TBBC Celebrates 50th Anniversary, Offers New Technology

The Talking Book and Braille Center (TBBC), celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023, now offers Braille eReaders to patrons. The Braille eReader is an electronic braille unit that displays rows of braille letters and words that can be read as someone would a Braille book. This unit will download Braille books from the Braille & Audio Reading Download (BARD) site as well as play Braille books that TBBC can send to patrons on a digital cartridge. Any TBBC patron who can read Braille is eligible to receive an eReader.

“Over the years, I have received countless notes and calls from our TBBC users, expressing how thankful they are that KDL provides materials to those that experience print disabilities,” said Shelley Roossien, Accessibility & Inclusion Specialist at Kent District Library. “I’m so glad that our offerings continue to grow.”

The KDL Talking Book & Braille Center is one of 11 LBPH Advisory and Outreach Centers in Michigan and is part of the National Library Service Network. It serves all of Kent, Montcalm and Ionia counties, providing books, magazines and DVDs in alternative formats (digital audio cartridge, Braille and descriptive videos), as well as downloadable materials in audio and electronic Braille. These materials are shipped free directly to the patron's home via the United States Postal Service. 

In 1973, what was then the Kent County Library System signed a contract with the Library of Michigan to join the Consortium of User Libraries, a group of libraries across several states that would provide audio and Braille materials to patrons that could not read standard print due to a visual or physical disability. This was part of a nationwide program funded through the Library of Congress’s National Library Service for the Blind, which began in 1931. The program, known as the Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (LBPH), quickly became a lifeline to reading for people with print disabilities across the service area. 

In 2019, Kent District Library changed the name of the program from the Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped to the Talking Book & Braille Center. With a rebranding in place, the system moved to a new service model by providing customized, multi-title digital cartridges to patrons, and the staff at KDL’s Patron Services Department took over handling TBBC patrons' needs in February of 2020.  

For more information or to apply for the service, visit kdl.org/tbbc.

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