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.

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Carl W. Henn, Jr. – Volunteer of the Year

Recently, the Indiana State Library named Carl W. Henn, Jr. volunteer of the year for his work as a narrator for the Talking Book and Braille Library’s Indiana Voices program, a program which records audio books for blind and visually disabled citizens of the state.  Mr. Henn, who is 93, has been volunteering as a reader for both the Indiana State Library and the Indiana Historical Society for over 35 years.

During WWII, Mr. Henn served as member of General George S. Patton’s headquarters band. He worked for many years afterward in a variety of capacities at the Indianapolis Times newspapers, as well as for Eli Lilly & Company, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, and Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis.

While working as a volunteer for the Indiana Voices program, Mr. Henn has narrated approximately 20 audio books.  He enjoys reading both fiction titles as well as books that are highly informative in nature.  He also shared that his reason for being a part of the Indiana Voices program is to fulfill an obvious need by making use of his capabilities.
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To learn more about the Indiana Voices program, including volunteer opportunities, please visit http://www.in.gov/library/2399.htm.

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 http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.

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.

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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 http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.

Locally Recorded Books Now Available to Download from BARD

Good news for patrons of the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library. Locally recorded books from the Indiana Voices program are now available to download from BARD, the National Library Service’s Braille and Audio Reading Download website. While we have been eagerly anticipating the day when we could start adding our locally recorded books to BARD for several years now, we first had to go through a pilot process so that we could fulfill all of the required criteria.

We were invited to participate in the BARD pilot program in November and completed it in January.  Early in February we uploaded “Brewster’s Millions” by Indiana author George Barr McCutcheon, to BARD. In its first month on BARD it was downloaded over 200 times by people all over the country!

Over the next few months we will be working on making the necessary formatting changes to more books in the Indiana Voices collection so they too can be added and freely enjoyed by Talking Book patrons all over the country. Upcoming Indiana titles to look for on BARD include biographies of Richard Lugar and Frank O’Bannon as well as the classic Indiana novel “Uncle Tom Andy Bill” (a personal favorite).

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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 http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.