[bksvol-discuss] Re: need some help--three doors to death

  • From: Mike Pietruk <pietruk@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 1 Sep 2005 08:44:29 -0400 (EDT)


I have much the same background except mine was with CompuServe which 
included a dozen or so years managing forums for the service.
This, of course, required managing and motivating volunteers to do the 
everyday mundane tasks without which forums just couldn't run.
And as the royalties paid out by CompuServe were not that great, it was 
impossible to pay folks to do that work without which forums would 

Bookshare seems to suffer from much the same dilemma.  There are not 
enough administrative paid staff to do the necessary things required to 
keep the service moving forward smoothly; and now without an energetic 
force such as Marissa cajoling the volunteers, morale is dropping as 
evidenced by msgs on the list.

I feel for the paid staff as they appear overworked -- and this is 
beginning to show.  I feel for the volunteers who do the grunt work but 
yet feel frustrated in not getting books approved in a timely manner, 
having their hard work negated by a mindless automated tool, 
having books unknowingly returned to step 1 often for nitpicking reasons 
which could easily be dealt with at the administrative level, et al.
I understand the financial dilemma faced by Benetech in their attempts to 
keep this service going.
I also suspect that eventually, as technology evolves, either something 
better will come along (such as etexts from publishers) or a similar 
service funded by an entity in a stronger financial position to operate it 
as it ought to be.
Bookshare is a first attempt in what might be called file sharing of 
and much of what we complain about is a result of this learning process 
which is inevitable at such first attempts.

I truly believe Benetech has good intentions and the problems we see are a 
result of not having the dollars to run the service as it should and could 
The temporary fix is figuring out what can be safely delegated to 
outsiders and then hiring a volunteer co-ordinator who can co-ordinate and 
oversee these efforts.
If this cannot be done, Bookshare will eventually fall into disarray as 
the administrators will be more overtaxed with work as more and more books 
become submitted not only by inside and outside volunteers but also by 
organizations that BookShare is actively courting.

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