Welcome to our first New Product News column, where in each and every issue we will delve into the world of library vendors and products to find the standouts that combine innovation and quality.
Have you ever watched a foreign film, and thought that would be a cool way to learn a language? Well, Mango Languages did just that. They’ve been promoting it for a while, but it’s finally available.
They’ve taken the structure and features of their learning courses and applied it to films. Best of all, it’s very adaptable to your needs. If you just want to watch a foreign film, if you are somewhat familiar with a language and just need a little help, or if you don’t understand the language at all and want to learn the language from the film, Mango Première lets you customize your movie experience.
You have the ability to watch a movie in two modes, movie and engage. In movie mode you can watch the movie in its entirety like you would any film, and if you like, you can select subtitles in English, the film’s language, or both.
Engage mode is very much like their courses. The movie is broken down into scenes and the dialog is taught part by part. There are five steps to this learning process: (1) scene introduction, (2) view scene, (3) scene follow-up, (4) scene replay and (5) scene completion.
Scene introduction provides an overview of what is going on in the scene. Key sections of the scene are highlighted and Mango uses its color mapping feature that not only helps with the translation but also teaches grammar and sentence structure. Next is a list of words you will encounter in the scene. The list of words and the color mapping are completely interactive—you get the translation, a phonetic pop-up, and audio.
Next you view the scene in “scene follow-up” where they use dialog from the film and then break it down into sections. You do not have to go section by section if you are more advanced, but can choose only the sections you did not understand. Like their courses, each section is broken down word by word and you are quizzed to see if you remember a word and can put words together. You then watch the scene again and finally you have the option to re-watch the scene or move on to the next scene.
This looks like an exciting and fun way to learn a language. There are currently sixteen films and four more to be released this year. They are available in English for Spanish speakers, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish.
In addition to the new Mango product, there are several other vendors offering products for patrons who put “learn a language” at the top of their list of 2014 New Year’s resolutions. If you’re looking for a language learning product, be sure to evaluate Gale’s Powerspeak, Pronunciator (created by a librarian), Transparent Languages, and Rocket Languages from Library Ideas. The ever formidable Rosetta Stone appears to be making a comeback in the library world with their recent purchase of Live Mocha, but based on our experience in our consortium, they are still working out the details of their offerings to libraries.
In addition to foreign films, there are a host of new entertainment products being marketed to libraries now. One of the new bright lights is hoopla, a service being offered from Midwest Tape. Best used through the app, once a user authenticates and creates an account, he or she may check out music, e-audiobooks, television shows, and films. The model is unlimited simultaneous usage. The library pays for each checkout, and there are different ways to limit the number of checkouts and put budget caps in place. They have a wide variety of new releases, and they are still working to acquire more content. I currently have four e-audiobooks checked out to listen to on some upcoming flights and road trips—ones with holds on other services, but that I could check out immediately on hoopla.
There is no platform fee for hoopla, but they do ask for a “good faith deposit,” though all of the money put on deposit goes towards content.
Entertainment products for kids can be tricky, especially when you want to encourage them to read and love books. Peek-A-Book is a cool product for children that essentially creates book “trailers” that entertain, inspiring kids to read and discover new books, while teaching them where to find the titles. They have several different models, including a kiosk or a tablet version, but they all revolve around the same principle. Books are reviewed in a fun and engaging way, so that the children watching the trailers will be drawn into the story and want to read the book right away. New book talks are added monthly, and subscribers have access to the full list of book talks.
Because people start out the New Year with thoughts of innovation and plans for new developments, we wanted to share information about the development of our own library-created e-book platform, Enki, which we created in partnership with Contra Costa County (Calif.) Library (CCCL). Named after a Sumerian deity of mischief and intelligence, we created Enki so we could have ownership of both our platform, as well as the e-books that we placed on it. The service went live in May 2013 with CCCL and San Francisco Public Library, and to date there are nearly thirty Califa members up and running on the platform.
We currently have a shared collection of nearly 20,000 items in which the libraries are participating. The publishers represented have all agreed to ownership of files rather than a lease, and include some great names such as F+W Media, Workman, Independent Publishers Group, McGraw Hill, Smashwords, and University of California Press, among others. As word gets out, each week we are approached by more publishers wishing to make their titles available on our platform, and we are incredibly proud of the collection that we have put together.
The platform works similarly to the other products out there. A patron may view the titles and read a synopsis, but in order to check out a title they need to log in and be authenticated with their library card. Once there, they may view their account, read titles online (useful for titles such as recipe books, where they may not wish to download the whole book, but just bring their tablet into the kitchen while cooking), return titles they are finished with, and place holds.
We are providing participating libraries with a series of reports which, in addition to circulation information, include the most popular titles and most popular searches (romance, fiction, and cats).
Many times librarians ask what the point of “another platform” is; it can get lost in talk of publishers and features and holds ratios. But the point of Enki is that right now patrons with new holiday gifted e-readers are checking out consortium-owned titles on a consortium-owned platform, and we think that’s pretty cool.
Califa/CCCL aren’t the only folks building an e-book platform to host owned titles, though. We took inspiration from Douglas County (Colo.) Libraries, which pioneered e-book ownership in 2012. There are several other consortia building their own platforms and other statewide groups are piloting a hybrid approach, using vendors to host owned content. So the chances are that your library will soon have a chance to experiment with one of these projects, and I’d encourage you to start to get involved, and learn about the issues surrounding e-book and platform ownership. What these groups are doing is providing something beyond “just another” e-book platform!
We’re trawling the exhibits floor at ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia to find the coolest new products to add to your wishlist, and will report next time on our new discoveries. Until then, if you have a product you’ve discovered, let us know!