September 5, 2015

OverDrive Working on PDF Conversion, Faster Cloud-based Platform

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OverDrive is working on a project that could ultimately enable the company to convert PDFs and other file formats into the industry-standard EPUB format for ebooks, without significant loss of formatting and functionality, CEO Steve Potash said during his “Crystal Ball” presentation, which concluded the company’s biennial Digipalooza user group conference in Cleveland, OH earlier this month.

Biodiversity Heritage Library Launches Crowdsourcing Games

BHL Beanstalk Game

The Purposeful Gaming and BHL project recently launched its first two browser-based video games, Smorball and Beanstalk. Both are designed to offer players a fun online diversion while helping the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) enable full-text searching of digitized materials. Funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which was awarded in December 2013, the project is exploring how games might be used to entice people to participate in crowdsourcing efforts at libraries and museums.

FASTR Approved by Senate Committee

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On July 29 the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) unanimously passed S. 779, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act by voice vote. The bill, which calls for public access to taxpayer-funded research, was marked up to bring it into line with the existing White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) policy memorandum and current National institutes of Health (NIH) policy, and will now move to the full Senate for consideration.

Wisdom of the Crowd | Digital Collections

IMAGINE THAT (Clockwise from l.): A historical menu from NYPL’s collections; an illustration of a sandgrouse from the Biodiversity Heritage Library’s Flickr stream; and a screen from Tiltfactor’s “Stupid Robot” tagging game

Even at large libraries that have staff dedicated to digitization projects, the additional effort needed to enable researchers to extract data from these collections—such as transcribing OCR-resistant text, or adding item-level tags to large collections of images—would be an untenable chore for a library to take on alone. So, in the past half decade, libraries have taken cues from long-running projects, using crowdsourcing as a way not only to outsource work that would be impossible for staff to attempt but also to engage volunteers.

Getting Graphic at ALA | ALA Annual 2015

Comic Book Club Handbook cover (illustration of a bird reading a comic book)

The American Library Association’s annual conference produced a crop of comics news, beginning with the Comic Book Club Handbook, a new resource produced by Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in collaboration with Comic-Con International, with the assistance of Erwin Magbanua of the San Diego Public Library and illustrated by cartoonist Rick Geary.

Sharing Policy Draws Criticism; Elsevier Responds

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On April 30 the academic publishing company Elsevier announced that it would be updating its article sharing policies. In a post on its website titled Unleashing the power of academic sharing, Elsevier’s director of access and policy Alicia Wise outlined a framework of new sharing and hosting policies, which include guidelines for sharing academic articles at every stage of their existence, from preprint to post-publication, and protocol for both non-commercial—that is, repository—and commercial hosting platforms.

DPLA, Europeana, Creative Commons Collaborate on International Rights Statements

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The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) joined forces with Europeana and Creative Commons (CC) to create a collaborative, interoperable platform for international rights statements. The International Rights Statement Working Group (Working Group), composed of representatives from the three organizations, spent the past 12 months outlining a proposal for a common framework to provide rights statements for both national and international cultural heritage objects.

Darien Library Launches Video Site, Debuts Web Series

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Connecticut’s Darien Library last week launched darienlibrary.tv, a new website designed to offer streamlined access to the library’s archive of library-created video content, including recorded author lectures, educational seminars, TechCast “how to” series on consumer technology, reader recommendation presentations, and more. Much of this content was already available online, but on a “hodgepodge” of sites, explained Assistant Director for Innovation and UX John Blyberg.

Librarian of Congress James Billington Announces Upcoming Retirement

Librarian of Congress Dr. James H. Billington. Photo by Abby Brack Lewis.

James H. Billington, who has served as the 13th Librarian of Congress since he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, announced on June 10 that he would retire effective January 1, 2016.

San Antonio Libraries’ Standoff Ends In Partnership

San Antonio Public Library and Bexar County Bibliotech Digital Library logos

The San Antonio Public Library (SAPL) and BiblioTech, the all-digital library operated by Bexar County and also located in San Antonio, have reached an agreement that will let the county reduce its payments to the city by hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, instead reinvesting that cash in digital content that will be accessible to users of both library systems. The compromise marks the resolution of a funding fight that stretches back to last year, when city officials complained that the county was not footing its fair share of the bill for library services.