News from the Show Floor | ALA Midwinter 2019

The Washington State Convention Center exhibit hall was a hive of activity during the American Library Association’s Midwinter conference in Seattle last month. Here are a few of the vendor announcements LJ had the opportunity to hear about in person.

Washington State Convention Center entranceThe Washington State Convention Center exhibit hall was a hive of activity during the American Library Association’s Midwinter conference in Seattle last month. Here are a few of the vendor announcements LJ had the opportunity to hear about in person.

Gale, a Cengage company, previewed Gale Engage, an upcoming community outreach and patron engagement tool. The platform enables library staff to schedule and manage social media posts for multiple accounts (including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.), and design and deploy targeted marketing campaigns to audiences segmented by custom tagging. Data dashboards are designed to give staff a holistic view of library activity—such as aggregate collection stats, program attendance, computer usage, and marketing interactions—on a single platform, making it possible to visualize trends over time and measure the return on investment for specific outreach efforts. Gale also debuted digital resources including the Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History and the Archives of Sexuality & Gender, Part III: Sex and Sexuality, Sixteenth to Twentieth Centuries.

OverDrive introduced High Demand Title Management, a collection of new tools for ebook curation, showcasing, and data analysis designed to maximize circulation. These include the option for libraries to create “Lucky Day” digital shelves to highlight popular titles with no holds list; a “shelf whisperer” feature for the Libby ereader app, which boosts turnover by reminding patrons to return ebooks if they finish reading them early; the option to create and highlight one or more curated collections, such as popular backlist titles or prior year bestsellers; and more.

The Panorama Project, an initiative to research the impact that libraries have on book and author discovery, brand development, and retail sales, announced the launch of Panorama Picks, a program that will make freely available lists of in-demand adult and young adult fiction and nonfiction titles on a quarterly basis, compiled using aggregated, anonymized national and regional library ebook data. Part of the service’s goal is to help surface titles beyond the current bestseller lists and make that information available to libraries and booksellers, ultimately gauging how library promotion of backlist titles impacts sales. The Panorama Project also introduced its Directory of Readers’ Advisory Activities, which catalogs services, programs, marketing campaigns, and other efforts that public libraries and librarians make to connect patrons with books they’ll enjoy.

The FOLIO open-source Library Services Platform (LSP) project announced its Aster release. Aster includes general user experience improvements such as keyboard shortcuts, as well as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 support; cataloging template capability and MARC editing; and improvements to searching and editing instances, holdings, and items. The new release includes Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) interoperability and support for Real Time Availability Checking (RTAC) via the FOLIO application programming interface (API), as well as purchase order management for acquisitions, and API integration with the GOBI web-based acquisition and management suite. Other new features include integration with EBSCO’s Global Open Knowledgebase (GOKb) and HoldingsIQ service, as well as Standardized Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative (SUSHI) protocol configuration and harvesting. Improvements have been made to several circulation functions, including fines and fees, manual blocks, and patron notice templates and staff slips. Aster is the first in a planned series of named releases of FOLIO, according to the announcement.

EBSCO and hosted content management system (CMS) provider Stacks Inc. announced the Stacks Academic Library Website Makeover Contest. One winner will receive a free three-year makeover of their library’s website in consultation with Stacks, a three-year subscription to the Stacks CMS platform, and three years of customer support. Entries are due by April 2. Following Midwinter, EBSCO on February 7 announced the acquisition of Stacks. Separately, EBSCO announced that its Solar Grant program is open for 2019 submissions, offering both U.S. and international libraries the opportunity to apply for funding to install a solar array at their institution. Submissions are due by April 30; recipients will be announced on June 21.

Library equipment manufacturer D-Tech introduced appIT, an app that uses RFID technology embedded in many smartphones and tablets to perform functions typically done at circulation desks or self-check stations. Patrons can use the app to perform self-checkout, access accounts, submit payments, and request renewals. Other features include marketing and messaging functions to enable libraries to communicate with patrons.

MIT Press and Silverchair announced the launch of MIT Press Direct. Built on the Silverchair Platform, MIT Press Direct offers access to all of the press’s available ebooks on a single unified platform. Multiple licensing and purchase options are available, with tiered pricing based on FTE with no ongoing maintenance fees. These include the complete collection of nearly 3,000 ebooks and 150 new titles added each year, or subject-specific collections in field such as economics, environmental science, philosophy, and “science, technology, and society.” The ebooks are digital rights management (DRM) free, allowing chapter-level access for unlimited simultaneous users. MARC and Knowledge Bases and Related Tools (KBART) formatted records are provided for each title for easy data ingestion and COUNTER usage reports.

Amazon Publishing introduced Amazon Crossing Kids, a new imprint launched with the sole focus of publishing children’s books in translation.  The imprint “aims to increase the diversity of children’s picture books in translation and encourage young readers from a range of cultural perspectives,” according to a company announcement. Amazon Crossing Kids will publish books from Italy, Germany, and Brazil in its inaugural year.

Representatives from Index Data discussed the recent launch of Project ReShare, a community-sourced library resource sharing platform. Borrowing insights from the FOLIO LSP project, ReShare’s use of an Apache 2.0 software license encourages developers and vendors to contribute proprietary software to the modular, open source platform. Project ReShare is a member of the Open Library Foundation, which owns the project’s intellectual property. The initial steering committee includes representatives from Duke University Libraries, the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA), Index Data, Ivy Plus Libraries, Knowledge Integration, the Mozilla Foundation, the National Széchényi Library (Hungary), North Carolina State University Libraries, Northwestern University Libraries, the Open Library Environment, the Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium, Inc. (PALCI), the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN), the University of Chicago Library, the University of Houston, and the University of Pennsylvania.

ProQuest launched ProQuest One Academic. As LJ previously reported, the new resource utilizes a single user interface to offer access to the full collection of journals, newspapers, magazines, and other content in the ProQuest Central database; every ebook in the Academic Complete collection; the 66,000 streaming videos included in Alexander Street’s Academic Video Online collection; and nearly five million graduate works in the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database.

Did we miss your announcement? Add it in the comments!

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Matt Enis


Matt Enis ( is Senior Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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