[Athen] Great news, for Bookshare.

Robert Beach rbeach at kckcc.edu
Wed Oct 3 10:08:08 PDT 2007

Another point to remember is that BookShare is already partnering with colleges and universities to collect their scanned books. So, they may not necessarily have to hire staff who are knowledgeable in textbook publishing in order to produce good quality books.

Robert Lee Beach
Assistive Technology Specialist
Kansas City Kansas Community College
7250 State Avenue
Kansas City, KS 66112
Phone: (913) 288-7671
Fax: (913) 288-7678
E-mail: rbeach at kckcc.edu

>>> "Michael O'Brien" <obriemic at hvcc.edu> 10/3/2007 11:33 AM >>>

All good points, except Bookshare doesn't merely scan books, it cleans them


-----Original Message-----
From: athen-bounces at athenpro.org [mailto:athen-bounces at athenpro.org] On
Behalf Of Robert Martinengo
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2007 12:02 PM
To: Access Technologists in Higher Education Network
Subject: [Athen] Great news, for Bookshare.

The $32 million given to Bookshare certainly speaks well about their ability
to score big grants, but I remain skeptical about the substance of this
award. I'm waiting to get a copy of the proposal from the DoE, but I'd like
to offer a few cautionary observations.

Bookshare doesn't have much experience with textbooks. Their collection is
primarily novels, mysteries, sci-fi, and romance. They are going to need
serious upgrades to their infrastructure, and much better relations with
educational publishers, both of which money can buy.

They rely heavily on volunteers, as does RFB&D, but volunteers don't really
enjoy textbooks (As a former studio director for RFB&D, I should know).
Bookshare will have to hire staff with educational publishing experience.

Saying they "expect to add over 100,000 new educational titles in high
quality DAISY and Braille formats over the next five years", is a dubious
claim, for several reasons.

First, its not the size of the collection that's important (RFB&D had
100,000+ titles before they went digital), it's speed and specificity
- having the right book at the right time.

Second, textbooks present challenges to Braille production that require
skilled human transcribers, not just automatic translation, and the issue of
tactile graphics must be addressed.

Third, DAISY/NIMAS textbooks also have plenty of challenges that have yet to
be dealt with, and students are going to need major amounts of training and
support to make effective use of them. Math, and other symbolic texts,
remain a huge challenge.

The point is, to succeed with this grant, Bookshare will have to transform
itself from a cozy, volunteer community in to a professional provider of
professional services. They will try to have it both ways, but it wont work.

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