April, 2019: Cela

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Tonight’s topic is CELA, the Centre for Equitable Library Access. We’ll be discussing how to navigate their new website. Our guest is Rachel B., who is manager of Member Services for CELA. Rachel will discuss the general process, and Jason will run through a demonstration.

Rachel began with a brief description of Cela.. It’s a service through public libraries, for anyone who has a print disability.

The dream for CELA was to offer one site where a user could search in CELA and Bookshare simultaneously. Now, that combined collection is over 700,000 titles. Previously, Bookshare was free to CELA users, but you had to access 2 separate sites. The Bookshare registration was rather complex. Now we have a site where users can access both seamlessly. We’ve kept the same formats we offered previously, but also brought in Bookshare formats, i.e. e-pub books, and books in MS Word. Bookshare also offers books in languages other than French and English.

CELA has its own user group. We had testers from there, test our site using all different screen readers. We’ve also made improvements to the site to make it more user-friendly for people with learning disabilities.

Streamlining registration was another goal, which is still in progress. You no longer have to go through the old Bookshare registration process.

In order to access Bookshare, Bookshare requires proof of disability. Either you fill out a form, and have it certified by a healthcare professional, or you can email CELA a scan of your CNIB ID card. If you’re new to CELA, you’ll have to go through this process. If you were a CNIB client before 2014, and were using the old CNIB library, you automatically already have that proof of disability, so you’re good to go.

A member asked about the user group. Rachel answered that there’s a link near the bottom of their web page under, suggestion box. This will bring up a Survey Monkey form asking for some basic information about you and why you’d like to join. The meetings are tole-free call-ins, every 3 months, on a Tuesday at 7:00.

There’s a CELA news letter. You can sign up from their website.

Work with Bookshare began about 2 years ago. Bookshare does sell a private label that offers their collection to individuals. We couldn’t use that platform however, because we couldn’t share patron data with servers in the U.S. This is a consequence of privacy laws. We found a way to send CELA patron data anonymously. Because of this complication, we had to create our own interface with Bookshare. Doing this has caused some of the delays we’ve experienced. Other libraries for the blind around the world are watching this process, because they too would like to be able to access Bookshare’s collection: in particular, Vision Australia and the RNIB.

A member asked whether it will ever be the case that all collections around the world will be merged. Rachel answered that this would be a far-off dream, dependant on the Marrakesh treaty.

The Accessible Book Consortia is working on a database, in which all collections would become one. The project is still in its infancy. Rachel asked if anyone in the room is involved in the ABC pilot, One member said she is. The pilot is so small that they’re not taking any new testers at the moment.

A member asked about the advantages of Bookshare. Rachel answered that it has many best-selling titles, many text books: a huge collection. The CELA collection is around 100,000, and the Bookshare collection is around 600,000. It also offers the additional formats.

A member asked what e-pub is. Rachel answered that it’s a file format, from which you can easily create braille or audio. It’s like the most basic format, and it can be read on a phone or a braille display without processing.

From the CELA site, you log in, find the book you want, choose the format you want, then, behind the scenes, your request goes to the Bookshare database. The copy is generated specifically for you, and digitally fingerprinted. This is part of the stricter, U.S. copyright laws. From this data, CELA can generate a CD or braille copy for you, or it can go as a digital download, directly to you. You go to the, My Account, section of the website to download your chosen titles. This complex process of acquiring the individuals books for each end user is one of the reasons that the site has taken so long to be viable. Also because of this procedure, your download may take a bit longer than you’re used to.

Rachel went on to discuss new features. The first one is the ability to search CELA and Bookshare simultaneously. When you get to each individual record, there’s a dropdown menu in which you choose your format. This means instead of having one record per format, and having to scroll down through many entries, we now have a tighter way to look at search results.

The other new process is the download process. You select your book, choose your format, enter on “Get it,” then go to, My Account,” to find the “available downloads” section. Also, there’s a direct link right in the notification that tells you your download will be available, you can enter on this link directly.

If you’ve chosen, “direct to player,” it should go directly to your device. If it doesn’t, go to the “My account” link, then the, “available downloads,” link. There, there will be 3 headings, available zip files, direct downloads, and holds, which refers to physical items like braille or CDs.

In response to a member’s question, Rachel said that setting permanent search preferences, will be coming soon.

Another member raised the problem that downloaded zip files are titled with a numeric sequence without a book title. Rachel was unaware of this, and said she would take it back to the team.

A member raised the question of the 12 book limitation on direct downloads. It was a constraint set when player storage was much smaller than it is now. Could we increase it? Rachel said she would bring this feedback back also.

Another member said that some of his searches returned several versions of the same book. Rachel answered that this is a result of multiple sources that the book came from. Any title that has e-pub next to it is a Bookshare title. You can filter your searches by CELA or Bookshare.

Rachel went on to discuss the launch of the new platform. It did not go smoothly. Their whole team felt terrible about it. We have sent out a letter of apology. People have been kind, but we’re working as hard as we can to improve the site, and set a priority list of needs.

Here’s what we’re working on. The first and most obvious priority is the search results; they’re not as refined as they should be. You can easily get over 100 results. This needs a lot of work. We need to make sure that you get streamlined results. It’s the thing we get the most complaints about. We also need to add the advanced search. Currently you cannot search for just author or just title. A trick is to put an author’s name in quotes. This will refine your results. There is a list of search tips on the site.

Our other priority is DAISY text. Currently you will not find DAISY text format books in the search results.

We also must work on being able to set your permanent search preferences, and being able to edit your own information. Holds is already there, but books history isn’t available yet.

CELA used to be able to display books in production, by indicating that a title was, “on order.” That isn’t possible anymore; the title won’t appear in search results until it’s available. This change may be responsible for lost holds.

Another of our goals is for users to be able to set up their own automated profiles. Users will eventually be able to specify genres and characteristics of the types of books they’d like to receive automatically. This was always a “phase two” goal.

A member reported that he’s now getting automatic downloads of random titles. Rachel asked for his info so that she could report it.

A member asked about a timeline. Rachel responded that they’re being very cautious. It’s been a month since we send out an update, and they will be sending one soon. We’re also working hard on registering new members. We’ve taken on new staff, and we’re working as hard as we can.

Magazines of any format are not yet available. It’s a unique feature for us, and we value it.

The priority list is flexible. As we get feedback, we can shift the order of what we work on the hardest.

The newspaper service is up and running. It comes from an outside company, and doesn’t archive, so only the most recent edition is available. A member who works for the TPL commented that if you ask your public library, they can often email you old articles.

Jason then took over to do a demo of using the CELA site. It’s extremely important to note that if your window isn’t maximized, the site won’t present properly. That’s because, like many sites now, the CELA site is a responsive site. This means that the site changes its layout depending on the size of the window its being displayed on. To ensure the window is maximized, using Jaws, press alt plus space bar, then arrow down to maximize and press enter. Google Chrome is definitely the preferred browser. You really shouldn’t be using Internet Explorer for anything, unless you have a very old version of Jaws. If you have a really old version of Jaws, download NVDA, it’s free. Rachel contributed that the site responsiveness was very deliberate. The user group said that many of them use phones or other mobile devices to download books.

The quickest way to get to the search field is to press E for edit. This will take you directly to the edit field. Hit enter to get into forms mode, then type in your search terms. Putting quotes around your search terms will help streamline your results. There’s also a link to browse by genre. It’s right below the search bar. If you’re familiar with the Jaws links list, enter it with F7, and press B, for browse by genre.

Pressing H will allow you to browse by heading, which makes it easier to find the results list. By default, currently, searches yield both CELA and Bookshare results. The fastest way to filter this variable is to press X once you’ve gotten to the top of the results list. This will bring you to the next check box. The first will be Bookshare, the second will be CELA. Check the box to align with your search preference. Having both checked or both not checked means that you’ll get results from both. Checking one filters out the other. Checking a box automatically filters the results list. There are other check boxes for other filters, including language. Currently the default is all results, with no ability to put permanent filters in place. That’s coming soon. Currently, multiple listings for the same title but in different formats, is a consequence of titles having come from multiple sources.

Each listing gives information, including available formats. Currently there’s no audio samples available, but there will be in the future. Below the description is a combo box from which you can choose your format. Next is the, “get it” button. A dialogue will pop up, telling you that the book will be available for download shortly. There will be a link titled, available zip files for download. Entering on this will take you to the download page. From the top of the page, continued to press H for heading, until you get to your available downloads. Waiting times for the book to appear, will vary depending on several factors. Rachel said that if a book is taking longer than 10 minutes, call the contact centre. H for headings will also take you through your available titles. Pressing enter on the link will download it, and you’ll be told that the download is complete.

It’s important to note that Bookshare only offers titles in text, or synthetic speech. If you prefer human voice, filter your results to only show the CELA collection. This is because Bookshare gets their collection directly from a publisher feed. You can have a title from Bookshare converted into synthetic speech, and put onto a CD if you choose. Bookshare can be a reliable option for series in which one or more titles aren’t available with human narration.

The filter check boxes can also be located by using H for headings, and searching for the, filter results, heading. If your window isn’t maximized, this won’t present properly. There is a setting in your browser to ensure that your browser will always maximize when it’s opened.

The maximum number of downloads has been updated to 150 titles in a 30 day period. It’s a rolling 30 day period. This doesn’t affect your preferences set for automatic downloads.

In response to a member’s comment, Rachel remarked that the direct to player option gets complicated when you’re travelling. Settings will reset themselves, so it’s better to download what you want before you go. Many hotel and transportation y-fi networks have a second step of taking you to a web page, and that will mess up your direct to player process.

The Dolphin Easy Reader ap is very good. It handles DAISY books very well, and it’s free.

Ian opened up the group for questions or tips unrelated to the main topic.

A member asked if there’s a way to distinguish between different numbers under the same contact entry, when sending or receiving calls and texts. No one had any suggestions other than creating multiple contacts. Another member contributed that if one contact sends messages from multiple devices, the messages come in different streams.

A member asked if there’s a gesture to get to the bottom of a list on the iPhone. Someone suggested a 4-finger double tap.