March 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 National Women's History Month, we bring you a number of fun newsbytes we hope will be super interesting to you and your patrons. We lead off with deep resources compliments of the National Women's History Alliance, then go to the announcement of the new Carol Shields Prize for Women's Fiction, and further on to the announcement of The 19th: the new nonprofit women's issues news site. We also cover the new White House budget that seeks to eliminate IMLS funding — again, a new pandemics resource page for libraries, the possible end of LITA, and why Digital Book World banned Macmillan employees this year. Can you guess why?

Where else can you find such an exceptional assortment of library tech news? Here's your library tech newsbytes for March.

National Women's History Alliance Resources

This year is, of course, the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving U.S. women the vote. The nonprofit National Women's History Alliance has two great sets of resources. How Women Won the Vote (PDF) offers a wealth of print and online woman suffrage resources, including themed cookbooks, clothing patterns, songs, film lists, biographies, autobiographies and books written by suffragists, and local resources for each state. If that's not enough, they also point to an excellent set of Women's History Resource Links that highlights the collective action and individual achievements of women from the 1940s to the present. So good.

The New Carol Shields Prize for Women's Fiction

LitHub reports that a new Canadian literary prize, the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, will award $150,000 (Canadian) each year starting in 2022 for a novel by a woman or nonbinary writer. The award is named after the late Canadian novelist Carol Shields. Canadian novelists Susan Swan and Janice Zawerbny established the prize, along with an anonymous corporate donor. Winners will be asked to mentor another young writer on their writing and also on winning fellowships to support themselves. The winner and their mentee will receive a residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Alberta. The new prize will have a bigger award than every literary award except the Nobel Prize.

The New White House Budget Proposal Eliminates IMLS Funding — Again

The majority of direct federal funding to U.S. libraries is provided through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which provides more than $189.3 million for libraries through the Library Services and Technology Act. The White House budget proposal for fiscal year 2021 eliminates direct federal funding for libraries and also cuts $27 million from the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program, which helps school libraries serve students in the most vulnerable communities across America. This is the fourth year in a row that IMLS funding has been proposed to be eliminated. If you'd like to speak truth to power on this, go to the ALA #FundLibraries page to urge your congressperson to keep IMLS alive.

Pandemics Resource Page and Forum Discussion

The coronavirus outbreak has been leading the news for weeks now, moving inexorably beyond China and upsetting stock markets. Library 2.0 has set up a Pandemics Resource Page with links to general resources like the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and also library-specific resources like ALA's Pandemic Preparedness information. Library 2.0 is also hosting a pandemics discussion forum where you can see what librarians are talking about and weigh in with your own views.

The End of LITA?

Jenny Levine on the Lita Blog writes of possibly winding down of the Library and Information Technology Association: "LITA's path towards sustainability has culminated in a proposal to form Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures, a new ALA division that would merge ALCTS, LITA, and LLAMA. The proposal, which is on the March ALA ballot, would come with significant efficiencies for staff and programming that make it possible to continue our activities. We anticipate that fiscal year 2020–2021 will be a transitional year: either completing the merger or phasing out LITA entirely. If all three divisions do not vote in favor of Core, we will spend the year working through an orderly wind-down that includes transferring some of LITA's key activities to other ALA units."

Noted library technologist Andromeda Yelton commented that she is "saddened but not surprised by this honest and responsible reaction to a correct analysis."

Digital Book World Bans Macmillan Employees

Here is a strong statement by Bradley Metrock, CEO of Score Publishing, about banning all Macmillan employees from attending or speaking at Digital Book World.

As part of the sold-out Digital Book World 2019 back in September, our friends at the American Library Association announced the eBooksForAll campaign, in response to Macmillan's then-proposed embargo on e-books at libraries.

That embargo has since gone into effect, as of November 1, limiting libraries of any size or type to purchasing a maximum of one copy of any new book, for eight weeks after said new book is released. …

Digital Book World [is] an essential industry conference — the gathering of the wide world of publishing. Macmillan's hostility, as confused and bizarre as it may be, toward libraries — our critical public institutions of learning, opportunity, and community — demands our response.

It is our absolute privilege to ban all Macmillan employees from attending or speaking at Digital Book World until the company's library embargo is lifted and they fully comply with the requests of the American Library Association. This ban goes into effect immediately for all of Macmillan's many imprints and subsidiaries, as well as for employees of the parent company, Holtzbrinck Publishing Group.

This ban may last for a few days, or it might last fifty years, but we yearn for a time when we hear of major publishers doing nothing with libraries other than graciously partnering with them and showing heartfelt gratitude for cultivating their revenue stream known as lifelong readers.

The 19th: The New Nonprofit Women's Issues News Site

The Washington Post reports that The 19th, A new nonprofit news site, covering the intersection of women, policy, and politics will launch this summer. It is the brainchild of Emily Ramshaw, former editor-in-chief of the nonprofit Texas Tribune, the new site is called The 19th, after the constitutional amendment that mandated that women be allowed to vote. Amanda Zamora, a former ProPublica journalist, is the publisher.

The 19th aims to level the playing field with

  • Free-to-consume and free-to-republish journalism that reimagines politics and policy coverage through a gender lens
  • Deep-dive, evidence-based reporting that exposes gender inequity and injustice and reveals surprising and original stories on the issues that most deeply affect women's lives, from health care to the economy
  • A digital platform for civil conversations and community building, and national events that bring our readers into direct contact with their elected officials
  • A newsroom that reflects the racial and socioeconomic diversity of American women and is devoted to covering all women with empathy

We hope you liked our newsbytes this month!