[bksvol-discuss] Re: our commitment to you: from Jim Fruchterman and Betsy Beaumon

  • From: Scott Rains <scottr@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2010 12:13:43 -0700


We all have experienced how time-consuming it can be to search archive of this 
list to find a particular post. Very helpful to Larry's quest would be someone 
who volunteered to capture and preserve all the detail such as what Jamie just 
offered. That way it can be evaluated against the collection, partners list, 
etc. then published for all as  the sort of tool Larry has requested.


Scott Rains
Benetech Fellow, Bookshare Volunteer Department
From: bksvol-discuss-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [bksvol-discuss-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] 
On Behalf Of Jamie Prater [jdprater@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Friday, August 06, 2010 12:05 PM
To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [bksvol-discuss] Re: our commitment to you: from Jim Fruchterman and 
Betsy Beaumon

Hi, books by Lois Gladys Leppard would be great and I'd love to proofread some 
good scans.  There are over 40 books about the character Mandie and bookshare 
currently doesn't have half that much.  Also older Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and 
lots of stuff I'm sure from the 1980s and 1990s and older.  Just a few quick 
ideas.  Have a blessed day.
----- Original Message -----
From: Larry Lumpkin<mailto:llumpkin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, August 06, 2010 1:19 PM
Subject: [bksvol-discuss] Re: our commitment to you: from Jim Fruchterman and 
Betsy Beaumon

What would be helpful would be specific series of books needed, genra or 
titles.  My wife is good at finding books from used bookstores and we don't 
mind buying if we can be reasonably assured that our work won't be replaced.

[mailto:bksvol-discuss-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Nicole Gnutzman
Sent: Friday, August 06, 2010 12:46 PM
To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Cc: Jim Fruchterman; Betsy Beaumon
Subject: [bksvol-discuss] our commitment to you: from Jim Fruchterman and Betsy 

Jim and Betsy asked me to share their thoughts on Benetech's commitment to its 
volunteer program.
Dear Bookshare Volunteers,
We wanted to give you some thoughts on the critical importance of volunteers to 
Bookshare and its mission of getting everybody in the world with a print 
disability access to the books they need for education, employment and full 
inclusion in society.  Although there’s been a lot of change in Bookshare, one 
thing that won’t change is our need for volunteers that share our dedication to 
that mission.
Bookshare is the first library for people with print disabilities built 
primarily by people with print disabilities (as well as book-lovers of all 
types!).  Our credo has been that if someone thought a book was worth scanning, 
we thought it was worth sharing.  We knew that people with disabilities had few 
choices for accessible materials, and that scanning was a frustrating and slow 
The volunteers built Bookshare into a potent force for equality: we’ve 
revolutionized a field that was falling far short of meeting the goal of 
equality when it comes to access to the printed word.  And you’ve worked with 
us to revolutionize the quality of our scanned books through meticulous 
proofreading. Thanks to partnerships with over 60 publishers (especially a 
handful of huge trade publishers), we have now been able to add thousands of 
new titles to Bookshare electronically, delighting our users.  Scott and Pavi 
have shared with us, and our management team, some of the negative impacts this 
has had on the morale of some of our volunteers.  This is especially true when 
a publisher-supplied version of a title displaces a volunteer-supplied version 
of that same title.
We know some people feel like that’s not respectful of their volunteer time, or 
that somehow their volunteer time was wasted.  I hope you realize that it has 
been the potent force of our volunteers creating Bookshare that has brought so 
many modern publishers to the table, since we can tell them that we already can 
scan all of their books, but providing it electronically will save us time and 
the cost of buying a book, chopping it, scanning it and proofreading it. The 
two things they want in return from us is to publicize their social 
responsibility and replace our scanned versions with the version they supply.  
The replacement issue is pretty much a standard requirement: publishers want to 
be assured of the quality of their books we’re distributing. For the publishers 
it’s built into the publishing culture, they do believe their original product 
is superior and that this requirement implements their contractual 
responsibilities to the authors, even though most readers will concur that 
these are also not perfect.  While there are exceptions, the value of having 
15-20,000 publisher supplied books over a year to our users is incredibly high.
These publisher partnerships are a terrific way to help advance our mission, in 
terms of quality, quantity and uniquely, reach outside the United States.  But, 
they are not going to replace our need for volunteers.  We have a long way to 
go to deliver equal access to our users, and the market is going to fail to 
fill these needs for the foreseeable future (even as we applaud the recent 
accessibility work of Amazon, Apple and Google).
Let me give you some ideas of the gaps that still exist:

�       Older books, specialty books, or simply books that aren’t in the top 5% 
of sales during the years since 2000.  While it makes sense for us to invest 
the effort of the amazing Robin Seaman, our Publisher Liaison, and our 
engineering team to support a publisher who can give us 4,000 titles at once, 
there aren’t very many more of those big name publishers, but there are over 
25,000 publishers.

�       Proofing PDF files. The bulk of publishers in the U.S., and almost all 
publishers in the developing world, don’t have the modern XML capabilities of 
the major trade publishers.  We are getting tons of PDF books from these 
publishers, which need volunteer effort to convert into accessible form.

�       The international challenge: new titles, new publishers, new languages 
and new communities of Bookshare volunteers in other countries who would 
benefit from mentoring.  Americans have Bookshare, but the average person with 
a print disability has nothing.  We have so much more to do globally!

�       Proofing textbooks.  The textbook industry is way behind the technology 
curve and Carrie is sitting on stacks of hardcopy textbooks sent in by teachers 
from around the country.

�       Metadata.  Even if we have something, it only helps if the person 
looking for it finds it.  We can use significant volunteer help cleaning up the 
information about our information.

�       Quality improvements.  Improving quality on older, lower quality books.

�       Image description.  A huge challenge that our field has barely begun to 
scratch the surface of.  Our publisher contracts do allow us to add them to the 
publisher-supplied books and we   recently received a major award over five 
years from the Department of Ed for the DIAGRAM Center, to research and then 
develop technology to reduce the cost of doing image descriptions. The 
centerpiece is developing tools for better and faster volunteer image 
description. Stay tuned!
The list goes on.  While the need for volunteer work on major trade books of 
the last five years is going down as these come in directly from publishers, 
these other needs are acute.
Our responsibility is to get better at communicating with volunteers about our 
needs, and about what’s going to be happening.  Our technology roadmap has 
numerous improvements planned around improving visibility on these issues so 
that you can avoid doing those books that are likely to come in directly in 
from the publisher.  But, there are and will be thousands of opportunities for 
volunteer tasks that are unlikely to ever be done any other way than through 
volunteer efforts.  We really want to create systems where having volunteer 
work displaced quickly by publisher supplied content is a rarity.
We hope you’ll find personally rewarding volunteer opportunities now, and in 
the future, with Benetech.  For those of you who aren’t excited about the 
changes, we understand.  But, please be 100% clear:  Bookshare volunteers have 
been the primary force for revolutionary change in accessibility of books.  
There are many thousands of students and adults with disabilities that have far 
greater access to the printed word thanks to your past efforts.  But, the 
revolution is far from finished: we’re serving 100,000 people today and there 
are over 100,000,000 who need Bookshare on the planet.  We hope you’ll continue 
to volunteer your time in helping realize the vision we all share of equal 
access for everyone who needs it!
Jim Fruchterman & Betsy Beaumon

Nicole Gnutzman
Director, Literacy Operations


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