The words of Macmillan Learning General Manager Susan Winslow speak for themselves: “In this digital age, there’s no reason that students with disabilities shouldn’t have the same access to learning materials as their peers.”
Winslow's comment comes as Macmillan Learning recently announced that it was backing up those words with actions, becoming the first education solutions company to have its e-books designated “Global Certified Accessible” by Benetech, a nonprofit chartered to ensure that e-books and other learning materials are accessible for learners with “reading barriers” whether blindness, low vision, dyslexia, or other physical disabilities."
The announcement is a big deal. In a blog post, Brad Turner, VP and GM for Global Education and Literacy at Benetech, called the Macmillan Learning certification "a huge milestone" toward the goal of ensuring that "all learners will have access to the educational materials they need to succeed in the classroom."
And, it didn’t come without a serious commitment. As EdSurge reports, to earn the certification, publishers must submit their e-book files to Benetech's “content architects” who then evaluate the file against a checklist of more than 100 features, including “color and contrast, proper navigation and descriptive metadata for visual assets.” And, not only do the publishers' have to work with Benetech to adjust to their production processes to earn certification, publishers also pay for “quarterly spot-checks" by Benetech to ensure that their works stay current with changing accessibility standards.
Of course, Macmillan, like many providers in the market, previously offered accessible materials and e-books at no additional cost to qualified instructors, and students. But working with Benetech to earn certification takes their commitment to a new level, ensuring that all Macmillan Learning e-books will now be “born accessible,” which includes all e-books with a 2019 copyright.
Kudos to Macmillan Learning—and here’s hoping this is an example the entire industry will follow.
On the subject of e-books and libraries, news this week from The Panorama Project, the nascent research project, funded by OverDrive, looking into how U.S. public libraries impact book discovery and retail sales. Panorama’s Readers’ Advisory Impact Committee is conducting a survey of Readers’ Advisory activities and urging librarians to participate. The Survey is open to all U.S. public libraries and public librarians, and takes only about 15 minutes to complete. The committee will be collecting responses through May 21. The survey is part of Panorama’s “ongoing effort to catalog and measure the impact of public library Readers' Advisory activities—including activities that take place onsite and online.” The committee is also “updating its recently published Directory of Readers’ Advisory Activities with new activities, additional examples and more information on relevant Readers’ Advisory resources for practitioners.”
If you're one of the many librarians going to BookExpo 2019, don't miss your chance to learn more about The Panorama Project. Panorama organizers are hosting an educational session on BookExpo's opening day (Wednesday, May 29, from 3:00 to 3:45 PM Room 1E10 at the Javits Center). Speakers will include Cliff Guren, Project Lead, Panorama Project; William Kelly, Adult Programming Manager, Cuyahoga County Public Library; and Skip Dye, VP of Library Marketing and Digital Sales and VP of Sales Operations, Penguin Random House.
In other news from OverDrive, the company this week announced a deal with Marvel Entertainment to offer "600 graphic novel and comic collection titles to public libraries and schools worldwide, including Avengers, Black Panther, Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men and more.
And more news for comics fans in South Carolina, where the University of South Carolina Libraries have received a major comics collection by lifelong collector Gary Lee Watson of Columbus, Ohio. Among the 143,000 unique comics, 20,000 magazines, 15,000 paperbacks and 5,000 pulp publications and other items: "the 1963 comic book that started it all, Marvel’s Avengers #1."
From Vox, Facebook this week announced it was banning some controversial voices. "Facebook on Thursday announced that it was banning Jones, Farrakhan, Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, and Infowars, which Jones runs, from both its platform and Instagram, which it owns. The company says the decision has been made under its policies against dangerous individuals and organizations."
From the Daily Inter Lake, in Idaho, "the Kalispell Library Board of Trustees concluded at a public meeting on Wednesday that a LGBTQ-friendly children’s book recently read aloud to a group of pre-schoolers will remain on the shelf as part of the library’s collection, despite suggestions to remove it." A local teacher had objected in a letter to paper that the book, Prince & Knight, was “totally inappropriate for an audience of preschoolers.”
Publishers Weekly reported this week about a group of white nationalists rallying inside Washington D.C.'s famed Politics & Prose bookstore. And, The Washington Post takes a broader look at the efforts of these groups, including their targeting of libraries. "Last week, several members of the American Identity Movement targeted a library in New Orleans, where several drag queen performers for years have led monthly story hours for kids. The protesters dressed up as clowns and disrupted the event before being told to leave."
From the Nevada Independent, some potential good news for school librarians in Nevada: Lawmakers are considering a bill, SB191, that would require "each public school in a school district, including a charter school, to establish and maintain a school library that meets certain standards."
Via American Libraries, ALA president Loida Garcia-Febo last month was preaching her "Libraries = Strong Communities" in Russia. "On April 23, Garcia-Febo spoke at the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg, focusing on ALA flagship projects—including advocacy, diversity, Preservation Week, and international relations—within the framework of modern libraries. The next day, she spoke at the Russian State Library in Moscow about how ALA resources help shape the future of libraries."
Also via American Libraries, the Library Systems Report 2019. "The library technology field continues to see modest growth overall, though that growth is unevenly distributed among companies."
On the copyright front, The Association of American Publishers this week threw its support behind a renewed effort to create “a small claims court” for copyright via the latest iteration of a bill known as the CASE Act. “AAP has long advocated for a modern and effective copyright system that works for all stakeholders in the creative economy, providing meaningful rights and real-world remedies for creators large and small,” reads the AAP statement.
The Authors Guild is also a major supporter of the legislation. "Federal court litigation is not affordable to authors and other creators because the cost of litigation vastly outstrips the value of most copyright claims. As a result, most creators have been left with unenforceable rights. We hope that’s about to change."
Meanwhile, public advocacy groups like Public Knowledge are renewing their objections to the idea of creating a voluntary, extra-judicial court for copyright. “We acknowledge the very real problems faced by many artists trying to enforce their copyrights online, and are hopeful that collaboration among all stakeholders can create a meaningful solution,” Meredith Rose, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge, wrote in a blog post. “However, the current CASE Act is not it.”
It's back. Over at First Monday, Michelle Wu, Associate Dean for Library Services and Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Library revisits Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) in light of the recent ruling in the ReDigi case. CDL is the controversial program in which libraries or other institiutions scan legally-acquired print books, and then lend the scans in lieu of the print version, including books that are still under copyright. "As CDL libraries seek only to circulate materials that they have legitimately acquired, respecting the own-to-loan ratio, and controlling access through DRM, there is reason to believe that the unique factors surrounding CDL are sufficient to favor a finding of fair use." Wu's paper comes after lawyer Jonathan Band recently wrote an article suggesting that libraries revisit the legal underpinnings of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), which was posted by the Association of Research Libraries.
Via Gary Price at InfoDocket, a policy change for the University of California, Berkely Libraries when it comes to its collections: "Not long ago, if researchers wanted to publish excerpts or images from the UC Berkeley Library’s collections in their books or articles, they were confronted with a patchwork of policies, a hard-to-navigate web of fees and permissions that shifted depending on which library on campus held the materials. Not anymore...a progressive new policy across all of UC Berkeley’s libraries does away with these hurdles, making it easier for scholars to use a trove of Library materials in their publications."
From Forbes, an interesting take on research in the digital age: Public Crowdsourcing Vs Researchers In Libraries: Image Searching Lessons From World War II. "Technology and instant search has helped the Internet make images more readily accessible and searchable, but the question remains whether the deluge of tourist images on social media and the ability to harness the public at large to help catalog those images are merely repeating the same mistakes we made three quarters of a century ago."
And from Wired, as the battle for net neutrality rages on, a thoughtful look at Portland, Oregon's trailblazing moves. "Portland is taking seriously the idea of a publicly overseen dark-fiber network over which private providers could compete to offer cheap, ubiquitous internet access."