Library of Congress Honors Pennsylvania and Virginia Libraries for Service to Blind Readers | Compendium

May 10, 2019.  The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) at the Library of Congress will honor two of its cooperating libraries for their outstanding service to readers who are visually or physically disabled.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (CLP-LBPH) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will receive the Regional Library of the Year Award, while the Staunton Talking Book Center (TBC) in Staunton, Virginia, will receive the Sub-regional Library/Advisory and Outreach Center of the Year Award.

The awards will be presented at an event in the historic Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on May 16.

“Each year the Library of Congress recognizes the work of state and local libraries that provide braille and talking-book services to people who cannot use print materials,” said NLS Director Karen Keninger. “The programs and services these two libraries offer are outstanding examples of the innovation seen throughout our network of cooperating libraries nationwide, as well as their commitment to ensuring that all may read.”

Outreach was a big part of CLP-LBPH’s success last year. Library employees visited 131 sites in 15 counties, spreading the word about the braille and talking-book program to more than 3,400 people. CLP-LBPH also put an emphasis on multicultural outreach; its staff comprises speakers of Spanish, Serbian, Hindi, Tamil, French, Italian, Portuguese and American Sign Language. In an effort to respond to the needs of users, the library translated all of its welcome packet materials into Spanish.

The CLP-LBPH in Pittsburgh was one of the first large libraries in the NLS network to pilot a new duplication-on-demand program that allows libraries to download audio files from NLS servers and create talking-book cartridges customized with patrons’ requests.

CLP-LBPH’s programming included a virtual story-time via conference call for children who are blind or have limited vision, and Accessible Movie Afternoons with audio description, tactile elements and foods related to each movie’s plot. In conjunction with the Pittsburgh Society of Sculptors, the library presented a tactile art exhibit,Somatosensory 2018: Relating to the Senses,” where attendees with visual impairments could feel the features of the sculptures while listening to descriptive recordings by the artists.

The library’s 24 staff members and 197 volunteers, who contributed nearly 13,000 hours of their time, served 15,421 registered users throughout Pennsylvania last year.

“The library receives substantial positive feedback from all types of library users,” wrote Glenn R. Miller, Deputy Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Office of Commonwealth Libraries, in his letter nominating the library for the award. “[It] shines with creativity and innovation.”

The TBC, which serves about 300 patrons in four counties, is housed in Staunton’s public library, near the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. The TBC also focused attention on outreach and engagement over the last year. In 2018, the TBC began a monthly newsletter and participated in Staunton’s Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival, where volunteers braille-embossed index cards with visitors’ names and a “wizard word,” then gave them an NLS braille alphabet card to decipher the code. TBC also co-hosted a book reading with local author Phyllis Staton Campbell and created a hands-on exhibit showcasing NLS services going back to its founding in 1931.

The library set up a low-vision tabletop display with lighted and hand-held magnifiers and converted an office into an accessibility room where patrons can use a text-to-speech screen reader, a page magnifier and a large table for private book readings.

The Network Library Awards were created by NLS in 2005. A committee of librarians and consumer-organization representatives selects finalists from nominated libraries based on mission support, creativity, innovation in providing service and demonstrated reader satisfaction. The winner is selected by the NLS director from finalists determined by a panel of network librarians and community leaders.

NLS administers the braille and talking-book program, a free library service available to U.S. residents and American citizens living abroad whose low vision, blindness or disability makes reading regular printed material difficult. Through its national network of libraries, NLS provides books and magazines in talking-book and braille formats and playback equipment directly to patrons at no cost. Materials are also available online for download and are accessible on smart devices through the BARD mobile app. Music instructional materials are available in large-print, ebraille, braille and recorded formats. For more information, visit or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States – and extensive materials from around the world – both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at and register creative works of authorship at


PR 19-047
ISSN 0731-3527