Taking time from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Detroit Congressman Hansen Clarke dropped in on the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) Network Library of the Year Awards ceremony on June 23 to congratulate an award winner from his hometown.
The Detroit Subregional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH) received the 2010 Network Subregional Library of the Year Award for its outstanding service to blind and disabled residents. The library’s efforts extend beyond providing braille and audiobooks: It regularly opens its doors for patrons to share the joy of reading. Subregional librarian Dori Middleton and her supervisor, Carolyn Burgess-McCormick of the Detroit Public Library, accepted the award.
“The Detroit library is helping our citizens to live a better life,” said Clarke. “I am glad to see the library recognized for its effort.”
NLS established the Network Library of the Year Award in 2004 to recognize outstanding accomplishments of libraries serving blind and physically handicapped individuals across the country and in U.S. territories. The Network Subregional Library of the Year Award was established in 2006.
The 2010 Network Library of the Year Award for Regional Libraries was shared by the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled (OLBPD) of the Cleveland Public Library and the State Library of Ohio Talking Book Service (OTBS) of Columbus. Represented by regional librarian Will Reed and Cleveland Public Library Board of Trustees president Thomas Corrigan, OLBPD provides braille and audiobooks to more than ten thousand special-format users throughout Ohio. OTBS, represented by state librarian Beverly Cain and assistant state librarian James Buchman, manages digital talking-book machine service to the state’s audiobook readers.
Janell Brown, school librarian for the Ohio State School for the Blind in Columbus, described the impact of the service provided by the Ohio agencies. “Web-Braille [the NLS online braille book download service] and more recently BARD [the online audiobook download service] are a huge part of my students’ informational, recreational, and downloading lives,” she said. “Some of their teachers noted that students were downloading talking books even when they were assigned other tasks.”
The “libraries have gone beyond the basics, taking on and addressing challenges while maintaining service to readers,” said Deanna Marcum, Library of Congress associate librarian for Library Services. She commended the libraries for their efforts in distributing digital talking books to their patrons and administering patron participation in NLS BARD.
NLS acting director Ruth Scovill presented each library and its administering agency with a framed certificate. Each library also received a cash prize of $1,000. Their names will be inscribed on a perpetual plaque that will be shared by each 2011 winning library before it is returned to NLS for the next award presentation in 2012.
A specially established committee of patrons and librarians, chaired by Carolyn Sung, chief of the NLS Network Division, recommended the Ohio and Detroit libraries for the awards based on the libraries’ accomplishments in reaching or exceeding the American Library Association Revised Standards and Guidelines for Service, creativity and innovation in providing service, and record of patron satisfaction.
"In Southern California there are an estimated 350,000 people who are eligible for our library service, yet only 10 percent of that population has been reached and served."
Political leaders and a popular narrator have helped network libraries celebrate the 80th anniversary of NLS and the talking-book and braille program this year.
Tennessee governor Bill Haslam presented a proclamation to the Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped on July 6 at the state capitol in Nashville. “I’m pleased to celebrate what this organization has done in our state,” Haslam said. “It has allowed citizens to read when otherwise they wouldn’t be able to.” After patrons chose him as their favorite talking-book narrator, Roy Avers was honored by the Mississippi Blind and Physically Handicapped Library Service on March 3 in Jackson, Mississippi. Avers, a winner of the American Printing House for the Blind’s Alexander Scourby Narrator of the Year Award, has recorded more than one thousand talking books.
The Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library set up a year-long schedule of rotating displays at public libraries in Milwaukee County to show how talking-book technology has evolved over the years, from the 33-1/3 rpm records of early decades to today’s digital machines.
Visitors who attended the Worcester (MA) Talking Book Library’s open house on April 16 saw demonstrations of digital talking-book machines and BARD (the Braille and Audio Reading Download service) and tried adaptive equipment such as the JAWS screen reader and braille embossers.
Several network libraries have taken multimedia approaches to publicizing the talking-book and braille program:
The Illinois State Library Talking Book and Braille Service (TBBS) produced a poster promoting its youth services. It features Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White with patrons Ryan O’Dell and Dane Edwards. The poster will be distributed to public libraries throughout Illinois.County music legend Ronnie Milsap, who lost his eyesight as a child, recorded a 60-second public service announcement for the Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH). In the spot, which was distributed to radio stations throughout the state, longtime LBPH patron Milsap talks about the new NLS digital talking-book players and the library’s selection of audio, braille, and large-print books. You can hear the PSA at http://tnsos.org/Press/files/MilsapPSA.mp3.
The Idaho Talking Book Service (TBS) in Boise, part of the Idaho Commission for Libraries, produced “Never Stop Reading” (below), a television PSA that features five TBS patrons. The PSA promotes an easy-to-remember URL, neverstopreading.org, that links to the Idaho TBS website. You can view it at www.sovrncreative.com/work.php.
The Macomb Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Clinton Township, Michigan, produced a television PSA that uses sound from the “Now You’re Talking” radio spot produced for the NLS public-education campaign and images from NLS posters and other sources. The PSA is airing on the WOW! cable system in Macomb County. You can view it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DFVnbF9s6Q
Richard E. Evans, CEO of Evatone, Inc., died on August 5, 2011, in High Springs, Florida, at the age of 87.
Evans was the innovator behind the flexible discs used by the NLS magazine program. In 1960 he introduced the EVA-TONE Soundsheet, a thin plastic phonograph record that played like a heavy vinyl record. The debut recording, a montage of television and radio broadcasts of John Glenn’s orbit of the earth, was stitched into 250,000 issues of Advertising Age. In 1965, Evans’s second Soundsheet was inserted into 4.6 million issues of National Geographic.
Rudy Savage, head of Talking Book Publishers, Inc., in Denver, worked with NLS director Robert Bray in 1966 to research the use of high-quality flexible discs for the NLS magazine program. He discovered that five of Evans’s Soundsheet discs could be produced and mailed for the same cost as one vinyl disc. NLS could also mail the records directly to patrons instead of shipping them to libraries for circulation.
“NLS was recording its magazines on heavy rigid discs and had a three- to four-person waiting list for many,” said Savage. “NLS was able to eliminate that waiting list because of Evans’s technology. Patrons received their magazines at nearly the same time as the newsstands received theirs.”
When the Soundsheet was retired in 2000, the Library of Congress honored the company’s 34 years of work with NLS by presenting Evans with a special award of merit.
Born in Highland Park, Illinois, in 1924, Evans served with the U.S. Army in World War II. After receiving an honorable discharge and a Purple Heart, he settled in Deerfield, Illinois, to run Evatype Corp., a company founded by his father, who pioneered the use of lead type to make rubber stamps.
In 1979 Evans relocated his business to Pinellas County, Florida. EVA-TONE SOUNDSHEETS, Inc., became Evatone, Inc., and began offering digital and printing services.
Evatone remained a family business, with Evans’s wife Luckie and his five children and their spouses all working for the company at one time or another. Evans eventually turned over management responsibilities to his son Carl, who became Evatone’s last CEO.
Evatone closed its doors in 2009.
Evans is survived by his wife Luckie; sister Edith Marie Carle; sons Mark, Kim, and Carl; daughters Susan Babcock and Linda Ball; 11 grandchildren; and 7 great-grandchildren.
NLS volunteer braille-music transcriber Bettye Maxwell Krolick, of Fort Collins, Colorado, died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease on August 5, 2011. She was 85.
An accomplished violinist, Krolick served as president of the National Braille Association in the 1990s and authored the first Dictionary of Braille Music Signs for the Library of Congress.
“Bettye Krolick was one of the most influential and productive figures in the world of braille music in the United States and around the globe,” said NLS Music Section head John Hanson. “She transcribed numerous high-quality scores that are now part of the NLS music collection and wrote How to Read Braille Music, updating it in 1998 to reflect the 1997 revision of the Braille Music Code—a revision which she oversaw as chairman of the BANA’s Music Technical Committee. The NLS Music Section has loaned hundreds of copies of that book over the years, and hundreds are still in circulation today. The Music Section and those who use braille music are deeply indebted to her.”
Bettye was only five years old when she heard her next-door neighbor in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, giving violin lessons. Enthralled with the sound, she begged her parents for a violin and soon began her musical career.
After graduation from high school, she attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, then the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, from which she graduated in 1948. While attending Eastman, she met string bass player Edward Krolick, whom she married in Missouri in 1948.
The Krolicks later moved to Champaign, Illinois, where they raised their children and two sets of foster children over the years.
Around the age of 50, Krolick learned how to transcribe music into braille and began doing volunteer work for blind musicians. Realizing there were limited resources available to blind music students, she wrote How to Read Braille Music and also worked with school music teachers to help blind students become involved with band, orchestra, and choir.
When she discovered that the field of braille music was not yet standardized, Krolick met with braille music experts around the world and wrote the Dictionary of Braille Music Signs for the Library of Congress. She also served on the Braille Music Subcommittee for the World Blind Union. In 2007, a brick was purchased in her name on the Wall of Tribute at the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, Kentucky.
After her husband retired in 1983, the couple moved to Fort Collins, where Krolick played with the Fort Collins, Greeley, and Cheyenne orchestras and continued her braille work. They also traveled through Italy, England, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Poland, and New Zealand.
Krolick is survived by her husband; daughters Katherine Granas and Nancy von Neumann; sons Philip and Kenneth; two grandchildren; and brother Robert Maxwell.
Carol Strauss, a reference librarian who retired from NLS last August, died on July 26, 2011. She was 62.
Strauss worked in the Reference Section of NLS for more than 20 years. She was passionate about research and authored a number of NLS reference publications, including Accessibility: A Selective Bibliography, Blindness and Visual Impairments: Information and Advocacy Organizations, and Employment of People with Disabilities: A Resource Guide. She provided thorough reference services to network librarians, NLS and LC staff, patrons, and the public. Strauss acquired a reputation at NLS for her acute attention to detail, exemplary research skills, and modest manner.
“She was a joy to work with,” said NLS Reference Section head Dawn Stitzel. “She was reliable, productive, and very thoughtful. She contributed a lot to the Library over the years.”
In 2003 Strauss was detailed to the Library Congress Science Technology, and Business Reading Room, where she worked with the head in revising the twenty-one-page Science Tracer Bullet History of Household Technology. She also compiled the science reference guide Sources for Quotations in the Sciences, which is posted on the Library’s website. During her career at NLS she received at least seven special achievement awards.
Prior to joining NLS, Strauss earned an MLS from the University of Pittsburgh and worked in a variety of academic and medical libraries. She authored the annotated bibliography Grandparents: Roles, Rights, and Relationships, which was published by Scarecrow Press of Lanham, Maryland, in 1996, and she provided research assistance for other published works.
Strauss is survived by her mother Martha and her brother Sidney.
Arizona. NLS music patron Adam Bevell joined rock group U2 on stage during a July 2 concert in Nashville, playing guitar for a rendition of the group’s hit “All I Want Is You.”
“My brother-in-law made this sign for me,” explained Bevell. “We borrowed a piece of paper and a marker from some fans.” Bevell held the homemade sign, which read “Blind Guitar Player,” throughout the concert. “At the very end, I started to drop my sign and all of a sudden I heard Bono’s voice, ‘What do you want to play, man?’”
Bevell was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at age 14 and lost his sight at 28. But he kept playing guitar. “It was always my dream to get up on stage,” he said. When he heard Bono that night, he thought “there’s no way he’s talking to me.” Bevell’s brother-in-law assured him that the lead singer was speaking to him and “before I knew it, I was on stage.”
CNN’s interview with Bevell about his experience can be found at http://ultimateclassicrock.com/u2-blind-fan-adam-bevell-interview/.
California. Lorri Bernson of Encino, a Braille Institute Library patron, threw out the first pitch before the August 29 Dodgers-San Diego Padres baseball game. It was the first time in Dodgers Stadium history that a blind person has thrown out the ceremonial pitch. Bernson lost 98 percent of her vision 15 years ago, at age 33, from complications of type 1 diabetes.
In December 2009 Dodgers general manager Ned Coletti and former Dodger Wes Parker visited the Braille Institute in Los Angeles. After answering questions about baseball, Coletti asked patrons with guide dogs about their canine companions. Their responses prompted Coletti to drop by Guide Dogs of America, which provides free guide dogs to blind and visually impaired individuals through the support of donors. Bernson gave Coletti a tour of the facilities, and later asked if he would sponsor her next dog, as her current dog Nigel was about to retire. Coletti, who had negotiated in his 2009 contract that he would donate $25,000 to a charity each year—and the Dodger Dream Foundation would match it—agreed. He has sponsored three dogs to date and plans to continue to sponsor one each year.
Bernson’s pitch bounced once and was caught by catcher A.J. Lewis, who talked her through the throw. Carter, her latest guide dog, was on hand to witness the historic toss.
Oklahoma. On April 9, the Oklahoma City Zoo opened the Patricia and Byron J. Gambulos ZooZeum, a collection of rotating exhibits, photos, artifacts, and videos on the zoo’s history.
ZooZeum curator Amy Stephens had contacted the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (OLBPH) in January for advice on making the new display accessible. Library director Paul Adams and volunteers Nancy Cheper and Richard Rouillard recorded narration for the ZooZeum’s thirteen displays, and Jay Doudna, program coordinator of Oklahoma’s Talking Information Service, helped Stephens research playback devices. Visitors can take audio-guided tours of the ZooZeum during regular zoo hours.
Iowa.On April 7, Rep. Dan Kelley made a formal announcement to the Iowa House of Representatives acknowledging National Library Week and the outstanding service provided by the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (ILBPH).
Following the announcement ILBPH staff and patrons who were present were recognized by the assembly and then met with Kelley and Reps. Cindy Winckler, Bob Kressig, and Dennis Cohoon on the House floor.
Pennsylvania.The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was featured in the summer 2011 issue of Pennsylvania Caregiver Magazine, a free quarterly publication distributed to subscribers in the western part of the state.
“With a circulation of nearly 200,000, what Pennsylvania Caregiver has done is remind some caregivers about our books and services and introduce us to others who were unaware of our existence,” said Carnegie publicity liaison Lynn Vroblick. Carnegie’s outreach to caregivers will not end there, she added. “Our staff will continue to attend regional expos, speak at support groups, and conduct other activities that will link us to the friends, family members, and professionals that support blind and physically handicapped readers.”
NLS conducts first repair workshop for digital talking-book players
With production of cassette machines ended and the majority of digital talking-book players now in the hands of patrons, NLS staff has begun preparing network library and machine-lending agency staff and volunteers for the repair and maintenance of the digital players.
At the first digital talking-book repair workshop on June 15, participants were introduced to the digital player repair toolkit, instructed in battery- and cord-replacement and disposal procedures, and briefed on common repair issues by NLS head of Engineering John Brown (in dark shirt, standing) and equipment repair officer Kevin Watson (in white shirt, standing).