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September 13, 2001

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped Establishes Digital Long-Term Planning Group

Emerging digital information technologies have led the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) of the Library of Congress to initiate a digital long-term planning group. The substantial progress that has been made in the development of a new digital format for audio-book production and distribution, a digital talking book, and a player has made it possible for NLS to begin planning other digital efforts.

"The national talking-book program is now reaching the stage where input from network libraries and consumer groups is needed on how we might implement new digital technology within the national network of 138 cooperating libraries," said NLS Director Frank Kurt Cylke in announcing formation of the group on August 31, 2001. "Information technologies have also matured in recent years, and the convergence of these technologies has led NLS to explore how our network of libraries for blind and physically handicapped individuals can best maximize these technologies to serve our national user population of more than 759,000 readers."

The digital long-term planning group was formed with the concurrence of the national network's four regional conference chairs, with two representatives from each conference. These librarians, along with representatives from national consumer groups and appropriate NLS staff, will begin meeting at least once a year for approximately five years. According to Mr. Cylke, "This will ensure continuous input as together we plan a transition to digital technology."

The group will hold its first meeting on October 24-26. Robert McDermott, NLS automation officer, will act as chair. The group will also develop substantive content for the 2002 National Conference of Librarians Serving Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals, with the theme "A Digital Planning Effort," scheduled for April 28-May 2, 2002, in Richmond, Va.

Members of the group include:

National Consumer Groups

Mr. Steven Booth
National Federation of the Blind

Mr. Christopher Gray
President, American Council of the Blind

Network of Cooperating Libraries Representatives

Mr. Gerald Buttars
Program for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Utah State Library Division

Ms. Kim Charlson
Braille and Talking Book Library
Perkins School for the Blind

Ms. Barbara Goral
Colorado Talking Book Library

Mr. Michael Gunde
Florida Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library Services

Ms. Karen Keninger
Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Iowa Department for the Blind

Ms. Karen Odean
Talking Book Center of Northeast Illinois

Ms. Deborah Rutledge
New Jersey Library for the Blind and Handicapped

Ms. Guynell Williams
Department for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
South Carolina State Library

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PR 01-129
09/13/01
ISSN 0731-3527

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