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Meeting Minutes: November 15, 2007

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


Donna Cirenza, Devon (Pittsburgh), Catherine Durivage, Karen Odean, Linda Rossman, Sharon Ruda, Julie Strange, Diana Sussman, Joe Thompson, Larry Weyhrich

1. Statistics - Catherine

We have seen sort of a decease in usage statistics. There were 35 questions in January 2007 and we haven't seen that number since. In October there were 17 questions. There as a low of 8 for a month. We'll talk about usage later in agenda item 5.

There was a question about web page usage, regarding number of hits. How do we collect this kind of statistic? Catherine and Diana will followup on this, whether the statistics are available through InfoBahn or the Illinois State Library.

Vicki Strohm is webmaster of InfoEyes site.

2. Revised Schedule - Linda, Catherine

Thanks go to Diana for getting the e-mail messages out to everyone regarding the schedule. The biggest change has Tennessee taking Minnesota's place on every other Friday. There is no scheduled coverage now on Saturdays. Otherwise the schedule is the same. Catherine will serve as kind of a floater if people need to switch a date. Linda reiterated thanks to Diana for putting together a great Yahoo calendar:


If there's a question, anyone can claim it if they have time. We don't necessarily need to wait for the library scheduled to check for questions that day. Diana reminded everyone to claim a question first if they're going to work on it, especially if it's not your scheduled day. This prevents multiple people from working on the same question.

If there are multiple agencies within a state that participate in InfoEyes, it is up to them to figure out the best way to cover their state's commitment. Pennsylvania and Maryland are examples.

3. Backup Secretary - Catherine

Joe is willing to continue as Secretary, but given some changes in his duties he has suggested that there be a back-up secretary. Diana has offered. Do we have a second volunteer to act as back-up secretary? If no one else can, Julie offered to cover as back-up secretary. Joe thanked Diana and Julie.

4. OCLC Billing Invoice - Catherine

The invoice has been received from OCLC for the next year's QuestionPoint contract. Diana is sending mailers to each library that will be paying the share of the costs. InfoBahn web hosting for the site was estimated at $250. But, the bill is actually only $239.40 - the same as last year. So, there will be $10.60 unspent. There was a question of how to resolve the difference. It was suggested that because Massachusetts has offered to contribute $250 as a donation, that this donation can simply be reduced by $10.60 to even it out. Linda will check with Kim in Massachusetts to verify that this works for them.

Look for your state's bill in the mail in the next few weeks.

5. InfoEyes PR & Purpose - Group Discussion

At the last meeting there was some discussion regarding how we envision InfoEyes. There were questions regarding if usage should be increased, how to increase usage, PR, what we want InfoEyes to be in the coming year, and if it should exist as a service at all. Some partner libraries/organizations are feeling like participation in InfoEyes year to year may be problematic. There are some issues still with QuestionPoint's new live chat form, but we still want to prepare ourselves for what InfoEyes will look like regardless of developments at OCLC QuestionPoint in the future.

Linda and Catherine are submitting an article to the journal Reference Librarian by February for publication about reference services relating to InfoEyes. Linda and Kim Charlson thought that this might be a good idea and even good publicity for InfoEyes. Linda and Catherine may be calling on some of us to provide quotes for the article. Linda is very excited about writing this article. The idea came from her assistant director. They'll write about accessibility and the history of the project.

Joe suggested the idea of promoting that libraries of all types link to InfoEyes. Diana gave example of a public library. Diana played devil's advocate regarding how partner libraries and funders specifically might feel if others are using the service heavily.

Joe noted that people from outside our library service areas are already using the service, such as customers in Louisiana (a non-participating InfoEyes state). Catherine and Linda did say that we are posed as a national service and we haven't denied service to anyone to date. Diana suggested the idea of selling access to the service. Catherine and Joe asked about how authentication would work.

Catherine reviewed some ideas:

  1. One suggestion is to provide InfoEyes as a fee-based service. In this model it would be available and limited to individuals or states that pay.
  2. Promote InfoEyes on library-related email listservs as a service that libraries should link to for their customers to use. Joe promoted this idea as a free and simple way to increase awareness of the service across the library community. If usage proved to be more than what the InfoEyes partner libraries could handle, then that problem could be addressed at the time. At least having high usage would give us a different problem to address. Diana asked how we'd pull back. Joe suggesting making links less prominent and possibly limiting by authentication or charging fee later, after it's proven that there is demand. Diana noted that if we do publicize InfoEyes we'd need to include materials that help libraries promote and link to the service, such as a page on the InfoEyes website that would serve as a promotional toolkit.

Catherine responded to the question about possibly limiting service to members. Catherine didn't favor the idea, and suggested that we currently have the ability to add new members even though we don't charge customers for service. Tennessee's participation as a new partner is a good example. Catherine said that if we did a mass promo to libraries - who knows what usage would be like? We're not there yet. Diana asked, "It sounds like we've talked ourselves into a wide promotion. Are there any objections? And if not, what are the next steps?"

Action items:

Sharon Ruda also suggested writing letters to schools for the blind.

Joe asked if another purpose for the existence of InfoEyes is indeed to work with vendors to make chat and virtual reference services more accessible to people who are blind or who have low vision. Catherine shared an early 2004 InfoEyes report which does state this purpose for the project.

Julie and Joe noted that other virtual reference vendors are not considering accessibility in their development plans. This summer there was a virtual reference symposium in Denver where representatives said that accessibility was not in their planning. Notes from this session are available at:

Sharon also shared a link to a bill introduced in Illinois that could be of interest:

6. QuestionPoint New Patron Chat - Accessibility Questions

Catherine asked if there were any updates regarding QuestionPoint's pilot version of the chat (temporarily called Chat2). Joe and Julie are members of the QuestionPoint Users Council, but at this point they weren't aware of any updates to share. The next big software install from QuestionPoint is expected to happen in February or March. Julie and Joe participated in a webinar on Sept. 19 where they shared recommendations for improving the interface. Their recommendations were based on feedback received from people who tested the platform at Maryland's Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and InfoEyes libraries.

7. Webpage - Member & Schedule information changes - Catherine

The Monday - Friday schedule is now updated. The changes have been sent to InfoEyes webmaster. Catherine also suggested that it might be time to look again at the structure of the InfoEyes site. Maybe there is some way to update and reorganize it in a more logical way.

Joe noted two places where some fixes could be made: First, the title of the question form shows as "Question Form Example #4 [QuestionPoint] - Change to your page title." Instead, he suggested that it should read as something like, "InfoEyes Question Form: Send us your question!" Second, there seems to be two small missing images in the "Questions" tab that are showing as small white boxes. These placeholders for missing images could likely be removed.

Information about updating the QuestionPoint question form is available at:

The meeting adjourned at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Next Meeting:

Thursday January 17, 2008 at 2:00 pm Eastern / 1:00 pm Central

Minutes submitted by Joe Thompson