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Meeting Minutes: December 16, 2004

InfoEyes Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes: December 16, 2004

Attending: Diana Sussman, Lori Bell, Bob McBrien, Bonnie Farrier, Crystal Lentz, Lori Thornton, John Mugford, Linda Rossman, Tom Peters, Mary Mohr, Michael Marlin, Meghan McDaniel, Sharon Ruda

Diana asked if anyone had looked at statistics for other VR services to see what hours are most popular and busy so that InfoEyes hours could be scheduled. Mary Mohr pointed out some statistics Bernie Sloan had compiled for the Ready for Reference service. These statistics showed Monday-Thursday as the busiest times and evenings. Linda Rossman shared some statistics from Southeastern, ASERL, a group of academic libraries. Lori Bell said that "My Web Librarian" statistics were available and had public and academic libraries. Diana said she would look at statistics and would come up with some suggestions for January. Diana suggested asking Susan McGlamery of OCLC/247 about experience with busy times, etc. She said she would check with Susan McGlamery. Tom Peters asked about times of day readers contact Reader Advisors in talking book centers. Diana said this might be useful. She will send an email to LBPH and see if any centers have times or studies on this.

Diana asked about November statistics and useage reports. John Mugford took over these duties from Tom Peters. He will discuss reporting options with Tom Peters. John took over in October/November. The total session number seems to be plateauing. In August, there were 14 sessions. September and October had 12 sessions and November had 12. Countable sessions revealed a similar pattern. Some of the questions had been answered but not closed. He has been also working on the response time as when questions had been answered. In November, the response time was a little longer than previously. It was not because questions were more difficult, but because people were not responding to the question as soon. Mary Mohr asked if the questions had been answered within 24 hours. John Mugford believed that they had. In October the response time was about 25 hours. In November, the average response time was about 77 hours or almost 3 days. In July the average response time was 27 hours. In September, it was 16 and October was 17. The year to date average response time is 26 hours. The average response time is about a day. He did not know why the December questions had not been closed because they had been sufficiently answered. John is going to work on posting these on the web.

Diana talked about a big picture discussion for the January meeting. She wants good attendance. She said we need to think about InfoEyes fits into a larger VR marketplace. She brought up some points to think about and will distribute this via email. The blind community in Maryland "Ask Us Now" a statewide service is not accessible to the blind. Also, Ohio also has Know it Now and that is not accessible either and their blind community is upset about this as well. As long as this is happening, people are going to be looking at InfoEyes as a convenient solution so they don't have to deal with accessibility. There are several options for InfoEyes future. InfoEyes could fit into a commercial virtual reference provider. Diana said one of the things is the problem of setting up separate but equal as in the 50s and like the African American situation. There is also in creating a separate service - we do not provide as many hours. What about setting this up - then reference librarians have to man ivocalize as well as other software. Diana said we need to look at these issues. There could be a possibility of other states wanting to join us as an out to provide accessible services. We could be the answer for any library questioned about why their service is not accessible. Could we manage to get that large without financial support? Diana will send out notes so that everyone can look at the discussions so that we can have another discussion. Lori Bell does not see it as a separate but equal service, equal to a Spanish speaking queue. Mary Mohr said Susan McGlamery is interested in Maryland joining InfoEyes with their statewide service. Mary thinks Susan would like InfoEyes to go broader, bigger than the regional libraries for the blind, to make the service available to patrons in the public library. With more libraries contributing the service could become bigger, but we do not currently have the staffing or manpower to do the training or management of such a large project. This will be the big discussion at the January meeting.

Alliance Library System is going to resubmit the IMLS grant for InfoEyes based on demand for accessibility. It would not start until October 2005.

Tom Peters said the American Libraries article on digital services for all would not appear until September 2005. By then, all the services will have been changed and the article will need to be rewritten.

Diana talked about tips for providing InfoEyes service. You can push websites but they cannot see you scroll. Some users will not be able to hear you. Ask the patron - type to them and ask them if they have their sound turned up or the person may be deaf. Many patrons will not have a microphone and even if they do it may be plugged in wrong. She asked that everyone type and speak at the same time and ask them if they have a microphone. If this does not prompt them to speak, ask them to type a message. Alt + T to type to type in the text box. People not accustomed to chat do not hit enter. These are easy tips to overcome. It may be difficult if you do not know the situation of the person. Keyboard commands are in the menu bar at the top of the screen. You may have to explain to keep the control key down when they are speaking. You can mute someone through the moderator menu. Follow up email - we do not collect emails in the advanced interaction. Diana suggested we ask patrons to type in their email into the text so we can do followup. We need scripts. Diana thinks we should have a password protected web page with scripts. This will resolve people not being able to use the room correctly, etc. People should submit scripts to Diana and she will put it together and a page of tips. Washington will work with Diana on putting this information on the website. If people have additional things or suggestions, they can let Diana know.

Diana asked if there were any other issues to bring up. Tom Peters said the six month report is about to come out. He said the report is his Christmas present to the group.

Mary Mohr asked about the status of the website. Lori Thornton said last month that Heather at Washington would begin revisions and once she had everything done, she will submit it for accessibility testing. She has sent it to Will Reed in Cleveland and has not heard back from him. Lori said we will wait to hear from him and then they will bring it to a monthly meeting so everyone can see it.

Mary said the regional conferences are coming up in the spring. She said she thinks InfoEyes needs to get on the program. She thinks it is a better setting than at the NLS conference because they will get more attendance. Bob McBrien is chairing the northern conference this spring and will make sure it is on the program. Diana said we could share the power point from the NLS conference. Diana and Linda did a presentation last year at the KLAS conference. She thinks it should be different people than did it last year. People need to hear support for the project outside of Illinois.

Diana said there was an article on InfoEyes written by Tom Peters with assistance from Lori Bell, Diana and Sharon Ruda in Library Hi Tech News. It won an award, "The Literati Club for Excellence." Tom thinks they will have the full text of the article on the website. Sharon said the article award will get the word out about the talking book program.

The meeting adjourned at 2:05 p.m.