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G2S Project Code: 2017-CT-79106
State: Connecticut
Fiscal Year: 2017
Connecticut State Library

Project Director
Director Name: Gordon Reddick
Director Phone: 860-721-2021
Director Email:
General Information
Title: Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
State Project Code:
Start Date: 10/01/2016
End Date: 09/30/2018
Abstract: The Connecticut State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH) provides for the special format reading and information needs of Connecticut residents who are blind, visually impaired, physically handicapped, or reading disabled.
The LBPH allows users with disabilities to maintain equal access to print information. The library lends to individual patrons as well as to libraries, schools, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. This year, there were 7,229 active patrons with 519 new patrons added to the rolls. The net number of patrons has remained stable from previous years.

The LBPH provides reader's advisory and reference services in addition to lending its collection of Braille books and magazines, digital cartridges, and playback machines to qualifying individuals and organizations in Connecticut. Patrons can also access the NLS inventory online and download audio and Braille books directly from the internet. All services are free, including playback machines and postage, and eligible veterans receive priority service.

State Goal: Literacies and learning
Budget Information
Improve users’ ability to obtain and/or use information resources.
Arts, Culture & Humanities
Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM)
Activity Details
Title: Circulation and Reader Advisory
Narrative: LBPH staff duties include patron assistance, reader advisory, circulation duties, processing newly acquired digital books, collection maintenance, inventory control of playback machines, and interlibrary loan. LBPH staff administer patron accounts for the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) system and assist patrons with the process of downloading books.

This year, the library added 38,768 new digital book titles.

The LBPH book duplication program produced over 275 books for patrons. Multiple-title digital cartridges are being produced, where about 10 books can be duplicated onto one cartridge. These cartridges will be able to hold entire book series or multiple books by the same author or on the same subject.

The staff promotes public awareness of the library's services through exhibits, presentations, tours (e.g., church disabilities committees, senior expos, state conventions, etc) and publications. Additionally, extensive efforts were made to contact all the nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities in the state to promote the program.

Intent: Improve users’ ability to obtain and/or use information resources.

Activity: Content
Mode: Lending
Format: Combined physical & digital

Total number of items circulated: 157,740
Average number of items circulated / month: 13,145
Total number of ILL transactions: 1,958
Average number of ILL transactions / month: 163

Partner Information
Organization Type of Partner Organization(s):
Libraries: No
Historical Societies or Organizations: No
Museums: No
Archives: No
Cultural Heritage Organization Multi-type: No
Preschools: No
Schools: No
Adult Education: No
Human Service Organizations: No
Other: No

Legal Type of Partner Organization(s):
Federal Government: Yes
State Government: No
Local Government (excluding school districts): No
School District: No
Non-Profit: No
Private Sector: No
Tribe/Native Hawaiian Organization: No

Is the activity directed at the library workforce: No
For a targeted group or for the general population: Targeted
Geographic community of the targeted group: Urban
For what age groups: All Ages
For what economic types: Economic Not Applicable
For what ethnicity types: Ethnicity Not Applicable
Is the activity directed at families: No
Is the activity directed at intergenerational groups: No
Is the activity directed at immigrants/refugees: No
Is the activity directed at those with disabilities: Yes
Limited functional literacy or informational skills: No
Is the activity category not already captured: No

Is the activity state-wide: Yes
Specific Locations: No
Library Types
Public Libraries: 50
Academic Libraries: 0
Consortia: 0
Special Libraries: 14
School Libraries: 16
Other: 132
Project Outcomes
Project Outcomes
List any important outcomes or findings not previously reported:
The mix of reading formats used by patrons has remained relatively stable. Of the 157,740 audio and braille books circulated, just over 155,000 were in audio format and the other 2,600 books were in braille. Last year, the number of audio books circulated was about 156,000 but the number of braille volumes circulated in FY18 declined by almost 2,000 volumes. This decline has been a trend for several years and reflects primarily two factors: The decline in the number of persons learning braille and the much improved technology and convenience of using audio books. Since the majority of our patrons are over 65 years of age, these factors play a major role in their reading format choices. By the same token, most of our patrons over 65 years of age are not particularly proficient in the use of modern computer/mobile technology. As a consequence, the number of audio books downloaded from BARD via the internet only grew by a thousand to 22,773, or by 5% over last year. Over time, this proportion of patrons should become significantly more as those knowledgeable of computers today reach their senior years. The LBPH infrastructure received a major technological improvement with the migration from the previous server-based library software system to a new web-based library software program. This new software system is called WebREADS and is produced by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. For small libraries such as Connecticut's, this software package is free of charge. The migration was completed in March 2018. In addition to the internal data processing improvements with WebREADS, a new online public access catalog was also installed. This web-based catalog offers our patrons a complete online experience including the catalog of all books in the program and the means to submit online book requests directly to the library. This feature automates the entire patron-library book request process, thus no need for a patron to deal with telephones, printed catalogs, leaving messages, and restricted to normal office hours. The installation of WebREADS has also created for the first time the opportunity to have another network library serve our patrons in the event of a catastrophic casualty. Being web-based, another library can access our patron records and perform all of the patron service functions using their own book collection, which is the same as ours, and their staff to process circulation. By the same token, our reader advisors can also access the database from any other location. In this way, services to our patrons will never be interrupted. The Library for the Blind at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has agreed to become our back-up. WebREADS has also resulted in a dramatic increase in our circulation because of some technological improvements in the computer processing. Before the migration, monthly circulation averaged in the 11,000-13,000 range. After the migration, circulation is now in the 16,000 to 19,000 monthly range. During this past fiscal year, the library has begun publishing a quarterly newsletter and automatically distributes it to patrons. This newsletter provides updates to the talking book program as well as instructions on using the various functions and procedures.
Please briefly describe the importance of these outcomes and findings for future program planning:
The primary goal of the talking book program is to make accessible a wide range of reading materials which would not be otherwise available to them. The outcomes of this past fiscal year clearly demonstrate the achievement of this goal. The means used by patrons to access materials have broadened to include the OPAC, a more robust duplication-on-demand program, more use of ILL's, and more methods of communicating with the library. The future will see many new features which will significantly improve the distribution of reading materials. The NLS is revolutionizing the talking book program to make full use of web-based cloud technology to bring the patron's reading experience to new heights and maximize accessibility. At the library level, it was the installation of the web-based WebREADS software system which is making this all possible for us and our patrons.
Explain one or two of the most significant lessons learned for others wanting to adopt any facets of this project:

Do you anticipate continuing this project after the current reporting period ends:
Do you anticipate any change in level of effort in managing this project:
The LBPH's Federal program manager, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), has begun a long term project of transforming the service to a web-based system which will result in state-of-the-art book production and circulation methods. Included are projects to develop wireless delivery of books, mass duplication of books with multiple titles on a single digital cartridge, and in-the-cloud collection management. To enable the LBPH to take advantage of these technological upgrades, the LBPH is in the process of migrating to a new web-based circulation and machine automated software system. This new system will have the latest in technology advances produced by the NLS and thus will create a solid foundation for future developments. Also, the use of electronic downloads is expanding and will eventually become the main form of book delivery, including Braille. Refreshable Braille readers are under development which will allow a patron to download an electronic file and convert it to a device that permits tactile reading.
Do you anticipate changing the types of activities and objectives addressed by the project:

Was an evaluation conducted for this project:
Was a final written evaluation report produced:
Can the final written evaluation report be shared publicly on the IMLS website:
Was the evaluation conducted by project staff (either SLAA or local library) or by a third-party evaluator:
What data collection tools were used for any report outcomes and outputs:
Direct Observation
Did you collect any media for the data:
What types of methods were used to analyze collected data:
How were participants (or items) selected:
Other: The NLS network consultant performed the biennial inspection of the LBPH and its activities in September of 2018.
What type of research design did you use to compare the value for any reported output or outcome:
Exemplary: No
Exemplary Narrative
Project Tags: LBPH, Talking Books