InfoEyes Advisory Committee Meeting
Minnesota Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped OPAL Online Room
2:00 pm ET / 1:00 pm CT / 12:00 p.m. MT / 11:00 a.m. PT
Catherine Durivage, Linda Rossman, Julie Strange, Tom Sweterlitsch, Joe Thompson
1. Statistics Report
Catherine reported that through the end of June we have received 134 questions for the year. There were 17 in May and 22 in June. This is pretty average, with highest usage at 35 in January. We are pretty much on track for the year in comparison to previous years. July's usage will be added to the page next week.
Joe asked if we would want to promote InfoEyes to public and academic libraries as a service that they should link to from their web sites. For instance, we could put some messages out on the DIG_REF listserv or even target the state library association listservs in those states where we have InfoEyes participation. Catherine said that this is something for us to explore after we experiment more with the Chat. Linda agreed. This very well may be something we'd want to do in the future as an easy way to make more people aware of the service.
2. September Training Session
We are planning for our next InfoEyes Training session to take place on Thursday, September 20th. Donna Cirenza, Julie Strange, and Catherine Durivage have volunteered to plan and facilitate this next training session. Linda noted that we'd try as much as possible to alternate each month with a meeting, then with training the next month. There will be no meeting or training in August.
Catherine announced that the topic will focus on a review of basic accessible sources, such as Bookshare, RFB&D, etc. Downloadable audio book options, such as those through Humanware, Audible, and Overdrive will also be discussed. The training will attempt to bring in a wider audience, not just our InfoEyes group.
3. Brainstorming on problem of patron not having received answers sent previously by InfoEyes Librarian
One of our regular patrons has let us know that he has not received all of our responses. It is unclear what is causing this. Linda has communicated with the patron. QuestionPoint says that there'd be no alert to the librarian if the message didn't make it through to the patron. It seems most likely that the patron was not receiving our messages due to an overactive spam filter on his computer or e-mail system.
Joe suggested two options.
- On the InfoEyes web site, we could post onto the InfoEyes entry screen the e-mail address that patrons can expect to receive our reply. Our patrons could then potentially set their spam filter to allow replies from this e-mail account.
- If this problem is occurring with only one patron that we're aware of, we could make sure to copy and paste any replies to this customer from the QuestionPoint system into one of our standard e-mail accounts, then resend it.
Joe noted that we could change the outgoing e-mail address appearing in the QuestionPoint system. Currently it is set as AskALibrarian@oclc.org, which may not mean much to a patron looking for our reply in their e-mail inbox. We could change this to appear as an address including the word "InfoEyes." Catherine said that we should go ahead and change the e-mail address within QP, then also add it to the InfoEyes web site to alert our users.
4. New Chat Interface-Experiences in trial by Catherine and Linda
Tutorials Available, Suggestions on setup and plans for training Catherine and Linda.
Linda and Catherine have had an opportunity to try out the new chat interface that OCLC QuestionPoint has developed, called "Chat 2." This is the interface described by Jeff Penka at the last InfoEyes meeting in May.
Linda and Catherine noted that it does make use of simpler screens that would be more geared to use by screen reading devices that the previous versions of QuestionPoint chat. Linda intentionally went into it cold, without reviewing the training materials. Catherine had looked at the tutorial. Linda had a frustrating experience, but it might have been because she hadn't set up her browser in the ways that QuestionPoint recommends. Catherine was able to do certain things, as she had set up her browser according to the QuestionPoint specifications. The tutorials are quite lengthy, but the librarian must change their settings based on the tutorials.
Even with the problems, Catherine noted that it did seem simple for the customer. The back-end for the librarian is more complicated. Joe noted that when they train librarians in Maryland to provide chat, it usually takes most of a morning session, plus practice time. For librarians to provide the Chat 2 it would likely be no different.
Julie noted that Heather Muller at the Washington State Library has done some testing of the Chat 2 interface when she visited a local school for the blind. Heather spoke about this experience during the ALA Annual Conference in June. Heather's experience and that of the students was generally positive, but she did note that one student had a hard time finding the "send" button. The student said that in fact, this is pretty much the norm with any web site though, and it didn't take any longer than usual.
Julie asked how scheduling would work if we at InfoEyes decided to offer Chat 2. Would questions go into the queue where other non-info eyes folks are monitoring? Or are we on a queue all our own? Would only InfoEyes librarians be picking up InfoEyes customers? Joe felt that with the way the InfoEyes profile was currently set up that there would likely be one queue that any of us would monitor, without any notification to the librarian of which state or library the customer originated. Since InfoEyes doesn't currently participate in QuestionPoint's 24/7 Reference Cooperative, the chat queue would only be available while a librarian(s) were monitoring. Joe assumed that there would likely be an additional fee to participate in the cooperative to get 24 hour coverage.
Linda noted that these are some of the questions we would need to address before making the decision to offer Chat 2 to InfoEyes patrons.
Julie and Joe noted that one problem they are trying to address in their testing of Chat 2 in Maryland is in trying to figure out how the librarian can be made aware that the customer came in through the regular chat or through Chat 2. There are tools available in the one that are not in the other. Specifically, the Chat 2 does not offer a shared screen for page-pushing, so we would not want librarians assuming that the customer was seeing a page on their left frame when in fact there is no left frame in Chat 2.
5. Costs for Next Year
Catherine has been in touch with Suzanne Butte, the pricing person at QuestionPoint. QuestionPoint has implemented a flat rate, regardless of which tools are being used (e-mail and chat are both included). There is no longer an e-mail-only price. Catherine shared the pricing quote with us on-screen at this point in the meeting. It shows an Annual Subscription Total of $4037.50 for InfoEyes for FY 07. This would stay the same for FY 08. The InfoEyes participating states would be splitting this cost. Catherine noted also that Infobahn web hosting at $471 would also be split among the partnering states. Catherine said that it also sounds like from Suzanne that they may be willing to give us a price break if necessary, if it turns out that the InfoEyes partner states could not cover the new cost.
Catherine will send out a message to the InfoEyes listserv once the portion for each state of the new total for participation is confirmed.
6. Other Business
Thursday, Sept. 20 will be the next training. We'll renegotiate our InfoEyes roles at the October meeting, and also look at our schedule to see if it is working well for everyone.
The meeting adjourned at 2:50 p.m. ET.
Thursday, September 20, 2007 at 2:00 pm Eastern / 1:00 pm Central
Thursday October 18, 2007 at 2:00 pm Eastern / 1:00 pm Central
Minutes submitted by Joe Thompson