Trends in Ed: New Structure for Harvard Libraries

Submitted by Laura Costello on Thu, 09/29/2011 - 5:27pm.
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Harvard’s libraries have a new organizational structure meant to foster collaboration between buildings and units. Under the new vision, Harvard’s 90-some libraries will be separated into 5 affinity groups based on service and focus. The groups are fairly amorphous to allow for differences in mission, explanations from Harvard Magazine:

"libraries focused on application of theory in practice, including those of the schools of law, business, education, and government; a group focused on physical and life sciences with shared research responsibilities, including the medical school library and the science libraries; a group formed around content areas, such as the humanities and the social sciences, including major collections such as those of Widener and Lamont;
libraries of arts and culture such as fine arts, architecture, music, theater, and film; and finally, a group of special collections libraries such as Houghton and the University Archives."


Avast Ye!

Submitted by Laura Costello on Wed, 09/28/2011 - 3:07pm.
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A new website has sprung from the primordial internet soup of e-textbook piracy. Library Pirate aims to create a community around student file sharing in an effort to circumvent what the creators see as corruption in academic publishing. Their strategy is twofold, users can “rent a pirate” by purchasing a gift card for a semester e-textbook rental. Pirates from the site will rent the textbook using the gift card, strip the DRM and return the open pdf to the student for use and sharing.



EdLab Review: Pubslush

Submitted by Laura Costello on Fri, 09/23/2011 - 3:47pm.
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Pubslush has a lot going on. It’s gearing up to be the TOMS of books, with a buy one/give one policy. It also aims to be a Kickstarter of books, with crowdsourced funding and video solicitations. It’s wide-ranging and whiffs of some intense funding without a clear business plan, but it’s clear they’re spelunking into something and it’s pretty exciting.

The Interface is snappy and the overlapping dialogue logo is very cute. I am a fan of the concept, though Unbound may be doing it more feasibly. Though there are few entries for consideration right now, they are extremely wide-reaching. This may be the harbinger of an impossibly large pool of proposals, but at the moment it seems fresh and varied.


Trends in Ed: Just Good Marketing

Submitted by Laura Costello on Wed, 09/21/2011 - 4:33pm.
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The school library world has been in a state of jubilation over the surprise Kindle library lending launch today, with many headlines touting the promise of accessibility in 11,000 school and public libraries across the country. The general sentiment seems to be a favorable reaction to a new service. In reality, Kindle has simply become amenable to the Overdrive service though Kindle users have a variety of extra steps towards accessing the same old Overdrive content. The benefits of Kindle use are slim: Whispersync, Amazon’s marginalia holder and page numbers that correspond to print, in light of the fact that Overdrive has been lending books to other devices for years.


New Archival Site at the Smithsonian

Submitted by Laura Costello on Tue, 09/20/2011 - 4:07pm.
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Just thinking about the Smithsonian archives makes me swoon a little. A peek at the historical timeline feature on their brand new website may explain why. In its 165-year stint as the repository for America’s scientific knowledge, it has amassed a veritable menagerie of resources and artifacts. Many of these are available digitally and the website also provides clear instructions for physical visits. A snappy new UI with nice nesting collections and an awesome zooming picture viewer are just icing on the cake.


EdLab Development & Research Meeting: Vialogues & Language Acquisition

Submitted by Laura Costello on Tue, 09/20/2011 - 10:50am.
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Kate and I have been working on a series of Vialogues and an mSchool hub aimed at language acquisition. We’ve been chipping away at Mandarin Chinese with a series of videos and a moodle home in its nascent stages. You can see the videos we’ve uploaded at Vialogues #Chinese. This EdLab Development & Research meeting is meant to generate ideas and feedback, it’s still an early-stage project, but we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Activity #1: Pick a Vialogue

Activity #2: Find a Youtube Video
Find a Mandarin-based YouTube video
Upload to
Add relevant questions, comments
Add hash tag #Chinese & corresponding level for example: #Beginner, #Intermediate etc. as the very last possible time-stamped comment.
Tip: Be sure your vialogue is public!

Activity #3: Please navigate to our mSchool shell, called Vialogues Language Acquisition Hub ( The hub is meant to be a home for all our language acquisition resources and Vialogues as well as an evolving FAQ for how to use them. As you can see, it’s not quite done yet! Please help us improve by answering the following questions:


EdLab Review: Instebooks

Submitted by Laura Costello on Sat, 09/17/2011 - 12:55pm.
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Instebooks is but one among a crop of mobile photo e-book publishing apps, but has a few interesting features that set it apart from the pack. Instebooks lacks the weird mobile-to-print push that characterizes sites like Shutterfly and Blurb and subs in increased hand-holding, librarian cool extras, and high social network connectivity.

Reference books! Instebooks automatically indexes all your tags and in-text references creating a wonderful appendix of your people, places, and events. It also has an atlas option so you can map it up on you travels. It’s voice-to-text feature seems cool and useful, escaping tiny keypad typing makes it easy to maintain a record on the go. Instebooks also offers 50 pre-created apps with stock photo covers that’ll work out of the box for even faster creativity.


Trends in Ed: Blacklisted in the Digital Age

Submitted by Laura Costello on Thu, 09/15/2011 - 10:18pm.
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There’s been a hullabaloo over a little piece that Publishers Weekly ran in their Genreville column. It represents a most perfect fusion between smarmy, p-publishing and old-fashioned internet outrage. The piece in question, Authors Say Agents Try to “Straighten” Gay Characters in YA, follows the tribulations of two young adult authors trying to market a non-white, non-straight, post-apocalyptic novel to major publishers who, typically, try to nudge them towards a more mainstream audience. Agents were horrified, other YA LGBT-friendly authors rebuked their sensational story, people were tweeting up a storm (#YesGayYA), yet some authors stood aside for “fear of being blacklisted.” Wait, what?

Let’s back it up a moment.


Librarian Fail?

Submitted by Laura Costello on Wed, 09/14/2011 - 4:24pm.
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With the recent news about the Authors Guild v. HathiTrust suit a lot of information has been popping up about Hathi's strategies for identifying and contacting the copyright holders of their orphan works. This blog post from the Authors Guild presents a seeming fail by Hathi's researchers to discover a literary agent through Google. The Guild's seemed a little circuitous, but they apparently identified and alerted the author about his pending orphan status. According to HathiTrust's identification workflow even an author who did not respond to phone or email contact would be considered a potential orphan rather than a candidate, but I'm honestly a little shocked that the 163 current candidates haven't been perfectly checked and rechecked by Hathi's librarians.


Research Digest: HathiTrouble

Submitted by Laura Costello on Tue, 09/13/2011 - 9:09am.
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Christenson, Heather. (2011). HathiTrust: A Research Library at Web Scale. Library Resources & Technical Services, Apr2011, 55(2), p93-102.

This article presents a description of the techniques and infrastructure of the HathiTrust, a digital repository for library collections. The platform of the HathiTrust is a library shared and controlled repository which rose up to house the bountiful digi-crop of the Google Books Project in the wake of their legal troubles. While Google books has floundered into a shadow of its former self, HathiTrust has flourished and began to problematically tackle the problem of orphan works.

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