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April 17, 2007

Pennsylvania and Michigan Libraries Receive Awards for Serving the Blind and Physically Handicapped

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) at the Library of Congress today presented awards to the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH), Free Library of Philadelphia, and to the Washtenaw County Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled (LBPD) of Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Philadelphia library received the Network Library of the Year Award for outstanding accomplishments in 2006. The annual award, in its third year, carries a $1,000 cash prize.

The Ann Arbor library received the first annual Network Subregional Library of the Year Award, which also carries a $1,000 cash prize. NLS presented the awards at a luncheon ceremony today, April 17, in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

NLS Director Frank Kurt Cylke said, "The Philadelphia and Washtenaw County libraries have demonstrated excellence as regional and subregional libraries respectively. They have raised the bar for providing community outreach and dependable service, and we celebrate their accomplishment."

LBPH in Philadelphia circulated more than 1,780,000 braille, cassette and large-print books to more than 14,500 individual readers and 632 institutions. The regional library hosts several innovative programs, including the Adult Basic Education and General Educational Development program – possibly the only one of its kind in the country – that provides visually impaired adults with the opportunity to complete high school. The library’s Voice Operated Public Access Catalog (VoPAC) allows readers to select books by telephone. The library’s city-center location permits easy access, allowing patrons to walk in and browse the collection. These patrons regularly use the Talking Book Center – a collection of workstations equipped with assistive technology, a service that aids in forging stronger relationships between patrons and the downtown Philadelphia community.

The LBPD in Ann Arbor was recognized for providing excellent service. The facility also seeks to sustain the social, emotional and intellectual health of people who are blind or live with low vision. For example, the library’s 10-year-old Book Lovers Club is a bimonthly forum allowing patrons to develop commonality and strengthen friendships. The library presents an open workshop, Braille Instruction and Blind Awareness, for people interested in learning Braille and about the lives of visually impaired people. In cooperation with University of Michigan students, the library developed the Many Ways of Seeing Workshop to help blind and visually impaired individuals create works of art. In addition the LBPD exhibition "Visions: What’s New in Technology for the Blind and Visually Impaired" has been a focal point for vendors, consumers and volunteers.

NLS at the Library of Congress administers the free program that loans materials to residents of the United States who are unable to read or use standard print materials because of visual or physical handicaps. Materials loaned include braille and recorded books and magazines, music scores in braille and large print and specifically designed playback equipment. The 131 network libraries – throughout the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands – provide direct service to eligible individuals and institutions. Eligible American citizens living abroad are also able to participate in the NLS program. For more information about NLS, visit www.loc.gov/nls.

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PR 07-084
04/17/07
ISSN 0731-3527

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