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Weekly News Digest

June 1, 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.

AM Facilitates New Study of Shakespeare With Its First Folio Portal

AM unveiled an OA archive for Shakespeare’s First Folio. The company states, “The First Folios Compared project brings together institutions from around the world to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the First Folio, the first ever collected edition of William Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1623.” AM’s archive has 47 of the surviving 233 folios.

“Most contributing copies have not been publicly available before, and several have been digitised specifically for this project,” AM states. “Hosted on the AM Quartex Platform, the site presents a range of powerful new research opportunities for users. The gathering and unifying of a collected set of metadata tags unlocks unprecedented searchability functions, while a new Comparison Page will enable side-by-side comparison of the unique texts for the first time ever.”

For more information, read the news item.

EveryLibrary Institute Relaunches Its Political Librarian OA Journal

The EveryLibrary Institute announced to its email list that its OA journal, The Political Librarian, is back from hiatus. Series editor Andrew T. Sulavik shares the following:

This is the only peer-reviewed publication dedicated to the politics of libraries and library funding in the industry.

We have undergone significant changes during [the hiatus], including transitioning to a new digital publishing platform called Janeway. Additionally, we have revamped the layout and typesetting and reconstituted our dedicated publication team.

This Spring 2023 issue of The Political Librarian focuses on the growing external political pressures and legislative actions to censor, review, or ban books in schools and public libraries. We present a diverse range of thought-provoking articles, including original pieces and selected republications, which shed light on the challenges librarians face and provide valuable insights on navigating this complex landscape.

The lead article, ‘The Urge to Censor,’ by Paul T. Jaeger et al., presents eight historical tenets of censorship that provide crucial context for understanding the current movement. By analyzing the past, the authors shed light on the challenges libraries face and offer practical strategies for advocates to confront the threats of book bans.

Allison Jennings-Roche’s article, ‘Delegitimizing Censorship,’ delves into the charged rhetoric employed by those who attack library collections and librarians. She argues for the importance of countering such rhetoric through alternative communication strategies that protect the integrity of library collections and disarm the arguments of censors.

Sonya M. Durney’s piece, ‘The Library Advocacy Gap,’ presents a mixed-methods research study that measures the gap between library advocacy activities undertaken by professional librarians and the responsibilities of LIS professionals. Based on the study’s findings, Durney emphasizes the need for librarians to bridge this gap through enhanced training and increased professional development opportunities.

In addition to the original contributions, this issue features four republications from the EveryLibrary Institute that remain highly relevant.

Voter Perceptions of Book Bans,’ originally published in September 2022, shares the results of a public opinion poll that reveals most American voters oppose book bans based on race, sexuality, and other concerns.

Valarie McNutt et al.’s ‘Factors of Success for Libraries on the Ballot,’ first published in January 2021, analyzes 700 library elections between 2014 and 2018 to identify key factors for success. Given the potential movement to defund libraries, these findings are particularly timely and advantageous.

Nijma Esad’s report, ‘Could School Librarians Be the Secret to Increasing Literacy Scores,’ originally published in January 2022, provides valuable data highlighting school librarians' vital role in improving student literacy. This report’s republication is well-deserved, considering the recent censorship movement targeting school libraries.

Finally, Megan Blair’s and John Chrastka’s whitepaper, ‘Cannabis Tax Policy and Libraries,’ first published in July 2022, explores the potential revenue-sharing policies from cannabis taxes that often overlook libraries. As libraries strive to secure increased funding, the authors advocate for building coalitions and lobbying local governments to include libraries in this revenue source.

ITHAKA Makes Updates to Its Constellate Text Analysis Teaching Tool

ITHAKA updated Constellate, its “platform that helps faculty easily and effectively teach text analysis and data skills. Constellate already integrates scholarly content and open educational resources into a cloud-based lab that faculty are using with students at colleges and universities across the United States, Canada, Italy, Hong Kong and Israel.” Now, it offers “a new user dashboard and enhanced lab environment that make it even easier for faculty to help their students learn text analysis, ultimately gaining the skills they need to succeed in today’s data-driven workplace.”

Other enhancements include the following:

  • A faster, more reliable lab environment leveraging popular, open source tools, like JupyterLab
  • The ability to personalize the lab space to edit, delete, and save files ongoing between sessions
  • A new snapshot functionality which allows instructors, students, and research collaborators to seamlessly share lessons, assignments and notebooks
  • An improved dashboard so users can more easily manage their datasets, lab environment, and snapshots
  • Live training, support, and mentorship for institutions offering their first data literacy instruction

For more information, read the press release.

Snowflake Will Buy Neeva to Continue Generative AI Innovations in Search

Snowflake, a cloud data platform, is acquiring Neeva, citing the reason that “the search experience is evolving rapidly with new conversational paradigms emerging in the way we ask questions and retrieve information, enabled by generative AI. The ability for teams to discover precisely the right data point, data asset, or data insight is critical to maximizing the value of data.”

Snowflake notes, “Neeva created a unique and transformative search experience that leverages generative AI and other innovations to allow users to query and discover data in new ways.” Snowflake will leverage Neeva’s innovations “to the benefit of [its] customers, partners and developers. Neeva allows [Snowflake] to tap into some of the most cutting-edge search technologies available to bring search and conversation in Snowflake to a new level.”

For more information, read the news item.

IMLS Celebrates America250 With a Series of Virtual Conversations

IMLS partnered with PBS Books to produce Visions of America: All Stories, All People, All Places, a video series “that explores our post-pandemic nation with a renewed interest in the places, people, and stories that have contributed to the America we live in today” in honor of the United States’ 250th birthday and the America250 project. “PBS Books will provide free resources and offer webinars to support museum and library staff designing programs, including integrating the video content to host screening events and community conversations around the series themes,” IMLS shares.

Visions of America begins in June, kicking off with three virtual conversations between IMLS director Crosby Kemper and invited guests:

  1. June—The significance of the America250 project and the important role of IMLS as it supports museums and libraries to explore the America250 themes in their communities.
  2. July—The durability of the U.S. Constitution and how the America250’s ‘We the People’ theme can initiate conversations about the Constitution’s relevance in a changing world.
  3. August—Drawing on the America250 theme ‘Unfinished Revolutions,’ the conversation will mark the 75th anniversary of the desegregation of the military and its impact on civil rights and the definition of citizenship.

IMLS continues, “Beginning in fall 2023, Kemper will lead a video tour through three lesser-known historical sites that symbolize an aspect of the spirit of our independence. Some of our nation’s most notable historians and authors will share the tales and themes that reverberate inside the walls of these institutions. Each episode will include exploring the cities these institutions call home to probe what makes each of these communities so important to our national identity.”

For more information, read the press release.

Send correspondence concerning the Weekly News Digest to NewsBreaks Editor Brandi Scardilli
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