To bump up the interest in Talking Books this year, we identified an “awareness day” meant to be the first day in 2010 to start spreading the word to individuals who could benefit from Talking Books.
Kansas’ Talking Books is a division of the State Library of Kansas, and part of a national network dedicated to serving the reading needs of individuals who are blind, have low vision, or have other physical disabilities that make it difficult to read regular print.
January 4 was selected as it is the birthday of Louis Braille, born in 1809 in Coupvray, France. Braille only lived to be 43, but at the age of 12 he created an amazing reading method for the blind using a simple raised dot pattern. He published the first Braille book in 1829. The Braille reading method was recognized in France in 1854, two years after his death. By 1868, the Braille method of reading for the blind spread world-wide.
Talking Books came into being through the Federal Pratt-Smoot Act of 1931, which established free library services for blind adults, administered by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) in the Library of Congress. That legislation started an amazing program that feeds the intelligence of thousands of Kansans.
In the early years, Talking Book Services were offered to Kansans through the St. Louis Library and the School for the Blind Library in Kansas City, Ks. The Kansas network serving the print-impaired was established in 1971. Today the program serves patrons through a network of six local service centers, located in Emporia, Norton, Great Bend, Manhattan, Topeka, and Wichita.
Talking Books Director Toni Harrell said, “more than 40,000 Kansans are eligible for this service. We are working every day to reach more patrons and to keep them connected with their great love of reading. More than 100,000 titles are available including books, magazines, and newspapers.”
All talking book services are delivered free through the US Postal Service.
For more information on Kansas Talking Books, visit www.kslib.info/talking/ or call 800-362-0699.