It's pandemic time, and quite possibly, your library is closed. We've compiled some newsbytes we hope will be useful to you at home or wherever you are. Libraries will be the beneficiaries of a new $50 million grant program that is included in the new CARES Act. EveryLibrary, ALA, and Marshall Breeding have all published resources for libraries on coronavirus. Publishers Weekly has pulled together an astonishing list of mostly free online offers we hope you'll like. The FCC has waived E-Rate gift rules to encourage your Internet provider to upgrade your Internet connectivity. Booklist and Book Links content is now free until further notice. Sad to say that there is a new bill in Tennessee that threatens librarians with fines or jail time. On the plus side, we offer you 2,500 free online museum tours to while away the hours and also welcome news that Macmillan has quietly abandoned its library e-book embargo. Whew! That's a lot!
Where else can you find such a dense assortment of library tech news? Here's your library tech newsbytes for April.
The $2 Trillion CARES Act Includes $50 Million for Library Digital Inclusion Projects
American Libraries Magazine reports that libraries were included in the largest economic stimulus package in history, which passed March 27. The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) includes $50 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for digital inclusion projects and more than $30 billion in relief for schools and colleges, plus billions more for state and local governments and nonprofit organizations.
The infusion of $50 million to IMLS for digital inclusion projects could help bring immediate support to libraries that have had to pivot quickly in their services. IMLS has a new director, Crosby Kemper III, who was formerly the library director of Kansas City Library.
Special Offers, Freebies, and Discounts from Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly is maintaining a listing of special offers and discounts provided in an effort to mitigate the impact of the new coronavirus on the book publishing industry and on related communities. The list is updated daily. Here are just a few of the offers:
- MIT Press Offers Free Virtual Book Talks.
- Socialist Video Series Addresses Current Events
- Read Eurocomics for Free #StayHomeReadComics
- Free Access to Super Cool Radical Webcomics.
- DC Comics Activities for Kids at Home
The FCC Waives E-Rate Gift Rules During Coronavirus Crisis
Marguerite Reardon of CNET reports that the Federal Communications Commission has temporarily waived the gift rules in its Rural Health Care and E-Rate programs. This policy change is to help promote better access to broadband for telehealth and distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic.
With the rules waived, service providers will be able to donate equipment like Wi-Fi hotspots for students without broadband and also to offer free network capacity service upgrades to hospitals, schools, and libraries. The FCC strongly encourages service providers to offer these free services.
Booklist and Book Links Content Is Free Until Further Notice
American Libraries reports that as of March 19, all Booklist and Book Links content on www.booklistonline.com is freely available until further notice. Free online access includes more than 25 years of recommended print and audiobook reviews, features, interviews, spotlights, and classroom connections; Booklist and Book Links replica digital editions that can be read on desktop or mobile devices; advanced search functionality; and readers' advisory and collection development tools. To learn how to use Booklist Online, view this video tutorial.
Macmillan Quietly Abandons Its Library E-Book Embargo
Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly reports: "In a surprise announcement March 17, Macmillan has abandoned its controversial embargo on newly released e-books in libraries, effective this week. A Macmillan spokesperson confirmed that the removal of the embargo covers all titles, including newly released Tor titles, which were technically still under a "test" embargo on October 31, 2019. The news comes as libraries across the nation are closing down their physical locations in an attempt to slow the outbreak of COVID-19.
Carmi Parker is an integrated library system (ILS) administrator for the Whatcom County, Washington, library system who maintains a resource for libraries boycotting Macmillan. In the wake of the embargo, she said she is looking forward to ending the boycott and bringing newly released Macmillan e-books back to library readers.
EveryLibrary, ALA, and Marshall Breeding Resources for Libraries on Coronavirus
EveryLibrary has compiled a new coronavirus resource page for libraries. It features a free National Library of Medicine online course and also a great page for resource tools for libraries. It also features NewsGuard sources on inaccurate information, reviews of Reddit discussions of the pandemic, plus many more things.
Also, find the great ALA Pandemic Preparedness Resources here. The resources include an individual library policy, federal resources, state and local resources, and additional resources including some best practices for cleaning play and learn spaces in libraries.
Also, Marshall Breeding is tracking library responses (including closures) to the COVID-19 crisis on librarytechnology.org. This information will be useful in communicating the status of individual libraries and to the broader community in analyzing the general response trends. To add your library information, just follow these steps:
- Go the Library Technology site.
- Select and view the listing for your library.
- Click Update this Entry.
- Sign in and enter the text describing the library's response into the new field: Special COVID-19 Response.
- Click Save.
Once the crisis is over, the display of this information will be disabled. You will not need to go back and remove it at that time. Marshall Breeding will compile a report that will be made available to those interested.
Proposed Tennessee Bill Threatens Librarians with Fines or Jail Time
In our February Newsbytes, we reported on a Missouri banned books bill that could send librarians to prison. Sorry to say, it's looking like it may be a trend. Ilovelibraries.org reports that a bill is now pending in the Tennessee legislature that would bring widespread censorship to the state's public libraries. HB 2721/SB 2896, also known as the Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act, would establish a five-person review board for every public library in Tennessee.
These oversight groups would be separate from library boards and would have the final say over which materials and programs are acceptable for children and teens. Libraries would be banned from providing what these boards deem "age-inappropriate sexual material" to minors. Any library defying the oversight group's restrictions faces the loss of state funding, and its staff could be fined or jailed. HB 2721/SB 2896 would give small groups of individuals the power to override librarians' expertise and the library board's authority and to impose their personal views on all young people in their communities.
Some of the Most Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours Your Patrons Can Take Anywhere
According to Fast Company, Google Arts & Culture teamed up with over 2,500 museums and galleries around the world to bring anyone and everyone virtual tours and online exhibits of some of the most famous museums around the world. Google Arts & Culture's collection includes the British Museum in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim in New York City, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Musée d'Orsay, Paris, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, and hundreds more. To see more of Google Arts & Culture's collection of museums, visit the collection's website. Google Arts & Culture also has an online experience for exploring famous historic and cultural heritage sites.
We hope you find our newsbytes helpful this month!