New public awareness coordinator for the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library

In May, the Indiana State Library Foundation hired Elizabeth Pearl to be the new public awareness coordinator for the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library. As the public awareness coordinator, Elizabeth provides statewide outreach services to libraries, support groups, nursing homes and any other organization interested in utilizing and promoting talking books.

Pearl works with patrons at the Hendricks County Senior Center in June of 2017.

Elizabeth wants to spread awareness of the talking book program by talking directly to librarians, service providers and potential users. She is happy to travel throughout the state to attend events at your library or provide training to your library staff, to attend local health fairs and other community events or visit other organizations or groups interested in using or promoting the talking book program.

If you would like Elizabeth to visit your library or attend your event, you can contact her via email or call her at 1-847-770-0933.

This blog post was written by Maggie Ansty of the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library. For more information, contact the Talking Books and Braille Library at 1-800-622-4970 or via email.

Basement of Braille

The basement of the Indiana State Library is home to a very impressive collection of Braille books, which are loaned to patrons throughout the state of Indiana as part of the Talking Books program.
Basement Pic_webThe Indiana State Library has a long history of providing reading materials to the blind population of Indiana. Starting in 1905, the State Library began mailing embossed books to blind residents throughout the state. At the time, the library’s collection consisted of 300 volumes, 200 of which had been donated by blind people eager to establish a library for themselves in Indiana. At the time, the circulation staff of the library sent these embossed books to patrons just one day a month. Continue reading

10 Years of the Indiana Vision Expo

2015 marks the 10th year of the Indiana Vision Expo, sponsored by the Indiana State Library Foundation and organized by the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library. Founded in 2006 by former Talking Book librarian Carole Rose, Vision Expo was designed to connect interested consumers with the resources available to support and promote independent living for individuals experiencing vision loss. The Expo has expanded from 15 vendors in its first year to over 30 in 2014. These vendors exhibit and sell a variety of products from screen-reading software and magnifiers to games and kitchen gadgets. Also participating are advocacy groups including the American Council for the Blind, the National Federation of the Blind, and the Blinded Veterans Association. Civic organizations including the Indianapolis Public Library and the Marion County Election Board provide information about services they offer to the blind and visually impaired community. Locally based Bosma Enterprises, which provides employment training and rehabilitation for the blind and visually impaired, has always had a strong presence at the Expo.

Vision Expo postcard-1

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Fun Facts About Talking Books and Braille

What is the history of Talking Books and Braille? We have compiled a short list of facts that may interest you regarding that very question.

  • The concept of a national library for the blind was developed in 1897 by John Russell Young, the seventh Librarian of Congress, when he established a reading room for the blind.
  • The Indiana State Library first started mailing embossed books to patrons in 1905. The collection was made up of approximately 200 books donated to the library by patrons.
  • The Pratt-Smoot Act, which established a national library service for the blind, became law on March 3, 1931.
  • The first Braille book produced for the new service was for Woodrow Wilson’s “George Washington”, which was in high demand at the time due to the bicentennial of Washington’s birth.
  • A uniform system of Braille was established in 1933. Before that competing forms of embossed print included Braille, Moon Type, and New York Point.
  • The first “talking book” was developed in 1934. It was described as “the recording on a disc of the voice of a good reader, and its reproduction at will through the instrumentality of a reproducing machine or phonograph.”
  • The Indiana State Library became an official NLS Regional Library for the Blind in 1934.
  • The first talking books produced included: the Declaration of Independence; the Constitution of the United States; Washington’s Farewell Address; Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address; Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”, “The Merchant of Venice”, and “Hamlet” ; Kipling’s “The Brushwood Boy” ; and Wodehouse’s “Very Good Jeeves”.
  • Patrons originally had to purchase their own talking book players which cost between thirty-five and sixty dollars.


This blog post was written by Margaret Ansty, Talking Book & Braille Library Supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317)232-3684 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at