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February 2020 Library Tech Newsbytes

Library Tech Newsbytes

What’s new in library tech! Welcome to our monthly collection of fun and hopefully useful news items from our great twitter feed and wherever else we find them.

This month we lead off with an invitation to meet our partner Asana at the PLA Conference. We then dive into news on two important online resources for African American History Month. We swiftly pivot to the first Library 2.0 free mini-conference for 2020 called “Wholehearted Libraries.” We then make a hard right to the Missouri banned books bill that promises to send librarians to prison, then a hard left to news on record-breaking loans of digital materials last year. We then coast in on news of the Little Free Library feud and more free online Mexican cookbooks than you can shake a tortilla press at. Hope you read a little Spanish.

Where else can you find such a wild ride of library tech news? Here’s your library tech newsbytes for February.

Meet the Folks from Asana at the PLA Conference

If you’re planning to attend the PLA Conference in Nashville the end of this month, stop by and say hi to our partner Asana, the maker of some great work management software that we featured in our February 2019 newsletter.

Frederick Douglass Newspapers Are Now Online at the Library of Congress

Just in time for African American History Month, the Library of Congress has made available online newspapers edited by Frederick Douglass from 1847 to 1874. Douglass is of course the famous African American abolitionist who escaped slavery and became one of the most famous orators, authors, and journalists of the 19th century.

The Frederick Douglass Newspapers collection contains more than 565 issues of three weekly newspaper titles, which have been digitally scanned from the Library of Congress collection of original paper issues and master negative microfilm. Find the entire collection here. Douglass’ autobiography is also freely available online on here.

The ZORA Canon

Also just in time for African American History Month, The Zora Canon, named for Zora Neale Hurston, is a new list of 100 great works over the past 160 years by African American women. It includes novels, plays, anthologies, essays, and poetry collections. The works range from the historical to the personal. The ZORA editors assembled a blue-ribbon panel of authorities on African American women’s literature, asked them for their selections, and then worked with them to vet and shape the final list.

Find the ZORA Canon list in chronological order on Medium here. ZORA editors and contributors also compiled The Next Generation, a list of 10 up-and-coming African American women writers they believe are likely to make their own indelible mark.

The Free Library 2.0 “Wholehearted Libraries” Online Mini-conference

The first Library 2.0 free mini-conference for 2020 will be “Wholehearted Libraries,” which will be held online on Tuesday, March 10, from 12 to 3 p.m. Pacific time. This mini-conference will explore the human side of 21st-century information work. The event will define what soft skills are, how and when to use various soft skills, types of training that can improve soft skills, and how to share emotionally engaging stories. Register here for this free event.

Missouri Banned Books Bill That Can Send Librarians to Prison

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post reports that the Missouri House of Representatives is considering a bill called the Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act, or House Bill 2044 (PDF). If passed, the law would create parental library review boards with the power to decide whether books in public libraries are too sexually explicit for young people. Library personnel could be fined up to $500 or jailed for up to a year if they “willfully” violate any provision of the legislation. But that’s not all. Libraries could lose all of their funding if they’re found in violation.

According to the proposed legislation, the parental review advisory board would be allowed to order any material “deemed to be age-inappropriate sexual material to be removed from public access by minors at the public library.” And any such order could not be reviewed by “the governing body of the public library, the state, or any political subdivision thereof.”

Public Library E-Book and Audiobook Use Went up 20 Percent in 2019

Adam Rowe of Forbes reports that public library loans of digital materials hit record-breaking levels at public libraries around the world in 2019. This is based on a new report from digital reading platform OverDrive.

Last year, public library patrons checked out a total of 326 million e-books, audiobooks and digital magazines — an increase of 20 percent over 2018. Of that 20 percent increase, the rise in audiobook loans made up the lion’s share of growth, though the total number of audiobooks borrowed stayed well below the total number of borrowed e-books.

Here are the numbers: 211 million e-books were checked out in 2019, which accounted for a rise of 15 percent over the previous year. And 114 million audiobooks were circulated, a rise of 30 percent over 2018. The world champion for digital checkouts was the Toronto Public Library with 6.6 million digital titles loaned out.

The Little Free Library Feud

Publishers Weekly reports on a recent legal battle between the nonprofit Little Free Library and the family of its founder, the late Todd Bol. Soon after Todd Bol’s death in 2018, his brother created a for-profit business, Share with Others with the intent to make and sell boxes to be used for little libraries. They say they will donate proceeds to literacy nonprofits. On October 15 of last year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published news about the start of a trademark dispute with the nonprofit after Little Free Library filed a trademark infringement notice with Etsy, the independent e-commerce crafts website.

The Free Online Mexican Cookbook Collection

The University of Texas at San Antonio has a free online Mexican cookbook collection, which comprises more than 1,800 cookbooks from 1789 to the present. Little hint on using them. It really helps to be able to read some Spanish on this one. Find them here.

We hope you like our wild ride of newsbytes this month!

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