’s BookTok” for Digiday:

Much has been written about how the almighty algorithm shapes our taste in everything from food and music to movies and books, but Penguin Random House is leaning into TikTok’s major #BookTok trend to help users discover titles and engage with fellow readers.

[T]he publishing giant announced a new deal with TikTok that lets people link to books in videos using the popular #BookTok hashtag while also working with various creators to curate content. The feature will direct users to a page that has additional info about the book and the other videos about it created by various TikTok users. According to Penguin Random House chief marketing officer Sanyu Dillon, BookTok provides an ‘emotional journey’ that is driving more successful videos compared to those that merely provide a book synopsis. …

Much of BookTok’s adoption has been driven by organic content from everyday users, but Penguin is trying to approach its role by co-creating content for TikTok with creators and users. Although Penguin works with thousands of creators across its various subsidiaries, it’s also hired three micro-influencers in-house, including two for TikTok and one for Instagram.

For more information, read the article.

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