Access to digital literacy increases potential for civic inclusion

Earlier this month, the UK government published a policy paper on “Digital Skills and Inclusion: Giving everyone access to the digital skills they need” that, in keeping with the authors’ purpose, focused on digital skill relevance to employability. Reading it from the perspective of a Stateside librarian committed to building and supporting means for transliteracy development, I see potential application to the need to educate both sides of the digital divide regarding the relevance of critical listening to critical thinking, the availability of resources to build critical listening skills, and, through access to digital audio, the tools to create listening capacity that opens channels of both understanding and empathy for civic participation to become more fully realized.

Transliteracy acknowledges that our human capacity to learn from and share informational and literary content cannot be limited to visual reading of text. Journalism has long left behind the limitation of print to transmit information through still and moving photography, spoken word broadcasts and podcasts, and interactive (social) platforms. Transliteracy describes the “ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.” The end sought through the means of transliteracy exercise, however, is to build the inclusive social and civic connections described in the UK paper on Digital Skills and Inclusion (cited above).

Attentive listening is no more a passive condition than is purposeful sight reading. We gain copious details by listening to content that escape us when seeing a text-based presentation, especially if we are either (1) a sight reader lacking fluency and thus stopped by confusion about punctuation or sentences with multiple dependent and independent clauses; or (2) an overly confident and actually lazy sight reader eager to achieve the finish line and prone to glossing past complex passages on the way to doing so.  A written passage may take several paragraphs to create, through text alone, those images and speeches and thoughts and explanations needed to present a single, momentary instant or insight. (Sequential art[ii], of course, can achieve this more efficiently). Visual performance arts, in addition to the copious acting skills of those on screen or stage, make use of scenery and costuming to impart information beyond the physical actions and words exchanged. Continue reading Access to digital literacy increases potential for civic inclusion

This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 101st birthday to Lou Costello, born Louis Francis Cristillo, March 6, 1906, in Patterson, NJ. He’s a hard guy to get a grip on; so funny yet the legend is that off screen he was quite a nasty customer. Also, despite his 5’5″ stature, Lou apparently was a gifted athlete who excelled at basketball!

Unlike Laurel and Hardy, Lou and Bud Abbott barely tolerated each other, and their relationship eventually decayed to where they never spoke off screen. Lou was a fan of Curly Howard and “borrowed” Stooges shtick for his own screen persona, and Bud, the bullying straight-man slapping around funny fat-man Lou is straight Stoogery!

Ironically, like Curly, Lou’s health was poor, and he died shortly before his 53rd birthday.

He’s pictured here with Bela in every monster-kid’s favorite comedy, A&C Meet Frankenstein.


March 7, 1923: High school lit classes are forever changes as The New Republic debuts Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”


Continue reading This week in Literature and Arts

A necessary reminder: Sci-Hub continues to grow and more and more of its users attend affluent universities

“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

Dear librarians, please don’t move away from enabling reading

Before I tell librarians what not to do, I begin with the basic (and necessary) background on the author of this article. I am not a librarian, but I have spent two decades of my career as an editor and writer working with librarians and serving their needs—as book review editor at Library Journal, as consultant to ebook vendors serving libraries, as editor of an ALA journal on econtent in libraries, as editor of a book series on information science, as instructor of ebooks courses for librarians via ALA, and as an ardent supporter of initiatives that have to do with books, reading, learning, and libraries, particularly those that free books for reading beyond the confines of physical institutions.

Next, I want to let you know, dear reader, who may be a librarian, that in this post I will not be naming names of organizations or individuals, embedding links, citing sources, pointing to speeches, or digging up case studies to prove my point. My goal is only this: to express a thought that’s been on my mind for a long time—a thought based on both experience and observation; a thought that, at its very core, celebrates you and your potential. Here goes that thought: Continue reading Dear librarians, please don’t move away from enabling reading

A librarian’s response to “Dear librarians, please don’t move away from enabling reading”

A librarian responded to NSR Director’s Dear librarians op-ed  with such thoughtfulness, the comment itself deserves to be published as a stand-alone post. Thank you, F Goldsmith, for taking the time to offer a perspective that deepens everyone’s understanding, especially my own. And for writing it so coherently. And for caring enough to take the time to write it so coherently. May the dialog continue. And the learning.


Comment:

It’s good to see how cultural changes look to those who are close and yet not inside the circles where goal setting, strategic objectives, and tactics are discussed. I’m glad to see this eloquent view as it opens a way to broaden understanding.

No one, least of all you, is surprised to hear that reality is ever more complex than one perspective—and a well informed perspective—on its nuances can note without some acknowledgment of other perspectives. In the case of what truly appears to be librarians abandoning the savvy reader and experienced library user to bring services into the larger community, several factors should be noted:

Continue reading A librarian’s response to “Dear librarians, please don’t move away from enabling reading”

HathiTrust Digital Library, a major source of open scholarship with legal issues seemingly behind it

This week, we take a closer look at the HathiTrust Digital Library. This collection is likely the most oriented towards academic researchers, largely because it was the product of 13 universities that made up the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (renamed the Big Ten Academic Alliance last year) and the University of California.

The Trust began in 2008 as the result of the digitization of “orphan books,” which started in 2004 by the Google Books Library Project and now consists of a partnership of 60 research libraries located in Canada, Europe and the U.S. (See www.hathitrust.org/community). The University of Michigan currently provides the infrastructure on which the digital content resides. The collection includes 15 million volumes, of which about half are books. Of those 7.5 million books, 5.8 million are in the public domain. Continue reading HathiTrust Digital Library, a major source of open scholarship with legal issues seemingly behind it

Book of the Week: My Guardian Angel (Hsiao-Yen Chi)

In an effort to draw attention to quality self-published literature and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews published on BIR’s site each week. Books highlighted include a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction. This week’s pick:

My Guardian Angel

About Author

Hsiao-Yen ChiHsiao-Yen is an author, illustrator and graphic designer living in California with her husband and two daughters. She was born in Hong-Kong and grew up in Taiwan. She started doodling at a very young age and early on developed a great interest in drawing and painting. Yen has both BFA and MFA degrees in illustration from Academy of Art University in San Francisco . She has been publishing children’s books since 2010. She now works for Volare studio/Volotot as a graphic illustrator of children’s products.


About BlueInk Review

BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. It offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Reviews are penned largely by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine.

University Press Scholarship Online continues to grow, Princeton and University of Illinois now on board as partner presses

Oxford University Press (OUP) has just announced the addition of two new partner presses to its growing University Press Scholarship Online (UPSO) platform: University of Illinois Press and Princeton University Press. 

The University of Illinois Press will go live on UPSO in April 2017. Illinois Scholarship Online site will launch with 350 titles across a range of subject areas including sociology, music, history, society and culture, film television & radio, and literature.

Princeton University Press will be joining UPSO in October 2017.  The Princeton Scholarship Online site will go live with over 400 titles across the humanities and sciences with strengths in Biology, Classics, Economics, History, Literature, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, and Sociology.

Comprising over 23,000 titles in 31 subject areas, UPSO is available to university libraries around the world. Participating presses include, among many others, OUP, British Academy, Chicago University, Cornell, Fordham, MIT, NYU, Stanford, and Yale.

The Freedom to Read–and Listen

Our culture seems to grow increasingly attentive to monitoring youthful family members’ personal lives—baby monitors set to eavesdrop on the napping 4-year-old who has no incipient medical issues to warrant vigilance; scheduling every free chunk of time with organized activities to eliminate those precious moments of freedom and independent pursuits; parental insistence in maintaining control over teens’ school assignments. Library ethics acknowledge parental rights to monitor their own children’s access to information; parents who choose to exercise that right should be informed about the diminishing effects this has on human development as children (hopefully) mature into their own individuals.

We do have the freedom regardless of  age to expose ourselves to information and literary experiences. We do not–and should not–have to accept everything we read, hear, or may be assigned to consider. We all do, however, have the right to give our own permission to what we ourselves care to consider through reading and through listening. It is through that exposure that we learn for ourselves what to accept, or reject, in the way of ideas. Continue reading The Freedom to Read–and Listen

This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 85th birthday to Johnny Cash, born into a farming family in Kingsland, Arkansas, February 26, 1932.

Before finding success, Cash held a variety of mundane jobs including a stint as an appliance salesman. A few years later you can picture some guy sitting in his living room with his wife’s meatloaf and mashed sitting in his stomach like an anchor watching Cash on the TV, scratching his head thinking, “Didn’t we buy the washing machine from that guy?”


Continue reading This week in Literature and Arts

A time for publishers and libraries to soar above tradition and fail (if they must)

Dear reader,

As you may have noticed, the focus of No Shelf Required has been shifting in recent weeks and months. What once was a blog covering ebook news in the publishing and library market has expanded into a mission-oriented portal with the purpose of not only keeping up with the vast ebook and econtent ecosystem but also of educating, enlightening, and inspiring book professionals of all walks of life (including writers, editors, publishers, librarians, developers, etc.) to recognize the power of the written word in digital format  to transform our world into a place where access to books and knowledge is open and free to all individuals regardless of their location, affiliation, or background.

We think that it is only a matter of time before books are open to the world online the way other mediums have been ‘open’ for years (think music on youtube, news and magazine articles, etc.). But ‘open’ and ‘freely available’ does not mean that there are no financial benefits for content producers and all others in the ecosystem. It means that knowledge flows to the user with minimal or no restriction, while rewarding those making it possible. And how could that ever be possible, you ask. To that we say: have we made honest efforts to make it possible before claiming it is not? Have we pushed ourselves in the direction of innovation and disruption enough to fail and learn from our failures?

NSR is here to draw attention to not only what is happening with ebooks today but, just as important, what is clearly on the horizon for our industry tomorrow, and what’s on the horizon looks a lot like what is already happening on the Internet every day: free consumption of content. This is not to say that we don’t recognize that there is a vast and growing industry of publishers and other companies (successfully) selling books and content to libraries and individual consumers. We do, of course. In many ways, every one of us who works with books belongs to that ecosystem. But we also recognize that a shift is taking place that will soon propel us to a new way of thinking about what ebooks can do for the book industry and the society in general. Continue reading A time for publishers and libraries to soar above tradition and fail (if they must)

SAGE Video grows with two new collections: Sociology and Criminology & Criminal Justice

SAGE Publishing has announced that it has expanded SAGE Video, its library of streaming videos across the social sciences, to include two new collections: Sociology and Criminology & Criminal Justice. Hosted on SAGE Knowledge platform and designed to enhance research, teaching, and learning at all levels, the new collections contain 115 hours+ of streaming video content each, more than 65% of which is exclusive to SAGE.

SAGE Video collections are developed in partnership with academics, societies and practitioners, including many of SAGE’s own authors and academic partners to provide cutting-edge teaching and research-oriented video.

For more information, visit the SAGE Video information page or visit the SAGE Video platform directly. Sign up for a trial of SAGE Video here. Continue reading SAGE Video grows with two new collections: Sociology and Criminology & Criminal Justice

More humanities and social sciences books made available for free via Knowledge Unlatched

 Knowledge Unlatched

Knowledge Unlatched has announced the ‘unlatching’ of  147 front list and 196 backlist ebooks from the KU Select 2016 collection. Around 270 libraries and consortia from 21 countries pledged towards the unlatching of this collection. This brings the total to 449 ebooks available as Open Access via KU, since 2014.

The Humanities and Social Sciences titles cover 16 subject areas and can be downloaded for free as PDFs and EPUBs via KU’s official hosts’ platforms, OAPEN and HathiTrust. Continue reading More humanities and social sciences books made available for free via Knowledge Unlatched

Book of the Week: Manly Manners (Wayne James)

In an effort to draw attention to quality self-published literature and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews published on BIR’s site each week. Books highlighted include a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction. This week’s pick:

https://www.blueinkreview.com/book-reviews/manly-manners-lifestyle-modern-etiquette-for-the-young-man-of-the-21st-century/

About Author

Wayne JamesSt. Croix-born Wayne James, “The ‘Bad Boy’ of Good Manners,” is no stranger to the worlds of style, diplomacy, and courtesy. In March of 1987, while in his last semester of Georgetown University’s school of law, James presented his first collection of fashion at the Anita Shapolsky Gallery in New York’s SoHo. One week later, Bergdorf Goodman bought the exclusive rights to the collection. In May of that same year, James went on to earn his law degree. In 1999 James was elected Senator of the United States Virgin Islands and served as Senate Liaison to the White House. (Wayne James is also no stranger to the world of controversy: In June of 2016, while in Modena, Italy, researching and writing volume three of the Manly Manners treatise, he was detained by Italian authorities acting on behalf of a request from the United States of America for alleged fiscal inconsistencies during his tenure as senator.  James has denied all charges, and the matter is being resolved in a court of law.)


About BlueInk Review

BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. It offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Reviews are penned largely by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine.

If the only necessary people in the publishing process are the writer and reader, shouldn’t libraries serve both?

self-publishingThe concept of a public library as self-publishing platform for aspiring writers isn’t new and libraries across North America are steadily warming up to it, increasingly becoming the go-to places for aspiring local writers to produce, publish and share their work in their community and nationally. In recent years there has been an explosion of self-publishing platforms available to writers all over the Internet and several are used in libraries in the United States and Canada. The three that stand out include Biblioboard, Pressbooks, and Self-E (by Library Journal).

Stratford Public Library (SPL), Ontario, Canada, provides access to all three of these resources for its card holders who may use them through the library’s website. Clearly, the library is trying to position itself as the place where local residents don’t just get free books but also create them from scratch for free.

Just underneath the “Self Publishing Resources” heading on SPL’s website, one notices this quote by Guy Kawaski: “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader.” Public libraries such as SPL are certainly making the necessary steps to stand as examples of institutions that serve the needs of their patrons in an age that transcends traditional publishing channels and recognize that emerging digital technologies are democratizing the written word like we’ve never seen before. They are making it possible for writers in their community who would normally not be able to get exposure to share their writing and possibly realize their greatest dreams and ambitions. Continue reading If the only necessary people in the publishing process are the writer and reader, shouldn’t libraries serve both?

The Best of NSR: Reading by Ear [Why audiobook listening expands, rather than derails, our access to literature]

The Best of NSRThis opinion piece introduced a series of articles [by librarian Francisca Goldsmith], discussing audiobooks as a medium through which contemporary readers are invited to explore literary culture, performance arts, and multimodal literacy capacity building. In Reading by Ear Francisca addresses why audiobook listening expands, rather than derails, our access to literature. Read full article here. See also the follow-up to this article, Just Listen, in which Francisca takes on the issue of prescribing audiobooks as a ‘print reading’ support versus listening to audiobooks as a way to build information and aesthetic experiences and critical thinking about auditory experiences in their own right.


If you are a book, library or information professional interested in contributing to NSR, please contact the Editorial Director at mirelaroncevic@gmail.com. Please include a writing sample and a brief description of the topic you wish to explore. For more on NSR’s vision, visit our About and Mission pages. To browse our opinion pieces for inspiration, visit our Ideas page.

11 key qualities of a K-12 digital resource for the classroom

child-1183465Through the process of identifying quality materials, AAP (American Association of Publishers)—representing nearly 400 member organizations that include major commercial, digital learning, education and professional publishers as well as independents, non-profits, university presses and scholarly societies—has recently identified the 11 “essential components” to help educators recognize which products are right for their classroom. These include (and are listed in this slide):

Continue reading 11 key qualities of a K-12 digital resource for the classroom

This week in Literature and Arts

Happy birthday to Lee Marvin, born February 19, 1924, in New York City. He was named Lee after Robert E. Lee, a distant cousin (shockeroo, eh!).

After getting expelled from a handful of schools, Marvin enlisted in the marines in WWII and was twice wounded fighting in the Pacific. Post war he was working as a plumber’s assistant in a theater, and when one of the actors took ill, he filled in and the rest is our good fortune.

After portraying a plethora of gritty cowboys, soldiers, and crooks, Marvin, ironically, snagged his lone Oscar for a comedy (Cat Ballou).

The eyes of a killer.

Lee Marvin collage


Continue reading This week in Literature and Arts

New (but not surprising) AAP findings this week: paperback, hardcover, and audio sales grow; ebook sales decline

AAPAAP has released some new numbers this week that point to the trend we saw in previous findings: that print (paperback and hardcover) and audio sales continue to grow while ebook sales continue to decline. See full report here.

As always, when such reports are released, NSR zooms in on ebook numbers. They continue to go down (not up), as we can clearly see, but as we’ve noted previously on this issue, this may actually be a good thing. At least for those who advocate for more affordable access to books online, and especially for those whose advocate free access to books online (beyond libraries). Although disappointing, numbers like this do not confirm that people don’t want to read and access content in digital format. Instead, they confirm that they simply do not want to pay for ebooks, or at least not as much they’ve had to pay thusfar. Continue reading New (but not surprising) AAP findings this week: paperback, hardcover, and audio sales grow; ebook sales decline

Smashwords, where indie authors may price their books at ‘free,’ but ‘free’ isn’t the core mission

smashwordsThe focus of this week’s Free Content Alert column is ebook distributor Smashwords, which occupies a unique niche in the world of free ebook collections in that its focus is indie ebooks. As stated on Smashwords’ website:

Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks.  We make it fast, free and easy for any author or publisher, anywhere in the world, to publish and distribute ebooks to the major retailers  and thousands of libraries. Continue reading Smashwords, where indie authors may price their books at ‘free,’ but ‘free’ isn’t the core mission

Portal on all aspects of ebooks and digital content and for all creating, reading, publishing, managing, curating, and distributing the written word and other content in digital format, including publishers, writers, editors, content developers, distributors, educators, librarians and information science professionals. With contributions from book and library professionals and thought leaders in the United States and around the world.