isa Backus, Special to the Herald; Connecticut ; June 6, 2005
The Connecticut State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which contains about 55,000 different titles, allows anyone who may have a difficult time reading the printed word to receive books on tape on a regular basis.
Library Director Carol Taylor said about 80 per cent of the patrons are seniors who are not legally blind but have some type of problem reading.
However, the service is available for anyone with a physical disability that makes it hard to read a book. "Maybe you need magnifying glasses on top of your glasses or you have difficulty holding a book because of arthritis," Taylor explained. "If you have a heart condition, holding something like Bill Clinton's book, which is 900 pages, may be too difficult. That's where this service can help."
The way the library works, patrons sign up through an application process that includes a recommendation from a social or healthcare worker. The patrons discuss their reading preferences with a reader-advisor who can offer tips and suggestions on a variety of reading topics.
On a regular basis, patrons are shipped books on tape directly to the patron's home. The tapes are specially designed to allow for more chapters than an average book on tape. Patrons use specially-designed tape players provided by the library.
Every step of the process is free of charge to patrons, including the shipping of the tapes back and forth from the library.
Ms. Taylor said the library contains as many and as varied topics as a regular "reading" library. "We have over 200,000 items in the library and more than 60,000 titles," she said. "We also have books in Braille and twin vision books that have print and Braille so that parents or grandparents can read books together."
The library is used by patrons from around the state. Patrons who cannot come to the library to check out books can receive extensive catalogues of titles in print or on tape to review which selections they would like. Patrons can choose broad categories -- such as health, politics or romance -- and receive books on tape in those categories on a regular basis.
For details on the State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, call (860) 566-2151 or (800) 842-4516.