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Table of contents

‘library’ stories

She used a standard typewriter to draft the letter to head librarian Lucille A. The printed signature is her own. An alternative medium still had to be found for the large proportion of blind and visually impaired persons who, because of aging or other physical disabilities, lacked the fingertip sensitivity needed to read braille with ease.

Technology for reproducing the sounds of the human voice had come a long way since the invention of the first tinfoil phonograph. The revolving cylinder of the 19th century was replaced by the 78 rpm flat platter. But these early disk recordings posed a number of problems: high cost, limited playing time, excessive weight, and fragility. The s' advances in radio engineering and motion picture soundtrack technology, which accelerated the development of the slow speed, close-grooved record, were soon to make Thomas Edison's vision of the "talking book" a practical reality.

In , federal legislation authorized an annual appropriation to the Library of Congress for the production of braille books for blind adults, to be distributed nationally through a system of regional libraries. The New York Public Library was one of the 19 original participants in this newly established network.

Three years later, talking books on LP phonograph records were introduced into the program. Historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, a number of Shakespeare's plays and poems, and a variety of fictional works were among the first talking books issued. In order to meet the public's hungry demand for a broader selection of reading materials, the Library of Congress came up with a mechanism for obtaining permission from publishers to record printed works royalty free. Space constraints at the central building led the Library to move the braille and talking book collections to an annex facility located at West 25th Street in A thriving depression-era WPA project supported the ongoing manufacture and repair of free talking book machines for eligible readers.

WPA funding for the production of machines and parts expired in as the nation's resources were committed to the World War II effort. Existing federal laws specifying preferential treatment for U. Early recording sessions required a flawless rendition in a single take, as editing techniques had not yet been perfected. Props commonly used in popular radio shows of the day-such as the bell and seltzer bottle shown in this photograph-provided the desired sound effects. In the program's first decade, famous persons often read from their own works.

Somerset Maugham Of Human Bondage. One of the program's most prolific and beloved narrators was actor Alexander Scourby. Scourby recorded more than titles for the program over nearly half a century-including The Bible, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales , and Joyce's Ulysses. Pictured: Narrators recording The Romantic Age for the talking book program in The talking book program exercises great care in choosing just the right voice to be reproduced on a given recording. Preparation by the narrator entails verification of pronunciation, analyzing the work's flavor and mood, studying the characters in order to portray them accurately, and working out dialects and inflection.

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Library patrons frequently express a desire to read anything recorded by a favored narrator. A federal law enacted in extended Braille and talking book service to children. Additional legislation applying to individuals who were unable to read or use standard printed materials due to physical limitations other than blindness was passed in Persons having difficulty holding a book or turning pages because of such conditions as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, or a stroke were now entitled to receive this library service.

The new law also applied to persons with medically diagnosed reading disabilities such as dyslexia. The library moved to more substantial quarters at Avenue of the Americas at Spring Street in During the s, the materials collection continued to grow, and recorded media formats such as open-reel tapes, audiocassettes, and flexible discs gradually emerged. While automation of circulation procedures and patron files provided a major service enhancement, this building's insufficient shelving capacity led to the eventual removal of the braille collection to a library unit located off-site.

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Architectural barriers precluding wheelchair access, as well as a lack of space for public reading rooms, underscored the Library's overwhelming need for a new facility. The s heralded technology breakthroughs which offered persons with print impairment increased access to the vast wealth of information resources available throughout Central and neighborhood branch libraries.

This optical scanning device converts printed text into synthetic speech-thus extending the thousands of books and periodicals not available in braille or recorded formats to a whole new population of readers. Other electronic reading aids, such as closed-circuit television magnifiers, allow the user to adjust the size, contrast, and brightness of the letters on a page.

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Created to supplement the holdings available in the national collection by recording talking book titles of local interest, the Studio continuously recruits and trains a talented team of volunteer narrators, monitors, and reviewers. Volunteers have held a place of honor throughout this Library's history. Selected activities on behalf of the service, conducted over the years by scores of dedicated men and women, have included machine repair, tape duplication, braille transcription, legislative and budget action, and live literary readings at public events.

Situated in Manhattan's "Ladies Mile" historic district, this Central Library Service occupies the lower six floors of a renovated neo-renaissance loft building. All collections and services have been consolidated under one roof. Behind-the-scenes operations include an expanded Audio Book Studio, as well as a high-volume materials-handling system designed to process 5, items per day for shipment to registered individuals, schools, and institutions based in New York City and Long Island.

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The building features barrier-free architecture; reading rooms which house browsing collections of braille, recorded, and large-print books; a children's room and young adult section; and an outdoor reading terrace. Spaces have been allocated for new electronic information resources, and public meeting rooms are able to accommodate a wide range of cultural and educational programs.

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As the Andrew Heiskell Library moves into the 21st century, The New York Public Library's continuing commitment to the provision of quality public service, coupled with the promise of future publishing innovations and technological development, will ensure "That All May Read. Andrew Heiskell's efforts to galvanize support for construction of the current building was one of his many extraordinary achievements during his chairmanship from — Error rating book. Refresh and try again.


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