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October 29, 2008

Britannica to add Primary Sources to Collection

MarketWatch has an article from yesterday talking about the addition of primary sources to Encyclopaedia Britannica. "eBooks From Project Gutenberg Including Literature, History and Philosophy Provide a New Dimension to Research." Project Gutenberg, the digitatization project started by Michael Hart in 1971, will add richness to Online Britannica allowing individuals to get a well-rounded research experience from one place. Visit Encyclopedia Britannica for more information.

Minneapolis Public LIbrary is in the Top Ten

MSN City Guide has put together a list of America's 10 Coolest Public Libraries which includes Seattle Central Public Library, Seattle, Boston Copley Public Library, Boston, and our very own Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis. Among the notable touts include the 38.5 miles of shelving, the open space that puts "the entire library is on view from nearly every vantage point, and a combination of transparent and translucent glass with Minnesota imagery like water, snow, trees and prairie grass decorate the building."

October 24, 2008

New Technology Test Assessment - Outsell

New Technology Assessment Test: Can America Wait Until 2012?
by Laurence Bloom, Affiliate Analyst - Boston, Massachusetts

Starting in 2012, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) will for the first time measure technology literacy and proficiency among K-12 students on a national level. This new test, which underscores the need for students to compete globally in technology skills, will have a positive impact on the education system and publishers.

Important Details: Since there are no nationwide standards for technology achievement, and as technology skills among students becoming increasingly important, NAEP has awarded WestEd with a $1.9 million, 18-month contract to develop the framework for the 2012 NAEP Technological Literacy Assessment that defines and measures students' knowledge and skills in understanding important technological tools.

WestEd plans to collaborate with multiple groups, including but not limited to policy makers, education technology experts and groups, teachers, and employers to advise WestEd on the content and design of the assessment framework. Ultimately, NAEP's governing board will review and approve WestEd's framework sometime late next year and decide which grade level will be tested in 2012.

Implications: While the framework is slated to be approved by late next year, one has to wonder why it would take a further three years to actually implement the test to students. By all accounts, politicians and business leaders continue to echo concerns about the ability of the US educational system to teach appropriate technology skills in preparation for a competitive tech-centric global marketplace. Since NCLB (No Child Left Behind) has included language, developed by the Department of Education and ITSE, the International Society for Technology in Education, that requires students to be able to demonstrate technological literacy by the end of the eighth grade, it is still a bit curious why it has taken so long to implement national definitions and testing standards on technology literacy. In June 2007, ISTE released a revised edition of the National Education Technology Standards for Students (NETS) which contains specific proficiencies necessary for a student to be considered technologically literate. ISTE will no doubt be an important and influential contributor to WestEd's assessment exam framework.

Given these new national standards and a call for national testing, the new assessment exam framework will provide publishers with a new avenue for building revenue growth from districts and schools. The opportunity will likely become akin to the demand and spending for science assessment tests by the education community over the last few years. On the flip side, these new exams call into question the continued concerns that there are too many tests for students to take and that K-12 education experience is simply becoming one long series of tests.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out and whether the newly elected President will have a different stance on additional testing. Senator Obama has indicated that he would like to improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college, while also focusing on science and technology readiness. Senator McCain has more generally characterized the status of preparing children as "deplorable" compared to other industrialized nations. (see Insights 24 July 2008, K-12 Education Agendas of Presidential Candidates Present Different Implications for Suppliers).

Given his opinion that American students are unprepared for the future compared to other countries, it is plausible to infer that Senator McCain would also be in favor of more rigorous technology teaching and testing in schools. All this said, while it's a long way from completion, publishers should continue to monitor the developments of the technology assessment framework, as it will certainly have an impact on future product development activities and revenue generating opportunities.

October 22, 2008

10 Ways to Help You Drive Usage

From Gale:
Gale offers ten ideas that we can implement together to ensure that your database and eBook usage shoots through the roof. These suggestions illustrate initiatives Gale is taking to help you double usage of your Gale databases in the coming months, bringing more value to your library.

By focusing on the needs of your patrons and bringing more power to users, Gale helps you increase the value of each resource you receive from them.

Please peruse the PowerPoint and let Gale know what you think. Gale is also very interested in hearing about the best practices you have already used in your library to drive usage. Check out Rule #9 about ways to download audio!

Here's the direct link: Download rules_that_drive_usage.pdf

October 19, 2008

Library patronage is up!

From Medill Reports, Chicago: Crumbling economy drives library traffic.

According to this report, Chicago area branch libraries are planning for bigger, better facilities even with a struggling economy: "Chicago libraries have seen a 28 percent boost in circulation this year as consumers look for ways to save a buck."

Read the full article HERE.

Open Access Champion Brewster Kahle on the Future of Libraries and Panel Discussion on Library 2.0

Live webcast from University of Michigan:

Wed, Oct 22, 3:00 - 5:30 (EST)

Live Webcast - http://si.umich.edu/jsb
Submit your questions via e-mail.

A leading proponent of open access to all knowledge will consider the consequences of the connsolidation of information into the hands of a few private organizations when he delivers the keynote lecture at the fourth John Seely Brown Symposium on Technology and Society, sponsored by U-M's School of Information.

Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive and director of the Open Content Alliance (OCA), has been a critic of proprietary services like the massive Google Books project, which does not make the books it scans available to other search services. The project recently scanned its
one-millionth volume from the University of Michigan libraries.

Following Kahle's talk, a panel of experts will comment on Kahle's ideas and discuss the possibilities of "Library 2.0" -- the next generation of libraries, which will capitalize on all that the digital age has to offer to benefit patrons, including social networking, 24-hour services,
and user-created content.

The event is free and open to the public and will be followed by a public reception.

Please visit http://si.umich.edu/jsb to learn more about the event or to view the Webcast. During Brewster Kahle's keynote talk and the Q&A session that will follow it, submit your questions online to jsbsymposium@umich.edu.

October 13, 2008

September Reference Notes

The September issue of MINITEX Reference Notes is up on the web and ready for viewing!  This month’s issue includes information on MILI and ELM: Working Together to Enhance the Research Process, Latino Heritage Month, On the Road with MINITEX; New Resources, WebJunction Minnesota – mn.webjunction.org, Amazon.com’s Kindle, Hot Off the Press, My Health Minnesota -> Go Local Celebrates Birthday, Moved & Improved!, 2008-09 Teleconference Season, and more!  
To link to the current or past issues go to http://www.minitex.umn.edu/publications/refnotes/Default.aspx .
Don’t miss out on this timely information!

Texting a librarian just got a little bit easier

As reported in Wallstreet Journal's Market Watch, there is a new mobile reference software from vendor Mosio, Text a Librarian (textalibrarian.com) that looks promising. According to the Market Watch article, for $99/month plus set up fees, Text a Librarian is able to provide a library/branch with their own secure, live mobile Q&A SMS line that "works across all major carriers, mobile phones and devices, and works seamlessly with existing email and IM systems."

From the Text a Librarian website, it claims to be easy to set up and easy to use allowing libraries to be up and running with the service the same day the sign up. Checking out their demo and how-it-works page it doesn't look too difficult to encorporate it into an existing email or IM service. Plus Q&A pieces are retained in a web-based format that you can share with your patrons as an FAQ resource.

With more and more people using text messaging as an everyday way of communicating this is definitely an option libraries should consider. Another access point for you patrons!

October 9, 2008

Technology Tips

I am sure many of you have seen this blog post already, but just in case you haven’t check out David Pogue’s entry “Tech Tips for the Basic Computer User.” It has some easy-to-use technology tips that everyone should be familiar with, and will save you a lot of time. I am sure you will learn at least one new thing!

October 3, 2008

WorldCat.org Links to Google Books

Thanks to new Application Programming Interfaces (API) released by Google on September 22, WorldCat.org users now have an easy, seamless way to view digitized books available in the Google Book Search collection, right on the WorldCat.org Web site. A Google Preview Button will appear in the record display when the text of a work—either excerpts for in-copyright works or full text for public domain materials—is available online. Visitors can click on the button to access the content within WorldCat.org via an embedded Google viewport.

“This is a great enhancement to the discovery process on WorldCat.org,” says Bill Carney, Content Manager, OCLC. “The Google Book Search APIs represent an important advance in accessing the content scanned on behalf of libraries participating in the Google Book Search Library Project. Working together enables us to increase the presence of these libraries and their collections on the Web.”