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Weekly News Digest

December 8, 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.

LC Labs Rolls Out Three New Data Packages of Maps, Books, and Photographs

The Library of Congress’ blog The Signal states the following:

LC Labs is pleased to announce the release of three new sets of digitized materials packaged as data. Located on, the three data packages of digitized maps, books, and photographs respectively, were created as part of the Computing Cultural Heritage in the Cloud (CCHC) initiative’s investigation of how the Library can use cloud-based technologies to enable bulk analysis of materials at scale. The data are hosted in an experimental cloud repository and combine curated datasets derived from Library digital collections with user-friendly technical guidance and descriptive information. …

The three data packages include:

For more information, read the blog post.

The CDC Is Encouraging Mask-Wearing During the Holiday Season

Spencer Kimball writes the following in “CDC Encourages People to Wear Masks to Help Prevent Spread of Covid, Flu and RSV Over the Holidays” for CNBC:

The Centers for Disease Control Prevention [(CDC), on Dec. 5,] encouraged people to wear masks to help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses this season as Covid, flu and RSV circulate at the same time.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in a call with reporters, said wearing a mask is one of several everyday precautions that people can take to reduce their chances of catching or spreading a respiratory virus during the busy holiday season. …

About 5% of the U.S. population lives in counties where the CDC is officially recommending masks due to high Covid levels. The CDC continues to recommend masking for anyone travelling by plane, train, bus or other forms of public transportation, Walensky said.

For more information, read the article.

The 30th Anniversary of Texting

Chris Matyszczyk, contributing writer for ZDNet, shares the following in “It’s 30 Years Since the First Text. Here’s How Far Civilization Has Fallen”:

[O]n December 3 1992, 22-year-old software architect Neil Papworth texted his colleague Richard Jarvis some heartfelt feelings.

The text read: ‘Merry Christmas.’

Well, Papworth is British so, you know, don’t expect too many effusive feelings, unless they’re about Europe.

Here we are, then, 30 years later. We text, we sext and we’re so often vexed. How, though, has texting changed civilization?

For more information, read the article.

Thoughts on Simon & Schuster From The Passive Voice

The Passive Voice blog shared an article from Literary Hub titled “In Praise of the Worker-Owned Company (OR: What to Do About Simon and Schuster),” which floats the following idea:

Our nation’s third-largest publisher [Simon & Schuster] doesn’t have to be owned by a mass media conglomerate or a private equity firm. There exists another option, one that would bring much-needed democracy to publishing by putting decision-making power into the hands of the very people who know books best: let the employees of Simon & Schuster purchase Simon & Schuster. They do the work, after all. Let them own their company. Let them call the damn shots.

Worker-owned cooperatives are so rare in America that it’s difficult for us to imagine the sense of pride and ownership that comes when we work for ourselves, participating actively in major company decisions, sharing equally in profits and losses.

Blogger PG responds, in part:

Would a bank or another rich family want to buy Simon & Schuster [S&S]? PG has his doubts because the traditional publishing business doesn’t earn much money any more. S&S is worth something, but likely not enough to induce anyone responsible to loan the employees the money to pay the Redstones [the family that owns the parent company of S&S]. But, as usual, PG could be wrong.

One commenter notes the following:

The only good thing might be if said employees are capable of doing everything PG has advocated for years: getting out of Manhattan, not paying the upper management huge bonuses, giving the lower levels (including interns) a living wage, accepting the election (ebooks) and lowering prices on said to what they cost instead of propping up hardcovers, selling directly WELL, changing the returns system. POD would probably be too much to ask, but there ARE plenty of cost-cutting measures that might work—but have been resolutely ignored by those benefiting, for years.

For more information, read the blog post and its always-insightful comments.

Exact Editions Offers Digital Archive of Women Writers Magazine Mslexia

Exact Editions announced the following:

Mslexia magazine, a masterclass in the business and psychology of writing, has completed its digital archive on the Exact Editions platform, dating back to 1999. Top authors, aspiring writers and institutions can subscribe for unlimited access to the latest issues and archive seamlessly across web, iOS, and Android platforms.

Published four times a year, Mslexia includes what’s new in creativity and publishing, advice and inspirations, debate, opinions, and poetry and prose, as well as a directory of competitions, editors and publishers on the lookout for fresh talent. Its mission is to help women express themselves and get their writing noticed: in print, online and in performance.

The archive is neatly organised into stacks of decades and years and benefits from the advanced search function, which allows readers to search for specific keywords. Institutional subscription features provided by the Exact Editions platform provide institutions with usage reports, MARC Records and KBART data.

For more information, read the press release.

eLife Expounds on Its New Preprint Review and Assessment Policy

eLife shares that its “new publishing model has sparked vigorous discussion about the role of editors in selecting research articles for publication. In October, the organisation announced that it is eliminating accept/reject decisions after peer review and instead focusing on preprint review and assessment.” Nine supporters have committed to using reviewed preprints in the evaluation process, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and Wellcome.

eLife asserts, “The current science publishing system relies on a model of peer review that focuses on directing papers into journals. These reviews are not made publicly available, stripping them of their potential value to wider readers and leading committees to judge scientists based on where, rather than what, they publish. This can impact hiring, funding and promotion decisions, and highlights the need for a system of review that helps funding and research organisations assess scientists based on the research itself and related peer reviews.”

For more information, read the news item.

SAGE Debuts New Social Science for Social Justice Book Series

SAGE will publish a new book series called Social Science for Social Justice that offers “a platform for emerging academics, journalists, and activists of color to address vital societal issues. International and interdisciplinary in scope, the series offers rigorous analysis in jargon-free language, allowing critical insights from the social sciences to reach audiences outside of academia.”

The first two titles in the series will be Consuming Crisis: Commodifying Care and COVID-19 (“a crucial account of how consumer culture capitalized on the COVID-19 pandemic”) and The Muslim, State and Mind: Psychology in Times of Islamophobia (which “unpacks where the politics of psychology and psychiatry and the politics of Muslims overlap”). More titles—covering racial trauma, gender, and African feminisms, among other topics—will be published throughout 2023.

For more information and to register for the series’ virtual launch event on Dec. 13, 2022, read the press release.

The Latest News From Springer Nature

Springer Nature announced that it is the first publisher to join the Generation Valuable mentoring program created by the Valuable 500, which “aims to develop the next generation of leaders with disabilities by matching a mentee with a member of its Executive team. The [program] is specifically designed to address the gap in disability talent at all levels as well as the absence of disability leaders in the executive ranks.” The first mentor will be Carolyn Honour, Springer Nature’s chief commercial officer, and the first mentee will be Jude Robinson, Springer Nature’s global head of front end development. Robinson led “the team that produced the accessibility software Pa11y, establishing and heading up the Accessibility Enablement function and founding the Accessibility Steering Group.”

Springer Nature also announced that it “has increased its investment in Research Square Company (RSC) to take full ownership.” Both companies aim “to provide faster, better, quality-assured author solutions. This includes helping authors improve their manuscripts prior to submission and share their research both before and after publication.” RSC is made up of “American Journal Experts (AJE), which provides best-in-class AI-powered and professionally delivered author solutions, and Research Square, the world’s number one multi-disciplinary preprint platform.”

“Springer Nature’s acquisition of Research Square Company builds on a wonderful partnership developed over many years, based on our common values. It allows our teams to work even more closely together to create a more researcher-centred publishing ecosystem,” says Shashi Mudunuri, RSC’s founder.

“Combining expertise across both companies enables us to provide best-in-class author solutions, so that all researchers can be assessed fairly and equally on the quality of their work. It puts us on the path to become the number one platform and solutions provider for open science,” adds Harsh Jegadeesan, Springer Nature’s chief solutions officer.

Grolier Club Exhibit Shares the History of Books

Jennifer Schuessler writes the following in “The 2,000-Year Story of Building the Book” for The New York Times:

For a certain kind of book nerd, Rare Book School at the University of Virginia is the closest a person can come to Valhalla. Each summer, bibliophiles from all over the world gather for weeklong courses in nearly every aspect of the history of the book, in an atmosphere that combines deep immersion in the most arcane aspects of printing, binding and bibliography with the let’s-put-on-a-show camaraderie of a sleepaway camp.

But in the meantime, an exhibition at the Grolier Club in Manhattan gives the rest of us a taste of the school’s distinctive hands-on methods, along with a sweeping history of more than 2,000 years of bookmaking.

‘Building the Book from the Ancient World to the Present Day,’ on view through Dec. 23, draws on the more than 100,000 items in the school’s teaching collection. There are printing blocks, binding tools, ink brushes, paper samples, printer’s proofs, strange contraptions and of course plenty of books. …

For more information, read the article.

Microsoft Teams Introduces a Communities Feature

Tom Warren writes the following in “Microsoft Teams Adds Free Communities Feature to Take on Facebook and Discord” for The Verge:

Microsoft is launching a new communities feature for Microsoft Teams [Dec. 7], designed for consumers to use the best parts of Teams free of charge to create and organize groups. The new community feature will allow groups to use the calendar, meeting, and chat features of Teams.

Features like group chat, calling, and file / photo sharing are all supported, and groups will also be able to use a shared calendar (which includes Google Calendar integration) to organize community events.

This new community integration is really aimed at groups like sports clubs or even virtual community groups for small businesses and simple groups like a carpool for co-workers to organize transportation. Facebook, Reddit, Discord, WhatsApp, Twitter, and many other services already provide a variety of ways to organize groups online, so Microsoft is entering a crowded market, but it believes Teams has something different to offer.

For more information, read the article.

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