June 23, 2011 Ohio and Michigan Libraries Receive Awards for Exemplary Service to Blind and Disabled Readers
Contact: Jane Caulton (202) 707-0521
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress, today presented awards to libraries in Ohio and Michigan for outstanding service to blind and physically handicapped communities.
The Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled (OLBPD), part of the Cleveland Public Library, and the State Library of Ohio Talking Book Service (OTBS), in Columbus, Ohio, were co-recipients of the Network Library of the Year Award. The annual award, in its seventh year, carries a $1,000 cash prize.
The Detroit Subregional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Detroit Public Library received the fifth 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 23, in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
“In a year notable for budget cuts and shrinking resources, the Ohio and Detroit libraries have continued to meet the needs of the blind and physically handicapped patrons in creative and innovative ways, often exceeding patron expectations,” said NLS Acting Director Ruth Scovill. “They are certainly deserving of these awards.”
In July 2009, the Cincinnati Regional Library, which had served blind and disabled individuals in southern Ohio since 1931, closed. The state of Ohio then created a statewide talking-book service administered by OLBPD of Cleveland and OTBS, the machine-lending agency, of Columbus.
Ohio State Librarian Beverly Cain said, “By December 2010, the end of the first year of unified administration to the entire state, all patrons received braille and talking books with no discernable interruption. Ohio’s focus was on transitioning patrons from cassette audiobooks and machines to digital books and players. Staff from both locations worked tirelessly to provide the new technology to nearly 10,000 active readers.”
Associate State Librarian for Library Services Jim Buchman, who heads OTBS, developed a flyer introducing readers to the new digital talking-book service and to BARD, the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download. OTBS also created and distributed a poster promoting service to blind individuals for the 2010 Ohio READ series.
OLBPD, under the leadership of Regional Librarian Will Reed, was one of the first network libraries to begin handling local registration of its patrons for BARD. Also OLBPD, through the purchase of equipment and supplies, was able to meet patron demand for digitally recorded audiobooks. Collaborating with an online reference service, OLBPD was able to offer an accessible instant-message service to the state’s blind and visually impaired residents.
The Detroit Subregional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, LBPH, provides regular opportunities for patrons to gather and share their love of books. These include the Detroit LBPH club, which hosts birthday, holiday and other celebrations; the Brown Bag Book Club, which is conducted with the Wayne County Regional LBPH; and the Nifty Knitters, who donate their creations to shelters and the Salvation Army. Detroit LBPH’s most popular event is its annual Back-To-School Health and Disability Information Vendor Fair, held every August. The fair features health-care and low-vision service providers, nutrition counselors and health screenings.
NLS created the Network Library Award to recognize outstanding accomplishments of libraries serving blind and disabled individuals across the country and in U.S. territories. A specially established committee of patrons and librarians selected the Ohio and Michigan libraries for the awards based on mission support, creativity and innovation in providing service, and record of patron satisfaction.
NLS administers the braille and digital talking-book program, a free library service available to U.S. residents and American citizens living abroad whose low vision, blindness or disability makes reading a regular printed page difficult. Through its national network of regional libraries, NLS mails books and magazines in digital audio and braille formats, as well as digital audio equipment, directly to enrollees at no cost. Select materials are also available online for download, and music instructional materials are available in large print, braille and recorded formats. For further information, visit www.loc.gov/nls/. or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).