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News January-March 2018

In this Issue

2018 National Conference preview

The essential Ronnie Milsap

Five things to see and do in Nashville

From the Director

New Music Section head

Network Exchange

NLS launches TV and radio outreach campaign


Imagine of the Nashville skyline at night, with the headline "Y'all come!" and a pull quote that reads, "This summer's national conference in Nashville will lay the groundwork for the next 20 years of the braille and talking book program. - Karen Keninger".

2018 National Conference

When: June 17–21, 2018; pre-conference programs June 16

Where: Hilton Nashville Downtown, 121 Fourth Ave. S, Nashville, TN

Register online: External

Hotel reservations: Call the hotel at (615) 620-1000 or go online to book a room at External. Reservations must be made by noon May 15.

Rates: $209 per night, single or double, plus taxes (approximately $244 total)

Follow the conference on Twitter #NLSNashville

By Mark Layman

Big changes are underway in the NLS braille and talking book program. The opportunities—and challenges—those changes pose for network libraries will be the focus of the 2018 National Conference of Librarians Serving Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals.

The biennial conference, which takes place June 17–21 in Nashville, Tennessee, will feature presentations by NLS and network library staff, training sessions, opportunities for informal information-sharing, and circulation system user-group meetings.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville.
The Tennessee State Library and Archives, where a reception will be held during the conference.

Ronnie Milsap, one of country and pop music’s biggest stars since the 1970s and an NLS patron, will speak at the conference, as will Bettina Dolinsek from Des Moines, Iowa, who may be the country’s only blind CrossFit trainer.

“This summer’s national conference in Nashville will lay the groundwork for the next 20 years of the braille and talking book program,” NLS Director Karen Keninger said. “The schedule is packed with opportunities for network librarians to learn about the many exciting initiatives underway at NLS—and to share news about the forward-thinking projects their own libraries are undertaking.”

The conference agenda is still being fine-tuned, but here are some planned events:

  • Early arrivals on Saturday, June 16, can take in presentations on local analog-to- digital conversion by librarians from the Southern Conference and on local recording of magazines by Chris Mundy of the Multistate Center East. Mundy received the 2014 Francis Joseph Campbell Award from the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies for his work assisting volunteer recording studios around the country.
  • A variety of training sessions will be offered Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Topics include BARD Express, what’s new in PICS (the Production Inventory Control System), rating unrated books, and WebREADS duplication on demand. The popular “petting zoo” will return, too, giving librarians hands-on experience with new technologies.
  • Regional conferences will host sessions on outreach, fostering cooperation among library staff members, and reallocating staff to meet evolving needs.
  • There will be updates on the MOCA wireless download pilot project, duplication on demand, development of the next- generation digital talking-book machine and an affordable refreshable braille display, NFB Newsline, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing currency reader project, which NLS administers.
  • Kristen Fernekes, head of the Communications and Outreach Section and a veteran of the D.C.-area marketing and public relations world, will talk about the ongoing NLS digital, TV, and radio educational campaign and ways that network libraries can use social media more effectively.
  • Network consultants Pamela Davenport and MaryBeth Wise will discuss the impact that expanding eligibility requirements for NLS service might have on network libraries.

The conference will wrap up on June 21 with a daylong workshop on managing change and strategic planning. “We’ll use that time to pull together everything we’ve talked about during the week and start network librarians thinking about ways to maximize the benefits of the big—and, we believe, very positive—changes that are just around the corner,” Keninger said.

There will be opportunities for informal interactions at evening receptions and during a tour of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, which houses the state’s Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

“I look forward to seeing representatives of each of our cooperating libraries in Nashville to join us in these important conversations that will chart the course of NLS for years to come,” Keninger said.

Ronnie Milsap

The essential Ronnie Milsap

  • A congenital disorder left Milsap almost totally blind from birth. His mother, who believed his blindness was a punishment from God, abandoned him, and he was raised by his grandparents. He learned braille at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, N.C.—and also learned to play piano, guitar, and violin.
  • A backstage meeting in Atlanta with Ray Charles inspired Milsap, then in college, to pursue a musical career. As a session pianist in Memphis, he played on several Elvis Presley hits. While performing at the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles, Milsap met Charley Pride, who encouraged him to move to Nashville.
  • Between 1976 and 1978, Milsap had seven No. 1 country singles. In the 1980s, he became a crossover success with pop hits such as “Smoky Mountain Rain,” “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me,” “Any Day Now,” and “Stranger in My House.”
  • He’s been honored as the CMA’s Male Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year and won six Grammy Awards. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
  • Milsap recorded a PSA for the Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in 2011. You can listen to it here:

5 things to see and do in Nashville

Days during the 2018 national conference will be packed with meetings and events, but those of you attending may still have a little time to explore Music City U.S.A. on your own. Here are five attractions you might want to check out.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

In addition to the museum’s regular exhibits, at least two special exhibits will be on display. Loretta Lynn: Blue Kentucky Girl explores the singer’s 50-year legacy through music and personal artifacts. And Shania Twain: Rock This Country features music-video outfits, awards, and stage props from the top-selling female country artist of all time.
222 Fifth Ave. S. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily. Adults $25.95. (615) 416-2001 or External.

The Hermitage

Andrew Jackson’s mansion—meticulously restored with original furniture and family possessions—its garden and grounds, and Old Hickory’s tomb are popular Nashville attractions.
4580 Rachel’s Ln. 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. daily. Adults $20. (615) 889-2941 or
Statue of Athena in Nashville's Parthenon.

The Parthenon

One of Nashville’s nicknames is the Athens of the South. In tribute to that, the city in 1897 built a replica of the Parthenon in Centennial Park—and in 1990 added a 42-foot statue of Athena. The Parthenon also is Nashville’s art museum.
West End Avenue and 25th Avenue. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday, 12:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. Sunday. Adults $6. (615) 862-8431 or External.

The Grand Ole Opry

Country music’s most famous stage hosts nationally broadcast concerts three or four nights a week, with shows often taking place other nights at the Ryman Auditorium (116 Fifth Ave N.), the Opry’s former home.
2804 Opryland Dr. Dates , times, and prices vary. 1-800-SEE-OPRY or External.

Lane Motor Museum

Housed in the old Sunbeam Bakery, a Nashville landmark, the museum boasts the largest
collection of European cars and motorcycles in the United States. 702 Murfreesboro Pike.
10 a.m.–5 p.m. Thursday–Monday, closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Adults $12. (615) 742-7445 or External.

From the Director: NLS starts the new year in a newly remodeled headquarters

It’s a new year—and it sure feels like it here at 1291 Taylor St. in Northwest Washington, D.C.

Worker straightens a plaque on the wall.
Another item checked off the punch list: A worker hangs a display about Louis Braille and his legacy in a corridor at NLS.

The extensive remodeling of the NLS headquarters that began last April is all-but-complete, and the last of the 40-some staff members who relocated to the main Library of Congress campus on Capitol Hill in April returned on January 10. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say they barely recognized this former warehouse that NLS has called home since the mid-1960s. Those of you who have visited NLS over the years might not either.

We wanted our Taylor Street staff to have as safe and modern a workplace as their Library colleagues on Capitol Hill. We also wanted our facility to make a better impression on the librarians, teachers, and other professionals who come to NLS from all over the world to learn about our program—and to staffers from our network libraries who come for orientation three times a year. The remodeling achieved both goals. In addition, we reconfigured the floorplan to improve workflow and efficiency—and we’re already seeing positive results from that.

The changes begin with a new front entrance. It’s only a few feet up the sidewalk from the old entrance, but it was needed to accommodate a new lobby, plus installation of a package scanner and a metal detector. The Taylor Street building has never before had the same level of security as the Library’s Capitol Hill buildings—we felt we owed that to our staff and visitors.

Besides new carpeting, furniture, and conference areas, the building got structural and electrical improvements. Asbestos abatement took place as needed. And since there are no banks nearby, at the request of staff a Library of Congress Federal Credit Union ATM has been installed.

Security improvements also were made at the employee entrance off the rooftop parking deck. Now security guards monitor all entrances and patrol the building throughout the workday.

There were some challenges during the renovation, especially for the 70-some staff members who stayed at Taylor Street. They put up with a lot of noise and moved from one side of the building to the other—twice!—to accommodate the work. But the payoff is a much nicer, safer, and more secure facility that will help us serve our network libraries and patrons better.

—Karen Keninger, Director

New Music Section head is looking far into the future

Digitization, education, and outreach are among Juliette Appold’s goals

By Claire Rojstaczer

Juliette Appold took the reins of the NLS Music Section this past July, but it wasn’t her first day at the Library of Congress. That was in 2010, when she began a one-month internship at the main Library of Congress Music Division, writing finding aids for the Rudolf Kolisch Collection and the Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco Papers.

“At that point, I realized I really wanted to work in this library,” said Appold, a doctor of musicology whose career had previously focused on teaching, research, and editing. She enrolled in Rutgers University Library School, where she studied digital libraries—then went on to obtain an archivist’s certification as well.

Juliette Appold at work
Juliette Appold

“The section head position at NLS binds all my previous work and interests together,” Appold explained. “The future of NLS is digital. Once we have material digitized, we can duplicate it and preserve it in different formats. Digitization is preservation.”

With that philosophy in mind, Appold has focused her efforts on accelerating the digitization of the NLS braille collection. “We have more than 20,000 braille scores,” she said. “Six months ago, 11 percent were digitized. Now, 13 percent are.” The section scans 1,200–1,400 pages a month, prioritizing patron requests and rare scores. With that volume of scanning, staff members are unable to proofread every page, so Appold is working on contracting outside proofreaders to work through the backlog. She also has ordered a new scanner that enables a sighted person to proofread braille.

Her long-term plans go beyond the music already held by NLS. “We want to be the hub for digital braille music files for educational institutions around the country,” Appold said. Under her leadership, the Music Section launched the Braille Music Repository survey, reaching out to universities, rehab centers, and other institutions that produce and consume braille music about what forms of collaboration would suit their needs. Respondents so far have ranged from Boston’s Berklee College of Music and Indiana University to the Idaho State Correctional Center Transcription Center and the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Outreach also takes a personal touch, and Appold has been active reaching out to the music community at conferences. “When I went to the Music Library Association annual meeting, a lot of music librarians didn’t even know what we offer. They were very excited to learn,” Appold said. Next up is the Archiving 2018 conference in Washington, D.C., in April, where two Music Section staff members will present a paper on the digitization project’s workflow.

Back at NLS, Appold has invited staff to bring a personal touch to the office and perform at informal lunchtime concerts on instruments ranging from piano and guitar to trombone. (Appold herself plays piano and violin.) Asked whether she also has ambitions for larger-scale concerts, such as the Justin Kauflin piano concert that NLS sponsored in 2014, she responded, “Absolutely.” It joins international cooperation on her list of five-year goals.

Appold may have been with NLS only six months, but she’s already looking far into the future.

Network Exchange

Florida: Fifty-five students ranging from elementary to high-school age participated in the North Florida Regional Braille Challenge at the Jacksonville Public Library on January 25. The competition tested the students’ mastery of spelling, typing speed and accuracy, reading comprehension, proofreading, and interpretation of tactile charts and graphs. While the students competed, their teachers and family members attended workshops, visited with vendors, and networked.

“The Talking Book and Special Needs Library in Jacksonville has supported the Braille Challenge for many years,” Maureen Dorosinski of the Florida Bureau of Braille and Talking Books said. “Many community partners also came together to support this event and make sure it was a success.”

Massachusetts: The Perkins School for the Blind has launched a new website for the Perkins Archives, which holds a trove of information on the history of education of people who are blind or deafblind. The text and photo collections have been redesigned and reorganized; visit the new site at

Kentucky: Congratulations to the Kentucky Talking Book Library (KTBL), which received the James Carl Dotson award for providing long-standing service to blind and visually impaired Kentuckians during the Kentucky Council of the Blind’s 2017 convention in Louisville!

“I think I speak for my entire staff when I say we all enjoy our jobs because what we do means so much to our patrons,” KTBL Branch Manager Barbara Penegor said. “Not a day goes by when we don’t hear someone tell us they don’t know what they would do without their talking books or braille books. It’s like icing on the cake to be publically thanked for our work and to know that the community at-large recognizes and appreciates us.”

Dotson was a 1943 graduate of the Kentucky School for the Blind who worked for the Kentucky Council of the Blind.

Oklahoma: And congratulations to the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which got a nice write-up on the website of the Sooner State’s largest newspaper. Director Kevin Treese and electronics technician Karl Williams are both quoted. Read about Oklahoma at External.

A blind woman feels a sculpturePennsylvania: Last fall, the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (CLP-LBPH) partnered with the Pittsburgh Society of Sculptors to present Somatosensory: Relating to the Senses, a tactile art show that featured 14 works by a dozen sculptors. Each piece was selected by a jury of CLP-LBPH patrons and included an audio statement from the artist. Thomas Holmes, a student from nearby Chatham University, made a short video of the show; you can view it at External. In the photo, CLP-LBPH patron Christine Hunsinger experiences a bust sculpted by Pittsburgh-based artist Laura DeFazio.

NLS launches TV and radio outreach campaign

The next phase of NLS’s multimedia outreach campaign began February 26 with 60- and 30-second commercials on cable TV networks and nationally syndicated radio broadcasts. “Magical Moments” tells the story of a grandfather (shown below in a scene from the commercial) with failing eyesight who can’t share the joy of reading with his grandaughter until, at his family’s urging, he enrolls in NLS. The spots will air in six-week cycles through late 2019.

During a video call with his granddaughter, grandfather holds up his new digital talking-book machine.