Kim Charlson, Barbara Mates, Bob McBrien, Caroline Geer, Crystal Lenz, Diana Sussman, Lori Bell, Heather Muller, Joe Thompson, John Mugford, Linda Gmiter, Linda Rossman, Meghan, Philadelphia, Sharon Ruda
Discussion of Scheduling
Right now there are only 18 hours of coverage. Busiest days in other services are Monday - Thursday afternoon and evening. Diana looked at stats from various VR services to determine this. With the different time zones, scheduling to cover convenient hours for everyone is a challenge.
Statistics & Usage Report (John Mugford, NM)
Statistics are not high. Most email questions were posed in the morning. Joe Thompson asked what kind of marketing had been done. Diana said each talking book center has a newsletter and everyone has been encouraged to advertise in the newsletter. Publicity has also been done in Radio Information Services. There have been national articles and announcement on lists with blind people. John Mugford wondered if Regional Libraries are keeping statistics of use of web opacs. This might help determine how many people might use InfoEyes. Diana asked that people submit this information to the InfoEyes list. John Mugford will keep a tally of this information.
Web Page Design (Heather Muller, WA)
Diana showed the proposed new web page to everyone. There was discussion about moving the statistics from the main page so that the focus is on information for users. It was suggested that the statistics be moved to their own page or to the page were meeting minutes are. There was also a discussion about setting appointments and where email requests should be sent. A decision was made to send appointment emails to the list serv. Language about a 48-hour turn around for email responses will be changed to indicate that questions will be answered during our hours of operation. Any additional comments or suggestions about the new website should be sent to Heather Muller at email@example.com by the end of the day on Monday 1/24.
Filling Leadership Roles
Current needs: Co-Coordinators/Co-Presidents (to correspond with other coordinators regarding key issues, maintain understanding of issues and progress, answer questions, provide leadership); Secretary (for meeting minutes); Training/Mentoring; Publicity coordinator (to blind listservs and other venues). It is important that voices from states other than Illinois speak up since this is a multi-state project. Official elections will be held at the next meeting. Let Diana know what positions you are interested in or if there are any other positions that you think we need or that you are interested in holding.
Big Picture Discussion
How we see InfoEyes supplementing, merging, or enabling the virtual reference marketplace in response to demands for accessible products.
Diana started the discussion with the statement that we are setting up a system of virtual reference services for the visually impaired that is separate and not quite equal to what is available to everyone else. A possible solution is to merge with existing VR providers and have reference librarians open IE rooms alongside the ones they are monitoring for their own VR services. Different people have discussed accessibility issues with OCLC and other vendors, but it sounds like no one is addressing the issue right now. To alleviate the problem, it was suggested that parent institutions, or even groups like COSLA, ALA, and PLA, approach vendors with concerns and resolutions about accessibility issues. Crystal will try to get information to COSLA, Barbara will get information to ALA groups, and Bob will get information to PLA. Everyone will talk to VR consortia and other libraries in their states to see if any are willing to staff InfoEyes alongside their VR services for a minimum of one hour a week. The libraries won't have to use QuestionPoint or answer emails if they don't want to. The result will be expanded service hours and more equal access for the visually impaired community. Send information about interested libraries to the list serv. We will wait until February to redo the desk schedule so Maryland and other interested libraries can be incorporated into the schedule.
The meeting will be on March 10 instead of March 17. It will be at the usual time. Our next meeting is February 17.
- It was asked if there is a protocol for referring questions in QuestionPoint. The answer is no.
- There was a discussion about a sunset date for the InfoEyes service. The issue is large and complex, so it was decided that it will be discussed at our next meeting. Some points that were raised are: Do we want to set a date? Do we have to set a date? We don't want to give the marketplace an eternal out, but we don't want to stop providing the service before some resolution has been reached. What is a reasonable timeframe for software enhancements to address accessibility issues? What are the consequences for vendors not making software accessible? We need to motivate patrons to be their own advocates and voice concerns about lack of accessibility in the products used by their local libraries. Is there a way to survey patrons to find out what they would do if InfoEyes didn't exist?
Things to think about for our next meeting...
Leadership roles; a sunset date for InfoEyes; talk to virtual reference consortia in your state about partnering with InfoEyes; Barbara will contact ALA groups; Bob will contact PLA; Crystal will contact COSLA.