June 27, 2007
Director, Communications & Public Information
Board Awards Contract to Perkins School for the Blind to Provide Talking Books
BOSTON - The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) is pleased to announce that the Perkins School for the Blind has once again been selected as the Commonwealth's vendor under contract with the MBLC to provide the services of the Braille & Talking Book Library program in Massachusetts. Through its collaboration with the Library of Congress program, the Perkins Library provides audio and braille books, magazines, and playback equipment on free loan to individuals having visual, physical or reading disabilities making it difficult to read conventional printed materials. Institutions serving this population are also eligible for services.
"We are pleased to be awarding this contract to Perkins - a recognized leader in providing specialized library services to people with disabilities since the mid-1800's. The Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library has a proven track record and offers its borrowers a full range of services including Newsline, providing access to daily newspapers over the telephone," said Robert C. Maier, Director of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.
The contract award is for a five year duration. The Legislature determines the annual state appropriation for the program through its annual budget cycle, with the proposed FY08 amount for the Perkins Library being $2,203,997.
"In today's world, accessibility must extend beyond wheelchair ramps and braille elevator buttons. Access to information is equally important. I'm delighted that Massachusetts has the demonstrated commitment, combined with the leadership and innovation exemplified by Library Director Kim Charlson and her talented team at the Perkins Library, in providing public funding for accessible library services so that thousands of people across our state who can't read traditional print have access to reading and can keep up with current events," stated Perkins President Steven M. Rothstein.
"In making this announcement on June 27th, Helen Keller's birthday, we also pay tribute to an amazing American who championed access to information," Maier said.
In fact, Helen Keller testified before Congress in support of the creation of a national Talking Book Program, under the auspices of the Library of Congress. She even met with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to advocate for the Braille and talking book program. Helen Keller also borrowed many books in braille from the Perkins Library all throughout her life when she lived in Massachusetts.
Anyone wishing additional information about the Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library should contact the library by phone at 1-800-852-3133 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.perkinslibrary.org.
In operation for over 178 years, Perkins is the first school for the blind in the country, where Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, were educated. Today, Perkins serves 87,000 people who are blind or visually impaired with multiple disabilities-from babies to school-age children to elders-here and in 60 developing countries around the world. Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library provides books on tape and in braille to 20,000 people who can't read traditional type due to a visual, physical or learning disability.
The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.