June 19, 2009 Massachusetts and Florida Libraries Receive Awards for Serving the Blind and Physically Handicapped

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 today presented awards to the Perkins Library for the Blind of Watertown, Mass., and to the Miami-Dade Public Library System’s Talking Books Library Service of Florida.

The Watertown library received the Network Library of the Year Award for outstanding accomplishments in 2008. The annual award, in its fifth year, carries a $1,000 cash prize.

The Miami-Dade Public Library System received the third annual Network Subregional Library of the Year Award, which also carries a $1,000 cash prize.

NLS presented the awards at a luncheon ceremony today, June 19, in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The awards honor libraries that demonstrate innovation in providing service and sustain a record of patron satisfaction, exceeding the American Library Association’s “Revised Standards and Guidelines of Service for the Library of Congress Network of Libraries for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.”

“NLS commends the Perkins and Miami-Dade libraries for their efforts to surpass quality standards for timeliness, innovation and responsiveness,” said Frank Kurt Cylke, NLS director. “Through enhanced programs and community partnerships these libraries engage blind and physically handicapped patrons and connect them to a place where reading is accessible and enjoyable.”

The Perkins Library for the Blind, which has provided service since 1835, circulated 442,935 braille and recorded books and magazines and loaned 5,027 playback machines and accessories to 22,814 patrons in 2008. An ardent promoter of braille literacy, the library provides teachers, students and community groups with braille-awareness kits that contain embossed materials and handouts. Patrons may borrow braille writers for short-term use through the Brailler Loan Program or have machines repaired through the Brailler Repair Program.

The Miami-Dade Public Library System’s Talking Books Library Service circulated 91,304 braille and recorded items to 3,981 patrons in 2008. In addition, library staff participated in 91 community outreach events that reached 16,070 individuals at activities such as the Mayor’s Initiative on Aging and the Miami Children’s Museum All Kids Included festival. The library’s Braille Literacy Initiative sponsors braille-awareness events and also distributes print/braille and braille materials to readers.

The Perkins Library for the Blind was represented at the award ceremony by Kim Charlson, director; Steven M. Rothstein, president of the Perkins School for the Blind; and Irving Zangwill, commissioner on the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. The Miami-Dade Talking Books Library Service was represented by Barbara Moyer, manager, and Raymond Santiago, director of the Miami-Dade Public Library System.

NLS at the Library of Congress administers the free program that loans materials to residents of the United States who are unable to read or use standard print materials because of visual or physical handicaps. Materials loaned include braille and recorded books and magazines, music scores in braille and large print and specifically designed playback equipment. The 131 network libraries – throughout the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands – provide direct service to eligible individuals and institutions. Eligible American citizens living abroad are also able to participate in the NLS program. For more information about NLS, visit www.loc.gov/nls/.


PR 09-124
ISSN 0731-3527