Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mozilla and Bookshare: Volunteer Power!

Guest blog by Pavi Mehta, Volunteer Coordinator

Open source champion Mozilla.org kicked off seven days of service earlier this month: September 14-21st thousands of people donated over 6000 hours of their time to good causes in their communities as part of Mozilla Service Week.

Through one of our engineering volunteers, Aravind Gottipatti, Benetech/Bookshare received an invitation to help them kick-off the week. Betsy Beaumon, Carrie Karnos, Rick Costa and I visited the terrific Mozilla offices in Mountain View last Monday to give the team a big picture view of what Benetech does and present a range of volunteer projects that they could dive into right away. Workstations were set up in their spacious lounge and through the course of the afternoon volunteers swung by to help type in children’s books for our collection (pre-selected books that for various reasons are easier to transcribe than scan). The following Friday a team from Mozilla paid Bookshare a visit and after a brief tour and exciting demos of our legendary Chopper-Scanner and various reading tools they sat down to do more transcribing for us, also pitching in with a backlogged data entry project! Over the week their volunteers helped us put in several reviews, added a dozen books to the collection, received a basic Bookshare proofreading tutorial and learned more about our engineering volunteer opportunities – several expressed interest in staying involved past the end of Service week.

As evidenced from their comments on the site and a couple of blog posts they enjoyed the experience of “Getting to know the Neighbors” as much as we did.

“On Monday, Benetech Bookshare came to Mozilla and did a great brown bag info session about their program. I then spent a few hours (along with some other fellow Mozillians) transcribing children’s books. It give me a warm fuzzy feeling to think about the children that will be able to read some of these books now because I was able to volunteer a few hours of my time.”

Blog posts: An afternoon at Bookshare.org « Week in the Nee ; Its easy to help bookshare.org « Jane’s Ramblings

All in all a great start to a new way of partnering with organizations in the community and opening up our volunteer opportunities to more and more interested, talented and generous people in the area!

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