BTBL serves Michigan citizens with visual and physical impairments which makes reading very difficult. For over 30 years, the Foundation has supplemented BTBL programs and services, by enabling the purchase of technology products and adaptations, providing support for professional development for BTBL librarians to better serve their patrons and helping to purchase content material for the talking library. BTBL services are FREE to those in need, without even a charge for mailing.
Over the years, more than $300,000 dollars have been raised from donors to the Foundation for this program. Some specific examples of programs and projects the Library of Michigan Foundation continues to support include:
- InFocus, BTBL’s large print, quarterly newsletter to over 11,000 patrons – Read the current issue, Fall InFocus
- Growth of the BTBL library of recorded books and videos
- Described Videos – commercial movies with an additional audio track which describes the scene on the screen; about 250 DVD’s are available for circulation
- Digital cartridges – specially produced thumb drives in plastic casings which are used to store recorded books. Over 150 cartridges are created by BTBL in its duplication center and shipped to patrons daily
- BTBL librarians professional conferences and workshop attendance, such as Libraries Without Walls, an adaptive technology conference engaging librarians, teachers and library patrons
The Michigan Braille and Talking Books Library (BTBL) offers best sellers, mysteries, westerns, biographies, how-to books and many other types of materials found in a public library. The difference is that talking books are recorded on a digital cartridge or printed in braille and arrive at a patron’s doorstep through the regular U.S. postal service. BTBL also offers the option to download books online directly to a flash drive or mobile device. Patrons do not need to be legally blind to use BTBL services, if standard print has become difficult to read.
The Michigan Braille and Talking Books Library, housed in the Library of Michigan, is part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in the Library of Congress and the Network of Regional and Sub-regional Libraries. Currently, BTBL serves over 11,000 patrons throughout the state.
The Library of Michigan Foundation is grateful to the Estate of Anna Brewer Howell for a very generous bequest to the BTBL program. This very generous and caring donor was aware of this exceptional service, wished to see it grow and wanted to help make it available for future visually and physically impaired citizens of Michigan. What a legacy to leave for others in need! We are grateful to this very thoughtful and generous donor as we are to the many generous donors to the Foundation for this great program.