Have you seen Gale/Cengage Learning’s encyclopedia.com lately? It’s full of vetted reference information with some funky cool new features. Check it out online and for a more detail description of the site, and it’s potential, read the latest in the Off The Shelf Column at Booklist Online.
Got a chance to beta test the new ABC-CLIO/Greenwood interface this week – Digital Collections. It’s a nice looking interface, easy to navigate with pleasant layout, colors, fonts, etc. Basic/advanced/browse searching of over 6,200 titles. They have some cool features too – cite this source ( I still need to check the citations against versions of MLA – 7th and APA – 6th), bookmarks, notes, user profile, RSS feeds, institutional branding, and an admin module. I really like the self serve MARC record download. Did a quick glance at the MARC records which look pretty good – didn’t see the blatant errors that some publishers are dolling out with their “free” MARC records. Printing and emailing available, but number of pages or total content to be printed was not consistent for each title. Although, I don’t think any eBook interface has gotten this one right yet ABC-CLIO still has several features in the works for integration in a later release which include: collection and order management tools, statistics tracking, printing upgrades, image searching, and jumping to specific pages. I asked for a “back to search results” option and a “permalink” for the persistent url. They have persistent url’s in place for titles and some chapters/articles, but you currently have to copy/paste the url from the address bar. Another cool feature is the easy click to increase/decrease font size. Those of you who are Greenwood Digital Collection customers should see the automatic switchover to the new interface on September 17th. See the press release below for more info. Continue reading
I recently attended the School Library Journal (SLJ) Summit and had the pleasure of working with Roger Rosen, of Rosen Publishing, on a panel about the future of digital reference. Roger spoke about Rosen’s Teen Health & Wellness product. I finally had a chance to look it over. WOW, this is what I call a reference experience!
- Thousands of resources for teens on topics relevant to them, and written for them – like sexuality, dating, stress, alcohol/drugs, eating disorders, and even acne
- In The News – a snippet of data from a published news story, with links to additional information in the database.
- Cast Your Vote – Polls on relevant topics, to see how other teens feel/act. After viewing the poll results, links to articles on a relevant topic are included
- HOTLINES (Get Help Now)- easy to find access to a variety of national hotlines (Suicide, AIDS, Alcohol/Drugs, Eating Disorders, etc)
- Ask Dr. Jan – a place to ask a question and get an answer from a licensed Psychologist
- Personal Story – a teen story written about a particular situation, like cyberbullying. Users may then SHARE THEIR OWN STORY by submitting it to Rosen. Don’t worry, lots of confidentiality controls are in place.
- Did You Know? – factoids on various health/wellness topics, with links to related articles
- RSS Feeds of new content from “In The News,” “Dr. Jan’s Corner,” and “Did You Know?”
- Each entry is signed, and includes the name of the MD or other medical professional who reviewed the article.
- Email, print, and cite this source options
- Links for resources, glossary, and further reading
- Date last updated for each article
Besides the amazing amount of information in the Teen Health & Wellness database, teens have the opportunity to ask questions, write/share their own feelings, and find out how other teens are dealing with situations. The RSS feeds, polls, and Q/A make this interactive. The attention to detail in citing, writing, reviewing, and updating make the information very authoritative. This should be in every household, not just school. Congrats Rosen!
Gee, reading all of this makes me want to be a teenager again…..NOT!
But, it does make me wonder why these great features aren’t in other databases. The product seems to build a community. Can our generic reference ebook collections possibly do that? I don’t see why not.�
There is not a ton of information about the KDDI R&D Laboratories Inc. “Portable Viewer System” but what has been revealed is exciting. It’s A4 and can wirelessly receive images from devices like a mobile phone. The screen can display up to 4,096 colors and refresh in 12 seconds. I’m not sure whether e-paper means it’s a derivative of eink or some other screen technology.
Strangely the device is nearly completely controlled by the handset. It doesn’t seem a very practical interface, but it is a prototype.
by Jane Litte
Have you heard of DailyLit? – it’s pretty cool. DailyLit provides small installments of books to users through an email message or RSS feed, daily. Hey, since it’s not a piece of paper, I consider this an eBook! It was built on the premise that we don’t have time to read books, but yet we still find time to read email, so they combined the two!
They have over 950 titles either for free or a small access fee. Many are classics and now, some are provided by none other than Oxford University Press!
It’s easy to set-up a free account and get started. You can determine how frequently you want the installments delivered, and even choose the time of day. For my first title, I chose Tom Peter’s 100 Ways to Succeed and Make Money. My first installment (of 100) was a simple read of 362 words – all about being neat and tidy!
But my next title will definitely be: Skinny Bitch in the Kitch: Kick-Ass Recipes for Hungry Girls Who Want to Stop Cooking Crap (and Start Looking Hot!) hmmm.
They have a blog, rating and review area, and plenty of ways for their members (over 125K) to converse. Check it out. I’m off to clean my desk
The Plastic Logic Company introduced the eNewspaper Reader “Plastic Fantastic” which will enter the market in early 2009. It’s slim, it’s sleek, and it might even be a bit sexy. For more info, take your pick from the 8 or so articles on the company’s news page. No more dirty fingers!
International Children’s Digital Library Unveils Breakthrough Enhancements
Unique Technology Significantly Improves Translation, Readability
Boston, MA (PRWEB) June 17, 2008 — The International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) Foundation (www.childrenslibrary.org), which is the world’s largest collection of children’s literature available freely on the Internet, today announced the completion and implementation of its ClearText technology which significantly enhances the translation and readability of the books available from the online library.
For easier reading of scanned books on a small screen, ClearText allows the user to simply click the desired text to display a magnified version of that text in place, or to read that page in a different language, the user just selects the desired language from a list under the page. The novel book reader technology was developed in-house at ICDL by Dr. Ben Bederson, library co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, working closely with a team from the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland.
|We are constantly working to expand the library and increase its relevance worldwide|
For the translation feature, children reading at the ICDL can select the language of their choice at the bottom of each page. As for readability, the text provided by the ClearText technology is sharper than before and will “pop out” to enlarge as needed. Text can even be read with a screen reader to support visually impaired readers. The book reader allows users to see a different version of the text in place and enables the text size to be changed or read aloud using a standard screen reader. It works by visually removing the text from the original image of the book, and then using the Web browser to display the text on top of the image of the book.
Additionally, the ClearText technology allows for users of the library to have increased options in selecting a language in which to read a book. For example, thanks to ClearText, Croatian author Andrea Petrlik’s moving book The Blue Sky is currently available in three languages. In addition to the technology improvements, a massive translation project is currently underway, being conducted by more than 1,200 online volunteer translators. Once a book is translated, there is a second review to validate the translation and ensure accuracy.
“We are constantly working to expand the library and increase its relevance worldwide,” said Executive Director of the International Children’s Digital Library, Tim Browne. “The ClearText application was developed specifically for the ICDL and makes it possible for more children from more countries to enjoy more books. We are delighted to unveil what we view as our most significant advancement to date.”
REVIEW. First published November 1, 2007 (Booklist).
Sage eReference is a small but growing reference collection. Currently, it contains more than 50 Sage titles (multivolume social-science subject encyclopedias, published since 2002), with 62 on target for year’s end. Among the currently available titles are Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment (2002), Encyclopedia of World Poverty (2006), and Encyclopedia of American Urban History (2007). The collection is designed using the same principles as other e-book interfaces, with browse and keyword search options. Users can browse by title or within 20 subjects, such as African American Studies or Health and Social Welfare. In Advanced Search, searching can be done within a title, across the entire collection to which a library subscribes, or in titles selected by the user. Advanced Search also includes Boolean options and limits to articles with sidebars, images, or tables. Searches can be limited to content types, such as articles, further reading, contributor lists, or introductions, although some content (all front and back matter) is available only in PDF format.
To meet the needs of students, who consistently say “Where am I?” while searching, Sage has designed its interface with several visual cues, including a unique top banner for each reference-book title. This banner, a montage of the book cover design, is present on every page and changes according to the title being viewed. It is visually pleasing, stylish, and useful for reminding users where they are. Each encyclopedia’s home page also includes a summary of the encyclopedia, Browse and Advanced Search tabs for searching within the encyclopedia, and links to front and back matter. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get trapped searching one reference title, since links back to the main search page are unclear.
Another distinctive aspect of Sage eReference is the Reader’s Guide, a feature found in all Sage print encyclopedias and a dynamic navigation tool online. Each guide contains about 15 key themes and offers multiple subtopics, a good way to guide users to topics they may not have thought to search.
Search results are displayed 10 items per page by relevance; the sort order can be changed to title A–Z or Z–A. Articles display with any images and sidebars and links to related entries and further readings. Each title’s index, table of contents, further readings, and see also references are hyperlinked for easy navigation; however, the text within entries is not. Basic printing and e-mailing options are available, but results cannot be stored or exported. The default MLA-style citation format can be changed to APA or Chicago style. Font and word spacing are rather large, and although this means there is less information per page, it is easier to read. There are no options for library customization.
Sage eReference titles are also available in Gale Virtual Reference Library, but those with access via GVRL will need to purchase again with Sage due to licensing and access issues. Why buy again? According to Rolf Janke, vice president and publisher of Sage, “In the future we hope to see a seamless integration of all Sage content (journals, books, reference, handbooks) in one electronic platform.” For a typical academic library with 5,000 FTE, Sage charges 125 percent of the print title, and titles are purchased to own. Access fees are waived for the first 5 years and after that are nominal but based on titles owned. (Last accessed September 6, 2007.) — Sue Polanka