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Advisory Committee to the Nebraska Library Commission
Talking Book and Braille Service

Nebraska Library Commission
1200 N Street, Suite 120 Meadowlark Room
Lincoln, Nebraska
Thursday, June 11 2009, 9:00 a.m.
DRAFT Minutes subject to change at the next meeting

The Advisory Committee to the Talking Book and Braille Service met Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 9 a.m. Members present: Annette Hall, Margie Harrison, Ana Kalin, Robert Kalin, Nancy Larimer, Scott Scholz , Shirley Schmidt, Becky Sims, Mary Trenerry, Stephanie Beisch, Dave Oertli and Joan Davis.

Becky introduced herself and explained to the group about the Offutt Air Base' s library. The Air Force has many programs through their library that are designed to enhance the quality of both the personal and professional lives of the service men and women as well as their families. They also have an extensive language learning center.

Scott demonstrated two machines for the visually impaired and disabled. He had both a basic machine and an advanced machine. All agreed the improvement is immense and the voice is an improvement both in its clarity and its intonation. The anticipation for the new machines was once again discussed. It is estimated that there are 300 Nebraska veterans who qualify for the machines. Because of the wait to get machines, concern was expressed about other options that might be available in the mean time. Copyright laws do not allow for many options-the Victor is one of the few devices that can be used to download texts. The Victor is somewhat limited also as a person must have high speed internet, web access and the knowledge of how to download. It was also mentioned that the Library of Congress has 15,000 books in it digital collection available, but once again, a person must have high speed internet and web access in order to download a book. NLS currently has between 3-5,000 books digitalized (digitized?) and each new book that is released comes in this form. This fall there should be around 7,000 books available in NLC' s collection of digitalized books.

Dave mentioned that a young user stopped by and was excited when he was in-serviced on the new machine. It is difficult to have to explain about the waiting list. The distribution of the new recorders is slated for early fall and the transition is expected to take six years. The consideration for the users has been established with veterans having first priority, second priority will go to users who are 100 years old and older, and after that, library users in good standing will be given the new devices. Initially a person may check out three books at a time until more books are available. There are currently 4,300 people in Nebraska who use the Talking Book service. The veteran preference is legislated, the 100+ is a courtesy and then the states have broad discretion as to how the players will be distributed.

Ana wondered what is more useful: a Victor or a new device. Mary wondered if school foundations might be able to buy a Victor for student use. Dave explained that facilities aren' t able to buy a Victor, only an individual. The school could possibly buy one, but then it must be signed out to an individual. The institution must also go through the Library Commission for validation.

Ana asked how long she should keep her cassette player. Dave said that magazines will stay on cassettes for 18 months into the transition and possibly all magazines will eventually go digital, but the cost to put all periodicals on digital is cost prohibitive at this time. The new digital player costs approximately $200, which is considerably less than the old cassette players.

Annette brought up how it is a bit difficult to market the new digital players. While it is very important to let people know how talking books are changing, it is also hard to get people ready and then have to explain it might be several years before they will actually have a player. Becky suggested that perhaps it would be good to go to communities and have librarians demonstrate the new devices. Ana and Robert recalled learning on the old 33 rpm records then the ' flexis' and how when cassettes came out it was such an improvement. Ana said she understands people might be reluctant at first to change, but once they experience the new recorders, they will be excited about the new technology. There have been problems in the past that people who have never used the machines might not appreciate-hissing sounds, tangled tapes, etc. Becky said seeing Ana and Robert' s enthusiastic response really impressed upon her how exciting this change is. Ana said she and Robert would be glad to demonstrate the new machines for users. Shirley mentioned her peer vision support group reaches a lot of people and would also be a good resource. Margie said that the July meeting of the Panhandle Library Commission would be a good time for a demonstration as well.

Mary brought up the importance of focusing on veterans. Becky said she will try to put the word out at various agencies that work with veterans. She also said she would check about setting up an information table at this year' s state library convention.

It was reported that VIPS (Visually Impaired. . .) lost all of its federal funding; however it members have decided to keep this organization going through various Senior Centers.

Discussion was held about getting the word out to schools about the Victor. Nancy and Joan reported they have each talked with school personnel and were surprised about the limited interest the schools seem to have. Dave said he has met with a similar response. Discussion was held about how to reintroduce ourselves to schools? Possibly by making technological downloads available? Ana and Robert mentioned that one reason for the school' s seeming lack of enthusiasm is that schools have passed by the technology available through NLC and moved to other resources that are available to help the visually impaired.

Discussion was held about the fall meeting, with a tentative time in September discussed. Nancy moved we adjourn and it was seconded.

Respectfully submitted, Joan Davis

For more information contact Scott Scholz, Director, Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service.
Scott Scholz

For more information, contact Scott Scholz.