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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
Tuesday, October 16, 2007,9:00 a.m.

The Advisory Committee to the Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service held its regular meeting Tuesday, October 16, 2007, at the Nebraska Library Commission, Lincoln, NE. Notice of the meeting was submitted to local newspapers ( Lincoln Journal Star, Omaha World Herald ), and posted on the Nebraska Library Commission Web site.

Members present: Carolyn Bennett, Joan Davis, Bob Deaton, Annette Hall, Ana Kalin, Dave Oertli, Shirley Schmidt , Mike Steinmeyer, Avis Wiest Scott Sholtz. Also present: Robert Kalin

The minutes from the June 1st meeting were read by Carolyn Bennett. Ana amended that the Interchange newsletter is now available online. Ana moved and Avis seconded that the minutes be approved as amended.

Discussion was held about what other groups could be helped by the Talking Books program. Ana suggested groups for diabetes be made aware of the service. Dave said that health groups in Phelps County and Greater Omaha have had fairs and Talking Books were represented. He also said that the National Federation for the Blind and the American Council for the Blind are aware of services. Dave has also contacted 40--50 home health nurses and has heard back from approximately 10--15% of them concerning services. Shirley said that in Columbus, she discovered a good place to leave information is at the County Clerk ' s office.

Discussion was also held about attempts in the past to get the information to concerned parties. Although hospitals and social workers are good candidates for having clients who could use the service, the mailing list might be too overwhelming. Annette said, and it was agreed, that a mailing for members of the Nebraska Library Commission ' s users was attempted and the list was too unwieldy and overwhelming.

Ana said she thinks transitional fairs would be a good place to set up booths. Information was recently offered at a health fair in Plattsmouth and Dave said like many things in life, depending on who is asked, some said it was a huge success and others felt it wasn ' t a success. It was also discussed that displays for Talking Books might be successful at times when other library services are promoted.

Bob also remembered a statewide effort to send mailings and information to all ophthalmologists and optometrists in the state, but there was very little increase in use of the service. Although there are between 400--500 eye-care specialists in the state, it is felt that very few refer their patients for services. Bob wondered if some of this is because doctors might see this as admitting failure on their part. He also stated that occupational therapists are covered by MEDICAID and patients have a tendency to use their services and remain unaware of the other services offered. Discussion was held concerning whether doctors are resistant or are they overwhelmed? It was thought that probably both exist.

Shirley then shared her story of how she discovered the services offered by Talking Books. After many questions on her part, he said it was through a series of frustrating events with her eye doctor that he finally told her about the service of Talking Books. She expressed concern that it is seen by some doctors as a last resort.

Bob also mentioned that with strides in health care, people ' s eyesight is deteriorating at a later age, which is good medical news. He also mentioned that the Fighting Blindness newsletter might be open to outreach from NLC.

Dave also brought up that through Book Share there is a synthetic voice that reads to a person. Although some people don ' t like the artificial sound, Ana pointed out that it is good to have a variety of choices.

Shirley wanted to make sure that everyone is aware that dialing 211 hooks a person into Social Services where they will then refer him/her to information concerning services for the disabled. 711 also provides service for the deaf and blind and will access an interpreter.

Bob mentioned that he misses NEWSWEEK and Dave said he will look into this, as he thinks Bob can get it delivered directly to his home.

It was discussed that the GAO auditors remained neutral about the expenditure for new cassette players. This might have something to do with why the House and Senate Appropriation Committees approved 12.5 million dollars per year versus the 19.5 million dollars requested. Discussion was held and concern expressed that the new players will be obsolete by the time they are distributed. Scott said that transition to digital is inevitable as there is only one place in the US that makes cassettes--it happens to be in Nebraska. Cassette duplication machines are no longer being made. It was also explained that more information can be saved on a tape vs. a CD and that tapes last longer. The last book on cassette will be made in 2010. On the plus side, CDs are cheaper to manufacture than tapes and they do have better sound. Talking Books and court reporters are the only ones who still use cassettes anymore.

Several frustrations were mentioned. Bob commented that some of the older tapes squeal when they are used and Scott and Dave think this is a result of oxide coming off the tape. Scott also gave suggestions of what can be done to help this if it continues to happen. Mike shared the difficulty in using the current system as there is no way to book mark a tape. There are possibly more updated systems available, but with copyright laws, there is only so much that can be done. Ana mentioned that depending totally on technology could limit a sight impaired person ' s ability to be autonomous and emphasized that the importance of learning Braille cannot be overemphasized.

Farewells and expressions of appreciation were given to Avis Wiest, who goes off the board, and to Mike Steinmeyer who has since moved to South Dakota. Both have contributed greatly to the Talking Books Advisory Board. It was also mentioned that Sandra Kelsey has moved to Kentucky and Ryan Osentowski will not longer be on the Board.

The next meeting will be held at a as of yet undetermined date, but it was agreed it will be after Easter.

Joan Davis, Secretary

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

For more information, contact Scott Scholz.