Illinois Talking Book and Braille Service wins 2005 NLS Network Library of the Year Award

The Illinois State Library Talking Book and Braille Service of Springfield is the 2005 recipient of the NLS annual Network Library of the Year Award, recognizing outstanding accomplishments of regional and subregional libraries. The award, which carries a $1,000 cash prize, was presented during National Library Week, April 2–8, at a ceremony in the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, April 4, 2006. "I'm proud to accept this award on behalf of all the Illinois cooperating libraries. Thanks to the active involvement of the staff, volunteers, and patrons, the Talking Book and Braille Service is able to pilot many new projects and keep patrons up to date with current technologies," said Sharon Ruda, director of the Illinois regional library.

Illinois regional librarian and staff.
Illinois regional librarian Sharon Ruda (center, back row) stands with Illinois subregional librarians (from left, back row) Lori Bell and Deborah Taylor and (from left, front row) Karen Odean and Diana Brawley-Sussman.

Illinois subregional libraries—the Chicago Public Library Talking Book Center, the Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center, the Southern Illinois Talking Book Center, and the Voices of Vision Talking Book Center—were also recognized with plaques.

The Talking Book and Braille Service received the Network Library of the Year Award for creating and providing technology-related services to blind and physically handicapped readers. One of its most ambitious programs, Online Programming for All Libraries (OPAL), started in the Illinois talking-book community in 2003 as an accessible web-based book discussion, and is now popular in libraries worldwide. In 2005, the OPAL web site had more than 44,000 visitors and thirty braille and general-use library members in the United States, Australia, and Norway.

NLS director Frank Kurt Cylke praised the Talking Book and Braille Service for taking "great steps toward preparing patrons for the NLS digital conversion in 2008 by using technology to provide innovative service. These efforts—and its 95 percent patron approval rating—go far beyond the award criteria, making Illinois an excellent choice." Other projects spearheaded by the Illinois State Library Talking Book and Braille Service include:

The Illinois State Library Talking Book and Braille Service is the second recipient of the Network Library of the Year Award; Braille Institute Library Services of Los Angeles received the 2004 award. "The network is vital to our mission," said Cylke. "We are thrilled we can give cooperating libraries the recognition they deserve."

NLS created the award to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of the 132 network libraries serving blind and physically handicapped individuals across the country and in U.S. territories. A special committee, headed by Network Division chief Carolyn Sung and consisting of librarians and patrons, selects the recipient using the following criteria: mission support, or the extent to which the library reached or exceeded the American Library Association Revised Standards and Guidelines of Service; creativity and innovation; and record of patron satisfaction.

Shared masters project shortens production of bestselling titles

NLS and Talking Book Publishers, Inc. (TBP) of Denver, Colorado, have joined with Books on Tape, a division of Random House, to bring bestselling titles to patrons at virtually the same time they are released in print to the general public through sharing masters—original audio files duplicated for distribution. The shared masters project will streamline the release of bestsellers to patrons as well as decrease costs for NLS.

A 1993–94 NLS audit conducted by Clifton, Gunderson, & Co. and monitored by the Library of Congress Office of the Inspector General recommended that NLS "identify titles available in recorded book form from commercial sources during the selection process, and explore the feasibility of purchasing copies of the commercially produced masters for use in duplicating cassettes for inclusion in its collection." NLS began researching the possibility of sharing masters, but roadblocks arose when it was determined that audiobooks have copyright protection that is different from that of print books.

Commercial audiobooks are covered under performance copyright; they are not covered under the Chafee Amendment, which relaxes copyright infringement laws for not-for-profit organizations that reproduce and distribute print books for blind and physically handicapped readers. NLS could not obtain commercial audiobooks without securing the rights to the publishers’ copyrighted recordings—the narrative performance—apart from the underlying rights to the literary work.

To overcome the hurdles and speed up production of bestselling books, TBP’s chief executive officer and founder Rudy Savage approached Books on Tape with the idea of sharing masters, particularly with an emphasis on simultaneous production.

NLS librarians in the Collection Development Section select the titles appropriate for the NLS collection from a list of bestselling titles that Books on Tape plans to produce in the forthcoming months. TBP obtains rights to the audio recordings and receives the audiobook files, often before the print book is published. Once the master is complete, with NLS tag lines, announcements, and disclosures, NLS purchases the book from TBP just as if TBP had been hired to narrate it. "The program enables NLS to release recorded books to our patrons simultaneously with commercial editions for general audiences," said Production Control Section head, John Bryant.

The shared masters project saves NLS 20 to 30 percent of the cost of producing selected books. The project also decreases patrons’ waiting time by at least six months.

National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee examines the future of talking-book machines

Consumers, repair volunteers, and network librarians gathered at NLS September 14–16, 2005, for the National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee (NAEAC) meeting. The fourteen committee members were updated on the current status of NLS equipment manufacturing and repair programs, equipment inventory, and the transition to digital talking books (DTBs). The group submitted twenty-four recommendations and commended NLS staff for its progress on the digital talking-book machine (DTBM) and on the Web Ordering and Warehousing system.

National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee members.
National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee members discuss new developments in the digital talking-book machine.

Program review and new challenges

Following opening remarks, NLS personnel provided an overview of projects of interest to NAEAC members. Several staff members and one committee member reported on the impact of natural disasters on network libraries, patrons, and NLS equipment.

Michael Katzmann, head of the NLS Engineering Section, brought committee members up to date on the production of C-1 machines. Telex, the company that has been manufacturing the machines for NLS, is closing its plant in Blue Earth, Minnesota, at the end of 2006. Production of C-1 machines has been transferred to Dongguan City, China. Telex will continue to handle final quality assurance and packing of the machines in the United States.

Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of some southern states and the consequences for the libraries in those states were addressed by Fara Zaleski, librarian for the Alabama Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. She reported that half of the eleven public library branches in New Orleans were under water and that the public libraries in Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi, are likely to be condemned.

NLS equipment repair officer Kevin Watson acknowledged that the extent of damage to playback machines was unknown and that flood damage would make them unusable. Jim Miller, equipment control officer, noted that audiobooks, playback equipment, and other materials that have been contaminated by flood waters should not be handled by patrons or library staff. The Network Division and Materials Development Division agreed to work together to address service and equipment needs during disaster recovery.

Watson also reported that 125,000 cassette machines were repaired in 2005. Some cassette machines will remain in use for more than ten years, even as the program transitions to digital playback machines.

Other NLS staff updated the committee on digital audio developments. Committee members learned of the 5,744 analog-to-digital transfers that have been produced thus far. Design aspects of the digital players and cartridges were discussed and several models were passed around. The group was also updated on digital original mastering and duplication developments, digital rights management issues, and the status of downloadable magazines and books. In addition, Network Division chief Carolyn Sung and head of the Inventory Management Section Derrick Barnes demonstrated the parts-ordering function of the online system and invited repair volunteers and library representatives to be pilot testers for the system.


Each of the three subgroups—consumers, repair volunteers, and librarians—met on the second day to discuss the NLS staff reports and develop recommendations, which were presented to NLS on day three. A list of all suggestions and NLS responses was published and circulated in Machines and Accessories bulletin 06-03, National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee recommendations and NLS responses, 2005.

Consumers. Program users made several recommendations for DTB machine-design features, such as a variable-speed function, a color-coding scheme similar to that of the C-1 for operating controls, and secure cord storage. Consumers advised that exposure to inclement weather should be taken into consideration in the container design and suggested that the top surface of the DTBM include a molded tactile line behind the most important controls, so that patrons needing the simplest configuration can readily identify these buttons. They also suggested that patrons be supplied with instructions on cassette, as many will continue to use the C-1 machines.

NLS responded that the DTBM would incorporate many of these suggestions. The basic player will include speed scaling, secure cord retention, and the use of audible feedback in addition to tactile feedback. The color-coding scheme will be considered; however, some buttons on the DTBM will have multiple functions so keys will be chosen for optimal visibility for low-vision users.

Recommendations for downloading books and magazines included providing online guidance for patrons who have difficulty finding downloadable materials on their computers; allowing patrons to queue more than one item for downloading so those with slower connections can download multiple items overnight; and allowing patrons to download items to portable devices or put them on cartridges for use on the NLS playback machine.

The NLS research and development officer explained that NLS intends to include the ability to download items to portable devices in the system; however, there are no plans to provide software to manage downloads or queue items for sequential download. The system will rely on the patron’s web browser for these capabilities.

Repair volunteers. Recommendations from the volunteers focused mainly on quality issues with the current playback machines. The group expressed concern about the machines stored in Multistate Center West and recommended that NLS devise a method of screening machines entering the center. NLS responded that this is currently underway. Repair volunteers also suggested that the availability of amplifier board parts be strictly limited to qualified repair groups, which will eliminate serious quality problems. They also requested that NLS equip repair shops with IQ5 chargers, citing the need to test and bring test-repaired C-1 batteries to specification.

The NLS equipment control officer stated that IQ5 chargers would be a useful tool and that NLS plans to make them available in the coming years based on the availability of funds. He also explained that the amplifier board parts availability has been strictly limited to repair groups for more than ten years and that the people responsible for the parts ordering system are aware of this requirement.

Volunteers praised the progress made on the Web Ordering and Warehouse system and asked that the C-1 schematic drawings be placed on the parts web site as soon as possible. NLS responded that this implementation would be complex and costly. In the meantime, to make the information consistently available, copies of the manual with the diagrams and figures in test mode will be posted on the parts web site. Volunteers were invited to comment.

Librarians. The librarians asked that NLS distribute copies of the Flash newsletter to machine-repair groups to keep these volunteers informed of DTB developments. Librarians also requested revised guidelines and technical specifications for volunteer and network studio programs for production markup of DTBs, as well as specifications for digital duplication and equipment recommendations for libraries, whenever feasible.

NLS indicated that copies of Flash were being distributed to machine-repair groups and that a revised draft of the guidelines and technical specifications for volunteer and network studio programs for production of DTBs with digital markup was underway. The specifications for the cartridge will be released when the design is final.

The librarians recommended that NLS digitize historic talking books, especially those featured in the Treasury of Talking Books, to fulfill patron requests for these titles. They also recommended that NLS create a contingency plan to ensure that enough repaired C-1 machines will be available during the transition period.

NLS explained that although current focus is on digitally converting analog masters of talking books in the RC format, a special effort will be made to digitally remaster selected older disk recordings to preserve and reclaim the popular narrators and the author narrators of the Treasury of Talking Books.

For a list of all suggestions and the corresponding NLS responses, see Machines and Accessories bulletin number 06-03, National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee recommendations and NLS responses, 2005.

NLS receives 2005 Community Recycling Leadership Award

Shane Thompson, Frank Cylke, and Linda Gabor
Regional recycling manager Shane Thompson (left) and media relations manager Linda Gabor present the 2005 Community Recycling Leadership Award to NLS director Frank Kurt Cylke.

On the morning of March 3, 2006, regional recycling manager Shane Thompson and marketing and media relations manager Linda Gabor, both of the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), visited the NLS director’s office to recognize NLS for its outstanding environmental efforts in 2005. The RBRC, a nonprofit public service organization, awarded NLS the 2005 Regional Community Recycling Leadership Award for recycling twenty tons of rechargeable batteries in the past year.

A participant in the battery recycling program since 2000, NLS collects the nickel cadmium rechargeable batteries used in its cassette book machines from 350 locations across the country. In 2005 alone, NLS recycled more than twenty tons of nickel cadmium rechargeable batteries for RBRC’s Call2Recycle program.

"NLS is pleased with and proud of our efforts to recycle batteries," said NLS director Frank Kurt Cylke. "Our network members and volunteers have really gone the extra mile in this effort."

"Because of groups like NLS, we are able to develop new and innovative ways to make it easy to recycle used rechargeable batteries, "said Ralph Millard, RBRC executive vice president.

Andrew Venable, Katherine Prescott, Alberta James, Cora Pardoe, and Frank Cylke.
From left: Cleveland Public Library director Andrew A. Venable stands with former director of the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped Katherine Prescott, honored for her years of service; Ohio Ten-Squared inductees Alberta James and Cora Pardoe; and NLS director Frank Kurt Cylke.

Ten-Squared Talking-Book Club continues to gain popularity among libraries and centenarian patrons

Libraries and patrons across the nation have embraced the Ten-Squared Talking-Book Club and made the program a popular success. Launched by NLS in November 2004, the Ten-Squared Club is in its second fiscal year and continues to expand its membership and appeal. In FY 2005, thirteen network libraries held events to induct sixty-one NLS patrons into the club. By May of FY 2006, eight libraries had inducted eighty-six additional patrons. These events have garnered media attention for the network’s free library service from newspapers, local television stations, and radio programs.

Many libraries have showcased their centenarian patrons by catering the events and booking live entertainment, including music, theater, readings, and appearances by television or radio personalities. Two state governors have issued proclamations on behalf of the Ten-Squared Club and many honorees have given interviews to local newspapers and radio shows. Some of the Ten-Squared Club events have drawn crowds of more than one hundred people into regional and subregional libraries to hear about the talking-book program and the fascinating lives of these patrons.

Many of the Ten-Squared Club members have shown a high level of engagement in the talking-book program. Robert Qualls of Enid, Oklahoma, who turned 102 years old in April 2005, has been a patron of the NLS program since it was established in 1931, and he has been an activist for the blind community his entire life. Said Qualls, "In the early 1930s is when we first got talking books. It was a great find." (See News, January–March, 2005.)

Dorothy Bryant of Perry, Iowa, who recently became a Ten-Squared Club member at the age of 101, has been a longtime advocate for literacy. She worked for more than sixteen years as a librarian, eight of them as assistant librarian to Florence Grannis, the founding librarian of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Bryant said that the Ten-Squared Club induction ceremony was among the "happiest days of my life."

Many centenarian patrons, like Alberta James of Cleveland, Ohio, continue to be both mentally and socially active. James was newly wed just before her one-hundredth birthday and frequents social clubs and recreational programs sponsored by the Cleveland Sight Center with her new husband.

Though libraries often invest large amounts of time and effort into personally contacting their centenarians and arranging their Ten-Squared Club events, everyone involved in the program finds it rewarding and worthwhile. "We are honored to be able to recognize these most accomplished centenarians, who are models of active maturity," said Barbara Mates, director of the Cleveland Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

NLS director Frank Kurt Cylke conceived the Ten-Squared Talking-Book Club to recognize the accomplishments of NLS’s 1,600 centenarian patrons. Network libraries have been holding ceremonies throughout the United States to recognize these readers, who receive a plaque, a pin, and a letter from the director noting their special status.

To learn more about the Ten-Squared Club, log on to the Network Library Services web site at, click on the Selected Reports and Documents link, and select the Ten-Squared Manual link under the heading Administrative Manuals. Candidates must be at least one-hundred years of age at the time of induction.

Florida public awareness campaign renews interest

Banner ad: Reading never sounded so good.
The Florida library campaign used banner ads, like this one shown above, to renew interest in the program.

The Florida Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library Services got an unexpected benefit from its extensive multimedia outreach campaign during the summer of 2005. The goal of the campaign, which included advertising in newspapers and on television and radio, was to increase public awareness. "We were surprised by the number of existing customers who called to order books after hearing or seeing our advertisements or newspaper stories," said Michael Gunde, regional librarian.

The Florida regional library, which serves one of the largest clienteles in the network, began its media campaign in June 2005. It ran print ads in the Palm Beach Post, the Key West Citizen, and newspapers distributed in Brevard, Charlotte, Collier, Flagler, Hillsborough, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties. In addition, it ran a Spanish-language ad in La Palma, a weekly Spanish edition of the Palm Beach Post. Many of these ads were published through November 2005.

The ads not only increased public interest, but attracted additional media interest as well. Several Florida newspapers published stories about talking books, including the Tampa Tribune, the South Tampa News, the Flagler Times, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, and the Spanish-language edition of the Miami Herald. Several community newspapers in Miami-Dade County published similar information. Florida’s subregional librarians and the public relations staff at their parent public libraries worked with local newspapers on many of the articles.

The Florida regional library also placed ads on fifty-six different radio stations statewide, from Apalachicola to Zolfo Springs. The ads ran twenty-eight times in three weeks and reached nearly one million Florida residents. Ads also ran on television stations, including ABC affiliates in Pensacola and Jacksonville; CBS affiliates in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and Ft. Myers; NBC affiliates in Tampa Bay and Jacksonville; and the WB affiliate in the Orlando area.

In addition, WEAR-TV of Pensacola placed a banner advertising the library on its web site in August. The "click-thru" banner was a free add-on to the paid TV campaign and allowed WEAR-TV visitors to link to the library’s home page.

"We spent a total of $25,000 on this phase, and we received advertising worth at least $40,000 at no additional cost. I was amazed at how much can be done for little funding," said Gunde.

The library also benefitted from the support of its parent organization, the Florida Division of Blind Services, as well as the Friends of Library Access Inc., the Elizabeth Cope Trust Fund, and NLS. The library used print and broadcast public service announcements produced by NLS and customized with the library’s toll-free number.

According to Gunde, he and his staff spent a total of 120 hours on the project, a negligible amount in light of the benefits.

Karen Messick selected as a Times Librarian of the Year

When the New York Times announced the recipients of the 2005 Librarian of the Year Award, Karen Messick, head of Youth Services at the New Jersey Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, was among them.

Karen Messick, and Kristen Witucki
Karen Messick, left, and NLS patron Kristen Witucki

Messick, who recently retired after seventeen years of service, was chosen from among 1,200 applicants throughout the country. She was nominated by longtime patron Kristen Witucki, who has been an active reader since the fourth grade.

During her forty-two year career as a librarian, Messick has made an impact on many lives. She served as president of the Children’s Services Section of the New Jersey Library Association and was honored in May 2005 with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Parents of Blind Children in New Jersey. She also served as a coordinator for 150 volunteers in the Audiovision Radio Reading Service.

"Books open the world to young readers, and it has long been my belief that my mission in life is to bring young readers and books together. Being able to do this at the New Jersey Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped has been like a dream come true," said Messick.

The 2005 awards recognized twenty-seven recipients for outstanding public service and community commitment. Each librarian was presented with a plaque and $2,500 at a gala reception.

Florida and Kentucky celebrate National Braille Literacy Month

In observance of National Braille Literacy Month, several events were held in January 2006. To highlight the educational history of braille, Florida’s Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library Services displayed two exhibits and the American Printing House for the Blind, in Louisville, Kentucky, hosted a reading.

The two exhibits in Florida, War of the Dots and Historic Braille Writers, were on loan from the Marie and Eugene Callahan Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind. The displays were free and open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Florida Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library Services’ headquarters in Daytona Beach. Visitors to the exhibits experienced the creative adaptations that transformed the elements of visual literacy into tactile literacy and enabled blind students to have greater access to literature and education.

"The exhibits have been a real success," said Meredith Beckhardt, the bureau’s library program administrator. "We have had many visitors from the community who not only learned more about braille, but they learned about the scope of services that our library provides. A mother visited the exhibits who had not yet heard about the availability of print/braille books. With our free services, she can play a greater role in increasing her child’s literacy."

The War of the Dots exhibit featured the history of the English language dot system, including the revisions and debates that led up to the 1932 agreement on Standard English Braille Grade Two (contracted braille). Historic books embossed in different dot systems were displayed along with nine braille writers and additional materials from the bureau’s collection.

In Louisville, Kentucky, the American Printing House for the Blind celebrated Braille Literacy Month by hosting a reading from the braille version of C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on Saturday, January 21, 2006. The event was presented by radio personality Carla Ruschival, who cohosts the weekly radio program Sound Prints on Clear Channel station WKJK.

BrailleInk. produces unique print/braille books

Eric Ligon and his son Ethan share a love of reading but were unable to share books. The desire to change that sent the elder Ligon, an associate professor of visual arts at the University of North Texas, to the drawing board—literally. There, he created a page design that allows him to read books with his eight-year-old, who is blind and reads braille.

Ligon’s design reproduces the print and illustration exactly as it appears in the original book and places it on the top portion of the page. The bottom portion of the page is embossed in braille and has corresponding print letters above each braille cell. With this format, braille readers need not cover the print and illustration with their hands so print readers are able to read along with them.

Print braille design

"[The design] breaks up the braille into manageable pieces, and I think parents, teachers, and friends will find that a useful tool," said Ligon. "This new format helps educate sighted folks about blindness, braille, and disabilities. Teaching sighted children and adults about braille is a big step toward reducing social stigmas associated with blindness."

Ligon presented his book design at the 2003 Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference, where he met Bruce Curtis, then coordinator of the Perkins Panda Early Literacy Program for the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. They kept in touch, and in 2004 formed the nonprofit organization BrailleInk. to produce books in Ligon’s format. Ligon serves as president and Curtis as executive director.

The organization’s first two titles are Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram and The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, both originally published by Candlewick Press. "Guess How Much I Love You is a fairly well-known tale about a father and a son expressing their love for each other," said Curtis. "The Dot is less well-known, but we’re proudly doing our part to rectify that. I just love the story—it’s about a girl who is led by her teacher into discovering her creative potential."

BrailleInk.’s editions are board books, with the braille embossed directly on the page. The thickness of the board book makes them very sturdy. Each page has an embossed border to prevent the braille from being flattened; when the book is closed, the borders press against each other so the braille cells on each page cannot come into contact with those on the facing page.

Each book contains an appendix that includes the braille alphabet and instructions about numbers and punctuation. Books with contracted braille (BrailleInk. prints both contracted and uncontracted braille) also list the contractions that appear in the book and the basic rules about their usage. "We don’t have any illusions about providing more than a cursory, superficial introduction to braille. But it’s right there, it’s easy, and even fun," said Curtis.

The ability of print and braille readers to share a book is critical since, according to the American Printing House for the Blind, 85 percent of children who are blind or visually impaired attend public schools. At school and at home, these children are rarely with other braille readers.

"Our books aren’t just for braille readers. They’re also for parents and grandparents who are braille readers to share with sighted children," said Curtis. "In fact, this is a much larger, though less obvious, group because you’re now talking about a fortyish-year window of the population rather than a nine-year window."

BrailleInk. is planning to publish three additional titles and will continue to add at least five new titles per year, including books in Spanish and bilingual English/Spanish. The books cost $19.95 to produce and sell for $25 each (with bulk discounts available). Guess How Much I Love You (BR 16174, RC 41891) is also available from the NLS collection.

In Memoriam:

Howe Press director Harry Friedman pioneered print/braille

Harry Friedman, the director of Howe Press at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, died of a heart attack at age eighty-two on June 12, 2005. Though Friedman battled Parkinson’s disease for twenty-eight years, he was always thinking of ways to improve the lives of others and he made many contributions to the blind community.

Harry Friedman, David Abraham, and Edward J. Waterhouse
Harry Friedman (center) commemorating the production of the 25,000th Perkins Brailler with David Abraham (left) and Edward J. Waterhouse in 1964.

Throughout his career he developed print/braille text to allow sighted and blind people to enjoy reading books together. He oversaw the production of the Perkins Brailler and invented new types of styluses and slates for writing braille, as well as a braille eraser. He also assisted with the development of the first electric braille typewriter.

When Friedman received a complaint from a Harvard student about a paper-brailled subway map on which the raised dots collapsed when the map was folded, he came up with plastic braille and made similar maps for the United States, Europe, and Africa. To help enhance learning by blind children, Friedman also worked on "scratch ’n’ sniff" books that allowed children to identify objects by scents.

A graduate of the former Mechanic Arts High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a U.S. Army veteran, Friedman worked at a variety of jobs before coming to Howe Press. He spent some time at his father’s machine shop after he was discharged from the army and then took a position at the Raytheon Company in Waltham, Massachusetts, where he worked with radar installations on B-52 bombers. Friedman left that job and worked nights to keep his family afloat until he saw the ad for a manager at Howe Press, where he would work for twenty-five years.

Friedman is survived by his wife Clara, son Richard, and daughters Carol and Susan. At Friedman’s request, his brain was donated for Parkinson’s disease research to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

The Program

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress publishes books and magazines in braille and in recorded form on discs and cassettes for readers who cannot hold, handle, or see well enough to read conventional print because of a temporary or permanent visual or physical handicap.

Through a national network of state and local libraries, the materials are loaned free to eligible readers in the United States and to U.S. citizens living abroad. Materials are sent to readers and returned by postage-free mail.

Books and Magazines

Readers may borrow all types of popular-interest books including bestsellers, classics, mysteries, westerns, poetry, history, biographies, religious literature, children's books, and foreign-language materials. Readers may also subscribe to more than seventy popular magazines in braille and recorded formats.

Special Equipment

Special equipment needed to play the discs and cassettes, which are recorded at slower than conventional speeds, is loaned indefinitely to readers. An amplifier with headphone is available for blind and physically handicapped readers who are also certified as hearing impaired. Other devices are provided to aid readers with mobility impairments in using playback machines.


You are eligible for the Library of Congress program if:

How to Apply

You may request an application by writing NLS or calling toll-free 1-800-424-9100, and your name will be referred to your cooperating library.

News is published quarterly by:

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20542

All correspondence should be addressed to the attention of Publications and Media Section.

Editor: Paula Higgins

Writers: Ingrid Davitt, Lina Dutky, Sabreen Madyum.