NLS Operations Alert No. 14-43

DATE                     :               June 13, 2014
TO                          :               Network Libraries
FROM                   :               Stephen Prine, Assistant Chief, Network Division
SUBJECT               :               Network Library of the Year Awards

New Hampshire and Florida Libraries Recognized for Their Dedication to
Blind and Disabled Readers

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress, today presented awards to libraries in New Hampshire and Florida for outstanding service to readers who are visually or physically disabled.
The New Hampshire State Library Talking Book Services (TBS) received the Network Library of the Year Award. The annual award, in its tenth year, carries a $1,000 cash prize.

The Palm Beach County Talking Books Library (PBCTBL)-a subregional library of the Florida Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library Services network-received the Network Subregional Library of the Year Award. The annual award, in its eighth year, carries a $1,000 cash prize.

NLS presented the awards at a luncheon ceremony today in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

"Today we honor the New Hampshire and Palm Beach County, Florida, libraries for their innovative outreach and promotion of technology that enables people who are blind or have a disability to fully experience the joys of reading," said NLS Director Karen Keninger.

TBS is located in Concord, New Hampshire. In 2013, the library, which has a full-time staff of four, served 2,802 individuals, 206 institutions and organizations and circulated 71,320 audiobooks and other materials.

"At New Hampshire Talking Book Services, our goal is to help our patrons increase their independence by providing them with reading materials they want and need, as well as the technology necessary to use those materials," said Marilyn Stevenson, TBS regional librarian. "This award is meaningful to us because it confirms that we are accomplishing that goal."

Because of the regional library's service and outreach, their patrons have reported that they read more and feel as if their reading habits are in keeping with today's digital society. With guidance from TBS, the patrons are able to use the NLS program, Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) and the BARD Mobile app for iOS.  Marie Johnson, a longtime TBS patron, wrote, "I honestly still can't express how wonderful it is to have the entire world of reading, literally in an instant, available to me. Every day I have my trusty player handy. With the addition of the BARD iPhone app, I am enjoying my reading on the go!"

In 2013, digital book and magazine circulation in New Hampshire increased 90 percent because of BARD and the BARD mobile app. Regional librarian Marilyn Stevenson trained many public librarians in the state's 232 libraries to use BARD, enabling them to assist their eligible patrons.

TBS meets and exceeds the 2011 American Library Association standards for library service. The regional library also supplies a collection of more than 5,000 items to the state library's Family Resource Connection, a resource center for families with children who have special needs. TBS cooperates with many local and public library book clubs and reading programs and participates in programs where an entire community reads one book. In addition to the more than 54,000 audiobooks available through NLS, TBS patrons also have access to 7,200 audio titles from the Overdrive New Hampshire Downloadable Books Consortium, a collection of commercial audiobooks available to member libraries.

TBS established strategic partnerships with 27 organizations that have common constituencies. The regional librarian teamed up with four other New Hampshire agencies to create a traveling exhibit that circulates throughout the state to educate politicians, professionals, and citizens about the full range of services available to print-disabled readers.

The Palm Beach County Talking Books Library is located in the Palm Beach County Public Library Annex in Lake Worth, Florida, and has a full-time staff of four. In 2013, the library served 2,400 patrons with a collection of 61,000 items.

Diane Salina, a rehabilitation technician, said, "I have been working with Librarian Sarah Smedley and her staff at the library for nearly 20 years. This library regularly goes above and beyond in providing services to patrons in our community."

"The Palm Beach County Talking Books Library is determined to meet the needs of our print-disabled readers," said Smedley. "When the federal government was shut down in 2013, we used digital audiobooks stored on the Gutenberg Cartridge Duplicator to satisfy requests until the NLS BARD site was accessible again. We are so pleased to receive this award, because it recognizes our commitment to our patrons."

The subregional library, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2013 with a gala event, offers events and services that engage its readers and create a sense of community. PBCTBL hosts regular screenings of descriptive movies, teleconference book discussions for patrons who are mobility-disabled, an adult summer-reading program, and workshops on using NLS BARD. PBCTBL staff members procured a state-of-the-art audiobook cartridge-duplicating machine to better serve their readers. The machine enabled them to assemble popular anthologies (like the Twilight and Harry Potter series) on one cartridge, a novel practice for the library. The librarian also has taken a leadership role in promoting locally produced materials.

NLS created the Network Library Awards to recognize outstanding accomplishments of libraries serving people with visual and physical disabilities across the country and in U.S. territories. A committee of librarians and consumer organization representatives chooses finalists from among nominated libraries based on mission support (defined by the American Library Association Revised Standards and Guidelines for Service), creativity and innovation in providing service and record of reader satisfaction. Chairpersons of the four NLS network library regional conferences recommend the finalists to 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 a regular printed page difficult. Through its national network of libraries, NLS mails books and magazines in audio and braille formats and digital audio equipment directly to enrollees at no cost. Music instructional materials are also provided. Selected materials may be downloaded. For more information, visit or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at

For more information contact:
Stephen Prine
Assistant Chief, Network Division
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