Network Libraries

Network Libraries Sign Up and Serve Patrons

Residents of the US and US citizens living abroad with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical, perceptual, or reading disability that prevents them from using regular print may apply for and receive library service through a network of cooperating libraries. This network, established in 1931, is supported at federal, state, and local levels where appropriate.

The NLS office in Washington, DC, acts as the headquarters for the network NLS headquarters develops new products and services such as BARD (Braille Audio Reading Download) and BARD Mobile, coordinates weeding and reassignment of excess materials, provides consulting services, and sponsors a national conference for Network Libraries in even-numbered years. It also and distributes materials to US citizens living abroad  and music materials to patrons signed up for the NLS music service.

Network Libraries and the Services Provided

Beginning with 19 libraries in 1931, the network has expanded to 55 regional libraries, 26 subregional libraries, and 13 advisory and outreach centers serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Guam.

Generally, state governments are responsible for ensuring that library service is provided to their eligible residents. These services include registering new patrons, initiating service, maintaining request lists from patrons, circulating books and magazines to patrons, providing reader advisor services, and ensuring that interested patrons receive and return materials.

Some regional libraries support a network of subregional libraries or advisory and outreach centers. Most subregional libraries or advisory and outreach centers are part of public library systems and provide localized service. Funding can come from any combination of state and local monies and from Library Services and Technology Act funds.

Most regional libraries have agreements to distribute digital talking-book machines and coordinate machine repair in their service areas.

To find your library now, visit Find Your Library.

Network Library of the Year Awards

Each year since 2005, a committee of librarians and consumer-organization representatives has chosen finalists for the Network Library of the Year Award and the Network Subregional Library of the Year Award from among the nominated libraries based on mission support, creativity and innovation in providing service, and record of reader satisfaction. The four NLS network regional conference chairpersons recommend the final selections to the NLS director. The awards typically carry a $1,000 cash prize and are usually presented in an event in Washington, DC.

Resources for Network Libraries

Network library staff with a log-in account may access many of the resources provided by NLS via the Network Library Services website.  

Find Your Library

Find your local library now in the NLS network of cooperating libraries.

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