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NLS: That All May Read
Responsibilities of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically
In accordance with the authority provided in 2 U.S.C. 135a, 135a-1, and 135b,
the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS/BPH)
is responsible for administering a national program to provide reading materials
for blind and physically handicapped 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/BPH 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
- 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/BPH resources
at each site and provision of guidelines and procedures manuals.
NLS/BPH 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
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.
- 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/BPH 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/BPH 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/BPH 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/BPH program.
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.
- 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
- 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
- Coordinates in-house training programs and processes electronic and
hard-copy documents for outside training that requires credit-card
- 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.
The Automation Office is responsible for ensuring that NLS/BPH 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/BPH desktop computers and servers, including database systems.
- Procures, deploys, operates, and maintains network resources.
- Develops, deploys, operates, and maintains database-driven NLS/BPH web
- Investigates, obtains, and manages outside IT contractors and other service
providers necessary to support IT infrastructure.
- Troubleshoots and resolves problems involving NLS/BPH contractors involved
in book production who use NLS/BPH IT resources.
- Troubleshoots and resolves problems encountered by NLS/BPH staff involving
- Investigates and procures software to enable NLS/BPH staff to extract
and analyze data from NLS/BPH data systems, including report-generation
tools and databases.
- Ensures that all IT resources are ADA-compliant and accessible to all
NLS/BPH 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/BPH desktop, communications, systems, databases, and
network information resources support and are appropriate for the NLS/BPH
mission, now and in the future.
- Advises NLS/BPH 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/BPH 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/BPH, network libraries, producers of NLS/BPH materials,
and other participants in the NLS/BPH program; and advises network libraries
on automation activities.
- Ensures that Automation staff has appropriate training and skill development
necessary to support NLS/BPH IT infrastructure.
- Preserves and safeguards NLS/BPH data that exists in computer-readable
- Ensures that NLS/BPH has an appropriate continuity-of-operations plan
for IT systems; investigates, procures, deploys, and maintains methods
of protecting NLS/BPH data and systems; and performs emergency contingency
- Ensures that NLS/BPH 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
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/BPH program from audio analog
cassette 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
- Identifies problems and proposes solutions, technical and managerial, as
they relate to cooperative NLS/BPH 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.
Publications and Media Section
The Publications and Media 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.
- 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/BPH services, stimulate interest in the program, and inform the general
public of NLS/BPH activities.
- Edits annotations for bibliographic records and all documents for external
- 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/BPH outreach efforts.
- Responds to network libraries with public education requests by providing
public education materials, including print and broadcast public service
- 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.
- 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
activities of book and equipment advisory committees; and supervising the sections
that 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
- 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
- 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
- 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/BPH 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/BPH automated talking-book-machine
- Issues headphones, amplifiers, remote-control units, solar panels,
and breath switches to eligible readers.
- Ensures that multistate centers have a sufficient stock of machines
- 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
- 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
- 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 participating
in professional developments in bibliographic control. The section:
- Provides cataloging and classification for all NLS/BPH collections in special
formats and for locally produced network library books listed in the International
- Contributes to the development of national cataloging
standards for books in special format for blind and physically handicapped
- Advises libraries on NLS/BPH cataloging policies and NLS/BPH
MARC record sets.
- Coordinates union catalog programs, the distribution of NLS/BPH
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
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 and
others 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/BPH 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/BPH 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/BPH 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/BPH magazine program; chairing
all activities of the collection development program and the foreign language
program. 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,
- Prepares and edits annotations of selected titles for NLS/BPH catalogs.
- Coordinates the NLS/BPH magazine program.
- Develops foreign-language and other special collections for the
- 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/BPH Kids Zone web site.
- Compiles and maintains monthly NLS/BPH bestsellers list for the
Network Library Services web site.
- Coordinates the shared masters program.
- Prioritizes analog-to-digital book conversion.
The Engineering Section is responsible for overseeing design, development,
production release, and configuration control of all NLS/BPH 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 digital
talking-book system. The section:
- Develops technical specifications and monitors production of all machines
- Conducts machine-repair workshops for volunteers who repair NLS/BPH
- 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/BPH.
- Monitors facilities that repair playback machines under contract
- Prepares and revises repair and service manuals and other training
- Evaluates machine and accessory qualification samples against NLS/BPH
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/BPH
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.
all NLS/BPH technical drawings.
Production Control Section
The Production Control Section is responsible for overseeing the production
of books and magazines selected for the NLS/BPH program and for executing database
operations and administration of the Production Information and Control Systems
(PICS) used by NLS/BPH. 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.
- 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/BPH is properly
billed for books, magazines, and containers.
- Works closely with the NLS/BPH Administrative Section to develop
and implement new processes for accurately handling contracts,
invoices, and related documentation.
- Works closely with the NLS/BPH 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/BPH.
- 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/BPH; for ascertaining that
all technical specifications of NLS/BPH 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
- 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/BPH specifications.
- Performs lot sampling of equipment and accessories for compliance
with NLS/BPH specifications.
- Evaluates control copies of all mass-produced braille and
- Recommends improvements in NLS/BPH specifications for all
books, magazines, and equipment.
- Conducts lot inspections
at contractors’ facilities
to monitor production of NLS/BPH equipment and related materials.
- Develops new techniques and equipment for quality control
of NLS/BPH products.
- Reviews for approval all voice auditions for NLS/BPH recorded
- 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/BPH specifications.
- Evaluates manufacturers’ quality-control programs
for compliance with NLS/BPH contract requirements.
- Monitors and reports on warranty returns of equipment and
- Maintains documentation files for tracking all materials
through any quality assurance review process.
The Recording Studio unit of the Production Control Section provides research
and development functions for NLS/BPH, 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/BPH specifications. The
- 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/BPH 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.
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/BPH 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/BPH; monitoring
multistate center contracts; acquiring and interpreting consumer input and
applying it as feasible to improve services; and supervising the four sections
and 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
- 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 formats
accessible by assistive technology to cooperating agencies in the national network.
and directs NLS/BPH 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/BPH staff
with electronic copies of documents, policies, and procedures in
formats accessible to assistive technology.
- Serves as the NLS/BPH 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/BPH 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/BPH 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
- Interprets postal laws and regulations concerning Free Matter for
- 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/BPH 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/BPH 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/BPH
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/BPH program, including
digital development activities; establishing and maintaining active liaisons
with individual users and consumer groups; disseminating information about
user inquiries to NLS/BPH and network libraries; providing information and
reference assistance to readers, as well as guidance on accessibility of NLS/BPH,
network, and LC services and Internet activities; and conducting user orientations
and 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
- 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, and
- Reviews, tests, and provides feedback to NLS/BPH 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
- 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.
NLS/BPH tactile map activities, including acquisition and
- Serves as a key contact within NLS/BPH 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/BPH 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/BPH program; distributing equipment, furnishings, and all procurements
delivered to NLS/BPH; 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/BPH staff
may order supply items from the national inventory; and supervising and evaluating
book redistribution procedures. The section:
- Ships, receives, and stores all stock items needed by NLS/BPH, 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/BPH shipping activities.
- Maintains an accessible stock for NLS/BPH staff of all NLS/BPH-produced
- Maintains consolidated inventory of NLS/BPH and MSC supply and
all stock items online in the WOW system, which is updated daily,
and issues quarterly comprehensive reports to NLS/BPH staff responsible for
stock replenishment; and maintains an online archive of comprehensive annual
inventory reports of the past five years for NLS/BPH 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.
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/BPH
and MSCs; and coordinates the annual MSC services survey in which network
libraries evaluate MSC services.
- Maintains the NLS/BPH archives of all NLS/BPH 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
the contracts for express mailing, courier service, and freight services
in the Transportation of Things allotment for all of NLS/BPH; and maintains
records of these services to use in tracking services and paying invoices.
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/BPH promotional and program
materials for NLS/BPH exhibits.
- Assists in furniture moves and space rearrangements.
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/BPH program from domestic and international
- 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/BPH music program.
- Secures copyright permission to produce materials specifically
for the NLS/BPH music program.
- Develops and maintains up-to-date content for the NLS/BPH web site’s
Music page, www.loc.gov/nls/music.
- Compiles four magazines for special-format production and direct-mail
distribution to NLS/BPH 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
- 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/BPH music readers, such as the publication
of the completely revised second edition of Introduction
to Braille Music Transcription.
- Evaluates user satisfaction with NLS/BPH 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/BPH 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/BPH music library materials and services.
- Plans, organizes, and arranges programs for NLS/BPH-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/BPH events, as
- Represents NLS/BPH 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 providing
library 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/BPH 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/BPH catalog
through online interfaces by producing instructional materials
and 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/BPH
- Posts network bulletins, machine and accessories reports, publication
reports, and other items to the NLS/BPH 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.
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/BPH; 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 services
on 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/BPH patrons, network libraries, and
the general public, including those received through the Ask-a-Librarian
digital reference service.
- Answers queries from NLS/BPH 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/BPH web site.
- Acquires and catalogs new and retrospective materials for reference and
- Orders print and online books, pamphlets and documents, and periodicals
- Compiles Added Entries, a quarterly acquisitions
list of items added to collections and distributed to network
- Maintains an online database of books and articles.
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/BPH and the network as
- 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/BPH network.
- Updates annually the general program fact sheet and publications checklist
Facts: Books for Blind and Physically
- 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
- Serves as liaison between network libraries, NLS/BPH, 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/BPH 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/BPH 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
- 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/BPH