May 19, 2017 Washington Talking Book and Braille Library of Seattle Named Network Library of the Year

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: David Pelizzari (202) 707-0521

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress, has named the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL) of Seattle as the Network Library of the Year for 2016.  

NLS today presented the annual award, which carries a $1,000 cash prize, during a ceremony at the Library of Congress’ Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C.  The award recognizes exemplary service to blind and disabled readers. Washington Talking Book and Braille Library previously won the award in 2010 and has been selected this year for its commitment to outreach and to engaging readers in the local community.   

“The NLS Network Library of the Year award was created to honor excellence and innovation in providing library services to the blind and physically handicapped. The Washington Talking Book & Braille Library fits that definition to a T, and I’m happy to recognize them, for the second time since this award was created, for their hard work,” said NLS Director Karen Keninger. “With less than 25 staff members, they continued to go above and beyond to reach their patrons last year — including creating an innovative mobile gaming lab, undertaking a statewide in-person outreach campaign, and airing PSAs designed to reach their diverse audience.”

Danielle Miller, WTBBL director and regional librarian, said, “We are delighted and humbled to receive this award a second time. We are most proud of our outreach to seniors and the Hispanic community.” 

“Talking books have been my steady companion. I could not imagine life without this valued service,” said Carl Jarvis, an 82-year-old WTBBL patron from Quilcene, Washington, who has used the free library service since 1965.

In 2016, WTBBL hosted 8,320 visitors, served 9,349 active individual readers and 500 institutions, circulated 293,877 physical items, and added 1,704 new patrons to its service. WTBBL patrons also used the online NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service to download 106,669 books and periodicals. The library has 17 staff members and a cadre of volunteers who worked the equivalent of seven additional employees.

WTBBL exceeded the standards for outreach and public education as defined by the American Library Association Revised Standards and Guidelines for Service, with three of its staff members having visited 90 assisted-living facilities in 53 cities, in addition to providing information at local fairs and events.  The statewide effort strengthened existing institutional accounts, raised public awareness of the free library program, and created opportunities for Patron Advisory Council members to join staff members for site visits.

Marian Mays, the WTBBL youth services librarian, was awarded the 2016 Teen Tech Week grant from the Young Adult Library Services Association. The grant enabled Mays to travel the state with a mobile gaming lab that included a giant Jenga game, Monopoly, chess, and other educational and social-interaction tools.  Hundreds of children and families were also served in the library and virtually through their weekly multisensory story times and other innovative programs.

In an important initiative, WTBBL expanded its outreach to the Hispanic community through public service announcements on Spanish radio stations, partnering with a local provider of health services to Latinos and the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs, and exhibiting at Fiestas Patrias.  In 2016, WTBBL saw a 33 percent increase in Spanish-speaking patrons registered for service.

The Network Library Awards were created by NLS in 2005. A committee of librarians and consumer-organization representatives select finalists from among nominated libraries based on mission support (defined by the American Library Association Revised Standards and Guidelines for Service), creativity, innovation in providing service and demonstrated reader satisfaction. The winner is selected from finalists by the NLS director.

NLS administers the braille and 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 regular printed material difficult. Through its national network of libraries—including WTBBL—NLS mails books and magazines in talking-book and braille formats and playback equipment directly to enrollees at no cost.  Music instructional materials are available in large-print, ebraille, braille and recorded formats.  Selected materials are also available online for download and are accessible through smart devices.  For more information, visit or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.  Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at; and register creative works of authorship at


PR 17-065
ISSN 0731-3527