Magazine article Information Today

Taking Nothing for Granted

Magazine article Information Today

Taking Nothing for Granted

Article excerpt

When sister Meg laments, "November is the most disagreeable month of the year," Jo March, heroine of Louisa May Alcott's timeless Little Women and my all-time favorite fictional character, replies, "That's the reason I was born in it." Meg is right. With cold, windy, wet weather and disappearing daylight, the 30 days of November can be nasty. But there are also reasons to give thanks during this second-to-last month of the year. Ben Affleck is still a free man, and I have some worthwhile articles to share with you from Computers in Libraries, Searcher, and ONLINE.

Word Warriors

If you're reading this column right now, you have a lot to be grateful for. Not because I'm such a witty, scintillating writer, but because for you, seeing the printed word is not a struggle or an impossibility. In "The Librarians' Quest: Transforming the Printed Word So That All May Read" (Computers in Libraries, November/December 2003, p. 14), authors Lori Bell, Sharon Ruda, and Tom Peters look at how digital talking books (DTBs) have the potential to make all written knowledge accessible to folks with visual or physical disabilities. They discuss the eAudio Pilot Project, begun in January 2003. Its goal was to introduce readers to audiobooks in digital format using digital audio playback devices, thus expanding library services and content to special-needs patrons.

eAudio is the "quest" of the Mid-Illinois Talking Hook Center (MITBC), a subregional library for the blind and physically handicapped that serves 5,000 print-impaired readers. To test eAudio, MITBC used Otis, a hand-held MP3 device for playing audible e-books, with the hope that it could enhance both sound quality and end-user functionality. Since most patrons were over the age of 40, there was some concern about how the testers would handle the new technology. However, feedback indicated that close to 75 percent of respondents were generally satisfied with their first attempt at using DTBs, and more than half preferred DTB technology over cassette tapes and players.

Now into its second phase, eAudio has expanded into more states with more participating libraries. This glorious quest of bringing the written word to all is looking more and more like a reachable star rather than a foolish attempt at chasing windmills.

Funderful, Funderful

What library wouldn't be grateful to reap a harvest of grant money? If you're nominated to solicit funding, be it from government, corporate, foundation, or individual sources, Bill Becker's article "Library Grant Money on the Web" (Searcher, November/December 2003, p. 8) is a must-read. Although some libraries are not too keen on looking for outside financial aid, because they feel such sponsored money can Lake the "public" out of public libraries, Becker reports that soliciting library grant money is becoming more and more common, not to mention necessary.

So where to start if you've never had to seek out grant money before? According to Becker, "the chief professional association for fundraisers ... and grant-seeking professionals working across the spectrum of nonprofits is the Association of Fundraising Professionals." The AFP provides lists of the top basic organizations and Web sites that offer money to public, private, and academic institutions. The American Library Association, 60,000 members strong, is a combination resource organization and funder/granter, with both grants and scholarships available. …

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