How librarians are approaching blockchain technology.

American Library Association • March 1, 2019
ALA Graphics, National Library Week

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Blockchain reaction

Blockchain on March/April 2019 cover of American Libraries

Carrie Smith writes: “Susan Alman and Sandra Hirsh couldn’t avoid news about blockchain in 2017. But it wasn’t all about Bitcoin. ‘There were interesting applications across numerous industries that piqued our interest,’ said Hirsh, director of the San José State University School of Information. That year, Alman and Hirsh secured an IMLS grant to facilitate a national conversation on blockchain’s potential in libraries. American Libraries talked with five information professionals about what library workers need to know about blockchain, the role libraries can play in educating the public, and the ways this emerging technology could affect libraries.”...

American Libraries feature, Mar./Apr.

Exploring AI

From the President, by Loida Garcia-Febo

ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo writes: “I have recently started to hear more phrases such as, ‘I don’t have to visit a library; I just ask Alexa [or Siri or Google Assistant] and it tells me everything I need to know. I speak to it all day.’ The impact of even this early wave of artificial intelligence (AI)—including voice assistants and machine learning (ML)—is still uncertain in many fields, but it is time to include AI on our professional agenda and in our national conversation. While AI can be useful, it also raises familiar concerns about privacy, intellectual freedom, authority, access, and diversity.”...

American Libraries column, Mar./Apr.
The Crowley Company

University of California cancels Elsevier subscriptions

Elsevier logo

The University of California system is calling it quits with Elsevier, one of the biggest academic publishers in the world, after months of contract negotiations. Elsevier was unwilling to meet UC’s key goal: securing universal open access to UC research while containing the rapidly escalating costs associated with for-profit journals. Under Elsevier’s proposed terms, the publisher would have charged UC authors large publishing fees on top of the university’s multimillion-dollar subscription. The announcement that the 10-campus system would cancel its Elsevier subscriptions represents a win for open-access advocates. And it may signal to other academic libraries that pay millions of dollars in subscriptions to large journal publishers that a retreat from those costly mass subscriptions is workable....

Chronicle of Higher Education, Feb. 18, 28; Berkeley News, Feb. 28; University of California, Feb. 28

ALA Endowment increases ESG allocation

Environmental, social, governance investment factors

In recent years, environment, social, and governance (ESG) factors have become important considerations for the ALA Endowment trustees. ESG used to be called socially responsible investing. At its February meeting, the trustees made two new investments in ESG products. The first, $1 million in Nuveen ESG U.S. Small Cap ETF, replaced a Schwab fund. This fund is a subsidiary of TIAA and contains no energy or mineral extraction positions. The other investment is a $1 million private-equity investment in The Partners Group’s new Lifetime ESG Fund, which just opened February 21. In ALA’s portfolio of $44.4 million, these two items raise the total of ESG investments to 34.1%....

ALA Endowment, Feb. 26
Geico ALA

Colorado Library Consortium dropped from lawsuit

Colorado Library Consortium logo

In late February, a group calling itself Pornography Is Not Education dropped its lawsuit against the Colorado Library Consortium. The complaint, filed with Arapahoe County District Court in October 2018, was the result of a two-year campaign by the group to censor and remove a variety of educational research products from schools and libraries across Colorado. The lawsuit claimed that CLiC knowingly brokers various forms of pornography and active links to escort service websites. The suit further claimed that CLiC markets such content to schools and libraries. PINE has also dropped its lawsuit against EBSCO, which it claimed was offering these materials....

Colorado Library Consortium, Feb. 27; Intellectual Freedom Blog, Oct. 12, 2018

Iowa restores librarian requirement to education bill

Fort Madison (Iowa) Middle School

Iowa senators scaled back a plan February 27 to eliminate several state requirements for school districts. The Senate Education Committee removed a section of the bill that would strike the requirement for each school district to have a nurse and a teacher-librarian. The rest of the bill, which deals with topics including student health screenings, environmentally preferable cleaning products, and others, advanced out of committee with Republicans voting in favor....

Iowa Public Radio, Feb. 28

A digital archive is headed to the Moon

The cover of the 2019 Lunar Library

Corey S. Powell writes: “When Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft launched toward the Moon on February 22, it carried a mysterious cargo. Mission planners called it a time capsule, but hinted that that wasn’t the whole story. Now the truth is out: The little lunar probe carries a 30-million-page archive of human knowledge etched into a DVD-size metal disc. The Lunar Library, as the archive is known, constitutes a ‘civilization backup’ to help ensure that our distant descendants never lose humanity’s collective wisdom, according to Nova Spivack, cofounder of Arch Mission Foundation, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit behind the project.”...

NBC News, Feb. 22, 28; Arch Mission Foundation
Latest Library Links

Third graders as research ambassadors

Research Ambassadors program

Sam Northern writes: “In my school, third graders reign supreme. Despite their young age, I am constantly amazed by their talent, intelligence, and determination. They jump at opportunities where they can exhibit their leadership qualifications. I decided to pilot such an opportunity during open library time that I call Research Ambassadors. This special cohort makes use of third graders’ leadership and academic abilities. Research Ambassadors are schoolwide leaders who possess the knowledge and skills of a good researcher. Students support the research efforts of peers by engaging in a meaningful inquiry project of their own.”..

Knowledge Quest blog, Feb. 28

The controversial Dr. Seuss

Read Across America

Tiara Jenkins and Jessica Yarmosky write: “This week, millions of students and teachers are taking part in Read Across America, a national literacy program celebrated annually around the birthday of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. But some of Seuss’s classics have been criticized for the way they portray people of color, and the author’s personal legacy has also come into question. In light of this, the National Education Association rebranded the event in 2017, backing away from Seuss books and Seuss-themed activities. Its website now highlights works by and about people of color.”...

NPR: Code Switch, Feb. 26; Education Week, Oct. 4, 2017
Dewey Decibel podcast

Download books in Arabic

Cover of Lubnān fī ʻahd al-istiqlāl (Dār al-Aḥad, 1947), a history of Lebanon

The mastery of the Arabic language may demand a considerable amount of time, but it repays the investment as the language of not just a country but an entire region of the world with a deep textual history. Anyone interested in becoming a student of Arabic, casually or seriously, can get a start at Open Culture’s collection of Arabic lessons available free online. Advanced students might consider a visit to New York University’s Arabic Collections Online, a digital library of Arabic-language texts now boasting 10,042 volumes across 6,265 subjects, all of them also available free online....

Open Culture, Feb. 28; Nov. 29, 2017

The 50 greatest literary TV adaptations

No. 22 is Outlander

Emily Temple writes: “I don’t know about you, but many of my favorite TV shows used to be books. By now, it’s a cliché to point out how often great movies and television shows are based on literary properties, but some of them are indeed better than others. Which is why, following several heated discussions in the Literary Hub office, I have decided to rank them. Of course, I couldn’t rank them all. So here you will find 50 of the best small-screen adaptations of literary works to date—according to me, with much input and argument from the rest of the Literary Hub editors, avid readers and television consumers all.”...

Literary Hub, Feb. 27
ALA news

How to spot malicious emails

How to spot malicious emails

Eric Griffith writes: “When you get an email with a subject that says ‘bill’ or ‘email delivery failure,’ is peppered with keywords such as ‘invoice’ and ‘payment,’ or has unsolicited Microsoft Office files (or worse, an unsolicited .exe file) attached: You’ve gone from being spammed or phished to being full-on attacked. The latest findings from the always-updating Symantec Internet Security Threat Report show you exactly what to look for in a malicious mailing that could cause you harm. Symantec says that 48% of the malicious email attachments going out in 2018 were Office files of some sort.”...

PC Magazine, Feb. 28

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