Great post on Atlas Obscura on some of the best digitization projects—i.e., “amazing archival treasures” digitized in 2017—some unveiled for the first time this year, others expanded significantly with new content—including:
Read the full article for more information on each institution’s digitization efforts and growth in 2017 here.
Have you heard of the Freda (short for ‘Free Reader’) app? It is a free ebook reading app that allows users to read free ebooks and other content in epub format, but it can also read books in FB2, TXT and HTML formats. The app is free but ad-supported, in the form of a single banner ad from the app’s home screen, which can be removed with a $1.99 in-app purchase.
Users can use Freda to read non-DRM epubs on any Windows platform and, as of last week, the app is also available for Android devices (in beta version). Freda comes with a number of classic public domain titles displayed on the homescreen and it includes links to several online sources, including, among others, Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks and Smashwords, where users go to select free ebooks to download them into their app collection.
In addition to being able to pull books from other web sites, the app can also access books on DropBox, SkyeDrive and removable storage cards.
This is how Chris Meadows described the app in a Teleread review published last year: “the real magic of Freda comes from the reading interface, because it has a clean interface, excellent layout control, and literally the most expansive reading options screen I’ve ever seen on any e-reader application. In a new Teleread post last week, David Rothman sheds light on some new features. Read it here here.
Clearly, the app is being developed slowly, with a great deal of feedback from users, and it continues to improve its functionalities.
From Open Culture:
“The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), an ‘open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives,’ has for many years been making it easy for people to connect to nature through nature writing and illustration. In 2012, they announced the “success story” of their Flickr streams, both containing thousands of illustrations and photographs uploaded by the BHL staff and readers from their huge collections of books.
The first stream, currently at 122,281 images, has been carefully curated, and includes searchable galleries and albums divided by book title or subject…The second stream, consisting of over 2 million images, is a massive grab-bag of photos, illustrations from nature, advertisements, and imaginative renderings.”
Read the full article here.
More about BHL, as noted on its web site:
“The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections and to make that literature available for open access and responsible use as a part of a global “biodiversity commons.” The BHL consortium works with the international taxonomic community, rights holders, and other interested parties to ensure that this biodiversity heritage is made available to a global audience through open access principles. In partnership with the Internet Archive and through local digitization efforts, the BHL has digitized millions of pages of taxonomic literature, representing over 120,000 titles and over 200,000 volumes.”
From Talking New Media:
“Starting today, all Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon passengers get sponsored access to PressReader. They can choose from thousands of publications to download to their own device 48 hours before their flight… [and]… activate their access to PressReader using the Cathay Pacific app.
After that, it’s all about choice. Users can use PressReader’s award-winning app to download issues, or they can browse them online. They can read the original layouts or check out an enriched text-view optimized for mobile.”
Read the full article on Talking New Media.
Over 11 years ago, I co-wrote and edited an article for Library Journal with three librarians (during my days as Senior Book Review Editor for the magazine), whom I asked to test Wikipedia as a bona fide research tool at a time most scholars were adamantly resisting it. This article was published some five years after Wikipedia first launched, which was in 2001. In the article, I Want My Wikipedia!, a younger version of me wondered, “But like any form of government, democracy faces a unique set of problems: once given the power (to edit), will people abuse it?”
To give the article more balance, I recruited three librarians and subject specialists whom I had worked with on other LJ-related endeavors—Barry X. Miller (pop culture), Karl Helicher (current affairs), and Teresa Berry (science)—and asked each to give their verdict on the source’s authenticity. After reading their lengthy reviews, I concluded that “while there are still reasons to proceed with caution when using a resource that takes pride in limited professional management, many encouraging signs suggest that (at least for now) Wikipedia may be granted the librarian’s seal of approval.” Continue reading I [Still] Want My Wikipedia!
“In 2013, the European Commission ordered a €360,000 ($430,000) study on how piracy affects sales of music, books, movies and games in the EU. However, it never ended up showing it to the public except for one cherry-picked section. That’s possibly because the study concluded that there was no evidence that piracy affects copyrighted sales, and in the case of video games, might actually help them.
Done by Dutch organization Ecorys, the study might have been lost altogether if not for the effort of EU parliamentarian Julia Reda. She submitted a freedom of information request in July 2017, and after stalling twice, the commission finally produced it. The conclusion? “With the exception of recently released blockbusters, there is no evidence to support the idea that online copyright infringement displaces sales,” Reda wrote on her blog.”
Read the rest of the article here.
In an article for Fast Company, Steven Melendez writes:
“The digital revolution has been rocking the academic publishing applecart for years. Students bristling at the price of books—an intro biology text can cost hundreds—have been turning to alternatives like book rentals and e-texts.
Increasingly, there is a new challenge from the growing Open Textbook Revolution—and traditional bookmakers, after years of opposition and lawsuits alleging copyright infringement, are trying to get a piece of the action as their glossy hardbacks get tossed aside.
Open texts are free academic materials written by educators and professionals that are peer-reviewed and licensed to be freely downloaded…Thanks to investments by universities and private foundations, many of the free online peer-reviewed texts are on par with the big bucks’ books in terms of depth and production values—and they’re rapidly gaining traction.”
Read the full article here.
According to biodata scientist Daniel Himmelstein (University of Pennsylvania ) and his colleagues, who recently conducted a survey that investigated the impact of the web site and its repository, “Sci-Hub can instantly provide access to more than two-thirds of all scholarly articles. The self-proclaimed “first pirate website in the world to provide mass and public access to tens of millions of research papers” (as stated on its homepage) continues to grow rapidly while still facing legal issues.
Himmelstein’s study (published on July 20th on PeerJ Preprints) found that Sci-Hub’s reach is even greater for research papers protected by a paywall (instant access is provided for 85 percent of all papers published in subscription journals). In a conversation with ScienceInsider, Himmelstein said that the results of the study could mark ‘the beginning of the end” for paywalled research.
When asked if librarians would ever endorse Sci-Hub over paying for journal access, Himmelstein said: “I don’t think librarians would ever endorse it, given the legal issues of instructing someone to do something illegal. But in a way they already do. There are many libraries nowadays that can’t provide 100% access to the scholarly literature.”
When asked if there was anything publishers could do to stop new papers from being added to Sci-Hub, he said: “There are things they could do but they can really backfire terribly. The issue is, the more protective the publishers are, the more difficult they make legitimate access, and that could drive people to use Sci-Hub.”
“A research paper is a special publication written by scientists to be read by other researchers. Papers are primary sources necessary for research – for example, they contain detailed description of new results and experiments. Papers we have in our library: more than 58,000,000 and growing.”
So states the homepage of Sci-Hub, “the first pirate website in the world to provide mass and public access to tens of millions of research papers.” Just who is downloading all these pirated papers? According to this article in Science Magazine, which is almost a year old but still intriguing and highly recommended to NSR readers not familiar with the unstoppable force of Sci-Hub: EVERYONE. Continue reading A necessary reminder: Sci-Hub continues to grow and more and more of its users attend affluent universities
Bad news first: readers do not want to pay for news online. Period. But readers of all ages, including the millennials–the age group closely watched on all things e-content consumption–want their news to come from trusted source. According to a Reuters poll conducted back in April, 81 percent of the 1240 respondents said that a news brand is synonymous with trusted content but two thirds of them said they wouldn’t pay for any content if available to them online, regardless of who is behind it.
Digiday recently interviewed Reuters commercial director Jeff Perkins on the challenges of news organizations dealing with such findings. The interview may be read here; some more highlights below:
- the future of how millennials consume news will mostly be influenced by virtual reality, wearable devices, and artificial intelligence
- the reports of “the homepage” being dead or dying have been greatly exaggerated
- the millennials consume most news via social media, particularly Facebook, followed by LinkedIn and Twitter
Also recommended reading on the subject of news publishers’ survival: As e-reading moves to mobile, how will news publishers make money? [TeleRead]
‘Just learned about the results of some recent experiments in using tablets and e-reading to foster literacy in children in very different environments, including rural Ethiopian villages (from an article on TeleRead). Stories like this matter. They serve to remind content creators, publishers, technological innovators, educators, librarians, and parents that ebooks or digital content (or whatever term rings your bell) can, in fact, improve literacy — and improve it dramatically regardless of geography, economic status, or national background.
Imagine a kid in an Ethiopian village benefitting from e-reading (and having access to the same content) as a kid in the United States or any other industrialized nation. Imagine a world in which knowledge and information know no geographic restrictions.
If that’s not enough to motive the professionals among us to be less afraid of the unknown and more willing to go beyond a “safe sale” or a “safe purchase,” then we are all continuing to fail ebooks (not the other way around).
Recommended reading this week: