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University of Michigan School of Information


Fun Size for 5/1/20: Beautiful buildings and blobs of dough

The world of information - in Fun Size!

UMSI's Fun Size digest features tiny, delicious news tidbits relating to information and library topics. Reach us at [email protected].

Once upon a time …

Children’s book lovers will rejoice in this online repository of over 6000 facsimiles of historical children’s literature from the 1800s and 1900s in the University of Florida Digital Collection, from Aaron in the Wildwood to Zig Zag unlocked this treasure trove, free to read online.

In these trying times, Taco Bell cares

Writing for Slate, Heather Schwedel has been collecting the reassuring messages flooding our inboxes from various businesses and service providers, informing us how they’re coping with COVID-19 and offering special pricing on selected essential items like makeup and denim.

New tools for journalists

Now that we know that television reporters can file stories from their living rooms, what other technological innovations will journalists adopt post-COVID-19? suggests three: automated journalism, advanced data visualization and automated fact-checking.

Librarians, second to none

Leading the ranks of “second responders” to the pandemic are America’s public libraries. Though they had to close their doors abruptly, libraries continue to serve their communities with digital communications, collections, and creativity. The Atlantic covers some of the more novel ways that libraries are responding to this novel virus.

Like other educators, school librarians had to figure out quickly how to provide services for students and teachers remotely. School Library Journal surveyed 1000 school librarians to find out how prepared they were, how they plan to cope with returned books and how this experience will affect future purchasing. 

Beautiful books and blobs of dough

While many libraries are closed to the public, Atlas Obscura has found seven libraries offering virtual visits, including imposing structures at Harvard and King’s College Cambridge. Sure, those buildings and their contents are magnificent, but our favorite is a bit of a ringer: the lovingly curated Sourdough Library. Now that’s real culture.

This just in from CNETWashington chef offers sourdough starter to local Instagram followers and has 500 takers so far. One question: How the heck did she get an apple from Italy through customs?

Digitizing DIY

If you missed World Backup Day on April 1, you may have missed this helpful NYTimes article by J.D. Biersdorfer on how to digitize, store and secure your one-of-a-kind documents and photos, like marriage licenses, birth certificates and family photos. A scanner helps, but you can also use a smartphone and an app. Best Tip: keep open beverages away from docs when scanning.

Our changing appetites

Foodies who miss going out to eat and need something to do should know the New York Public Library is still looking for help transcribing its collection of 45,000 historic restaurant menus. Enjoy a little vicarious dining and time travel while volunteering to transcribe or proofread. Frizzled beef, anyone? Or perhaps UNeeda crackers in a bowl of half-and-half.

Data science do-over

On Medium, physicist-turned-data scientist Santiago Víquez shares what he would do differently if he had to start learning machine learning and data science all over again. His advice includes free micro-courses from Kaggle, books and online courses. And if Jeopardy! isn’t challenging enough for you, he’s also starting a data science trivia game for his Twitter followers.

The way we were

This year’s census will be delayed, but with just eight questions, it doesn’t take long to answer. A graphic history chart from The Pudding presents an interactive timeline of every census question from 1790 to the present. Some questions from past polls would be considered wildly non-PC today (any idiots sharing your address?), but the site offers a fascinating look at what counted and what has been counted through the decades.

News from UMSI

Denise Anthony, a professor in the School of Public Health, will be the new director of the Health Informatics program at the University of Michigan. Dr. Anthony’s research examines the intersection of information technologies (IT) with social relationships and social institutions. She has studied how patients and providers use health IT, and how new technologies like electronic records and patient portals affect health care quality and equity. Read more.