June 2, 2005 Los Angeles Talking Book and Braille Library Recognized as Outstanding by Library of Congress

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Jane Caulton (202) 707-0521

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) at the Library of Congress recently presented the inaugural Network Library of the Year Award to Braille Institute Library Services of Los Angeles for outstanding accomplishments in 2004.

The new annual award carries a $1,000 cash prize. NLS created the Network Library Award to recognize outstanding accomplishments at the 134 libraries serving blind and physically handicapped individuals across the country and in U.S. territories. Forming the network of cooperating libraries, these state and privately funded agencies circulate NLS-produced braille and recorded materials and provide other services to eligible people in their communities.

Braille Institute Library Services received the award at a private luncheon on June 1 at the Library of Congress. Library Services Director Henry Chang said, “I’m proud to accept this recognition on behalf of our staff, volunteers and patrons. Two thousand and four was a challenging year, but they rose to the occasion, providing outstanding service to our blind community.” Braille Institute President Leslie Stocker also attended the luncheon.

Braille Institute provided more than 1,370,840 recorded and braille books to more than 34,570 patrons in Southern California through five regional centers in 2004. The institute is funded almost entirely by private and foundation sources.

Frank Kurt Cylke, NLS director, said, “Braille Institute easily exceeded the award criteria. Not only did the library continue to meet the needs of patrons during a time of budget cuts and staff reductions, its readership and book circulation increased substantially. Most important, it received a 99 percent patron approval rating.”

A specially established committee comprising braille and talking book librarians and patrons selected Braille Institute Library Services for the award using the following criteria: mission support, or the extent to which the library reached or exceeded the American Library Association Revised Standards and Guidelines for Service, creativity and innovation, and the record of patron satisfaction.

By expanding partnerships with government agencies, volunteers, other libraries and even its own patrons, Braille Institute Library Services successfully implemented 15 new programs in the past year, including:

  • Golden Seniors program, recognizing 366 patrons who are 100 years of age or older and directing
  • attention to their unique interests.
  • Summer Reading program, in partnership with the Los Angeles Zoo, for children ages birth to 17.
  • Spanish-language addition to the library’s Telephone Reader program.

In addition, the talking book and braille library, at the request of its patrons, formed four book clubs. The library also provided student internships, recruiting library students to repair and preserve rare braille and print books.

NLS at the Library of Congress administers the free program that loans recorded and braille books and magazines, music scores in braille and large print, and specially designed playback equipment to residents of the United States who are unable to read or use standard print materials because of visual or physical impairment.


PR 05-133
ISSN 0731-3527