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Home> Press release archive > National Library Service celebrates talking-book program, Partners, and patrons during National Library Week
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As we celebrate our nation’s libraries during National Library Week (April 15-21), the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, is recognizing the many ways its network library partners engage people in reading and keep them connected to the world around them. For more than 75 years, NLS has provided blind and physically handicapped readers with free reading materials. Through its talking-book program, books on tape and special playback equipment are mailed directly to patrons at no cost to them. The program is a lifeline to many, enabling them to read independently.
"National Library Week is a wonderful time to honor and showcase the numerous ways libraries throughout the country promote reading," says NLS director Frank Kurt Cylke. "The National Library Service and its network of local and regional libraries play a special role in ensuring all people can access and be inspired by the written word."
The program does more than facilitate reading—it also brings people together. Talking-book clubs, offered through NLS regional and subregional libraries, provide patrons with the opportunity to discuss the books they have read and to share their love of reading with others. "My interest in books has developed," says talking-book club member, Michael Conrad, a patron of the Los Angeles regional library. "The meetings also get me out to socialize. I have great discussions and meet new people."
The clubs often create friendships and a sense of togetherness and community. "The meetings are a time when patrons can discuss their lives, feelings about going blind, and challenges they face daily," says Dawn Fuller, the talking-book club coordinator for Braille Institute Library Services, the NLS regional library in Los Angeles.
Talking-book clubs also expose patrons to new materials, broadening their appetites for literature, expanding their imaginations and encouraging them to pursue new pastimes. With a collection of more than 400,000 titles, including the latest bestsellers, classics, biographies, romances, mysteries, and westerns, NLS offers no shortage of inspiration. Recent book-club discussions have focused on top-sellers such as The Kite Runner, Marley and Me, Wicked, The Secret Life of Bees, and The Black Dahlia. "I’ve been introduced to things I wouldn’t have thought of reading," says talking-book club participant Bea Thaxter of Los Angeles. "Now I am even writing—and I never knew I could."
Book club discussions often inspire NLS patrons to explore new ways to connect with the world around them. A number have taken on leadership roles in their local communities, starting their own book discussion groups. Others have used talking-book resources to participate in other book clubs not affiliated with their local libraries.
NLS regional and subregional libraries offer book groups to readers of all ages. Many of the 132 cooperating libraries host summer reading clubs for young patrons and participate in NLS’s national 10² Talking-Book Club, which honors centenarian patrons for their lifelong devotion to reading. Those unable to attend NLS book-club meetings can often participate by telephone or computer. Online-only clubs are also available, allowing NLS patrons nationwide to connect with other sighted and visually impaired book lovers without leaving home.
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, administers the talking-book program, a free library service available to U.S. residents or American citizens living abroad whose low vision, blindness, or physical handicap makes reading a standard printed page difficult. Through its national network of regional libraries, NLS mails books and magazines in braille and on cassette and audio playback equipment directly to enrollees at no cost. Further information on talking-book clubs and eligibility requirements and enrollment procedures for the talking-book program are available through www.loc.gov/nls or 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).
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Posted on 2011-01-10