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Meeting Minutes: March 20, 2008

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, Devon Gary, Deborah Margolis, Karen Odean, Kathryn Pierce, Linda Rossman, Julie Strange, Joe Thompson

QuestionPoint & Webpage Statistics


During the last meeting in January there was a question about what kind of web page use we are getting at We were able to locate a graph that shows traffic on the InfoEyes web site. Catherine pulled it up on her computer. It shows the number of hits per month for the past year, from April 2007 to March 2008. It shows the number of files access, pages viewed, etc. If anyone wants to see this she can send it to you. There were 109 visits per day, on average, in April 2007. February 2008 saw 58 visits per day, on average. Catherine will also share this info as part of the minutes when posted to the website.

Usage, according to our statistics accessed through QuestionPoint have dropped. We generally view activity for the past 90 days. During this period there were 29 emailed questions and one person asked 9 of these questions. 4 people asked 2 questions each. There were 9 distinct questions from individuals who asked only one question. It's interesting that we are see these kind of usage statistics and we can easily see where repeat usage is occurring. 15 different people are represented as InfoEyes customers during this 90 day period of activity.

During the meeting there was a question about where our customers are coming from and if we can track this geographic information. Due to some recent enhancements in QuestionPoint it seems that we should be able to start asking this question on the question form and collecting data soon.

Catherine said that, overall, we have seen the number of questions decline. This does tie in with our concerns about public relations, promotion, and usage.

Deborah noted that Maryland's LBPH has done some local promotion recently and has a link to InfoEyes on the library's web site.

QuestionPoint Changes - March 2 upgrade


There was a big QuestionPoint upgrade full of enhancements on March 2. To get information on what was included, Catherine attended the virtual user group. The upgrade included changes to the chat interface, forms manager, widget, and reports. There seemed to be lots of big changes in these areas.

The things that really tie into our service relate to the chat interface. During the user group that Catherine attended, Jeff [Penka] talked about he accessibility on that chat form. The "anonymous" option is still there. Chat 2 is supposed to be faster and easier to use. They moved the chat box to the left side of the screen, mostly for the reason of how screen readers read the screen. There is a separate chat and send button. Customer-side screen preferences relating to screen color and font, and sound alerts, are all now available. Julie noted that the question entry form still appears on the right, but she has been told by Jeff that this screen is indeed accessible.

Catherine suggests that we look at the 16 minute viewlet tutorial that addresses the changes. See the QP blog as well, at

Julie and Joe have been playing with the new widget. It is like Meebo in a way. Catherine finds it interesting and worth looking into.

The other big change related to reports. Before, certain reports were only available to administrator. Now you have access to reports on home page on separate tab on home page, "Reports." On your active question page, you can see the "Review transcript" tab on the Active questions page. This allows you to see sessions and statistics from the last 90 days.

There are currently 13 statewide cooperatives participating in QuestionPoint and 1400 libraries in the 24/7 Reference cooperative. The state of Minnesota just joined the 24/7 Reference cooperative. In the 2007 calendar year, the cooperative picked up 59% of all questions coming into the cooperative. Catherine found this to be a very interesting statistic. Julie added that there are no new reports, but that they are now easier to find.

QuestionPoint now offers the ability to create email web forms and host them. Administrators can set up the forms to appear exactly as they want them to look. In the future administrators will also be able to also do this with chat forms. This should limit the need to rely on each library's local web development staff for help with forms. We can add up to 10 distinct fields. We could start asking what state they are coming from, time zone, etc. This gives us a lot more options to add fields. This may be the biggest impact for us. The form right now only asks for an email address and a question at

Catherine will work through that module to set up the forms. She will be working with our webmaster Vicki Strohm to see how we can implement this.

Linda thanked Catherine for attending the virtual user group. Many of these enhancements have a lot of potential for us. Catherine noted that in the past it's been kind of a mess to make changes to the existing question form, so yes, this should be a great improvement.

Linda reminded everyone answering InfoEyes questions to please "close" your questions once you've answered them.

Catherine also noted the importance of the Qwidget, which seems to have a lot of potential to allow libraries to have a presence whatever page they want to be.

Julie and Joe noted that they are happy to be contacted with questions about how to use QuestionPoint, as they are very frequent users of QP in their roles as administrators of the Maryland service.

InfoEyes Article

Linda & Catherine:

The article that they are writing is about 80% done. In it, they reflect on service usage and where does InfoEyes fits in to the larger world of libraries and question-answering services. Since QuestionPoint has now moved to a much more accessible chat, they ask, "What is the place for InfoEyes?" Linda also noted that it's been a very thought provoking exercise to write this article as we all try to figure out the best direction for the InfoEyes service.

A proposal to publish the article has been accepted and they are hopeful that it will indeed be published. If not published here, Linda and Catherine are hopeful that it will be accepted in another journal. Thanks go to everyone who has helped with quotes. Joe was thanked specifically.

Minutes from past meetings were used and thanks were shared with all of our secretaries. It's very helpful to have all the minutes on the web site.

InfoEyes PR

Group Discussion:

Last year we talked about trying to put together a press release to encourage other organizations to promote the service, for example by adding links to InfoEyes on their web sites. Linda and Catherine have both been contacted by organizations recently for information about InfoEyes, including a health care provider/nursing home/activity center in Pennsylvania that was interested in getting a press release. Catherine wrote one and sent it to them.

Jennifer Laherty at Indiana University Bloomington was interested in finding out about service. She contacted Linda. Jennifer is communicating with Dokutek and Cha Cha. She's looking into having an alternative available. Linda is drafting up a memo to write her back. Linda will use Catherine's press release. Linda will note that InfoEyes is not a 24/7 service. Linda is concerned that we might not be able to handle in-depth questions as an academic institution could. Of course anyone in the university's community would be welcome to use InfoEyes as an individual, but Linda isn't sure about how membership by her institution might work at this point if there is interest.

Catherine and Linda took info from their Talking Book Topics article from a few years ago. This new press release is still in the works, however it is important that we have something prepared to give to people as they ask for info about InfoEyes. In terms of PR, Linda and Catherine asked in what areas we could direct our service to. Other thoughts?

Catherine thinks that it would be great to contact the statewide VR cooperatives. If nursing homes and other health care providers are interested, we can cater to them too.

Catherine asked how InfoEyes might function as a referral service within QuestionPoint, basically acting as a subject specialist. Joe responded that this is likely possible, but probably wouldn't have a big impact on usage in his opinion.

Joe asked what our vision for InfoEyes should be, say two years out. Where do we see the service by then? What kind of a service is it? How much usage is it receiving and how many organizations are participating? What does it do for its customers? What are our targets? Deborah suggested that possibly the states without accessible chat reference services should be targeted for participation. Deborah also added that a primary role for InfoEyes is as a central place for visually impaired/blind people to request books in accessible formats and to ask questions.

Julie noted that we need customer input as we develop our mission. Ask current users and potential users. We need to verify that there is a need. If there's not a need, then let's save our time and do something else. Catherine expanded on this by suggesting a "what if" scenario. What if InfoEyes didn't exist? What kind of impact would this cause? Are there other existing services that would be able to provide equitable service to our customers? Catherine suggested that we should quickly resolve some of these questions.

Catherine asked if we need to pull together an online meeting or focus group. Julie mentioned a survey. Catherine asked where this survey might be linked. Catherine has used "survey methods" and "survey monkey" was also mentioned as an option. We'd need to make sure the form is accessible to screen readers. Deborah suggested the use of Survey Gizmo, which makes accessibility a priority in their form's design. Deborah suggested that LBPH libraries could help by requesting that their customers fill out the survey, which would help to target many non-users of InfoEyes.

The National Library Service (NLS) is offering a class on how to make a survey accessible. Catherine may investigate this. Linda commented that if we present the survey to our customers as a way for us to feel-out the future of the service, then people might be more willing to fill it out. We need to clarify people's expectation for the service (our customer's expectations and ours as providers).

It was also suggested that we might send an email to our current customers, asking them to fill out the survey. We would need to check to see if our privacy commitment would allow us to do this, or even if only those customers who have filled out the existing survey in the past could be contacted.

Joe and Julie suggested a few different ways that a new survey regarding the future of InfoEyes could be made available to our current customers, including pointing to it instead of the existing QP survey, including the link in our answer responses, or even adding a link to it to the preprogrammed automated messages that go to our customers when they ask a question or receive an answer.

It was determined that a special meeting would be needed to arrange for the next steps regarding the survey and laying the groundwork for new outcome and goal setting for the InfoEyes service. Catherine said that we'll use Doodle to figure out a good time for us to meet. Catherine will send out the message regarding doodle.

Catherine asks us to start thinking about what kind of questions should be included on a survey. Also, what do we envision InfoEyes becoming? If you have ideas, please drop an email to Catherine and Linda.

Other Business

No other business was suggested. Catherine thanked everyone for a really good discussion and her appreciation for everyone's input! Catherine will "doodle" and get a time set up about the surveys. This will happen sometime likely in later April, but probably prior to National Library Service conference in May.

The meeting adjourned at 3:12 p.m. ET.

Next meeting:

Catherine will send a message to the InfoEyes listserv to arrange for a special planning meeting. This meeting is tentatively planned for Thursday, April 24 at 2:00 pm Eastern / 1:00 pm Central

Next regularly scheduled meeting:

Thursday May 15, 2008 at 2:00 pm Eastern / 1:00 pm Central

Minutes submitted by Joe Thompson