[bksvol-discuss] Re: [bksvol-discuss]Artical about Bookshare

Here is my artical. I wrote this in hopes that more people would join or at 
least take a lookat the site. Enjoy


BOOKSHARE:  A LIBRARY AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

by Anastasia Saridakis

            (Editor's Note: To check this library out for yourself, 
visit 
www.bookshare.org.)

            Imagine hearing a sighted friend comment on a wonderful 
book 
he/she read. Imagine being able to gain access to that book the same 
day 
from the comfort of your own home. A decade ago that would have been 
impossible for people in the blind community, but not any more.

            On Feb. 21, 2002, one web site decided to make that dream a 
reality.  Benetech is sponsoring Bookshare.org, a web site where a 
member 
with a print disability can download an

entire book in seconds. Bookshare currently has more than 4,000 members 
and 
more than 29,000 books in 33 different categories.  As a result of a 
partnership with the National Federation of the Blind, this diverse 
library 
contains newspapers and magazines from all over the United States. In 
addition to its material in English, Bookshare.org contains material in 
other languages, including more than 1,000 books in Spanish.  More 
books are 
approved every day.

            The Bookshare database reflects the interests of its 
members and 
volunteers.

Bookshare has a section of books recommended by teachers for students, 
so 
when a student needs a book for school, he/she can find it more 
quickly. 
Bookshare.org currently highlights New York best sellers on its home 
page. 
The site contains the entire Harry Potter series, including the Spanish 
translations. The latest book in the series, "Harry Potter and the 
Halfâ??Blood Prince," was available on Bookshare the same day as it was 
available in print to the public.

            A book goes through a threeâ??step process before it can be 
on the 
site. First, a person

scans, edits, and submits a book. This can take anywhere from an hour 
to 
several weeks, depending on many factors. Some of these factors include 
access to a computer, access to the book, the quality of the scan, and 
of 
course, time. Then, a validator picks the book up from the site, 
proofreads 
it and recommends it for approval. Finally, the book is approved by a 
Bookshare.org staff member who makes a final decision about the book.

            In general, it is illegal to scan and share copies of 
books. 
However, there is an exception in the United States Copyright Law. It 
states 
in part "... it is not an infringement of copyright for an authorized 
entity 
to reproduce or to distribute copies ... of a previously published, 
nonâ??dramatic literary work if such copies ... are reproduced or 
distributed 
in specialized formats exclusively for use by blind or other persons 
with 
disabilities."

            Bookshare volunteers can submit books in one of five 
formats 
including Arkenstone,

Kurzweil, Microsoft Word documents, Wynn and rich text format.  
Arkenstone 
is a format that is only accessible to a user who has Open Book. 
Likewise, 
Kurzweil is a file format that can only be accessed with that software 
program.  Bookshare is encouraging all its volunteers to submit their 
books 
in rich text format, which is accessible to more members than any other 
format.  Once the book is downloaded, the talking software on the 
individual's computer helps make the print audible. If the user does 
not 
have such a program, he/she can download Humanware's Victor Reader 
software 
from Bookshare.

            A member or visitor can search the entire database by using 
the 
search function. A search can be done by title, subject or author. One 
can 
also search within a category. For example, if someone were searching 
for a 
book on Helen Keller, he/she could do a general search or search the 
disabilities category, which would cut down on time. Once the book is 
found, 
a page is displayed with the title, author, ISBN, copyright name and 
year, 
length, quality (excellent, good, or fair), and two synopses. One 
synopsis 
is 250 characters or less. The other is 500 words or less. This helps 
the 
user know if he/she has the right book before downloading it.  Once the 
user

is sure he/she has the right book, he/she can download it from the web 
site.

            Bookshare.org is different from other organizations that 
offer 
reading material for the blind in many ways.  First, it costs money. It 
costs $75 the first year and $50 each additional year for the service. 
A 
volunteer can work off this cost by submitting or editing books.  Each 
submitted book is worth $2.50 credit toward membership. If one wants 
credit 
toward a subscription but does not have access to a scanner, he/she can 
validate a book for a 50-cent credit. Validators are essential for 
Bookshare 
to run. These dedicated readers take books that were submitted, 
proofread 
them, and categorize them so they appear on Bookshare in the

right place.

            A person can become a member by filling out a short online 
form 
and submitting a proof of disability to the site either proving that 
they 
are a member of the National Library Service (NLS) or getting a 
printable 
form filled out and signed by his/her eye doctor.  Bookshare has a 
small 
staff and relies on its active volunteer community to grow the 
collection. 
If a member can get a volunteer to scan the book, Bookshare will have 
it on 
the site for the whole community. Bookshare has a wish list for this 
type of 
situation.  Members need to keep in mind that there is no guarantee a 
book 
they ask for will be scanned, however.

            Bookshare also offers another unique feature for braille 
users. 
Any book in excellent or good quality can be bought in braille from the 
Braille Institute of America thanks to a partnership between the two 
organizations. Books can be purchased for 8 cents per braille page for 
unformatted and 36 cents for formatted braille. Membership is not 
necessary 
for purchase of braille books.

            I enjoy scanning books people request for two reasons.  
First, I 
know the book I submit will be read by a member who either wants it or 
needs 
it. Some people who use Bookshare have the equipment to scan books, but 
don't have the time.  I feel fortunate that I have the time and the 
resources to submit books for others.  I scan children's books often 
because 
they are fun to read, and parents, teachers and children can benefit 
from 
them. I also describe pictures in every children's book so the reader 
won't 
miss out on any visual information in the print copy.

            I learn a lot by scanning books on different topics, too. A 
friend asked me to scan a book for her on Buddhism. If she didn't ask, 
that 
would not have been a book I would have scanned. I learned a lot about 
the 
religion and I thanked my friend as much as she thanked me.

            Bookshare.org is a wonderfully diverse library that has 
affected 
the lives of its members in many ways. The size and scope of this 
library 
reflects the needs and interests of its members and volunteers. The 
site 
allows members to gain access to information in a quick and easy way 
that 
was unheard of 10 years ago. Bookshare.org has a growing collection of 
diverse reading material with no end in sight.





                
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