Anne Neville knows the value of open data. Neville, director of the California Research Bureau at the California State Library, has spent the last six years directing the State Broadband Initiative at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in Washington, DC. She’s passionate about digital equity, and supporting the critical work public libraries do to make information accessible to communities.
We knew there were problems with our library website at Fitchburg State University (FSU). Users either couldn’t find what they wanted or were unaware of the site’s existence. This was particularly a problem owing to the limited number of librarians available to assist. While there was some consensus among librarians regarding these design problems, there was little agreement as to how these problems could be addressed. We decided that usability testing was needed before making changes, but we didn’t have the budget to develop an expensive usability lab with one-way mirrors, sophisticated eye-movement testing devices and the like. Despite this, with a little creativity, we were able to design a solid and reliable usability study with limited resources.
The New York Public Library in December announced a new partnership with nonprofit Benetech, and the organization’s Bookshare solution, to provide print disabled patrons with access to more than 370,000 accessible ebooks through NYPL and the Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library. Although Bookshare provides free access to its collection for all U.S. students with qualifying disabilities through an award by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, access to the collection for qualifying adults, seniors, and other non-students generally requires payment of a $25 setup fee and a $50 annual subscription fee. The partnership to provide free access to library patrons through NYPL is Bookshare’s first such partnership with a U.S. library, and Benetech officials have stated that the organization is hoping to establish similar agreements with public libraries throughout the U.S.
Moderator Lisa Bunker, Social Media Librarian for Pima County Public Library (AZ) ; Jason Griffey, founder and principal of consulting and creation firm Evenly Distributed; Jim Hahn, orientation services and environments librarian and associate professor at the University of Illinois Undergraduate Library; Jamie Hollier, co-owner and co-CEO of technology consultancy Anneal; Alex Lent, director of the Millis Public Library (MA); Thomas Padilla, digital scholarship librarian at Michigan State University Libraries; and Ken Varnum, senior program manager for discovery, delivery, and learning analytics at the University of Michigan Library, during the Library Information Technology Association’s (LITA) Top Tech Trends panel at the American Library Association’s 2016 Midwinter conference in Boston.
The Knovel Academic Challenge enables thousands of engineering students at universities around the world to hone their research skills while competing for prizes and recognition. This year, a group of four students from Drexel University, assisted by Jay Bhatt, the university’s liaison librarian for engineering, took their participation to another level, designing the engineering problem sets that were used in this fall’s 10th annual challenge.
Providing Internet access to the public has come to be an important service, but it can be quite a challenge to do so in a secure, cost-effective way. Maintaining patron privacy on a shared, public computer is one of the problems that librarians face every day. My solution was to switch to an open source (OS) platform for our patron computing.
JSTOR Labs, in partnership with Eigenfactor project co-founder Dr. Jevin West and the University of Washington’s DataLab, have launched JSTOR Sustainability, a new website powered by Eigenfactor Article Influence scores and a 1,500 term semantic index created by JSTOR. Currently in beta, the new website is the product of JSTOR and DataLab’s collaborative effort to help scholars in interdisciplinary fields understand and navigate literature outside of their core areas of expertise.
Penguin Random House today announced a new unified, companywide terms of sale (TOS) policy for ebook licenses sold to public, school, and other libraries working with approved ebook vendors in the United States and Canada. Effective January 1, 2016, all Penguin and Random House adult and children’s frontlist and backlist ebook titles will be available under the one-ebook, one-user, no loan cap perpetual licensing model that has long been employed by Random House.
On November 10, CES Unveiled New York—one of four worldwide events held in New York, Tokyo, Paris, and Las Vegas—offered a preview of the gigantic Consumer Electronics Show scheduled for January 6-9 in Las Vegas, focused on trends to watch in technology. These are the items our patrons will be researching before purchase in our libraries, getting as gifts—this year, surveys from Best Buy and digital commerce company Purch indicate that about three quarters of the buying public will purchase a tech product for the holidays—and bringing to the library for tech help, and perhaps hoping to try out on our gadget bars.
Dallas-based non-profit library cooperative Amigos Library Services announced the official debut of the Amigos eShelf Service, a new ebook platform for public, school, and academic libraries. Developed with funding from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, the service is available to both Amigos members and non-members throughout the U.S., and currently features a selection of 25,000 titles from 60 imprints of nine publishers, including Rowman and Littlefield, Crossroad Press, O’Reilly Media, and ABDO.