New law to improve federal grant data.

American Library Association • December 17, 2019
Simmons University

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Congress passes act to simplify federal grant reporting

Federal grants

On December 16, the House agreed to Senate amendments to the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency (GREAT) Act of 2019, which directs federal agencies to modernize and improve data standards for information reported by grant recipients. Data Coalition Chief Executive Officer Nick Hart issued a statement saying the act will better “determine which grants most effectively accomplish program goals” and “fundamentally improve accountability and transparency for federal grants provided to school districts, police departments, fire stations, hospitals, food banks, homeless shelters, job training centers, and much more.”...

Data Coalition, Dec. 16

Possible executive order on open access

Open access

Academic publishers are worried about an executive order the Trump administration is considering that would impose new open access requirements on federally funded science research. Over the weekend, several draft letters from scientific societies and academic associations expressed concern about a requirement for publishers to “immediately make federally funded scientific discoveries published in their journals freely available to the global market.” On December 16, a Scholarly Kitchen post explored the implications such a policy change would have on research and publishing and suggests that the order stems from the US Office of Science and Technology Policy....

EdSurge, Dec. 16; The Scholarly Kitchen, Dec. 16

Wisconsin library class helps Parkinson’s patients

Sue Bieszk and Tom Bieszk of East Troy work on movement exercises during a Movement and Music class for Parkinson’s patients on November 20 at the Burlington (Wis.) Public Library. Tom Bieszk was diagnosed with Parkinson disease 35 years ago. Photo by Carolyn Hahn

Tucked away in one of the Burlington (Wis.) Public Library’s meeting rooms, a dedicated group of area residents has been attending a weekly Wednesday afternoon class. They come from all walks of life, but share one important common denominator: They have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Racine resident Jane DePelecyn is among the dozen attendees of Movement and Music, a 10-week class at the library. “I really work hard at exercising to keep my flexibility,” DePelecyn said. “It’s a real good incentive to keep steady.” The Wisconsin Parkinson Association has been overseeing the classes in Burlington and elsewhere....

Racine (Wis.) Journal Times, Dec. 15
ALA news

The complicated role of the modern public library

Pima County Health Department Library Nurse Daniel Lopez takes the blood pressure of homeless man Jim Truitt at the Main Joel D. Valdez Pima County Public Library in Tucson, Arizona

Jennifer Howard writes: “The public library requires nothing of its visitors: no purchases, no membership fees, no dress code. You can stay all day, and you don’t have to buy anything. You don’t need money or a library card to access onsite resources that includes books, ebooks and magazines, job-hunting assistance, computer stations, and free Wi-Fi. And the library will never share or sell your personal data. That commitment to inclusivity, along with an ability to adapt to changing times, has kept public libraries vital in an era of divisive politics and disruptive technological change. But it has also put pressure on them to be all things to all people.”...

Humanities, Oct. 21

Preserving the old card catalog

English Ph.D. candidates Neal Curtis (left) and Samuel Lemley spearheaded the volunteer project to save the cards of the previous system, the old physical card catalog

Anne E. Bromley writes: “As preparations continue for the renovation of Alderman Library, which replaced the Rotunda as University of Virginia’s central library in 1938, a volunteer effort is preserving one small part of its past—the card catalog. Created over a 50-year span from 1939 to 1989, that catalog grew to about 4 million cards in 65 cabinets with 4,000 drawers. These index cards from the old physical card catalog might contain information that is unique about a particular book—and therefore, the library’s holdings and university history. The volunteers are now moving stacks of cards into file boxes labeled with particular call number sequences.”...

UVAToday, Dec. 9

NJ State Library gets grant for reentry services program

Fresh Start @ Your Library logo

The New Jersey State Library in Trenton received an IMLS National Leadership Grant for $628,774 to support reentry services in six libraries across the state. Fresh Start @ Your Library will provide assistance for citizens returning to their local communities upon completion of their prison terms. The two-year program, offered in partnership with the New Jersey State Parole Board and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, will launch in January. The library is also working to develop a national model of library reentry service, as well as a toolkit of best practices for libraries across the country....

New Jersey State Library, Dec. 10
Latest Library Links

Sanford Berman wins 2019 Tom Oye Award

Sanford Berman (center) holds his Tom Oye Award plaque. With him are Caitlin Ellingen Friedemann, who presented the award during the December 3 Edina City Council meeting, and Mayor Jim Hovland

Activist librarian Sanford Berman is one of two recipients of the 2019 Tom Oye Award. Every year, the Edina (Minn.) Human Rights and Relations Commission gives out the award to honor residents’ socially minded pursuits. At the December 3 Edina City Council meeting, Sanford Berman was honored for his work in recognizing the importance of language in improving the condition of marginalized people. For many years, Berman has looked for words that have unfair or inaccurate influences in library cataloging. “I gratefully accept this as a form of encouragement to continue agitating,” Berman said as he accepted the honor....

Eden Prairie (Minn.) Sun Current, Dec. 11

Fewer students are going to college

Decline in college enrollment

Elissa Nadworny writes: “This fall, there were nearly 250,000 fewer students enrolled in college than a year ago, according to new numbers out from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which tracks college enrollment. And this year isn’t the first time this has happened. Over the last eight years, college enrollment nationwide has fallen about 11%. Every sector—public state schools, community colleges, for-profits, and private, liberal arts schools—has felt the decline, though it has been especially painful for small private colleges. A strong economy and soaring college costs have made it difficult for colleges to persuade students to enroll.”...

NPR: Morning Edition, Dec. 16
Dewey Decibel podcast

Preparing social studies students to think critically

Discovery Day proclamation, New York Times, July 22, 1892

Sarah Gonser writes: “Social studies should be meaningful—a means for preparing students for the modern world, writes Paul Franz for EdSurge. Yet much of our curricula emphasizes content knowledge over such critical thinking skills as understanding the context in which primary sources were created and determining their credibility. Sam Wineburg describes how an AP history student analyzes an 1892 New York Times article about the creation of Discovery Day, later renamed Columbus Day. The student criticizes the article for celebrating Columbus as a hero, while historians see it as an insight into immigration politics of the 1890s.”...

Edutopia, Dec. 13; EdSurge, Oct. 29; New York Times, July 22, 1892

The science behind the Blaeu World Map

Ransom Center Fellow Emily Farek examines a paint sample to determine its composition using a polarized light microscope

Randi Ragsdale writes: “A one-of-a-kind 17th-century map housed at the Ransom Center for decades, currently too fragile to display, is now the subject of an intensive research and conservation project that will utilize scientific analysis to reveal the hidden story behind the map’s production and significance. Created by Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu in 1648, the 10-by-7-foot map is commonly known as the Blaeu World Map. This grand map is composed of 21 hand-printed engraved images that show the known geography of the Earth at that time, along with images of the zodiac constellations and diagrams of the solar system.”...

Ransom Center Magazine, Dec. 11

Little free libraries for dogs

Andrew Taylor’s Stick Library

It’s easy to make dogs happy. But do you know what the majority of dogs probably love the most? Sticks! No matter how small or large, canines just can’t stroll past a good piece of wood without grabbing it. A 59-year-old dog owner named Andrew Taylor of Kaiapoi, New Zealand, decided to create a “stick library” and place it in the park so all local dogs could borrow a stick to play with. He engraved the box with “Stick Library,” encouraging people to return them once their dog is done playing. Local dog owners loved the idea....

Bored Panda, Dec. 16

The best ransomware protection for 2019

Ransomware protection

Neil J. Rubenking writes: “Malware coders and antivirus designers are locked in battle. The bad guys constantly seek to come up with techniques that will let their Trojans, bots, coin miners, and such get past the detection techniques used in antivirus tools. And the good guys constantly watch for those new techniques, updating their products to nullify them. In that gap between a new malware style and its counter, you may be hit by what’s called a zero-day attack, something too new for your antivirus protection. That’s why it can make sense to add a layer of ransomware-specific protection as a helper for your antivirus.”...

PC Magazine, Dec. 3, 10

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