Diana Sussman, Sharon Ruda, Lori Bell, Mollyne Honor, Kim Charlson, Linda Rossman, Catherine Durivage, Crystal Lentz, Robin Rousu, Gloria Leonard, Melora Norman, Will Reed, and Linda Gmiter
Catherine Durivage reported that she had met with John Mugford to review statistics reporting and will now be the statistics compiler for the group. She said that it is fairly straight forward to pull the statistics information from Question Point and then download to an excel file. She reported that in May the service has answered 30 email reference questions. She has emailed the statistics report to participants; please let Catherine know if you did not receive it. She now will also begin to track live chat sessions.
Voting on Issues
Diana said the next item of business was to take a roll call vote to decide the future of the InfoEyes Serviice based on the 4 options that have been agreed upon by the member libraries. The group then discussed the vote on the following items, and Diana encouraged the group members to discuss the pros and cons of each option before the final vote was tallied.
Options to be voted on are as follows:
- Continue as is
- Reduce service to email only (no live iVocalize)
- Reduce service to email (with iVocalize service by appointment only)
- Discontinue the project
Diana said that she appreciated people's attendance at this important meeting and reiterated that there would be one vote per state. A weekly shift gets one vote. At the moment since each state is working within its staff (or partner institution) to cover one weekly shift that means one vote per state. She said if there is a tie there may need to be a revote. She also explained how the new version 4 software for iVocalize worked and showed people how they could send their vote privately through private text chat to Diana.
Discussion re: Vote:
Mollyne reported the Maryland has met with librarians and so far they want to continue as is. Mollyne said they'll explore issues separately with "Ask Us Now" service and work with vendors to make the system more accessible.
Kim Charlson from MA stated that she believes in the project wholeheartedly and has made a commitment in terms of dollars and staff time and hopes the project will continue as it is. She added that it can take quite a while to get the idea of reference service and the word out to the community of users and that just now people are really starting to hear about and use this service. She said that although we still need to advocate for accessibility, we need to provide an accessible reference option now in the current form of the InfoEyes Service.
Sharon Ruda from ILL stated that in her experience on the desk, she thinks that although some people's experience with InfoEyes as it's been developing might not have been quite as positive, in the last six months or so the project is really coalescing. She said that just recently one of the people on her advisory board was very pleased with the service and will spread the word. She said maybe we're just starting to do what we should be doing, and it might take time.
Mollyne from MD said the project is still not known enough to know whether more people would use it once they know about it.
Lori Bell from ILL said that in her committee on statewide virtual reference the major point is still accessibility. There should definitely be accessible reference, including an option for audio. Lori would like to see the project continue and wants more public libraries involved so we can offer more service hours.
Diana questioned the group on what is the best way to improve the service? She stated that we're not currently offering that many hours.
Melora from ME said if it were an email and on demand service, we could possibly expand hours. She brought up the idea of having different email lists going to a group of people available to answer questions. Maybe one person out of the group on the distribution list would be able to answer the question. Say ten people are on list, and one person would grab the question. If someone is unavailable, another person would grab the question.
Diana said she was afraid certain people would always take the question. Diana said she has an idea about creating a list serve, which would give the advantage of getting the person's email address. Basically our whole discussion is just a brainstorming session, and we will need to come up with the best way to do this technologically. She stressed that we will need to decide how to divide the responsibility. Maybe we could have certain days each library is responsible (i.e., Monday through Friday click here and librarian will get back to you to schedule a live session).
Catherine from MN has observed most questions come in between 11 am and 6 pm. Catherine stated that she would rather not assign her staff to a specific time slot but that checking email on a specific day would work more easily. If logistics were worked out for live iVocalize, she thinks this would be the best idea. Linda from MA also thought it would be best if we have some kind of responsible library for each day to address email (or possible iVocalize) questions.
Diana said we might be able to find a balance between what Melora proposed and having a bit more structure as Catherine and Linda preferred. Perhaps we could have a schedule more as a backup plan so things don't fall through the cracks. Maybe if no one takes the questions, and it's Monday, then the backup or responsible library would step in to make sure the questions are answered on that day. Melora agreed that we will not provide good service unless we provide timely answers.
Diana said that she does believe that Talking Book Libraries should offer reference to their patrons, and that the patrons should be able to get answers to their questions about "absolutely anything!" She stated that if we do something along lines of the list serve idea that we've been discussing, perhaps more libraries would participate.
She asked others who haven't spoken to join the discussion. Crystal from WA said she is coming from a different perspective as she's from a mainstream library. They may be buying their own version of iVocalize and staffing it side by side with the other system they are using in the public library. Diana said it would be great if they would consider being back up for live iVocalize sessions.
The Washington State Library will not continue in the Infoeyes Consortium, but the Washington Talking Book Library will continue its participation.
Sharon then suggested that we go ahead and vote even though a few states would have to submit vote at a later date (abstain) due to absence from the meeting or lack of consensus with other staff members. The votes were submitted to Diana privately on the 4 items through text chat. Diana asked any state that must currently abstain to be sure to submit its final vote by next Thursday, June 23rd.
After tallying the votes Diana has received so far, there is a tie between
#1 Continue as is
#3 Reduce service to email (with iVocalize service by appointment only).
We now know the InfoEyes Reference Service will continue to exist; as soon as we hear from the few abstaining libraries, we will get a better idea of what form it will take. Diana suggested we use the July meeting time to discuss transitions.
Nomination of Directors and New Secretary Needed
The final agenda item was the nomination of new Director/s for the InfoEyes Service. Catherine Durivage let everyone know that she and Linda Rossman had volunteered to become Co-Directors of InfoEyes. Diana made a motion to accept the motion, and Mollyne seconded the motion. The new co-director post will begin at the end of October. Diana will work with Linda and Catherine to train them and ensure a smooth transition. Also Diana stated that the group will need a new secretary as Linda cannot continue to be secretary along with the other responsibility. Diana said she hoped someone would volunteer for this post.