NLS Operations Alert


No. 17-33


DATE          :  May 24, 2017

TO                :  Network Libraries

FROM         :  Richard Smith, Chief, Network Division

SUBJECT   :  WTBBL named 2016 Network Library of the Year



The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), congratulates the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library (WTBBL) of Seattle on being named the Network Library of the Year for 2016—the second time in eight years WTBBL has received the honor.


Danielle Miller, WTBBL director and regional librarian, and Cindy Aden, Washington State Librarian, accepted the award at a luncheon May 19 in the Whittall Pavilion of the historic Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Seattle also attended the luncheon and offered her praise for the WTBBL’s work.


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Photograph of WTBBL Director Danielle Miller and Washington State Librarian Cindy Aden with the 2016 Network Library of the Year award plaque.


“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,” said NLS Director Karen Keninger. “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. With fewer 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.”


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 whose work totaled the equivalent of that of seven additional employees.


WTBBL exceeded the standards for outreach and public education as defined by the American Library Association’s Revised Standards and Guidelines of 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 a 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 award comes with a $1,000 prize. The names of Network Library of the Year winners also are placed on perennial plaques, one of which is displayed at NLS and one that the winner keeps for one year.


No award was given this year for Network Subregional Library or Advisory and Outreach Center of the Year.


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’s Revised Standards and Guidelines of Service), creativity, innovation in providing service and demonstrated reader satisfaction. The winner is selected from finalists by the NLS director.


For more information contact:

Richard Smith

Chief, Network Division

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