Library News Round-Up at UMass Amherst

Three Federal Grants Awarded to Library

AMHERST, Mass. - The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners State Advisory Council on Libraries has approved three grants totaling $31,000 for the UMass Amherst Library through the federal Library Services and Technology Act for FY2000.

The funded projects include $8,000 for "Connecting Cultures," a project to reach out to a more diverse community and promote cross-cultural sharing through programs and services; $13,000 for "Teaching Information Literacy on the Web," a project to create online interactive tutorials to develop research and information literacy skills; and $10,000 for "Local History Microfilming" a project to preserve a portion of the Library''s Massachusetts local town history collection through preservation microfilming.

The "Connecting Cultures" project will help to promote cross-cultural sharing through a variety of library materials, programs and services, which recognize changes taking place in the University community. The programs are aimed at building successful human relationships, promoting cooperation with others from different backgrounds, and providing opportunities for counteracting stereotypes. The first of several planned programs was very successful. "Telling Our Story: Oral History in the African American Community," a discussion and performance with Carolyn Powell and Onawumi Jean Moss, was held on Feb. 15.

Future "Connecting Cultures" programs include performances by Los Pleneros de Salud on Thursday, March 30, and a talk by CNN reporter Maria Hinojosa on Monday, April 10, during National Library Week. Los Pleneros de Salud is a Puerto Rican music and dance group that performs plena music. Plena has been called "el peridico cantado," the newspaper in song, because it has served the role of transmitting information in Puerto Rican culture. Mario Hinojosa is a CNN correspondent covering urban affairs from the network''s New York bureau. Her talk, part of the Library''s observation of National Library Week, will address cultural issues and information access. Hinojosa is a former National Public Radio (NPR) correspondent. She continues to anchor the weekly NPR program, "Latino USA," which covers news and culture in the Latino community. For more information on "Connecting Cultures," contact Isabel Espinal, outreach librarian, at 545-6817 or iespinal@library.umass.edu.

The Library''s Digital Initiatives and Instruction teams, together with partners in the First Year Writing Program have begun work on "Teaching Information Literacy on the Web." They are developing a set of online information literacy instruction modules, targeted toward the needs of first year students. The project''s goal is to teach students to use the basic tools that they will need to conduct college level research, while helping them to build the even more significant information literacy skills: understanding what sort of information they need, where to get it, how to find it, what it is worth, and how to use it. For more information on this project contact Jill Ausel, instructional services librarian, at 545-6823 or ausel@library.umass.edu, or Charity Hope, research library resident, at 577-2103 or chope@library.umass.edu.

"Local History Microfilming" will help the Library preserve the documentary heritage of the Commonwealth, and take steps to prolong the life of valuable historical and cultural materials, both print and photographic. By microfilming selected materials from the Massachusetts local town history collection, the resources will be made more accessible to the public and to researchers. For more information, contact Gary Hough, head of Information Processing at 545-6856 or ghough@library.umass.edu. The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) is a federal program administered in Massachusetts by the Board of Library Commissioners, the state agency which develops, maintains and improves library services throughout the Commonwealth. LSTA funds are appropriated by Congress and the president to stimulate excellence in library service and promote access to learning and information resources for all individuals. The Institute of Museum and Library Services administers LSTA at the federal level. NOTE: Photo of Maria Hinojosa available (speaking on campus 4/10/00).

Library Provides Business Information Services

AMHERST, Mass. - Staff at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Library are carrying out a two-year project to provide business and economic development reference services statewide. The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners has awarded Five Colleges, Inc. the contract for this project, which is being implemented by the Library. The project is intended to promote libraries and librarians as key partners to assist business and economic development professionals in the Commonwealth with identifying and using timely and critical informational resources. The project''s services will consist of three main activities.

Project staff are creating and promoting Web-based searchable digital library of indexed business and economic development resources. Known as MassBedrock, the Web site debuted in January at http://www.massbedrock.org. Other components of the project include developing and conducting two types of continuing education programs: programs suitable for librarians from regional member libraries to enable them to provide enhanced business reference services for their patrons, and "train the trainer" programs for librarians to train business people to research their business information needs using the Internet and statewide licensed commercial databases, among other library resources. The project will also develop, market, and implement a speakers'' bureau to highlight libraries and librarians in Massachusetts as critical resources for the provision of business information and referrals.

Partnering with the UMass Amherst Library on the project is the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval (CIIR). For more information, contact Christine Turner, Librarian and Project Manager, Statewide Business and Economic Development Reference Services, at cturner@library.umass.edu or 577-1026.