Library Services for the Blind & Handicapped

I’m going to use my first post here to both introduce myself and my library. I’m starting off with a bit of an explanation, so when I post about offering services to and materials’ for “blind and other physically handicapped persons“‘ you’ll know where I’m coming from.

I’m Liz Burns; and I’m the Youth Services Consultant for the’ NJ State Library’s Library for the Blind and Handicapped (NJLBH). I work with patrons from ages 3 to 18.

Who are my customers?

In a nutshell, NJLBH’s services are for people who for any physical reason cannot read regular printed books. (For more specific information, check out the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) website, especially their list of regional libraries which will tell you the library for your state.)

But what does that mean, actually?

NJLBH (like other regional libraries) has Braille Books and Talking Books. Talking Books are our audiobooks, available on cassette. (For those of you asking, “what about CDs and playaways”, I’ll explain our cassette books in a later post.) What types of titles? Just like what you’d find in any public library.

Right now, in New Jersey, we have over 50,000 audiobooks and over 10,000 Braille books. In addition, we have over 10,000 large print books and over 400 descriptive videos (again, more on that in a later post – I’m trying not to have this become the longest post ever.)

NJLBH serves the entire population of New Jersey. We’ mail materials to our patrons, and materials get returned to us via mail, at no cost to our patron. Yes, like Netflix! Readers Advisory services are provided via telephone, email, and in person.

While I’ll be posting about more topics later on, what I want to leave you with’ is this: if you have a teen patron who is looking for audiobooks because they cannot use traditional print books for a physical reason (which in certain situations includes reading disabilities) and you cannot find a commercial audiobook, don’t stop there! NJLBH/NLS’s materials are not commercial audiobooks (tho they are recorded with professional narrators, guidelines and standards); check our catalog or NLS’s catalog, and you’ll see that we have titles of books not available commercially.

Any questions? Let me know so I can be inspired for my next post! And as you look at the websites I’ve linked to, keep in mind that they were designed with the guidelines mentioned by Joseph last week.

About Liz Burns

Liz is the Youth Services Consultant for the New Jersey State Library's Library for the Blind and Handicapped. Liz is active in YALSA and in the YA Services Section of the New Jersey Library Association. She was a member of the 2009 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. Along with co-author Sophie Brookover, she wrote Pop Goes the Library: Using Pop Culture To Connect With Your Whole Community, published in 2008 by Information Today. Liz blogs at Pop Goes the Library (www.popgoesthelibrary.com) and Tea Cozy (yzocaet.blogspot.com). She holds an MLIS from Rutgers University, SCILS, and a JD from Villanova Law School, Villanova University. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is her favorite television show. Ever. Her favorite book is... well, it's impossible to pick just one. Or two. Or ten.
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