Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

February 28, 2000

Union Catalog For Blind and Physically Handicapped Readers Adds 38,000 Records of British-Produced Braille and Audio Materials

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress has added more than 38,000 bibliographic records from the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) of the United Kingdom into its Union Catalog of braille and audio reading materials for blind and physically handicapped readers. The Union Catalog now holds more than 340,000 bibliographic records, representing special-materials collections in the United States, Ireland, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Stephen King, Director of Technical and Consumer Services for the RNIB, said, "This cooperative effort with the Library of Congress means that our titles, available for sale or interlibrary loan, will be accessible on-line internationally through the Internet. Not only will citizens in the United Kingdom benefit, as well as those in the United States, but everyone internationally. And, this has been accomplished at minimal cost." RNIB is the leading agency working on behalf of blind and visually disabled individuals in the United Kingdom, as well as being one of the world's foremost producers of books in special format.

"The Library's Union Catalog of reading materials for blind and physically handicapped individuals represents the most comprehensive bibliographic tool of its kind in the world. Accessibility to this catalog through the Internet has assured its use worldwide by eligible blind and physically handicapped individuals and represents yet another achievement by the Library of Congress in meeting its twin goals of international cataloging cooperation and making its own collections more widely accessible," said Frank Kurt Cylke, Director of the Library's National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

The NLS/RNIB project was the culmination of several years' effort. It is part of an RNIB commitment to make available its holdings to users of the NLS Union Catalog through interlibrary loan or sale. The 38,000 records represent book titles recorded on two and four-track format cassette tapes, as well as braille books and musical scores. Book titles in Moon format, a simplified tactile writing system based upon the standard English alphabet, will be added in the near future. Some special-format titles that are not available for sale or interlibrary loan, however, will not be added.

Robert Axtell, head of the NLS Bibliographic Control Section, who oversaw the logistics of converting the 38,000 bibliographic records for these special-format materials said, "This contribution is a signal milestone on the path toward universal bibliographic control of books in special format."

The Union catalog is intended to both serve as a tool for resource sharing as an interlibrary loan, as well as to reduce the duplication of effort among producers of books in special format.

For public information contact: Robert E. Fistick, Head, Publications and Media Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, 1291 Taylor St. N.W., Washington, DC 20542; telephone: (202) 707-9279; e-mail: rfis@loc.gov.

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PR 00-021
2/28/00
ISSN 0731-3527

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