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Weekly News Digest

May 18, 2023 — 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.

PEN America Leads Lawsuit Against Florida School District for Banning Books

PEN America announced the following:

Free expression organization PEN America, alongside publisher Penguin Random House, authors, and parents of children affected by the unconstitutional book bans carried out by Florida’s Escambia County School District and School Board, filed suit [May 17] in federal court asking for books to be returned to school library shelves where they belong. …

Escambia County has set out to exclude certain ideas from their school libraries by removing or restricting books, some of which have been on the shelves for years—even decades. This lawsuit brings together authors whose books have been banned, parents and students in the district who cannot access the books, and a publisher in a first-of-its-kind challenge to unlawful censorship.

For more information, read the press release.

Exact Editions Showcases Free Previews of Orwell Prize Finalists

Exact Editions has made the 17 books shortlisted for the 2023 Orwell Prizes for Political Fiction and for Political Writing available as fully searchable digital previews on its platform. This virtual showcase is powered by Exact Editions’ Reading Rooms for Books technology, which allows publishers to choose how much of a book will be available to preview. Each entry also has a link to purchase the book.

For more information, read the press release.

System, Inc. Rolls Out AI-Powered Search Engine for Health and Life Science Researchers

System, Inc. launched System Pro, “a new AI-powered search engine designed to be the most trustworthy, transparent way for researchers and doctors to quickly find, synthesize, and contextualize scientific literature … starting in the health and life sciences.” It is available via a free 10-day trial, with a 1-year subscription costing $199 per user and a monthly subscription costing $20 per month.

System Pro combines large language model (LLM) technology, unique structured data, and a patented graph architecture to “synthesize the statistical results from millions of peer-reviewed studies on PubMed, transparently cite all sources used in its synthesis, and recommend and visualize topics that relate statistically to each search.” It is the first application built on top of System, “an open graph that organizes information based primarily on statistical relationships rather than semantic ones.”

For more information, read the press release.

OCLC and SCELC Partner to Increase Diversity in Shared Print Programs

OCLC announced the following:

OCLC is partnering with the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC) to use OCLC’s new Choreo Insights library analytics solution to help identify ways to enhance diversity in shared print collections in order to retain and preserve valuable materials of interest in underrepresented communities.

As a part of the project, ‘Community Strategies to Expand Diversity and Inclusivity in the Collective Collection of Shared Print,’ SCELC is conducting an analysis designed to inform development of national best practices for shared print programs. The aim is to expand inclusion of minority-serving institutions and evaluate the diversity of collective and prospective collections. This work includes metadata analysis of diversity metrics, such as the representation of minority researchers and books about minority communities.

SCELC will use OCLC’s Choreo Insights to evaluate the diversity and uniqueness of the library collections of approximately 30 minority-serving institutions. Choreo Insights will allow SCELC to compare distinct and overlapping print book collections from minority-serving and non-minority-serving institutions. Choreo Insights will also look at the minority-serving collections and highlight the rare and unique collections in the ethnic studies areas they represent.

For more information, read the press release.

Project MUSE Creates New Departments and Positions Ahead of Its 30th Birthday

Project MUSE announced the following:

For nearly 30 years, Project MUSE has been the trusted and reliable source for access to essential humanities and social science research, as an integral part of the scholarly communications ecosystem and platform of choice for respected not-for-profit publishers. From its grant-funded origins piloting a small collection of online journals from the Johns Hopkins University Press, MUSE has grown to host more than 800 journals and more than 90,000 books from nearly 400 leading university presses, scholarly societies, and related publishers. As MUSE approaches its third decade, we are pleased to announce several enhancements to the organization which expand our capacity and reach, while supporting our strategic priorities and our commitment to equity and inclusion.

These enhancements include a new library and publisher partnerships department; a new department focused on communication, marketing, and engagement; an expanded business operations and intelligence practice via the new position of business operations manager; and a forthcoming Subscribe to Open program for its flagship journal collections.

For more information, read the news item.

Business Insider Examines the End of the Metaverse

Ed Zitron, CEO of EZPR, writes the following in “RIP Metaverse” for Business Insider:

The Metaverse, the once-buzzy technology that promised to allow users to hang out awkwardly in a disorientating video-game-like world, has died after being abandoned by the business world. It was three years old. …

After a much-heralded debut, the Metaverse became the obsession of the tech world and a quick hack to win over Wall Street investors. The hype could not save the Metaverse, however, and a lack of coherent vision for the product ultimately led to its decline. Once the tech industry turned to a new, more promising trend—generative AI—the fate of the Metaverse was sealed.

The Metaverse is now headed to the tech industry’s graveyard of failed ideas. But the short life and ignominious death of the Metaverse offers a glaring indictment of the tech industry that birthed it.

For more information, read the article.

The Verge Looks at Google's New Magic Editor for Images

Emma Roth writes the following in “Google’s New Magic Editor Pushes Us Toward AI-Perfected Fakery” for The Verge:

One of the most impressive demos at Google I/O [held May 10] started with a photo of a woman in front of a waterfall. A presenter onstage tapped on the woman, picked her up, and moved her to the other side of the image, with the app automatically filling in the space where she once stood. They then tapped on the overcast sky, and it instantly bloomed into a brighter cloudless blue. In just a matter of seconds, the image had been transformed.

The AI-powered tool, dubbed the Magic Editor, certainly lived up to its name during the demo. It’s the kind of tool that Google has been building toward for years. It already has a couple of AI-powered image editing features in its arsenal, including the Magic Eraser, which lets you quickly remove people or objects from the background of an image. But this type of tool takes things up a notch by letting you alter the contents—and potentially, the meaning—of a photo in much more significant ways.

For more information, read the article.

IFLA Announces New Secretary General

Barbara Lison, IFLA’s president, wrote a letter that says, in part:

As President of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, I am honoured and proud to announce the IFLA Governing Board’s unanimous decision to appoint Sharon Memis as the new IFLA Secretary General.

After a turbulent and challenging time, in which the duties of the Secretary General were overshadowed by internal politics, IFLA set out to look for an expert in cultural diplomacy, business development, management and external relations. In Sharon Memis, we are convinced we have found the perfect combination. …

When I hand over the reigns as IFLA President this summer, I will do so in the knowledge that I am leaving the organisation in capable hands. Along with my successor Vicki McDonald, I know that with Sharon as Secretary General, IFLA will further be able to focus on what the organisation does best: strengthen the global voice of the library and information profession and work tirelessly to create literate, informed and participatory societies.

For more information, read the letter.

ScienceOpen and Altmetric Partner for Drug Repurposing-Focused Publishing Portal

ScienceOpen shared the following:

ScienceOpen is teaming up with Altmetric to provide rich alternative metrics for REPO4EU’s Open Science publishing portal Drug Repurposing Central. …

REPO4EU stands for Precision drug REPurpOsing For EUrope and the world. The aim of the project is to ultimately host and grow an EU industry-level online platform for drug repurposing with a global reach to move the industry from imprecise drug therapy to precision medicine.…

As a member of the REPO4EU consortium, ScienceOpen will provide the technology and run the Drug Repurposing Central publishing portal. …

Altmetric, part of Digital Science, is the industry leader in tracking, measuring, and visualizing online attention around research publication. Featuring a variety of colors representing the different sources tracked, Altmetric Badges provide a unique and instantly recognizable at-a-glance summary of the attention for an individual publication.

For more information, read the blog post.

Boston Public Transit Partners With the Library to Distribute Digital Titles to Commuters

Nik DeCosta-Klipa reports the following for WBUR:

Remember the pre-smartphone days when people read newspapers and books on the MBTA? Well, the phones aren’t going anywhere, but Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s office is working to at least open up the Boston Public Library’s [BPL] deep digital archive of books, newspapers and magazines to MBTA bus riders—no library cards required. …

This week, Wu’s office installed [sidewalk] decals at 20 bus stops across Boston with QR codes that riders can scan with their phones, linking to the BPL’s ‘digital pop-up library website.’ The new pilot program will run through the end of August.

For more information, read the article.

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