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Functions and Responsibilities

Functions and Responsibilities of the National Library Service



In accordance with the authority provided in 2 U.S.C. 135a, 135a-1, and 135b, the National Library Service (NLS) is responsible for administering a national program to provide reading materials for eligible individuals and U.S. citizens living abroad. The program furnishes books, magazines, and music scores and texts produced in raised characters, in sound recordings, and in other suitable forms.

Functions and Responsibilities

NLS is responsible for the:

  • Selection, copyright clearance, and procurement of reading materials for blind and physically handicapped individuals.
  • Distribution of the materials and relevant bibliographic information either directly or through cooperating state and local network libraries.
  • Design, development, and procurement of sound reproduction equipment and its distribution either directly or through cooperating agencies.
  • Establishment of standards and assurance of quality products and services.
  • Training, guidance, and coordination of volunteers to augment national and local resources.
  • Administration of a nationwide interlibrary loan program and of an international gift, exchange, and interlibrary program.
  • Preparation of catalogs and other publications in print and other media for blind and physically handicapped readers to ensure full use of the national program.
  • Provision of a national reference and referral service on all aspects of blindness and physical handicaps.
  • Development, maintenance, and circulation of a national collection of musical scores and texts in special formats.
  • Monitoring of network libraries for effective use of NLS resources at each site and provision of guidelines and procedures manuals.

NLS maintains active liaisons with blind and physically handicapped individuals throughout the country, with cooperating state and local network libraries, with nonprofit and other organizations interested or active in serving blind and physically handicapped persons, and with federal, state, and local agencies. (See also Library of Congress Regulation 1111-1, which concerns eligibility, selection of materials, and loan service to blind and physically handicapped individuals.)

Detailed Functions

Office of the Director

The Office of the Director is responsible for formulating policy, planning, programs, and directing all activities, including coordinating the Materials Development Division and the Network Division; planning and implementing automation activities, including assisting those of the network of cooperating state and local libraries and agencies; coordinating information on research and development projects, evaluation programs, and surveys; maintaining oversight of all technological development; providing liaison with other government or quasi-official agencies, such as the United States Postal Service; providing public information and documents and conducting public outreach programs; and administrative services.


The director, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, is responsible for executing administration, planning, and formulating policy and recommendations; and for directing and coordinating the entire program.The director:

  • Plans and develops the national program in accordance with the intent of Congress, library policies, current and emerging technologies, and readers’ requirements; advises the Librarian of Congress and other Library officers on matters pertaining to proposed legislation, related programs for the blind and physically handicapped, relations with other government agencies, and policy formation; responds to congressional inquiries and requests and testifies before congressional committees on budget and program matters.
  • Has primary responsibility for formulating and justifying the annual budget estimate of NLS for presentation to Congress.
  • Serves as principal representative of the Library of Congress in its relations with other national and international organizations interested in work that aids blind and physically handicapped persons; maintains contact with leaders and officials of such organizations; participates in conferences, conventions, and other such meetings; and coordinates the sale and exchange of materials for blind and physically handicapped persons with organizations around the world.
  • Initiates special studies and investigations and makes recommendations for programs and cooperative undertakings aimed at providing a more complete service to blind readers.
  • Maintains oversight and final authority over investigation, development, implementation, and utilization of new technologies.
  • Has administrative responsibility for assuring that NLS procures materials and services at the lowest possible cost consistent with the quality and timeliness of delivery required to meet its needs; and appoints project monitors and provides them administrative direction.
  • Serves as the designated official responsible for the health and safety of NLS staff and for space planning, maintenance, and utilization of the Taylor Street Annex, a separate facility several miles distant from the Library of Congress Capitol Hill location.
  • Directs the overall NLS program.
Administrative Section

The Administrative Section is responsible for coordinating personnel transactions and maintaining all official files, including travel, training, and other records concerning personnel administration; planning and implementing postal and telephone services; coordinating fiscal activities; and coordinating the management, operation, and maintenance of the physical facility. The section:

  • Coordinates with personnel offices and processes personnel transactions, including electronic entry and approval of Personnel Action Recommendations (PARs), performance appraisals, and awards by authorized individuals trained in the Library’s human resources database; and enters and monitors classification actions and Vacancy Announcement Requests (VARs) in the Library’s automated personnel and budget management system.
  • Advises managers on administrative matters.
  • Updates various administrative reports as scheduled and as required.
  • Coordinates building maintenance, including coordination with the Library, General Services Administration (GSA) staff, and the building owner; reports accountability through the Automated Hazard Abatement Program (AHAP).
  • Coordinates in-house training programs and processes electronic and hard-copy documents for outside training that requires credit-card transactions.
  • Maintains communications functions (telephones and mail).
  • Coordinates fiscal documents, i.e., requisitions, credit-card purchases, and purchase orders.
  • Maintains all budget records and prepares periodic status of funds reports in collaboration with Office of the Director financial manager.
  • Provides support and guidance to staff on the use of the Library’s accounting and budget database.
Automation Office

The Automation Office is responsible for ensuring that NLS has the appropriate information technology resources, now and in the future, necessary to successfully execute its mandate. The Automation Office:

  • Operates and maintains IT infrastructure.
  • Procures, deploys, operates, and maintains hardware and software for NLS desktop computers and servers, including database systems.
  • Procures, deploys, operates, and maintains network resources.
  • Develops, deploys, operates, and maintains database-driven NLS web sites.
  • Investigates, obtains, and manages outside IT contractors and other service providers necessary to support IT infrastructure.
  • Troubleshoots and resolves problems involving NLS contractors involved in book production who use NLS IT resources.
  • Troubleshoots and resolves problems encountered by NLS staff involving IT resources.
  • Investigates and procures software to enable NLS staff to extract and analyze data from NLS data systems, including report-generation tools and databases.
  • Ensures that all IT resources are ADA-compliant and accessible to all NLS employees. Investigates, procures, deploys, and maintains specialized software or hardware associated with accessibility.
  • Investigates and procures necessary tools, both hardware and software, to properly maintain IT infrastructure at the needed level of readiness.
  • Ensures that NLS desktop, communications, systems, databases, and network information resources support and are appropriate for the NLS mission, now and in the future.
  • Advises NLS managers of the possible uses of information technology to support their operations, which includes providing or procuring training resources; provides advice on impact of business process decisions on IT systems; works with staff to facilitate the appropriate sharing of IT resources, data, and support; and monitors and communicates developments in the IT industry that could improve or affect NLS operations or productivity.
  • Works with other Library of Congress IT offices and resource providers in terms of policy, strategy, and operation of shared resources.
  • Provides appropriate technical systems to support the exchange of operational information among NLS, network libraries, producers of NLS materials, and other participants in the NLS program; and advises network libraries on automation activities.
  • Ensures that Automation staff has appropriate training and skill development necessary to support NLS IT infrastructure.
  • Preserves and safeguards NLS data that exists in computer-readable form.
  • Ensures that NLS has an appropriate continuity-of-operations plan for IT systems; investigates, procures, deploys, and maintains methods of protecting NLS data and systems; and performs emergency contingency planning.
  • Ensures that NLS is in compliance with applicable Library of Congress IT security requirements and other IT-related security measures. This includes certification and accreditation of systems where appropriate.
  • Provides the Library of Congress with required documentation, databases, and information in required formats, to comply with Library IT directives and policy.
Digital Projects Coordinator

The digital projects coordinator is responsible for coordinating, monitoring and facilitating various multi-year digital projects. These digital projects are designed and developed to transition the NLS program from audio analogcassette reading materials to audio digital technology content. The coordinator:

  • Assists in organizing, developing, and implementing plans for the acquisition, production, provision, and preservation of digital book and magazine collections, equipment, and services to network libraries, program users, and contractors.
  • Monitors projects from conception through implementation to the desired audiences.
  • Identifies problems and proposes solutions, technical and managerial, as they relate to cooperative NLS activities.
  • Develops reports to monitor and evaluate the progress on digital projects, tasks, schedules, and deadlines.
  • Works closely with internal and external stakeholders to ensure appropriate development, testing, and evaluation of software and web applications to ensure integration with digital projects.
Communications and Outreach Section

The Communications and Outreach Section plans and implements publishing and public education programs. It produces documents and publications that support the free reading program, including reader selection tools (e.g., Talking Book Topics and Braille Book Review) and general information pieces. It distributes information through the media, exhibits, and other public education programs.The section:

  • Writes, edits, designs, prepares, and produces in various formats (print, braille, audio, and electronic) magazines, newsletters, catalogs, reference materials, monographs, and promotional and outreach materials to support NLS services, stimulate interest in the program, and inform the general public of NLS activities.
  • Edits annotations for bibliographic records and all documents for external distribution.
  • Ensures the implementation of style guidelines by reviewing and editing official documents distributed to the network of cooperating libraries and the public.
  • Coordinates outreach efforts to targeted groups (seniors, children, etc.) and coordinates efforts with the Library of Congress Public Affairs Office and Office of Communications.
  • Develops exhibit materials and coordinates attendance at conference exhibits of various organizations as part of NLS outreach efforts.
  • Responds to network libraries with public education requests by providing public education materials, including print and broadcast public service announcements.
  • Secures and monitors contracts with vendors, including photographers, graphic artists, and specialty manufacturers.
  • Serves on review boards for specifications, equipment, and books.
  • Monitors and evaluates third-party technologies and solutions for the production of documents in alternative formats and participates in professional organizations and user groups to keep current with industry trends.
Research and Development Officer

The research and development officer directs projects to develop new products or systems for use by NLS and its patrons, network libraries, and producers.The incumbent:

  • Coordinates projects aimed at improving services to patrons and reducing costs of existing services.
  • Advises on matters related to new products and services.
  • Stays abreast of advances in technology related to production and distribution of braille and recorded books and magazines.
  • Serves on the Engineering Change Control Board.

Materials Development Division

The Materials Development Division (MDD) is responsible for managing activities related to the selection, development, production, distribution, control, and repair of reading materials and related equipment; establishing and assuring standards of quality for the products; monitoring contracts with and providing guidance to more than fifty agencies, organizations, associations, publishers, and firms that participate in providing reading resources and equipment; directing the activities of book and equipment advisory committees; and supervising the sectionsthat make up the division.

Materials Development Division Office

The Materials Development Division (MDD) office makes recommendations to the director on policy formulation and program planning for research, development, design, production, testing, evaluation, procurement, initial distribution, inventory control, and logistical support of audiobooks and magazines, braille books and magazines, playback equipment, and accessories. The office:

  • Analyzes operations of MDD sections and determines assignments and responsibilities.
  • Directs the division’s design, development, quality control, reliability, maintainability, and production activities; establishes production priorities; directs material and equipment procurement planning and preparation of procurement documentation, including specifications, evaluation criteria, schedules, and statements of work.
  • Oversees control of equipment inventory, procurement of spare parts, and preparation of machine troubleshooting and repair documents.
  • Identifies new programs for investigation to improve existing material and equipment.
  • Maintains relationship with consultants, designers, producers, and potential suppliers; and supervises evaluation of prospective contractors and proposals for supplies and services.
  • Oversees the contract monitoring and surveillance activities of quality assurance staff.
  • Works with consumers to make adjustments to material and equipment designs.
  • Plans and directs conferences, workshops, and other meetings to discuss resources, technical and engineering standards, and requirements of the program.
  • Prepares the division’s annual report, management plan, and travel and training plans.
  • Assigns, directs, and conducts review of work performed by staff; explains work requirements, methods, and procedures, instructing staff as necessary on new or unique operations; and resolves problems encountered by staff.
  • Analyzes new sources and procedures to satisfy the material development needs of the program and to determine consumer needs and resource capabilities.
  • Coordinates NLS Engineering Change Control Board activities.
  • Initiates projects and studies to identify and develop resources and production capabilities; establishes criteria for evaluating new materials, sources of supply, and delivery procedures; undertakes surveys of user groups to evaluate acceptability of equipment and materials; and coordinates the evaluation of products submitted through the bid process or by current contractors to assure that appropriate items are selected for the program.
  • Initiates and organizes the gathering of management information to support effective operational control; and supervises the preparation, revision, and maintenance of specifications, standards, and drawings governing the production of equipment, books, and related materials.
  • Prepares correspondence, memoranda, planning documents, and reports on matters relating to the division.
  • Reviews and maintains the NLS automated talking-book-machine inventory system.
  • Issues headphones, amplifiers, remote-control units, solar panels, and breath switches to eligible readers.
  • Ensures that multistate centers have a sufficient stock of machines and accessories.
  • Reviews and revises The Machine-Lending Agency Procedures Manual for use by machine-lending agencies to manage inventory control of equipment.
  • Prepares statistical reports on equipment for planning and purchasing purposes.
  • Monitors procedures for allocating equipment and accessories to machine-lending agencies and contracted commercial repair vendors.
  • Reviews procedures and directs machine-lending agencies and contracted commercial vendors in the proper disposal of government equipment.
  • Maintains relationships with the Braille Authority of North American and national organizations of transcribers.
  • Serves as Library of Congress authority on all braille codes and maintains relationships with other national braille authorities.
Bibliographic Control Section

The Bibliographic Control Section is responsible for implementing bibliographic processing, maintenance, and control of reading materials included in the collections; establishing cataloging standards for books in special format for blind and physically handicapped readers; coordinating union catalog activities for cooperating libraries and service organizations; distributing MARC records to cooperating libraries; coordinating development of the online catalog; and participatingin professional developments in bibliographic control. The section:

  • Provides cataloging and classification for all NLS collections in special formats and for locally produced network library books listed in the International Union Catalog.
  • Contributes to the development of national cataloging standards for books in special format for blind and physically handicapped readers.
  • Advises libraries on NLS cataloging policies and NLS MARC record sets.
  • Coordinates union catalog programs, the distribution of NLS MARC records to network libraries, and the development of new catalog formats and other bibliographic products.
  • Catalogs instructional music recordings, standard-print music reference books, and braille and large-print music and books about music.
Braille Development Section

The Braille Development Section is responsible for developing and implementing research projects relating to braille; serving as the Library of Congress authority on all braille codes and maintaining liaison with other national braille authorities; developing all technical braille specifications and initiating programs for product improvement; planning and preparing guides and teaching manuals based on the literary, Nemeth (math), and music codes for use by local braille transcription instructors who prepare students for certification; conducting teacher training workshops in the field; and training, certifying, and advising volunteers andothers nationwide who produce and process books in braille. The section:

  • Develops specifications for all braille products.
  • Advises on braille research and development projects.
  • Prepares guides and teaching manuals on all codes of braille.
  • Trains, recommends certification, and advises volunteers and others who produce braille.
  • Resolves problems of format and code with NLS braille producers.
  • Assists in quality assuring braille music produced by volunteers.
  • Maintains liaison with Braille Authority of North America and national organizations of transcribers.
  • Prepares articles for NLS and other publications.
  • Some major functions are being executed through contract.
Collection Development Section

The Collection Development Section is responsible for evaluating and selecting appropriate reading materials for the NLS collections; acquiring print books of titles to be recorded or transcribed into braille; creating and updating database tracking records of books to be added to the collection; maintaining an established flow of selected titles to initiate the book production cycle; requesting copyright clearances as needed; preparing descriptive annotations and preliminary cataloging records for all books produced; identifying titles for replacement as needed; maintaining the NLS magazine program; chairing all activities of the collection development program and the foreign languageprogram. The section:

  • Selects and acquires print books for braille, print/braille, and recorded production (including out-of-print titles); and selects books already in the collection for reissue or replacement.
  • Creates and updates initial database tracking records of all titles selected, noting special instructions and recommending navigation levels.
  • Requests copyright clearances for books produced in special media, as needed.
  • Prepares and edits annotations of selected titles for NLS catalogs.
  • Coordinates the NLS magazine program.
  • Develops foreign-language and other special collections for the national program.
  • Plans and conducts the annual meeting of the Collection Development Advisory Group consisting of patrons and librarians.
  • Responds to inquiries on collection development from librarians, readers, and other interested persons.
  • Plans, develops, and maintains NLS Kids Zone web site.
  • Compiles and maintains monthly NLS bestsellers list for the Network Library Services web site.
  • Coordinates the shared masters program.
  • Prioritizes analog-to-digital book conversion.
Engineering Section

The Engineering Section is responsible for overseeing design, development, production release, and configuration control of all NLS products, accessories, and processes; determining the method of measurement for all technical specifications; certifying compliance of preproduction models with the specifications; maintaining awareness of state-of-the-art developments applicable to braille and audio technologies; and conducting continual programs for product improvement and innovation. Program objectives include the design and deployment of the digitaltalking-book system. The section:

  • Develops technical specifications and monitors production of all machines and accessories.
  • Conducts machine-repair workshops for volunteers who repair NLS playback equipment.
  • Acquires parts and supplies for machine repair by volunteers, libraries, machine-lending agencies, and repair contractors.
  • Procures batteries for machines and coordinates safe disposal of batteries returned to NLS.
  • Monitors facilities that repair playback machines under contract to NLS.
  • Prepares and revises repair and service manuals and other training materials.
  • Evaluates machine and accessory qualification samples against NLS specifications and provides written reports of the results.
  • Recommends solutions to problems that develop during production and use of equipment and related materials.
  • Provides consultation to manufacturers for solutions to problems.
  • Conducts a technology assessment and research program to determine the feasibility of adapting new technology to NLS
  • Plans and conducts an annual National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee meeting.
  • Provides consultation to the network on audiobook production regarding such matters as digital recording environments and related technology.
  • Maintains all NLS technical drawings.
Production Control Section

The Production Control Section is responsible for overseeing the production of books and magazines selected for the NLS program and for executing database operations and administration of the Production Information and Control Systems (PICS) used by NLS. Responsibilities include supervising and coordinating production and distribution of reading materials in recorded, braille, and other formats; scheduling and assigning materials for production to manufacturers and volunteer agencies; monitoring and controlling the status, cost, and distribution of reading materials and containers in production; financial analysis and forecasting of contracts by media; and providing detailed reports for use by all levels of management and contractors to direct, evaluate, and control production operations.The section:

  • Controls and monitors contractors’ timely production flow and distribution of reading materials on cassette and in braille through quality assurance, mass production, and shipment to network libraries.
  • Controls and monitors contract costs, identifying areas of potential savings and suggesting alternative methodologies.
  • Reviews and evaluates each producer’s performance and, together with the Quality Assurance Section, generates a detailed monthly report on each contract.
  • Develops, coordinates, and monitors contracts for special projects; interacts and coordinates with contractors to identify and resolve production problems; purchases, monitors, and schedules cassette and braille container production and distribution.
  • Verifies the integrity of invoices to ensure NLS is properly billed for books, magazines, and containers.
  • Works closely with the NLS Administrative Section to develop and implement new processes for accurately handling contracts, invoices, and related documentation.
  • Works closely with the NLS Automation Section to design and implement modifications and enhancements to the PICS computer system and associated web pages.
  • Provides periodic reports, available to libraries on the Web, of titles shipped, magazines shipped, shelf planning guides, and lists of active narrators.
  • Controls and monitors the recording of books by volunteer groups working under special agreements with NLS.
  • Recommends improvements in specifications for braille and recorded books and magazines to ensure more efficient production processes.
  • Directs, develops, and schedules the technical portion of bid packages for books, magazines, and mailing containers; encourages competition and develops competitive practices.
  • Leads and directs pre- and post-contract award functions for books and magazines.
  • Communicates with network libraries on matters relating to the production of books and magazines.
Quality Assurance Section

The Quality Assurance Section is responsible for guaranteeing that the quality and performance of all braille and audio products and processes meet the standards and specifications of NLS; for ascertaining that all technical specifications of NLS can be verified by standard measurements as part of the production process; for ensuring that all potential contractors for production of materials have adequate quality assurance capabilities; for ensuring that all contracts and specifications contain adequate provisions to guarantee that the products will meet the required standards; and for producing periodic reports on the performance of contractors. The section:

  • Assures the quality and performance of all products in conformity with established standards and specifications.
  • Performs 10 percent sampling reviews of audio and braille products for compliance with NLS specifications.
  • Performs lot sampling of equipment and accessories for compliance with NLS specifications.
  • Evaluates control copies of all mass-produced braille and recorded magazines.
  • Recommends improvements in NLS specifications for all books, magazines, and equipment.
  • Conducts lot inspections at contractors’ facilities to monitor production of NLS equipment and related materials.
  • Develops new techniques and equipment for quality control of NLS products.
  • Reviews for approval all voice auditions for NLS recorded materials.
  • Tests manufacturers’ duplication equipment for problems that develop during production runs.
  • Assures quality of equipment repaired at national repair sites.
  • Certifies the completeness and accuracy of bid packages.
  • Performs preaward qualification audits of manufacturers.
  • Evaluates bid samples for compliance with NLS specifications.
  • Evaluates manufacturers’ quality-control programs for compliance with NLS contract requirements.
  • Monitors and reports on warranty returns of equipment and books.
  • Maintains documentation files for tracking all materials through any quality assurance review process.
Recording Studio

The Recording Studio unit of the Production Control Section provides research and development functions for NLS, particularly for the Automation and Engineering Sections. The studio serves as a laboratory for experimenting with and refining tools and procedures for commercial and volunteer producers of recorded talking books. To best serve this function, the studio records and produces digital talking books, subject to all NLS specifications. Thestudio:

  • Evaluates and tests new technologies directly related to audio/voice recording.
  • Records special projects as assigned by the director or requested by the Library.
  • Determines narration requirements for titles to be recorded and provides guidance in this area to commercial producers and volunteers.
  • Provides guidance on pronunciation and special formatting to outside agencies producing books and magazines for the NLS program.
  • Provides outreach to network libraries in the form of workshops, discussion, and training sessions.
  • Records approximately one hundred titles digitally per year; imports all its recordings to software designated to create digital talking books; analyzes and marks up the waveforms for navigation on the digital talking-book player; and exports and compresses the finalized digital talking book.

Network Division

The Network Division is responsible for managing activities related to establishing, developing, guiding, and monitoring a network of more than 131 cooperating state and local libraries and machine-lending agencies offering direct library service to blind and physically handicapped residents of the United States and its territories and possessions and to eligible U.S. citizens living abroad; maintaining close and active liaisons with schools, health-care facilities, and other organizations interested or active in providing services to blind and physically handicapped persons, with library schools, and with appropriate state and local agencies; developing and maintaining the NLS public web site and Internet services to inform the public; developing and maintaining Internet services to communicate with network libraries and cooperating agencies and to enable them to perform various operations online; developing and maintaining a staff web site; determining user eligibility for service from NLS; monitoring multistate center contracts; acquiring and interpreting consumer input and applying it as feasible to improve services; and supervising the four sectionsand staff officer that make up the division.

Network Division Office
  • Monitors the national network of more than 131 cooperating state and local agencies; and recommends initiation, consolidation, or dropping of network agencies.
  • Formulates policies and procedures and sets objectives for the Network Division and for the national network.
  • Develops and maintains Internet services to transmit electronic copies of policies, procedures, and other communications in formatsaccessible by assistive technology to cooperating agencies in the national network.
  • Plans and directs NLS consumer and volunteer, music, reference, inventory management, and network support services; develops budget proposals and justifications, program statements, and management, travel, and training plans; formulates priorities within the division and justifies additional resources when necessary.
  • Develops and maintains Internet services to provide NLS staff with electronic copies of documents, policies, and procedures in formats accessible to assistive technology.
  • Serves as the NLS expert on all aspects of network services and circulation of special-format library materials to readers; plans and assigns evaluative and analytical studies; identifies and defines new programs for investigation; develops technical specifications for innovative projects relating to improving existing service delivery; coordinates work with appropriate experts and consultants, monitors appropriate contracts, and oversees the contract monitoring by division staff.
  • Interprets NLS national service policies for federal, state, and local library agencies, directors of major public libraries, other key agency staff, library educators, and other professionals to ensure an understanding of the program and the commitment of state resources.
  • Develops and maintains Internet services for network libraries and player-repair volunteers, including online supplies and parts ordering protocols, databases that can be used to update electronic information for reports, and NLS program support materials in formats accessible through assistive technology.
  • Directs the multistate centers and other network agencies; advises state and local agencies; prepares contract documentation, evaluation criteria, schedules, statements of work, and evaluation of services; and establishes policies and general operating procedures for these centers.
  • Serves as the U.S. Postal Service liaison to resolve problems between Postal Service and network agencies and between Postal Service and patrons.
  • Interprets postal laws and regulations concerning Free Matter for the Blind.
  • Codifies files relating to interpretations of postal regulations.
  • Writes articles for newsletters to inform the network of changes in postal regulations that affect the program.
  • Serves as the program expert on eligibility for service of all applicants; interprets the statutory mandate of the U.S. Congress; resolves questionable referrals; and makes final determinations, conferring with appropriate expert authorities when necessary.
  • Reviews and approves network library applications for service to ensure conformity with NLS policies.
  • Reviews and approves network library loan policies to patrons and reviews and approves network library recommendations on suspending services to patrons who abuse service.
  • Directs the division’s national network consultant program; reviews staff site evaluations assessing network libraries in elements of library service to eligible readers and their use of NLS resources; ensures that approved American Library Association (ALA) standards of service are used to monitor effectiveness of network agency services; and advises on recommended changes for the ALA Revised Standards and Guidelines of Service.
  • Represents NLS at national and regional conferences, seminars, and exhibits; chairs conference workshops and other meetings at which resources, consumer needs, service delivery systems, and interagency responsibilities are discussed with key agency staff; writes articles for publication; and communicates frequently with the public, individual users, consumer groups, network staff, and others through informal and professional meetings, speeches, telephone calls, and correspondence.
Consumer Relations Officer

The consumer relations officer is responsible for ensuring that the consumer perspective is considered in all aspects of the NLS program, including digital development activities; establishing and maintaining active liaisons with individual users and consumer groups; disseminating information about user inquiries to NLS and network libraries; providing information and reference assistance to readers, as well as guidance on accessibility of NLS, network, and LC services and Internet activities; and conducting user orientationsand tours. The officer:

  • Serves as the focal point for all matters relating to consumer services and coordinates consumer-oriented projects and responds to inquiries in this area.
  • Assists sections with patron inquiries and correspondence.
  • Assists network libraries with library consumer relations activities by providing Consumer Relations in Libraries (handbook); providing assistance with patron handbooks; and assisting with consumer advisory committees. Also advises network libraries regarding individual patron problems.
  • Maintains an extensive knowledge of the computer-based technology giving blind and physically handicapped individuals access to print in electronic formats.
  • Maintains the Web-Braille site; coordinates its further development; and provides support to users, including readers, libraries, andschools.
  • Reviews, tests, and provides feedback to NLS sections on technologies allowing users to access braille and audio materials in a digital manner.
  • Assists with web page development and usability.
  • Keeps abreast of advances in fields affecting blind and physically handicapped individuals.
  • Maintains an awareness of the techniques and opportunities for blind and physically handicapped people to use public and research libraries containing primarily printed materials.
  • Assists network libraries and others with activities and projects designed to enhance blind and physically handicapped individuals’ access to other library collections or access through technological devices.
  • Coordinates NLS tactile map activities, including acquisition and circulation.
  • Serves as a key contact within NLS on matters related to braille; serves as COTR for braille training contract; produces braille documents for in-house and other needs; responds to technical inquiries related to braille; serves as NLS representative to the Braille Authority of North America.
Inventory Management Section

The Inventory Management Section is responsible for maintaining the count, control, storage, retrieval, and handling of the national inventory of materials used in the NLS program; distributing equipment, furnishings, and all procurements delivered to NLS; managing the inventory of spare parts and supplying them on demand to shops across the nation; managing logistics for contract repair; monitoring, coordinating, and evaluating the activities of two multistate centers (MSCs); maintaining a procedures manual for use by the multistate centers and a supplies catalog for use by network libraries; maintaining a web ordering and warehousing system (WOW) through which network libraries and NLS staff may order supply items from the national inventory; and supervising and evaluatingbook redistribution procedures. The section:

  • Ships, receives, and stores all stock items needed by NLS, MSCs, and network libraries; maintains three warehouses at the Taylor Street Annex with special attention to safety, space planning, and equipment; and obtains servicing for vehicles and equipment assigned to the section.
  • Orders and stocks supplies for all NLS shipping activities.
  • Maintains an accessible stock for NLS staff of all NLS-produced publications.
  • Maintains consolidated inventory of NLS and MSC supply and all stock items online in the WOW system, which is updated daily, and issues quarterly comprehensive reports to NLS staff responsible for stock replenishment; and maintains an online archive of comprehensive annual inventory reports of the past five years for NLS managers.
  • Coordinates WOW for network libraries and NLS staff to order supplies and publications from the national inventory; and produces and the online Multistate Center Supplies Catalog, used by all network libraries.
  • Assists with day-to-day coordination of MSC activities; reviews and responds to monthly, quarterly, and annual reports on MSC activities; prepares the agenda for the annual MSC directors meeting and contracts for the preparation of the minutes; coordinates redistribution of stock items among NLS and MSCs; and coordinates the annual MSC services survey in which network libraries evaluate MSC services.
  • Maintains the NLS archives of all NLS analog book-production masters and some digital production materials.
  • Shelves and maintains archival and demonstration collections of NLS braille and recorded books at the Taylor Street Annex.
  • Manages the provision, use, and circulation to patrons of NLS special collections such as Moon type, tactile maps, and 33-1/3 rpm books.
  • Initiates, coordinates, and supervises the monthly excess (XESS) book redistribution program with network libraries; and
  • Manages the contracts for express mailing, courier service, and freight services in the Transportation of Things allotment for all of NLS; and maintains records of these services to use in tracking services and paying invoices.
  • Manages the spare parts inventory and supplies parts on demand to machine-lending agencies (MLAs) and several hundred repair shops across the nation that repair NLS cassette book machines; coordinates separate online web-ordering and warehousing system for tracking receipts, orders, and inventory of parts and supplies. (Volunteers can also submit, track, and manage their supply orders and parts use history, maintain current contact information, and view C-1 cassette machine drawing at this site.)
  • Develops instructions for shipment logistics for cassette machines received and shipped through MSC West to contractors and MLAs; and provides instructions for logistics and record keeping for cassette players sent directly from libraries to contractors.
  • Prepares and coordinates shipments of NLS promotional and program materials for NLS exhibits.
  • Assists in furniture moves and space rearrangements.
Music Section

The Music Section is responsible for developing and promoting a national special format collection in the field of music. This collection includes braille music scores and instructional methods, braille books about music and musicians, and the collection of digital braille scores and books available through Web-Braille, as well as other special format music materials in audio and large print. In addition, the section compiles and produces music magazines; develops and maintains a noncirculating print reference collection of books about music and musicians; and encourages the development and use of new techniques and materials for teaching music to blind and physically handicapped individuals. The section:

  • Provides music reference and referral services to blind and physically handicapped music readers, to the general public, and to staff in the network of regional libraries for the blind and physically handicapped, primarily by telephone and e-mail.
  • Plans for collection development and management, selecting and acquiring braille scores and music books and instructional music materials in audio for the NLS program from domestic and international sources.
  • Provides music scores and books about music for use on Web-Braille, using both newly transcribed scores and newly scanned and formatted versions of existing paper braille scores as sources.
  • Circulates music and books about music in braille and large print, as well as instructional recordings to eligible patrons.
  • Initiates and monitors production of large-print and braille music and books about music, including instructional music recordings, for the NLS music program.
  • Secures copyright permission to produce materials specifically for the NLS music program.
  • Develops and maintains up-to-date content for the NLS web site’s Music page.
  • Compiles four magazines for special-format production and direct-mail distribution to NLS readers, covering both classical and popular music and musicians: Musical Mainstream (braille, recorded, and large print); Contemporary Sound Track (recorded); Popular Music Lead Sheets (braille); and Quarterly Music Magazine (recorded).
  • Digitizes music collection items (braille, large print, recorded) as necessary when holdings are threatened by fragile, acid paper or where there is only a single copy available.
  • Undertakes special projects to develop and provide new materials and services to NLS music readers, such as the publication of the completely revised second edition of Introduction to Braille Music Transcription.
  • Evaluates user satisfaction with NLS music services and materials through surveys and solicitations via music magazines and the web site.
  • Keeps current with technical and materials developments relating to blind and physically handicapped musicians and their music needs.
  • Serves as an international clearinghouse for braille music through an international acquisitions program, as well as information exchange on the availability of braille music.
  • Compiles, designs, and publishes informational materials about the NLS music program, including catalogs, brochures, circulars and fact sheets, for distribution to readers, the general public, and network libraries.
  • Drafts contracts, project proposals, and specifications relating to the development, production, and distribution of NLS music library materials and services.
  • Plans, organizes, and arranges programs for NLS-sponsored concerts; recommends artists and provides all contractual and logistical support for the artist; and assists with advertising, announcing, and publications for promotion of the concert.
  • Arranges for musicians and music for special NLS events, as requested.
  • Represents NLS at national, regional, and international conferences, seminars, and exhibits devoted to music.
Network Services Section

The Network Services Section is responsible for coordinating national network activities, including responding to inquiries about network services and coordinating responses to network inquiries; directing the national and international interlibrary loan programs; providing consultant services to identify problem patterns and to evaluate performance in relation to established standards; compiling bibliographies of special media materials; organizing orientation programs for network participants; maintaining a procedures manual for use by network libraries; and providinglibrary service to U.S. citizens living abroad. The section:

  • Provides on-site consultant services to regional libraries and separate machine-lending agencies. This includes telephone and e-mail contact and biennial on-site visits followed up by consultant reports making recommendations based on 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 (2005). (Reports are reviewed by NLS managers, with copies to subject libraries and administering agencies. In years that on-site visits are not made, consultants contact libraries and monitor progress of recommendations from last consultant report.)
  • Represents network perspectives at internal meetings considering policy and procedural changes for network.
  • Provides library service to eligible U.S. citizens residing outside the United States.
  • Coordinates reciprocal interlibrary loan with libraries serving blind readers in other countries.
  • Speaks at consumer advisory committee meetings, subregional library meetings, volunteer recognition functions, and other significant events at network libraries.
  • Produces draft subject bibliographies for publications in special formats to aid in book selection.
  • Produces short bibliographies on fiction series and narrowly focused subjects to assist libraries in serving reader needs.
  • Helps network librarians and patrons search the NLS catalog through online interfaces by producing instructional materialsand by answering telephone and e-mail inquiries.
  • Assists network libraries and patrons by performing and printing searches of the online catalog to identify needed books.
  • Provides semiannual state-of-the-network reports to NLS staff.
  • Posts network bulletins, machine and accessories reports, publication reports, and other items to the NLS reports distribution listserv, and posts Timely Information Exchange (TIE) messages and Operation Alerts (OA) to network libraries.
  • Serves as liaison with the U.S. Postal Service on Free Matter for the Blind issues concerning patrons and network libraries.
Reference Section

The Reference Section is responsible for providing to network libraries, other professional groups, and the general public a national reference and referral service on blindness and physical handicaps, except in the fields of medicine and law; providing special and general reference services to the staff of NLS; compiling and distributing information on resources in the fields of blindness and physical handicaps for network libraries and the general public; developing a collection of print materials or links to electronic resources on blindness and physical handicaps to support the activities described above; maintaining records and preparing statistical reports on network activities and program developments; coordinating an automated mailing list incorporating data on readers, libraries, and organizations; and providing consultant serviceson volunteer programs in network libraries. The section:

  • Provides a reference and referral service in the fields of blindness, physical handicaps, and library services to special groups.
    • Answers questions by correspondence (including e-mail) and telephone from Congress, NLS patrons, network libraries, and the general public, including those received through the Ask-a-Librarian digital reference service.
    • Answers queries from NLS staff on any work-related topic, using Library online databases and Internet resources to locate books, articles, reports, and other information.
    • Offers customized research and information services in specialized fields tailored to individual needs.
    • Compiles and revises existing reference publications and posts them on the NLS website.
  • Acquires and catalogs new and retrospective materials for reference and giveaway collections.
    • Orders print and online books, pamphlets and documents, and periodicals subscriptions.
    • Compiles Added Entries, a quarterly acquisitions list of items added to collections and distributed to network libraries.
    • Maintains an online database of books and articles.
    • Maintains and distributes a listing of Subject Headings Used in the NLS Reference Collections.
  • Maintains a database of magazines in special media (braille, recorded, electronic, and large print) and produces Magazines in Special Media, a directory of publications available in special formats from a variety of sources, for broad distribution.
  • Collects and distributes information about federal laws, regulations, and other federal documents available in special formats.
  • Serves as primary source of program data for NLS and the network as follows:
    • Compiles annual readership/circulation reports.
    • Conducts annual survey of network libraries.
    • Compiles semiannual Address List of Regional and Subregional Libraries for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
    • Compiles annual directory Library Resources for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
    • Compiles subject index to network bulletins and other reports issued to the NLS network.
    • Updates annually the general program fact sheet and publications checklist Facts: Books for Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals.
    • Maintains the Network Library Database and distributes reports of data collected from network libraries through the database.
    • Tracks communications with network libraries, including network bulletins and other reports.
    • Prepares and sends list of Monthly Mailing to the Network, the annual Index of Network Bulletins and other reports, and five- or ten-year cumulative indexes.
    • Prepares new and revised entries for the Network Library Manual.
  • Serves as liaison between network libraries, NLS, and the Comprehensive Mailing List System (CMLS) contractor on all matters pertaining to the daily operation of the mailing-list system, which is the single source for all contact information and demographic data for the NLS program; monitors the CMLS contract and directs the CMLS contractor to maintain a current operations manual on the web site it provides for CMLS and BPHICS; monitors network libraries for their use of CMLS and works with individual libraries, especially on interfaces when local circulation vendors and systems change and in conducting periodic reconciliation of local system data with CMLS data; identifies needs for modernizing procedures and processes, based on analysis and network library suggestions; works on the CMLS Advisory Team to improve the systems’ usability, including expanding network use of automated interfaces for mailing list transactions; issues progress reports and network bulletins; and provides network libraries’ address labels to NLS for network communication.
  • Serves as the contract monitor for BPHICS contract.
  • Publishes Update, a quarterly newsletter on volunteer concerns and activities related to library services for blind and physically handicapped individuals.
  • Compiles and revises the biennial directory Sources of Custom-Produced Books and maintains the database on volunteer organizations and individuals who produce reading materials in braille, large-print, and recorded formats.
  • Compiles and distributes the quarterly newsletter Focus on Native Americans to network libraries.
  • Maintains archive of NLS program information.