Minutes: 7th Annual General Meeting (August 25, 2012)

Minutes of the 7th Book Ideas Annual General Meeting
August 25, 2012, 4-5pm

Report on sixth year of operation, July 31, 2011 – July 1, 2012

The meeting started at 4:10pm. 

All members and users were thanked for a successful sixth year, in particular Masako Kikuchi, who, as in all previous years, was always present to greet and draw in newcomers, explain Book Ideas in Japanese, and spread the word among her many contacts; Kazuko Sasaki for booking the room for us; Mine for helping with the maintenance of our blog. Our presenters--Andrea Booth, Becky Kikuchi, and Masako Kikuchi at our Halloween event, and Nuniek Miyasaka and Yetti Delima, who spoke on Muslim women in Japan--were thanked for generously donating their time and expertise. Yet others have brought snacks for us to share, and have helped us in various other ways. 

1. Report on sixth year of operation 
The agenda for the meeting with 'Suggestions for feedback' was sent to all 17 members, emailed to all users, and posted on bookideasfuchu.blogspot.com; one note of encouragement was received. 

1.1 Opening dates and times, venue
Book Ideas has been open 6 times since July 23, 2011, on Saturdays from 10am to 5pm, except for one Japanese holiday and one other Sunday. It has been open for a total of 69 times since its inception on August 19, 2006. Book Ideas was held at Momijigaoka Bunka Center three times, twice in our apartment, and once in the Community Room of the apartment building at Momijigaoka 2-8-13 (CR). As stated in all previous reports, the room on the third floor of the Bunka Center is still the best choice because of its size. People can spread out, there are enough tables to display all materials, and kids have space to play. Equally important is its location next to the library; many of our visitors notice us on their way there. As in previous years, the CR was used for the event close to Christmas. Set-up and especially decorating was easier, and visitors could stay beyond the 5pm deadline at the Bunka Center. However, parking, including bikes, is difficult, and there were almost no incidental visitors; only a few residents of the building came in to look around. For the opening in March and the Easter egg decorating, we met in our apartment. Although this minimized set-up work, and offered our visitors a wider range of materials, there was only one new visitor. 

1.2 Visitors, books checked out, presentations
There have been between 20 and about 30 visitors each time, and between 15 and 65 books have been checked out by 7 to 20 people. There is no limit to the number of items that can be checked out, but according to the Checkout Procedure implemented after the general meeting in September 2008, items may only be borrowed for up to three months. In general, people return the items in a timely fashion, but there are still 10 books that have been checked out by 9 people in 2007, 2008 and 2009, which are presumably lost. There are another 15 books overdue; individual reminder mails have been sent. Fewer people attend Book Ideas when it is held in our apartment and the CR; there was only one new visitor, and even some regulars seem to hesitate. As in last year, English children's books were the most popular items. Otherwise, there doesn’t appear to be a single most popular category. 

Comments/ProposalsMembers were asked for suggestions for improving the book selection. 
Feedback: Masako Kikuchi proposed organizing the English children's books by level of English, to help direct readers to appropriate material. Birgit suggested that members and users make specific requests for additions to the selection the next time Book Ideas is held at our apartment. There has been one presentation, attended by 16 people (On being a Muslim woman in Japan), one book reading (Halloween) attended by 18 people, and Easter egg decorating attended by 24 people. 

1.3 Members, change in membership, users, mailing list, blog
In contrast to previous years, when we had 20 members, we currently have 17 members. 11 members are Japanese, and 14 are Fuchu residents. We have one member from Wako-shi in Saitama, one from Chofu, one from Koganei. Anyone who wants to check out a title is asked to enter his or her name and contact details in a sign-up book; these people are by definition 'users'. Only one person per family is asked to register. There are 209 users, and 11 signed up in the past year. Many users check out books regularly, others only once. There are visitors who come once to have a look, while others come by for a chat, and some users come to check out materials only. Some users ask for advice on books, especially regarding the difficulty and level of English. There have been no concerns voiced about e-mail messages sent, although some keep bouncing back. Flyers cannot be attached to users’ cell phone e-mails, thus a blog was created in December 2007 to enable users to check for updates. It is now possible to browse Book Ideas titles by accessing a link available on the blog. 

1.4 Book Exchange
It was a success in its inception year, when many items changed hands, even though some items remained at closing time. In the past year it was not used as much. 1.5. Lending by sending - NEW Implemented this year, this new service enables users to receive books by mail and pay for postage on delivery. Thus far, only one person in Kanagawa has taken advantage of this service. 

2. Plans 

Since Birgit will continue in her paid position in Yokohama, Book Ideas can open during the (German) school holidays only, namely in the summer, at the end of October, the end of December, and during spring break. 

2.1 Alternative venues
The CR is good for hosting Christmas and Easter events, and occasional Open House sessions can be held at our apartment. No other venue is being considered at this time. 

2.2 Presentations, informal slide shows during regular hours
Potential presentation topics include talks on Inner Mongolia, Faroe Island, and the experience of a female Catholic priest in Japan. However, no plans have been finalized.

Feedback: It was agreed that the presentation on Inner Mongolia should be held in Japanese rather than in English. 

2.3 Children’s sessions
The Halloween session, which included readings of children's books, were very well received. 

2.4 Procedure for ensuring return of checked-out items  
E-mail reminders were sent out: some messages bounced back, several users answered, several returned the checked-out items in response to the reminder, and some users have not yet answered. Comments/proposals: It was proposed that the check-out procedure be changed to accommodate the new Book Ideas schedule, which entails fewer openings and chances for users to return books. Users would be allowed to keep items for 6 months (approx. 3 openings of Book Ideas), after which time they would have to email Birgit. Feedback: Six months were considered a long time to keep books; however, it was also agreed that it is difficult to return items on the few select days that Book Ideas is open. The check-out procedure will be updated. 

2.5 Blog 
Although we look to increase the use of the Book Ideas blog tool as a place for people to give feedback on the service, to ask questions, and to access links to related events (for example, "Book Mooch"), interest remains low. 

Comments/proposals: Members were asked about their level of engagement with the blog; whether there were any suggestions for improvement of the blog; Mine suggested expanding Book Ideas' online impact by creating a Facebook page, etc. 
Feedback: It was agreed that engagement with the blog is generally low; at present, Book Ideas remains a fairly local service, and Fuchu residents do not require the blog to receive updates about meeting dates and locations. Before any work is done on the blog or other online resources, the future plans and aims for Book Ideas will have to be reevaluated. 

3. Other (Input from members and users) 
One comment was received: "…sounds like you have had very interesting meetings and I would like to have attended many of them. Think you are doing a great service to the community and keep the good work up." 

The meeting was adjourned at 4:45pm. 

Respectfully submitted, 
Mine (Secretary)

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