Penguin announced a return to library lending today, though the offerings are notably not new, not forever, and not Overdrive. Penguin fled Overdrive in February over the e-book hawker’s then-recent partnership with Amazon. This time Penguin is cautiously signing on with newbie 3M Cloud Library, which has recently moved out of beta and seems to have no plans to support Kindle lending. The Digital Reader pegs this inflexibility as a disadvantage, but Amazon's glacial partnerships and restricted devices seem poised to make Kindle the first casualty of the dedicated e-reader exodus. Penguin’s year long pilot program will begin in August at NYPL and Brooklyn Public and will test the feasibility of a 6-month e-publishing delay and 1-year renewal cycle.
Zinch has a lot going on. A social clearinghouse for scholarships, events, and school connections, the site has nearly 5 years under its belt, a print book, over 900 participating companies, a partnership with Chegg, and a shout out in a White House educational brief.
The key to Zinch’s success might be its flexibility. The site features an easily embeddable widget that’s become a go-to for sites offering scholarship essay contests. The site is a hub for students, institutions, and private scholarship providers and the data-heavy modules seem poised to appeal to these groups. The interface has a busy, lived-in feel and colleges seem to be very active on the site.
This article describes several initiatives to improve access and understanding of electronic resources. The first of these was the OpenURL project, which arose in the dawn of the e-journal age during the 1990’s. The project meant to create a standard by which content providers and library-centered knowledge bases could offer “right copy” access, directing patrons to library purchased resources. Linking to these resources is a complex endeavor with many remaining problems and three recent projects seek to improve electronic journal access, accuracy, and representation.
There have been several recent stories of mobile publications and platforms expanding (retreating?) into the browser. Today Overdrive announced “Overdrive Read” a browser-based platform based on their recent acquisition of Australian e-book publisher Booki.sh. The new interface will launch later this year after demoing at Book Expo America and ALA. Mobile magazine app Zinio has partnered with Recorded Books to offer a browser-based subscription periodical service aimed at public libraries. The service has been running strong in other english language markets for nearly a year but its recent stateside launch scored several quickie subscriptions.
In the midst of its various upheavals, the Harvard Library system has produced some good perspective on the evolving role of libraries and their changing relationship with content providers. Today the Harvard Innovation Lab released something a little more hopeful, in the form of a sweet note of librarian/developer harmony. Paul Deschner, applications developer at the Lab wrote of good old-fashioned cataloging:
The expertise which catalogers bring to the task of
comprehensive bibliographic description has proven crucial to me as a
reference resource in my work of designing software to harvest and
process bibliographic information. At the Law Library, the catalogers
are a few hallway steps away, and are as crucial to my being able to
create smart software as anyone on my development team.
The solidarity may not serve to change much of the reorganization plan, which includes cuts for technical services teams in the university, but it’s a charming testimony to the innovation and synergy of an interdisciplinary team and an appealing argument for technology in libraries and librarianship in technology.
In How Much do Core Journals Change over a Decade?, Steve Black looked at journal ranking over a 12-year period in the field of communication disorders. The ranking criteria used came from a 2001 study examining the reliability of citation rankings in the same field. This study confirmed a strong correlation between high citation rankings and patron use on a local level. Black used these rankings to define movement trends in this set of journals between 1997 and 2009.
There was a significant annual increase in the number of journal titles and the number of published papers as the decade progressed. The period also saw a 32% increase in citations per article, but Black found that the highest-ranking journals were generally static during this time. The most significant movement was seen amongst journals that began with a low ranking. The success of these dark horse publications was interestingly linked to lower than average price increases, suggesting that discovery played a roll in the evolution of these inoffensive players. The paper found that movement amongst ranked journals was insignificant enough to be managed by normal development initiatives like annual additions and cancellations.
This study examined the effect of video on student learning outcomes in online courses in the vein of several earlier studies that show a positive correlation between social interaction in online learning and retention. Most of these studies examined discussion boards and collaborative tasks and found that students that engaged with their peers in class were more likely to complete the course. The author proposed that video could play a similar role in asynchronous courses and give students the connection that would make course completion more likely.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s been making news lately, not all of it good. The educational publisher announced a move last week into bankruptcy process and reorganization to eliminate $3.1 billion in debt. They also recently announced a content partnership with Barnes & Noble to put pre-loaded, institutional Nook collections in K-12 classrooms and the release of two enhanced iBooks titles on the new platform for iPad. The focus on K-12 markets drew flak on the e-reader blog beat for its limited scope, but the prospect of annual e-textbook licensing and the stability of institutional subscriptions seems like a unifying move for HMH.
There’s been a lot of digital action on the bookstore circuit these days. The recently-announced spin off of Barnes & Noble College Bookstores to the Nook division and their investment partnership with Microsoft will undoubtedly bring change to the massive chain, though plans have not yet been divulged. Follett, the second largest chain of college bookstores, announced its own partnership with the iPad publishing platform Inkling yesterday. The two plan to distribute iPad optimized textbooks to students through Follett college sites with more attractive payment options like a 3-chapter selection of the book and purchase through financial aid bolstered student accounts. This flurry of activity represents a definite wind change on the college bookstore frontier. The stores have course data and student access on their side and a pivot, even this late in the game, may let them stand in the face of the aggressive pricing and comprehensive coverage of competitors like Amazon.
Clarity is a newly-launched website meant to serve as a line of connection between startup royalty and the aspirational. The idea is similar to Ohours, but with cooler font and a greater emphasis on multitasking phone interviews over in-person meetings. The site was founded by Dan Martell, a lean startup guru and investor/advisor to sites like Hootsuite.
Clarity’s UI is gorgeous, very bright and lush with big, clean images. Though its mission is fairly straightforward, it offers a lot of flexibility for users in time and payment plans. Advisors are given the option to receive hourly payment for their service or donate their time to the charity of their choice. Clarity takes a transaction fee for paid calls (but not the charity ones) and plans to offer a freemium model in the future.