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Town Hall Committee about CNIB Library (Part 2)

Meeting Date: 
Saturday, October 29, 2011

Session 3 –

John Rafferty – Quick walkthrough of the Reading.  Re-imagined document (pre-read). There are some key pieces: Page 2 – Imperative to act – emphasizes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. All other G8 countries have some level of sustainable funding, and we want to create new entities of libraries to sit in. this will be called the hub which comes out of something called IELA. Where we are at today – in the absence of federally led initiative, CNIB is going to create a hub to move library services out of a charitable model. We would love the federal government to do this. Only reason we are involved is because Federal government isn’t doing anything.

First statement : All stakeholders, including CNIB agree that access to info is a Charter Right. The federal government should lead this initiative with print disabilities. We cannot rely on a charitable institution for library services. We all agree on that – charitable operations should not be responsible for delivering this.

Concept – create a hub and move into a separate organization to act as an aggregator of content and deliver content through the providers (library services) – for end users to have equitable access. CNIB reality – doing it for so many years – we need to recognize our motivation is to create for the end user what we think is the right model for Canada. If the concept of a central hub is not achieved then CNIB will go forward - options will be presented – BOD will have to decide how to balance need for library services with clients.

Draft vision: Create a nationwide digital library and vision organization that will support equitable access to Canadians with print disabilities.

Vision will include equality, sustainability, flexibility, support, quality of life, etc.

List of partnerships – public libraries, end users, communities, government, publishers, authors, booksellers, foundations.

Draft supply chain – what it is that we say they fit in this hub. Author creating content - end user have access to this content

Timeline – when IELA was not moving forward on federal level we recruited external talent – blank paper to start with – question everything – CNIB engaged in this – start again create conceptual document, engagement to make sure that what we are creating in this hub has everyone’s input – We are currently in the middle of phase one which is to begin engagement.

Jane: Each person allowed one comment or question

Anthony – 2 minutes to ask question, John will have 2 minutes to respond. Comments 90 seconds

We do have 20-25 people on the line – stick to our times. 30 second warning

Q and A

Beverly Berger

Anthony Giardano

Teresa – I would like to praise John Rafferty for having this. Nice way to get info out to people. Enjoyed it. Thank you Mr. Rafferty

John Rafferty – My pleasure, happy to do it as often as I get invited. Please contact me to discuss further.

Charles Mossup

Randy Eddie

Bubbles Jacobs – No question yet

Lindsay Stark


Patricia Campbell

Jasmine Sushart

Christine Cameron

Jane Busby

Karen Sullivan

Kirsten Hill

John – Technical issues? Full conversation mode – ask people to keep quiet.

Go by geographic location:

Questions from:

Newfoundland and Labrador: No one wishes to speak

Nova Scotia: no one wishes to speak

New Brunswick: no one wishes to speak

PEI: no one wishes to speak


Rajesh Malik from Montreal – Thanks to John Rafferty.

Questions: Concerning the finances – Library and Archives Canada was given 3 million to investigate the issue of accessible materials – how was this money spent? Accountability?  From the Federal government side – suppose they are looking at their finances if they are to take over the provision of library services- any calculations how much money would be involved in running these library provision services?

John: Question1 – No idea how they spent the 3 million dollars – I know there was a direct request for accountability on that spending that hasn’t been responded to. Their goal was to create a strategy for Canada to deliver equitable library access. Lots of consultation and lots of thought – but I can’t tell you how the money was spent.

Question 2: Federal government – thought that they will take responsibility for this – there is no appetite for federal government to take on this responsibility. No specific number of hub budget – we know what CNIB spends on library services and the number this hub would need is more than CNIB spends in order to do a better job

Rajesh – Thanks. The first question you answered to best of ability – maybe we should go to auditor general. Where is funding going to come from? How much does CNIB spend on provision of library services?

John: Funding model should include provincial, federal and private funding. We hope federal government would be part of that. CNIB budget is 10 million per year – Expect annual cost for HUB would be more than that.

Heather and Mike from Montreal: Thanks John. Question: If we can’t force them to give funding – is there another way to get the government to join?

John: Federal government needs to be a part of solution and they need to have a financial component. We can apply to any one of federal agencies because of role this hub has. The hub can apply for – separate entity from CNIB. Sits outside charitable model.


Roger Khoury (London): Commend today and the town hall meeting about this important issue. Question: Concerns about something new – how much of it is new and how much of it is reinventing the wheel. Bookshare or national reading services have huge repositories of books and alternate formats so by creating this are you going to tap into their resources so you aren’t recreating the wheel?

John: Don’t want to reinvent something that already exists – Bookshare copyright laws prevent access. But we are working on project to share alternate format materials under copyright. Hub – will have a better framework so that the role of the hub will be smaller and it will be a central repository rather that control point building own content.

Roger: I don’t understand the restriction of copyright. How does it prevent Bookshare or national reading services?

John: USA amendment – prevents national library service in USA from sharing to anyone outside the USA. We are looking to create a North American Free Trade agreement to get around these issues

Manjesh (Ottawa): Question - Other than library and archives services are there any other federal department that could take on this project? Clarification: Do we not want Federal government to be a part of this?

John: Start with your second point - Are we stating that we don’t want federal government – We are only doing this because of the absence of the federal government. Our role is to create this entity and move it out of a charitable model. We would love federal government to create a department. Question 1 – other department for funding sources – this is about building a digital repository – opportunity with a number of different departments. Digital alternate format for rural and remote areas. Indian and Northern Affairs – there are other areas. HRSDC – owns office of disability so option to talk into that area – other federal areas to talk to.

Manjesh: If there is no principle department taking responsibility it will be difficult to get anything done – a better option one could take a lead and others will fall into place – it’s going to get hard to get anything done.

John – We were hoping that the first place to take lead should be Library and Archive services but they have said they will not take the lead – we will continue to try find a lead sponsor from federal government.

Bubbles Jacobs (Ontario): How will books be produced – now produced by volunteers?

John: Pure speculation. I can offer thoughts but we haven’t contemplated what it looks like. Depends on what final version of hub looks like – with regard to technology (synthetic voice, epub3 standards) and role of volunteers. We have not got to this point – that is really part of phase 3. Suggest that there would be opportunity for volunteer work to continue but that would be up to the Hub not CNIB.

Bubbles: Possibility for some volunteers to be paid doing this job? Are they all volunteers now in Canada?

John:  Yes but audio is now being outsourced by publishers – the market for audio is becoming more main stream. More and more of that work is being done on a paid basis.

 1:01:10 James Blue (Ottawa): John I have a comment: The background document could be served better to Federal government if it was modeled in a more of a business plan. No number of users and their dependency on it? Do you have information on this?

John: This particular 12 page document is for discussion. This is designed for consultation and input. We have the next document which is a business model; who potential users are, what type of communities they come from. It will be coming soon.

Jane:  James any follow up?

James: Good answer. I assumed it was a preliminary document. Looking for people to help – it would be useful to provide advice

John: Laurie Soutay who is in the room is our consultant in charge of the project for us. She will be reaching out if anyone is offering to help

Aman (Toronto): Thank you everyone for this discussion. Thank you, John for being here. Question: We are still in first phase – in times with economy how optimistic are we that if the federal government is not going to participate how much are we expecting provincial and municipal governments to participate?

John: I am an overly optimistic person. I think provincial governments  - it is their responsibility to provide library services to citizens. Request we made for interim funding to CNIB – asked for support. NWT, Alberta, Ontario, NB – good sign for level of opportunity that is there. Interim: 1 time grant from federal government. Challenge is governments shy away from anything they see as too long term. It is always easier to create a case for something that is shorter in nature. Reasonably optimistic. Have to go in with optimistic point of view. Our argument is hugely compelling

 2:05:50 Charlotte: Ottawa: Feels really great to have conversation about engagement and collaboration. We haven’t made this very often. It’s a good sign that we are changing. Question: Governance and how John envisions how the HUB would roll out. I see so many specific sectors involved in this activity, the not for profit sector, providing services there’s the private sector providing services, the government sector who clearly has a duty and an obligation to respond to the Canadians and there’s the consumer. Given the environment can you lay out a vision for the governance model and how the hub will successfully be planned?

John: Governance – you have nailed the people who would be involved in governance – I would add that we should add people from the library community. Stakeholders - we need representation from each stakeholder group. Governments, end users, people from the libraries, publishing perspective, Governance is going to be complex, but will be simple once people are signed on to the reason for the business to exist, the agreement on what the deliverable is from the hub becomes the essence of how you get to the governance, it can get quite complicated which is why we have said in this document we don’t want to talk about governance until such time as we what know what this model is trying to achieve.

Charlotte: I believe that the governance issue has to be responded to at least a high level going in in order to get it to give the process legitimacy relative to establishing the hub.

On other side I see libraries in the business of collection preservation and distribution. How would you see using the CNIB infrastructure relative to design, development and distribution of books in electronic format?

John: A high level statement in terms of governance would be that governance needs to include members from all identified stakeholder groups. That would be a broad high level way of making sure that as a stakeholder they need to be involved in governance. Time would not allow me to answer that other question in the next 30 seconds, so I think you and I can chat as it is an important question.


Colleen Waters: I have a comment I want to make sure that in this whole hub thing I know it’s very conceptual – and it’s very important to lay it out. There has been nothing said about Braille – I think that is vital. I know we  use electronic too but having grown up in school where we used Braille I still love it and still love to read it and it’s got to be included somewhere.

John:  Braille is part of the definition is what we mean in the part of alternate formats and the hub’s role is to deliver in all formats. Braille is implicit in everything we are talking about. Platform needs to have at its hub, needs to be a form of e-text file that needs to be easily created into Braille in very simple steps. I think that it’s a good point – maybe we believe it to be implicit. We need to call it out more often in the document because it maybe doesn’t read as loud as it should.

No Follow up


Dave Greenfield, Saskatoon: On the question of governance: John stated that you want this hub to be separate entity from the CNIB you would like it to be a free standing entity. When we look at governance and the idea of stake holders would you be prepared to step back and say that the CNIB is not a stakeholder and allow the governance to be consumers and possibly representatives from libraries, and government and publishers? (Truly distinct from the CNIB)

John: Would I be prepared to say today that we would step away from a future role of governance? I think if circumstances were completely right in what the hub’s role was and who else was around the table and we were comfortable that that governance model would ensure that Canadians who were blind and partially sighted were going to have equitable access, then yes I’m not sure that hub would want us to, but if that’s the role they wanted. We are so many steps away from that. At the moment we are a key stakeholder because we are provider of the service today and we are trying to move that into a different model. It would be difficult to think that the model wouldn’t include us but if that’s what all of the stakeholders want in the creation of it I don’t think we would not be a barrier

Dave: I would generally encourage that the consumers should have at least a 50 % representation on any governing body of hub. Encourage consumer presence be fairly predominant.

John: I would agree consumer presence needs to be a significant component of governance. Moving forward there are a number of ways that

the consumer governance can take shape there are library groups an d publishing groups that probably would have more comment on that 50%  than we ever would.

Mark Workman, Edmonton: I am going to ask JR to respond to a hypothetical. I recognize that is a hypothetical I think it’s a genuine possibility so I hope that the CNIB has given some thought to this. So the possibility is that we go to go to government and they say, we are prepared to kick in some money, but we don’t want to create a whole new institution so we will give CNIB the money and you guys can run the hub.

Has the CNIB thought about how they would respond to that possibility?

JR: We haven’t had any open discussion so I’m going to tell you this is John’s perspective on that that has been discussed with some people but we haven’t had a long conversation on that possibility. I will tell you this, if we felt we had these commitments from a number of the stakeholder funding groups, some provincial governments, federal government, and they said we agree with the concept and we want to participate but we want CNIB to govern this for us, we still have the opportunity as CNIB to say that ok we will create a completely separate entity that can have the same governance model as this hub that will be completely arm’s length as a not for profit. We would still be in the position to transfer it outside of CNIB. The fact that the government wants CNIB to do it doesn’t mean we have to do it within the single entity that’s there today, we can still create a separate entity, and that would be our goal.

MW: Related to that point, can you commit to doing that is that something you are prepared to say this is what we will do should that circumstance occur?

JR: As it is a hypothetical, I am never going to commit to a hypothetical, but I will give you my opinion. If there’s no strings attached with the way some of these funders would contemplate giving money for the provision of alternate format, that would prevent us from doing it, then that’s how we want to achieve it. This is an important thing for us to start talking about.

Our principles are that we don’t believe the library services should exist in a charitable model. We want to do everything to move it outside of the charitable model and as long as funders don’t prevent us from doing that, we would have to decide if we want to say no to funding if that’s the case.

Nora Sarsons, BC: Thanks John for being there.  I think I’m the biggest library fan in Canada. In your original comments you talked about something like IELA you kept referring to a model, sounded like IELA, I don’t know what that is.

John Rafferty: IELA is the acronym for Initiative for Equitable Library Access which was the project that Library and Archives and Canada was funded $3million to look at library access.

NS: Thanks. This is very interesting and a lot of my questions have been answered.

Peg Mercer: This is a great chance to have this forum. About the hub, I would like to ensure that the expertise that has been built up at the CNIB library for I don’t know how many years, that historically that would not be lost in the process of creating the hub and even the physical plan if they could remain there physically and the resources maintained but of course funded as we were discussing. that is my primary thing. And in terms of corporate funding, how would that come into play, who would be approached – what type of corporate funding are you considering?

JR: Our hope would be that a large part of the initial intellectual property and processes that would exist in the hub, would be transferred out of the CNIB and we wouldn’t lose that intellectual property that’s been built up over many years. The type of corporate funders could be from a number of different areas, from technical organizations, to universities, to book sellers, to foundations whose purpose is to fund literacy so there’s a number of different of private funding options that have been broadly identified not specifically targeted, but broadly identified to give you a concept of that.

PM: So regarding the hub, the actual physical plans would be moved would it not be a feasible thing to have the publicly funded hub to be housed where it is and to have the resources and the people that man thopse resources to stay in place.

JR: I think that it could possibly be it is really up to the hub’s governance is  whether they remain physically where they are and become a tenant in the building that they are in or if they relocate within the community here I would imagine if there are jobs that people at the CNIB do that are going to be done by the hub in the future that those people would be transferred and their employer would change but their jobs wouldn’t necessarily. Those are the types of things I tend to agree, I hope that’s the case, but it would depend on the governance of the hub.

Called for comments/questions from the Territories – None

Called back to Robert Trudel of Quebec, no reply

Called for speakers from Ontario or Quebec

Marie Claude, Toronto: Are there going to be any more alternate format books in the public libraries? (Paraphrased by person in room, call not clear)

JR: The hope - the goal of the hub is to create this centre that would mean that all of the alternate format content would be available in every public library everywhere in Canada because the content exists on a digital bookshelf as opposed to a literal bookshelf, the ability would be there to go into any public library and leave with the content from this central alternate format. So the goal would be yes we want to dramatically increase the amount of alternate format available in this future world of the hub as opposed to providing the level that we do.

No follow up.

Called for any further comments/questions from across Canada from those who have not spoken yet.

Sebastien, Toronto: In the beginning, you mentioned having a discussion on copyright, the NAFTA, is that extended to the UK, Australia and so on - perhaps something like an exchange program so that could make the accessibility much larger and wider so all of us can benefit more.

JR: The answer is yes, CNIB and this is something we would hope that this is something the hub, not CNIB would do, is part of something called the Tiger Project which is part of the World Intellectual Property Organizations Project, that would allow trusted intermediaries to share alternate format content that has been created in other countries including the UK, South Africa Australia, etc. to allow them to share that content cross border under copyright exceptions.  Yes we are working on that we are hoping there will be a finalized treaty, we are working in conjunction with the worldwide union on the treaty that would allow that type of content to flow not only from English speaking countries, but also so we can start getting content form other organization from around the world and also in other languages

Sebastien: Let’s say during the building of the hub different processes and so forth would you have testers, volunteers to see how it’s going a measure of progress and that sort of thing?

JR: That would be, I would imagine part of the phase roll out when you get to that, I would contemplate that that would be the case, I can’t say that specifically that I am aware of what that would look like that but I would imagine that would be how it would be rolled out, yes.

Call for anyone who has not had a chance to speak yet.

No response, so go to 2 second chances to comment/question.

Roger Khoury, London: The concern that I have is with organizations reinventing the wheel.  As Canadians we can purchase a membership to access 60,000 books from Bookshare, which is in the US - their copyright will allow us to access those 60,000 out of the 120,000 that they have so my concern is we have all these little pockets of organizations and yet they are not sharing, they are not to talking to one another. So when you create another hub you are creating another little corner that is going to reinvent the wheel - without the CNIB library or all these other organizations in the States sharing, we can’t get those books.

JR: you are talking about the subset that is outside of copyright, and we are talking to Jim *** at Bookshare about that as we don’t want to reinvent things. The hub is not designed as something as something as an organization that is going to be creating books that already exist but as a place to aggregate this content to provide a single clearing house if you want to call it that for people to come to for those who are more sophisticated users who want to go directly to Bookshare or directly to other organizations that’s fine but a lot of people are not aware of that we are certainly not interested in recreating content that an organization like Bookshare already has. But we need to be able to have, rather than every library trying to figure out all the Bookshares of the world, we want to have a central repository that could look at how do we do this - if that makes sense. We are in agreement with not wanting to recreate we are looking everywhere at everyone that already has this content so we don’t have to recreate the world.

RK: My concern is I’d like to see them converge and right now it seems like everybody is in their own little corner.

JR: Yes, I agree and I’d love to see world where we don’t need a hub because everything is available in alternate format and that is what is available anyway and the idea of trying to create this central place in order to help with this isn’t necessary.

Jane: We are at time, last words from John Rafferty and Donna.

JR: Because this is the 3rd of 3 I want to thank those who have been moderating and to Donna and the people who have been involved in putting this together and allowing me to be here today. Its great I said to Donna that we don’t want this to be an event we want this to be the beginning of a conversation my email is Anyone that did not ask a question or who has other questions or who wants to be involved more in the future dialogue. We will only be better the more voices we hear.  Our job is to listen to everything and hopefully come up with a model that we get consensus and get a united voice on that will allow us to move library services out of the charitable environment into a sustainable funded world where the amount of content grows significantly. Thanks for your questions.

Question: Is there a time frame when you might get back to us when you know report on progress?

JR: We will certainly stay in touch with Donna if the opportunity exists for on future town halls as a methodology. We have a questionnaire that we are going to be posting and getting out to everyone a survey to help gather input as a question mark and we encourage anyone who wants to participate that we will find the right vehicle to keep the conversation going.

Question: Spelling of Email:

Melanie: For those that want to participate in an ongoing dialogue, I will be developing an email distribution list, so I just need people’s permission as to who wants to be on it and just let me know by email.

Richard: can you send yours and John’s email to those who have registered about the ongoing dialogue.

Melanie: I will send the same group email and format that I have been sending the other documents to.

Donna: I just want to thank everybody for having participated today. I want to thank John Rafferty and Lori Sutay for being here. I want to thank my hardworking committee, my right hand lady, Melanie Moore and her husband Brian for being so technically able to help us out, Richard Marion out of Vancouver, Pat Seed in Thunder Bay, our 2 moderators, Jane Blaine of Canadian Blind Sports and Anthony Tibbs of AEBC, I also want to thank especially my 3 board members for showing up today, Mal?, Rajesh and Mark, thank you all very much for your support. Good afternoon from Canada.

Jane thanks everyone and for the opportunity to moderate.


That’s a wrap.

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