A brief history of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled and the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library

The idea of a National Library Service for the Blind was first developed in 1897 by John Russell Young, the Librarian of Congress. He created a Braille Reading Room in the Library of Congress containing 500 items, including books and music scores. The Indiana State Library was not far behind in developing a library collection for the blind. Today, the collection is known as the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library.

In 1905, the Indiana 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 throughout the state who were eager to establish a library. This original collection of books began circulating on Oct. 1, 1905.

One day per month, books were sent to patrons throughout the state by the loan division of the State Library. The collection was slow to grow at this time as braille was not yet the standard method of embossed print; it was mostly able to grow through gifts and hand transcribing projects undertaken by volunteers such as the Junior League.

In 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed into law the Pratt-Smoot Act, which established the National Library Service for blind adults administered by the Library of Congress. They started out with 15 braille titles, the first of which was Woodrow Wilson’s biography of George Washington. Eighteen libraries were also initially selected to serve as regional libraries to better serve people through the country. In 1934, thanks in large part to the existing program that the Indiana State Library was offering, and the support around the state the program had, the Indiana State Library was selected to join the National Library Service as a regional library.

The following year, 27 book titles – including the four Christian gospels, historical documents and a variety of Shakespeare’s works – were made available on long-playing records. Patrons wishing to listen to these titles needed to buy their own phonograph. Records in various forms would continue to be used for more than 50 years. The National Library Service added service to children in 1952 and to people with physical disabilities and reading disabilities in 1966. Talking book formats have changed from records to flexible discs to cassettes in 1968 and in 2009 to digital books, download on demand, and downloadable media for braille e-readers and cellphones. The Library also includes large print titles and braille books.

However, the mission and goals of the program have remained the same, to provide library materials to those people unable to use standard printed materials. In 2019, the National Library Service was renamed the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled.

Learn more about the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled here, and learn more about the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library here.

This blog post was written by the past and present staff of the Talking Books and Braille Library. For more information, contact the Talking Books and Braille Library at 317-232-3684 or via email.

Rules change for professional librarians

Did you know that in Indiana, professional librarians need to be certified? The level of professional certificate required depends on a combination of the library’s district population size and the librarian’s position within the library itself. Having professional standards not only provides that library patrons are getting a certain level of competence when being assisted by a librarian, but is also the law in Indiana.

The professional rules for librarians are found in 590 IAC 5. The Indiana Library and Historical Board, which governs the Indiana State Library, is responsible for promulgating the rules for librarian certification. Periodically, the Indiana Library and Historical Board promulgates updates to the certification rules. The updates are primarily a result of changes desired by the broader Indiana library community. Prior to promulgating any rule changes, focus groups are created which are made up of librarians from various size libraries throughout the state. Feedback is provided by the librarian focus groups and the rule changes are primarily a result of the feedback from those groups.

As of Jan. 1, 2023, several new changes took effect as a result of the most recent rule changes enacted by the Indiana Library and Historical Board. There were some small tweaks and clarifications made to the certification rule, as well as a reorganization of the applicable definitions. However, several substantive changes took effect.

The amount of professional library work done in the normal course of the librarian’s daily activities which triggers the need to be certified is now 75%. So, if a librarian is doing professional librarian work 75% of the time or more, he or she needs to be certified. Previously, the threshold was 50%.

Indiana librarians must attend continuing education courses and earn a certain number of credits for attending such courses. The credits are known as Librarian Education Units or LEUs. The rules regarding what LEUs can count towards certification renewal were updated to make an additional category of activity eligible for LEUs. Additionally, there is no longer a sub-category of LEUs known as Technology LEUs required. Last, LEUs may be counted that were earned during a limited period of time that pre-dates the librarian actually receiving their first certificate or temporary permit.

There are two lower-level certificates for which specific college courses were required. Now, librarians may use any college level library course taken from an accredited college or university when applying for those lower-level certificates.

Specialist certificates are no longer issued. Specialist certificates were issued to individuals in non-librarian professional roles. There is a small number of folks who have these certificates and those certificates will still be valid at the respective libraries for the individual’s current position. The LEU requirements for specialist certificate holders have decreased.

Starting Jan. 1, 2023, certified librarians must keep all LEU certificates for 90 days after the later of the date their recently renewed certificate expired or the date they renewed their certificate if they renewed it after it expired. This change is to ensure they will still have their LEU certificates to prove compliance if they renew their librarian certificate late and are audited.

Directors of libraries serving a population of fewer than 3,000 who apply for certification Jan. 1, 2023 or later, must qualify for or be working towards an LC 1, 2, 3, 4, or the LC 7 certificate. Previously, the were able to also hold and LC 5 or 6 level certificate.

More details about the new changes can be found here. Questions about the revised rules, or certification in general, can be emailed here.

This blog post was written by Sylvia Watson, library law consultant and legal counsel, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Sylvia.

Indiana Voices at the Talking Books and Braille Library

A sudden hush… clipped sentences… cheerful replies…

Audiobook aficionados know that a storyteller’s voice can create tangible experiences. Narrating is not just the task of reading out loud, but the art of inviting others into the story. For patrons of the Indiana Voices program of the Indiana State Library’s Talking Book and Braille Library, volunteer narrators do just that.

Together with Indiana State Library staff, volunteers bring Hoosier words and voices to persons who cannot use standard printed materials due to a visual, physical or reading disability, and live in the state of Indiana or across the country. Cozy mysteries, local history, true crime, authors from Indiana and more are recorded in the program. But, what goes into the process of recording an audiobook?

Narrators begin work on their titles outside of the studio, reading ahead for thorny sentences and unfamiliar pronunciations. Once they are confident in their preparation, they arrive at the downtown Indianapolis studio to narrate for an hour. A monitor outside the booth follows along in the text to catch mistakes and alert the narrator.

It may take months to finish a title, but when the back cover is eventually closed, the audiobook is sent to a volunteer reviewer for a final examination. Corrections are recorded, mistakes are edited out and the finished book is made available to Talking Books and Braille Library patrons.

Reading out loud may sound easy, but each title represents up to four times as many behind-the-scenes hours as the total runtime of the audiobook. It takes dedication to bring an author’s words to life!

The most popular books of 2023, so far, that were recorded by Indiana Voices are:

  • “Material Witness: A Shipshewana Amish Mystery” by Vanetta Chapman – Fiction DBC17818
  • “Falling to Pieces: A Shipshewana Amish Mystery” by Vanetta Chapman – Fiction DBC13578
  • “100 Things to Do in Indianapolis Before You Die” by Ashley Petry – Nonfiction travel guide – DBC12182
  • “Born to Build: the Story of the Gene B. Glick Company” by Gene Glick –  Nonfiction Biography – DBC17815

Volunteers are needed to do precisely that. Opportunities are open to join the work of providing Indiana-related titles to audiobook readers. Indiana is made up of many individual voices, representing different Hoosier communities, identities and experiences, all of which contribute to authentic interpretations of Indiana books. Volunteers from all the different communities and cultures in the state of Indiana are invited to apply. Volunteers are expected to work at least one hour every other week.

For those interested in learning more about volunteering with Indiana Voices as a narrator or as a monitor, please visit the Indiana Voices website or contact Hannah Arnold, Indiana Voices director, via email.

Patrons interested in audiobook materials from Indiana Voices should contact the Indiana State Library’s Talking Book and Braille Library via email or at 317-232-3684.

This blog post was written by Hannah Arnold, Indiana Voices director,
and Judy Gray, Talking Books and Braille Library supervisor.

Lake depth maps: 1920-1925

The Indiana State Library has been digitizing a set of historic lake maps and making them available online for free to use and download. This set of maps was created between 1922-1925, making them all around 100 years old. Have a lake house? These might make nice pieces to frame!

There were 37 lakes mapped by the Indiana Department of Conservation, Division of Fish and Game in the first half of the 1920s. The maps show lake depth, adjacent topography, cottages, access roads and vegetation. The detailed surveys were the result of labor by William Motier Tucker, a native of Ripley County and Professor of Geology at Indiana University. He always worked with a student assistant, conducting the surveys in the summer months. The maps were then available for sale from the Department of Conservation for 50 cents each. They were purchased by interested fishermen and cottage owners.

There was much interest in Indiana’s lakes in the 1920s, mostly relating to fishing and fish hatcheries. Indiana had six state owned fish-hatcheries on lakes by 1926. They were responding to requests for stocking fish for sport and food. A lot of effort went into artificially propagating fish. You can read about these efforts in the Division of Fish and Game annual reports available online through the digitized yearbooks. In 1925, the Division sold over 205,000 fishing licenses, which contributed to the Division being self-sufficient. They receive no regular appropriation from the legislature. Today, 29% of Fish and Wildlife funding comes from license funds (source, pie chart).

In addition to being interesting to fishermen, the lake maps were to serve as a reference for years to come as they show the permanent benchmark levels for the lakes. There was concern that land drainage projects were threatening to lower lake levels in the northern half of the state. The Department of Natural Resources makes modern lake depth maps available on their website. So, while these 100-year-old maps may not have much practical use and are superseded by newer maps, they remain quite interesting. My favorite details are the manmade surroundings shown on the maps – there are cottages represented, some hotels and access roads are named. Many of Indiana’s beautiful lakes are remote, located way off state and interstate highways. Many no longer have many, if any, lots open for new development, making lakefront living a special privilege. I hope you find something interesting, too!

Bonus interesting information: William M. Tucker, the Indiana University professor who created the maps, left Indiana for a position at Fresno State College in the late 1920s. In 1937, he discovered the vertebra of huge prehistoric sea lizard, 50-million-years old. A few months later, the skull was found, making it one of the most valuable fossils discovered in the area.

This post was written by Monique Howell, Indiana Collection supervisor.

TALK early literacy text program launched

The Indiana State Library is working with the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services and pilot libraries in Michigan to launch a new program called TALK – an acronym for Text and Learn for Kindergarten – for Indiana parents and caregivers. TALK promotes early literacy and kindergarten readiness through fun activities texted to parents each month. TALK has been developed using grant funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Although this program started in Michigan with Indiana coming on board recently, the hope is that this program could be replicated in states across the nation.

TALK sends texts with fun activities parents can do with their babies, toddlers and preschoolers to make any time learning time. The program was developed by librarians and is based on the already well established Every Child Ready to Read program which encourages parents to read, write, sing, talk and play with their children every day. TALK activities are designed to prepare kids, ages up to 5, for school success.

After signing up for TALK, the parent will receive up to 8-10 text messages per month with entertaining activities they can do at home with their child. TALK activities increase back and forth parent and child conversations. Research shows that when parents and caregivers talk and listen to young children, they develop cognitive and language skills they will need to succeed in school. Parents may sign up for messages in English or Spanish. The activities are then geared for their child’s developmental level and age. To see example texts for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, click here.

Public libraries can sign up as well to promote the TALK program in their communities with promotional toolkits provided for their use. Libraries who sign up can send texts about library events such as story times to parents.

The Indiana State Library will be hosting an informational webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 18, titled “Launching TALK in Your Community,” for Indiana public libraries interested in signing up for the program. The webinar will show how to use the online toolkits to access promotional materials and give tips on how to reach parents who aren’t regular library users. There will also be a demonstration of the TALK portal used to send text messages about upcoming library events. Libraries interested in learning more may register here. For more information about the TALK program, visit here. You may also contact Beth Yates, children’s consultant, or Kara Cleveland, Professional Development Office supervisor – both of the Indiana State Library – with any questions.

This blog post was submitted by Kara Cleveland, Professional Development Office supervisor at the Indiana State Library.

Resource sharing in Indiana libraries

There are 236 public library systems and nearly 90 academic libraries in Indiana. Most have their own catalogs and own their own materials. However, for the benefit of their readers, most of these libraries participate in at least one method of resource sharing. Resource sharing, or interlibrary loan as it is sometimes called, is when one library provides materials for users of another library. For example, if you visit your small town’s public library and can’t find any books about 3D game design, your library can probably borrow several from another library within a few days. Or, if you’re writing a research paper for a psychology course, rather than paying $24.95 to download the article from the publisher, your university’s academic library can likely quickly request a scanned copy from another library. School libraries, institutional/prison libraries, and even some special/corporate libraries are welcome to participate in many of Indiana’s resource sharing services.

The goal of resource sharing is to help patrons get access to the materials they need as quickly and reliably as possible, at a cost as low as possible and with as little intervention needed from staff. In addition to the Evergreen Indiana consortium which connects the holdings of over 100 Indiana public libraries, here is a description of some of the other services available to facilitate interlibrary lending in Indiana.

Indiana Share
Indiana Share is a statewide resource sharing service that connects participating libraries to all the materials available though OCLC’s WorldCat. Many larger libraries in Indiana have their own individual OCLC subscription, but through Indiana Share, smaller public and school libraries can benefit from the state’s subscription and request these same materials. An ILL staff person at the Indiana State Library reviews incoming requests and sends them to potential lenders, who then ship the books. With Indiana Share, we are able to borrow items from libraries all over the United States.

SRCS
Indiana’s Statewide Remote Circulation Service, or SRCS, debuted in Indiana in 2016 and has since connected readers with nearly 300,000 books at no cost to them. SRCS works similarly to Share, where library staff and patrons search a catalog of available holdings and select items to borrow. SRCS is unmediated, which means the requests go directly to the potential lenders. Staff at the library receiving the requests then locate the materials and ship them to the requesting library. The patron is then notified when their item arrives. This service is limited to participating Indiana public and academic libraries and is offered at no cost to those libraries.

InfoExpress
Indiana public libraries have benefited from InfoExpress, the dedicated statewide courier service, for decades. This involves a fleet of cars, vans and trucks that pick up materials from and deliver materials to hundreds of libraries statewide. The Indiana State Library currently contracts with Indianapolis-based NOW Courier to provide courier service, and participating libraries pay a subscription fee for service. The courier company maintains a schedule of which libraries receive service each day and then bills the Indiana State Library per stop – not per book, or based on weight. Over half a million parcels are shipped each year, bringing hundreds of thousands of books and other materials.

INSPIRE
Known as the lifelong learning library for Hoosiers, INSPIRE is the statewide virtual library available 24/7. The Indiana State Library sponsors access to dozens of databases and publications for residents of all ages to complete personal, academic or work-related research.

The future of resource sharing
The Indiana State Library’s Resource Sharing Committee, comprised of library staff from all types of libraries and supporting organizations around the state, meets regularly to discuss these existing services while planning for the future. While the future is unknown, the committee continually seeks to secure more efficient methods of lending with increased collaboration. The committee also continues to host informational webinars and conferences for staff working in resource sharing.

For information on any of these services, please contact the Library Development Office.

This blog post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office director. She can be reached via email

What to expect when you visit your Indiana State Library

Your Indiana State Library offers books for people of all ages, and much, much more. Your state library is a peaceful, beautiful place for learning and exploring. We have something for everyone to enjoy. You can walk around and look at the beautiful architecture and stained-glass windows. Or you can simply find a book and make yourself comfy for a while. We have public computers or tables where you can sit and study.

How can you get a library card?
Every Indiana resident can have an Indiana State Library card. Just stop by and see us and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Any citizen of the state of Indiana is eligible to obtain a State Library card. When a patron requests the issuance of a card, they will be required to complete the information on the Indiana State Library Card Registration Form – state form 44689 – and provide a picture ID. This ID may be a valid Indiana driver’s license; valid Indiana state identification card; valid U.S. Government issued identification (e.g., passport, military ID, permanent resident card, other employment ID with a current address or other picture ID of this type).

Hours of operation
The Indiana State Library is open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month, with some exceptions. For a complete list of library hours, open Saturdays and holiday closures, click here.

Parking information
Many downtown garages within walking distance of the State Library offer commercial parking. Metered parking is available on most downtown streets, including Ohio St. and Senate Ave. An interactive map showing parking in downtown Indianapolis is available from Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.

Directions to the Indiana State Library
The Indiana State Library is located at 315 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis near the Canal Walk. Click here to get directions.

So, plan a trip to your Indiana State Library. We look forward to seeing you soon!

This blog post was written by Rayjeana Duty, circulation supervisor, Indiana State Library.

A look at the Reference and Government Services Division’s collection at the Indiana State Library

Did you know the largest collection of material at the Indiana State Library is not from the Genealogy, Manuscripts, or Indiana Division collections, but from the Reference and Government Services Division? The division consists principally of the general collection, non-Indiana related material, government documents and the Indiana State Data Center collections. With the largest collection of material in the library, Reference and Government Services also has some of the state library’s best treasures.

The State Library serves as the Regional Depository for the state of Indiana, collecting all content published by the Government Publishing Office as part of the Federal Depository Library Program. It is not clear exactly when the library joined the program, but the earliest record of involvement is from 1899. The library began collecting government documents from its inception, with the oldest federal document in our collection being the Journal of the Second Session of the United States of America, Begun and Held at the City of New York, Jan. 4, 1790.

The library even has government documents that predate the founding of our country. Before the internet and readily available interlibrary loan systems, most states provided other state libraries with their own printed “state documents.” When Massachusetts shared their state documents, they sent the Indiana State Library copies of the Journals of the Massachusetts-Bay, when it still an English colony, including a set from 1763 to 1785.

The Indiana State Library has been a research library since 1825, but as the library’s mission evolved, so have the collection policies. Since Indiana has a robust public library system, the State Library no longer collects fiction from non-Hoosiers. However, prior to the evolution of the public library system, the State Library bought what are now prized early edition books by the great American authors: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Louisa May Alcott, O’ Henry and Mark Twain, among others. One of Twain’s books, “Punch Brother Punch and Other Sketches,” has a letter to his publisher written and signed by Samuel Clemens tipped into the back of the book!

The State Library also has materials that are hundreds of years old, but are new to many. Case in point, this past August, the library hosted “The Mystery of the Darlington Bible” event. The program featured a talk from medieval scholar David Gura about the discovery of this historic work. The “Darlington Bible,” which was donated to the library in 1953 by the family of Frank Graef Darlington, is a 13th century illuminated manuscript bible. The rare bible is considered a new discovery to the medieval scholars’ community.

Sometimes literary treasures appear in odd places. In 1934, playwright Gilbert Seldes recreated an ancient Greek play, “Lysistrata,” originally written by Aristophanes. The Limited Editions Club of New York commissioned Pablo Picasso to illustrate a limited number of published volumes. The library owns copy number 583 which is signed by Picasso!

Another example of discovering a library treasure occurred while searching the General Pamphlet Collection. Rayjeana Duty, Circulation Support supervisor, discovered a rare single sheet of a newspaper, Le Journal Illustré from May 13, 1883. What made this issue unique and special is that it contained articles and illustrations showing the construction of the Statue of Liberty, before it was given to the United States in June of 1885. The images in the newspaper showed not only the Statue of Liberty being built, but also showed various images of the internal structure of the Statue of Liberty.

These are but a few examples of some of the treasures found at the Indiana State Library. You can view any of these ‘treasures’ as they belong to all of us!  Appointments are not required, but are strongly recommended to reduce your wait times while material is being retrieved from our closed stacks. You can reach us at 317-232-3678 or by using our Ask-a-Librarian service.

This blog post was written by Marcia Caudell, supervisor of the Reference and Government Services Division at the Indiana State Library.

Summer reading with the Talking Book and Braille Library

Summer reading is in full swing at the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library. This year’s theme is “Oceans of Possibilities.” All patrons of TBBL between the ages of 4 and 18 are eligible. The program runs from May 31-Aug. 5. Books are available to borrow from the library in braille, large print and digital audio formats; participants can also download digital audio books and braille files from BARD or use the BARD mobile app available from the iTunes app store, the Google Play store or the Amazon App Store.

Any book borrowed from the library within the time frame will count toward a participant’s total. Note that only books borrowed or downloaded from the library will count towards a reader’s total. Every reader will receive prizes!

We are sending out packets each week throughout the program that include prizes, activity sheets and crafts.

To enroll – or if you have questions about the program – please contact Abby Chumin via email or by phone at 317-232-3684 or 1-800-622-4970.

This post was written by Laura Williams, supervisor of the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library.

The Indiana Library Passport is here!

The Indiana State Library is pleased to announce the launch of the Indiana Library Passport, a mobile passport that encourages everyone to visit libraries across the Hoosier state.

The passport is a free program, open to everyone. It showcases over 60 main libraries and branches to explore – including 31 historical Carnegie libraries – in an easy, mobile-friendly way.

In addition to 31 historical Carnegie libraries, the passport includes stops at the Allen County Public Library, which features the new Rolland Center for Lincoln Research; the South Whitley Community Public Library, which features the Shultz Gem Collection; the Bartholomew County Public Library, which features architectural design by I. M. Pei and the Large Arch statue by Henry Moore; and much more!

Patrons can visit a dedicated mobile passport landing page where they can sign-up for the Indiana Library Passport by providing their name, email address and mobile phone number. A link is then sent to their mobile phone, which opens the passport and directs the user to add the button icon to their home screen, where they can access it any time. There is never anything to download and no bulky apps take up space on a user’s phone.

When participants check in to libraries on the Indiana Library Passport trail, they will be entered into a quarterly drawing for a prize package, including, but not limited to, historical tour tickets, architecture books and gift cards from local and national merchants. Once users sign up for the passport, they only need to use their phone to check in while physically at each location. Participants are eligible to check in to each location on the passport once per week which will enter them into the prize drawing. Click here for detailed instructions on how to sign up and on how to use the passport. Click here to read the Indiana Library Passport FAQs.

The Indiana Library Passport is a collaboration between the Indiana State Library and Bandwango, a well-known technology company in the travel space. Bandwango technology is designed to support free and paid experiences created by destinations and marketed to visitors and locals. They are the technology company behind Visit Indiana’s State Nature Passport, among other passports in the state.

The 2022-23 Indiana Library Passport program is sponsored by the Indiana State Library Foundation.

The Indiana State Library Foundation plays an important role in promoting the dissemination of knowledge and information, the cultivation of historical research and individual ancestry, the preservation of valuable historical documents and the vehicle for the visually impaired to continue their ability to read and hear books. As a partner with the Indiana State Library, the Foundation enables the library to fulfill its mission and enhance its ability to serve the citizens of Indiana in the preservation of Indiana history. The vision of the Foundation is to enable the Indiana State Library to become the finest state library in the country. Click here to read more about the Indiana State Library Foundation and their mission.

Please contact John Wekluk, communications director at the Indiana State Library, with any questions.

This post was written by John Wekluk, communications director at the Indiana State Library.