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Appropriations Committee Voted To Approve Funding for Libraries

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The full House Appropriations Committee voted to approve FY2018 funding for libraries. By a 28-22 margin, the committee approved the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) funding bill, which proposes roughly $231 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)—including $183.6 million for Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) programs, and $27 million for the Department of Education’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program—essentially at 2017 funding levels.

In addition to saving the IMLS, the LHHS bill includes level funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. However, it funds the Department of Education (DOE) at $66 billion—a cut of $2.4 billion from 2017, which includes the elimination of some important library-related programs, including the DOE’s Striving Readers program. ALA officials said they would work to restore it.

Meanwhile, on July 18, the House Appropriations Committee approved by a 30-21 margin the FY2018 Interior and Environment Appropriations, which includes $145 million each for the NEH and the NEA, roughly equal to FY 2017 funding levels.

The key votes come after President Trump’s call  in May to eliminate IMLS and virtually all federal funding for libraries, as well as a host of other vital programs and agencies, including the NEH and the NEA. And, it comes after Congress, earlier in May, passed a belated 2017 budget that actually upped the IMLS, NEH, and NEA budgets.

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Microsoft Research Developing Classroom Technology To Assess Children’s Reading Ability

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Microsoft Research is developing technology which may end up in the next version Microsoft’s classroom software. In a recent publication, Microsoft Research describes an AI-driven system which could help teachers automatically assess reading performance for students, saving them time and allowing more individual attention to students who need it the most. Their research paper, “Automatic Evaluation of Children Reading Aloud on Sentences and Pseudo words,” automatically predicts the overall reading aloud ability of primary school children (6-10 years old), based on the reading of sentences and pseudo words.

 

Researchers Study Inequality & Twitter

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Johnnatan Messias at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil and a few pals began the study began by filtering the Twitter stream during the three months to September 2016. In total, they collected 341,457,982 tweets posted by 50,270,310 users.

They filtered this by time zone, geolocation, and those with a profile picture to leave them with 1.6 million users based in the U.S. They then fed the pictures through a state-of-the-art face recognition application called Face++, which reports the sex and race (black, white, or Asian) of each user. The overall makeup  of the group revealed that  53 percent were women and 47 percent men. It also revealed the race breakdown, which was 18 percent Asian, 14 percent black, and 68 percent white. Messias and co began by looking at the ratios of men and women who had the most followers on Twitter. Of the top 1 percent of Twitter users with the most followers, 57 percent were male and 43 percent female. Researchers say inequalities surfaced when the group studied the distribution of races among the most popular Twitter users. “At the highest levels of [Twitter] visibility, users perceived to be White come out on top position.”

The most privileged group turns out to be white males, who are overrepresented by 20 percent among popular Twitter users. White females are also more privileged albeit to much lesser extent, just 3 percent. The most underprivileged groups are Asian females and black females, who are underrepresented by 31 percent.

Moreover, The study reveals that there are significant biases in the way genders and races link to each other. This is an effect known as “homophily”—the tendency of people to seek out others like themselves.  White people tend to follow more white people than expected by a margin of 16 percent. Black people tend to follow more black people than expected by a very significant margin of over 200 percent. However, Asian people tend to follow fewer Asian people than expected by a margin of 10 percent.

The Wikipedia Text Adventure

 

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Created by Developer Kevan Davis

Wikipedia as a classic text adventure: A “game” Wikipedia: The Text Adventure generates a list of major landmarks, and clicking any of them takes you to a landing page with a basic location description as pulled from its Wikipedia article summary, along with a list of nearby locations marked off by cardinal directions. You’re restricted to a text box, and, appropriately, typing “help” into it brings up a list of commands you can type. (Mobile users can also tap on keywords in the summaries, which isn’t as cool, but it’s a welcome alternative.)

Wikipedia: The Text Adventure 

Australian Researchers Have Developed “Solar Paint”

 

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Imagine a house paint that not only makes a home look pleasing to the eye, but also supplies all of your home’s energy needs. Researchers in Australia have come up with a “solar paint” capable of absorbing moisture from the air and turning it into hydrogen fuel for clean energy.

Based at RMIT University in Melbourne, southern Australia, the research team has developed “solar paint”, containing a newly developed compound that acts like silica gel — that’s the stuff used in those little sachets that absorb moisture to keep things like food, medicines, and electronics in good shape.  Besides damp climates, the solar paint will also be effective in, for example, hot and dry climates near oceans, with the absorbed vapor coming from the nearby sea water as it evaporates in the heat.

The report

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Chan Zuckerberg’s Initiative For Home Down Payments For Teachers

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The $45 billion Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is putting $5 million into a fund called  Landed,  that offers to pay up to half of the 20% home down payment for educators with zero interest or monthly payments. Instead, Landed recoups its investment when the home is sold or refinanced, assuming up to 25% of the appreciation or depreciation of the home’s value.

The goal is to allow more teachers, administrators, janitors, and more to live near their jobs at Palto Alto California, Redwood City, Ravenswood City, and Sequoia Union high schools, where Silicon Valley’s tech boom has made home prices too expensive to purchase.

For Librarians In Philly, Drug Overdose Drills Is Part Of The Job

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Chera Kowalski, 33, who works with teens and adults at McPherson Square library, holds naloxone. While other libraries practice fire drills, McPherson Branch has overdose drills.

The librarians at the Needle Park location in Kensington have had to learn how to administer Narcan to some people. This location is known for being surrounded by a neighborhood rampant with drugs and addicts. Many patrons to come to the library for refuge and to have a safe haven. This library has been such a thing for many patrons in the neighborhood. In the past, the library has not had to take care of such things, but then the heroin epidemic hit.

The library started doing overdose drills for the last thirty years, and until recently, having to rely on those skills did not happen very often. There have been four overdoses in the library since the epidemic spread, and thankfully, none of them have been fatal. Some people come to this location to do their drugs for the sake of having a safe, quiet place to do what they will. In one case, a man shot up while he was in the adult reading room, and when he slid to the floor, help was there to take care of him. Much of the same can be said about the man who passed out in the bathroom while gasping for air.

There is now a monitor system in the bathroom. Adults are required to leave a library card or some other form of ID at the front desk. People are limited to bathroom time for between three and five minutes. After that time frame, a guard will knock before coming in to check on anyone that might have disappeared into the room.

 

SHAMEFUL!

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