Saturday, October 18, 2003


The ILA Conference was great. The exhibit hall was sold out and the programs were great! Our group, the Resources and Technical Services Forum Technology User Group had a lot of wonderful programs. One program on Tech Trends given by Matt Gullett, Bloomington Public Library, Paul Mills from Heritage Trail Library System, and Teri Ross Embrey, an Independent Consultant was well attended. Later, when I have my notes, I will post a URL which contains information about their top library tech trends forecasts.

The Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center will be hosting an online interactive audio book discussion group on Monday, October 20 from 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. central time. The book for discussion is "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck. Discussion leader is Tom Peters of TAP Information Services. You can participate or the discussion will be broadcast if you want to listen and not participate. To register, email Tom at

We will also have interactive webinars, on talking books and how libraries can get involved on Monday from 1-1:45 central time and 2-2:45 central time. Email me at if you want to attend. We are using ivocalize software. Even if you are just interested in this software and you want to see how it works you are welcome.

There is lots of exciting development happening in the world of ebooks for people with disabilities. MITBC and TAP Information Services are undertaking a study of digital talking book devices out on the market: Project Hal. WGBH also announced an exciting study they are undertaking with their "Beyond the Text" project. Information from a press release is below:

WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media Awarded Grant to
Develop Access Solutions for Multimedia in E-Books

Comparison chart of e-book and digital talking book (DTB) hardware and
software is now online, as is the project's first prototype e-book with
captioned multimedia.

Boston, MA. The National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) at Boston
public broadcaster WGBH has been awarded a three-year grant from the
Department of Education to study ways to make multimedia (images, audio
video) used in electronic book formats (e-books) accessible to people
are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired.

E-books offer online and portable access to traditional print media—
fiction, nonfiction, textbooks, professional journals and other
content- via
personal computer, laptop, library systems or personal digital
(PDAs). The use of e-books is steadily increasing, as is the amount of
content publishers are making available in this format. Many e-book
formats contain features such as audio and video playback, built-in
dictionaries, easy-to-read type, highlighting, note-taking,
text searches and direct Internet connections. All these features
considerable learning resources for users, sophisticated tools for
and an entirely new development and distribution model for publishers,
particularly in the educational market.

These features could also enhance and improve access to information for
users with disabilities. Accessible e-books promise learners who are
blind or deaf equal access to trade, text or scholarly books, a major
leap forward in leveling the playing field for people with disabilities
at home, at work and at school.

The goal of the project, called "Beyond the Text," is to enable deaf,
hard-of-hearing, blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind users to easily
locate, activate and utilize accessible multimedia content within
various e-book formats and hardware devices. Staff are currently evaluating
e-book software and hardware for multimedia capability as well as for
general accessibility to
users with hearing or vision loss. Project activities will yield
prototypes and a set of recommended practices for those interested in
creating multimedia that is usable regardless of hearing or visual

A comparison chart of e-book and digital talking book (DTB) hardware
and software is now online, as is the project's first prototype e-book
captioned multimedia. These and other resources, which will be updated
throughout the project, can be found at

Beyond the Text builds on existing NCAM research initiatives such as
the Access to Rich Media Project and Specifications for Accessible
Technologies/SALT (, as well as the work now
in publishing and educational consortiums and standards organizations
such as
the DAISY Consortium (, the Open eBook Forum
(, the World Wide Web Consortium
( and the American Foundation for the Blind Textbooks
and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum

The project grows out of WGBH's three decades of experience pioneering
furthering access solutions to mass media for people with sensory
disabilities. WGBH developed captioning for television in the early
brought video description (which describes on-screen action, settings,
costumes and character expressions during pauses in dialogue) to
and videos in the late '80s. Throughout the '90s, these services were
applied and integrated into other forms of mass media, including movie
theaters (via WGBH's "MoPix" technology and service), Web sites (via
MAGpie, a free software tool that enables do-it-yourself captioning and
description for digitized media) and classrooms (through projects which
utilize captioning and description to increase literacy levels and
inclusiveness for all students). Today, all of WGBH's access
are gathered in one division, the Media Access Group at WGBH.

About WGBH
WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the
of nearly one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup and companion online
as well as many public radio favorites. Its production menu is diverse,
including Nova, Frontline, American Experience, Antiques Roadshow,
ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre, Arthur, and Zoom on PBS and The World
Sound & Spirit on public radio. WGBH is a pioneer in educational
(including the Web, broadband, and interactive television) and in
technologies and services that make media accessible for people with
disabilities. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys,
Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards. even two Oscars. In 2002, WGBH was
with a special institutional Peabody Award for 50 years of excellence.
more information visit

Date: October 2003

Contact: Mary Watkins, Media Access Group at WGBH
617 300-3700 voice, 617 300-2489 TTY

Eric Lease Morgan, Head of Digital Access and Information Architechture Department, at the University Libraries of Notre Dame, has written a travel log of his experiences at the LITA National Forum in Norfolk, Virginia. He shares this log at
Highlights include the following: a workshop on open source software
* digital reference
* uPortal and MyLibrary
* OAIster
* collaboration
* metasearching
* MyLibrary User's Group Meeting
* trends in libraries
I looked at this and thought it was very generous of him to do this. I don't know about you, but I am not able to attend a lot of interesting conferences. Money is limited and so is time. Thanks, Eric!

Steve Coffman, virtual Reference Guru shares some news about a new online course on selection of virtual reference software: "Good afternoon you all
Just wanted to let everyone know that the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland --- a long-time pioneer in virtual reference education --- will be offering an online course on Virtual Reference Software Selection from November 3 – November 14, 2003.

Virtual Reference Software Selection is geared to library managers from any kind of library and any librarians involved in considering the fast-breaking developments in the virtual environment. This interactive web-based course, featuring a high degree of individual attention, will include readings, message board discussions with peers, valuable feedback from knowledgeable instructors, and an introduction to the resources you need to make the best decision about software – all at a time and from a location most convenient for you!

All types of ‘live’ software will be covered from basic chat to instant messaging to the more advanced species of web collaboration to the new cutting edge technologies which integrate all forms of remote reference including telephone, chat, web collaboration, email, and reference workflow management. All major vendors will be represented … including open source and ‘free’ solutions like Rakim, AOL and the various instant messaging programs.

SO, if you are thinking about starting a virtual reference service and

… if you are looking for an objective and impartial overview of your virtual reference options …

… if you are not sure what kind of questions to ask vendors

… if you want to how to analyze what will work most effectively for your patrons

… if you find out more about what kinds of features reference librarians really need

OR, if you are already using virtual reference software and

… you want to see what else is available, or

… you’d like to evaluate ways you could upgrade your service

THEN, … this course is for you

Here’s what you’ll learn

… How to analyze user needs to better inform your decision

… How to evaluate software features and costs

… How to identify features that are “musts” in your library

… How to involve your staff in decision-making

… Plus, you’ll get a detailed overview of what other libraries have been doing … and what has and hasn’t worked.

Sound interesting … then you’d better hurry … because this is an online course, there are only a limited number of seats available so we can make sure everybody gets the personal attention they deserve. Registration is filling up quickly, and there are only a few seats left, so get your registration in quickly as it’s first come, first served.

Time Commitment: A participant should plan to dedicate approximately 5 hours to this course over the two-week period, enough time to review the course content and readings, participate in online asynchronous discussion, and complete course activities and assignments. Upon successful completion of the course, .5 Continuing Education Unit (CEU) will be awarded.

Instructional Team: Dr. Eileen Abels, College of Information Studies, UMD. Coordinator: Malissa Ruffner, M.L.S.
Technical Requirements: You will need a PC with the following minimums: Pentium II 266 MHz, 128 MB RAM, sound card and speakers, Windows 98, NT or ME, Adobe Acrobat Reader and Internet Explorer 5.5.

Registration Information: The course fee is $190 (includes a $35 nonrefundable registration fee.) Enrollment is limited and the deadline for registering is October 29, 2003. THREE WAYS TO REGISTER! Go To for Registration details.

For more information, contact Malissa Ruffner at 410-444-8102.or email"

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