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Meeting Minutes:
September 2004

InfoEyes Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes
September 27, 2004

Meeting time: 11 a.m. central time


Diana Sussman welcomed everyone to the meeting and moderated the meeting. She welcomed everyone and said several decisions needed to be made at this meeting because the IMLS grant was not funded.

Lori Bell gave a brief report on the NLS Digital Planning meeting held last week. She said that in May 2005 NLS will begin betatesting downloadable digital audiobooks. NLS network libraries will be involved in training and several members of the committee were very interested in the training Tom Peters and InfoEyes librarians had done using ivocalize to train blind readers in the use of the Internet, First Search, and digital talking book players and technology. Several members of the committee liked the InfoEyes model of libraries sharing the role of technical training and support. Kim Charlson agreed on the points of this discussion.

Diana Sussman said we need to explore other funding options and asked if anyone had any ideas for funding. Lori Bell said she would look into funding and was looking at the Verizon Foundation and the Reader's Digest Foundation as suggested by Kim Charlson. Kim said she would work with Lori on funding options and suggested SBC, Southwestern Bell and other telecommunications sources. Sharon Ruda stated she would do some foundation searches. Barry Levine has also given $500 for InfoEyes also.

Diana summarized the various options for continuation as follows:

The group discussed the pros and cons of each option. The Question Point profile for email and reference management is $1,600. Barry Levine has donated $500, so $1,100 is needed for a Question Point profile. Kim Charlson said she would give $300-400. Lori Bell said that if libraries can donate to the fee, they might be able to cover extra desk hours. Sharon Ruda said with all the libraries involved that $73 would be all libraries need to contribute if the cost is divided. Texas indicated they need to check with their Regional Librarian. New Mexico indicated they would also need to check.

Librarians asked evaluator Tom Peters about the evaluation report of InfoEyes. Tom said the first draft is not quite ready for publication. He said that librarians commented on the lack of integration between iVocalize and Question Point. Librarians are concerned about the lack of accessibility of Question Point text chat. It is difficult to tell what users want. He said that the users really liked the voice over IP even if they themselves do not have a microphone to communicate.

There was a discussion of the cost of databases. Sharon Ruda asked if we needed to buy databases. Each state has access to different databases. Maybe if all libraries knew what the other ones had, questions could be referred to them. A concern was raised if databases were not used to provide part of the service, we would not be doing anything to address the issue of patrons that there is a large difference between what is available on the Internet and in databases including the accuracy of information.

Kim Charlson said she was every supportive and said InfoEyes is very important. She wants to keep the email and the ivocalize and is flexible on the QP chat. Mary Mohr said the profile and the email and administration available through QP was necessary but the text chat was not. Catherine Durivage said lots of people are watching us and keeping accessibility in front of the vendors is very important. She said it is very important to continue to work on the accessibility issues. Sharon Ruda asked, if our libraries do not work on the accessibility issues, who will? Barry Levine said that as a patron things should continue. Although the pilot has not had as much use as we would like, blind patrons have not had access to reference services and librarians and that it would take time to change this perception. He said we needed to continue to work so that this service could be mainstreamed for blind patrons. He said this trend will take awhile to reverse. Catherine said NLS is getting ready to do a huge outreach campaign and this service is important as part of the campaign. Tracey Morsek said it will be easier to advertise an ongoing service once we move beyond the pilot state.

Barry Levine asked if OCLC has worked with screen reader companies. No one was aware that OCLC was doing this. Diana said we could make a recommendation to them. Lori offered to send them information about GW Micro and screen reader companies so that they could work with them.

Before a vote was taken, Diana summarized the activities members would need to get involved in to keep the project going: publicity; scheduling; project organization including meeting facilitation, meeting minutes, the website, statistics, training, and others. If we had gotten the grant we would have had funding to pay Tom Peters to coordinate the project. Tom Peters suggested that a website committee be formed to decide how the website should look because Mid-Illinois had worked on designing it several times.

Discuss the pros and cons of each of these options. How do they affect time management, patron services, project goals? Will the option we choose be the determining factor for or against participation for some libraries?

Diana then took a vote for continuation: The vote was unanimous to keep the service going with email reference and administration using Question Point; chat reference using iVocalize; and a test group to work on the Question Point text chat. Iowa, Maine, Nevada, and Ohio did not have representatives at the meeting. Texas abstained until they can talk to their Regional Librarian.

Diana then asked who is not sure about continuing. New Mexico may not be able to continue as a full member but will able to float. Philadelphia is wavering, and Texas needs to check.

Continuing members include: Library of Congress; Illinois State Library Talking Book and Braille Service; Southern Illinois; Mid-Illinois; Perkins; Minnesota; Washington; New York; Pittsburgh. We still need to hear from Iowa, Cleveland, Maine and Nevada.

The group commended Tom Peters for all of his work and contribution to the project with evaluation and training.

Things will continue as they are now. Libraries need to notify the list by October 4 if they are continuing or not. Diana will then work on another schedule to begin October 11. Libraries may have fewer hours to cover. The next meeting is Thursday, October 21 at 1 p.m. central time.