Monday, November 25, 2019

Editorial: MAT Program

Editorial: MAT Program

Contributed by Joseph Beckett, Program Coordinator for MAT*

MAT Program boiler plate: girl looking at camera; text states MAT provides accessible college textbooks to Maryland students

Recently I was asked if the Maryland Accessible Textbook program converts books for school-aged children. While this is a common question and one which I would answer with a quick negative, I thought carefully about how I would respond.

Admittedly, I am uncertain of the number of K-12 students with print disabilities, especially those in public schools. Still, I know that the services needed and the ready availability of service providers are not encouraging. As a former public school teacher/administrator, the number of students with visual disabilities was often small,
resulting, unfortunately, in these children being almost overlooked. I asked the school worker how accommodations were made for print-impaired students. Her response was disappointing but not unexpected.

“We usually read to them or try to give them large printed materials,” she said sadly. “Because we have so few students needing these services, there hasn’t been much emphasis placed on giving better accommodations. We have some technology, but not
nearly enough.” We talked for a while, and she spoke of budget constraints, regulatory uncertainty, and the principal interest of the special education department being on other learning disabilities. 

Indeed her admissions were honest, but for the students, there was much being missed: academically, socially, and emotionally. What the school lacked (although they did their best for print disabled students) was, mainly, an under-acknowledged gateway to their adulthood challenges.

So, despite informing her that the MAT program does not convert materials for K-12 students and that many schools often have the most basic of necessary technology for print-impaired students, I provided her the names of several organizations that might be willing and able to help. With this information, her expression relaxed.

As we parted, she asked if I’d be willing to speak to her school’s Special Education department. I said I would. She smiled, and I smiled too. Although there was little I could offer regarding accessible materials, as a former special educator, speaking to her colleagues was the least I could do.

*The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the LBPH, MSL, or the employees.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Director's Corner: Library Updates

Director's Corner: Library Update

Contributed by John Owen, Director

Image of player on a table with a book and a coffee cup

This update was given at the National Federation for the Blind - Maryland Chapter's annual meeting on November 9, 2019.

On behalf of Irene Padilla, the State Librarian, the Maryland State Library Agency, the Maryland State Library Board and the Staff of the Maryland State Library for the Blind and (for now) Physically Handicapped, I thank you for the opportunity to address this convention about Our Library, Our Story and our Future.

But first, a seemingly unrelated story:  Fifty years ago in 1969, a Saturn V Rocket launched carrying three astronauts to the moon.  Their names were . . . Pete Conrad, Richard Gordon Jr., and Alan Bean.

Those weren’t the names you were expecting me to say, were they?  You were expecting Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin.

But in 1969 the United States successfully sent two ships to the moon – one in July and one in November.  In fact, all told, we landed on the moon six times (it would have seven if things had turned out differently for Apollo 13).  Each time we took new technology like cameras and land rovers, we explored new landscapes and we brought back more moon rock to study.  Each mission built on the last.  Each mission taught us something new.

One year ago, the Maryland State LBPH celebrated its 50th Anniversary.  We told our story, celebrated our legacy, acknowledged patrons who’d been with us since the beginning and we looked ahead.  Since that celebration we have:

  • Put 147 Marylandia books on BARD that have been downloaded over 8000 times by patrons both here in Maryland and across the country.
  • We re-opened our recording studio and are working with 11 weekly volunteers to record new projects.
  • Hosted a Center Stage Mobile Theater Unit performance of Antigone with audio description and a touch tour followed by a thoughtful and lively discussion.
  • Took our Technology User Group on the road to Hagerstown, Frederick, Greenbelt, Leisure World, Elkton, Bel Air, and Broadneck.
  • Sponsored an accessible tour of the Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Partnered with maker space group Full Blast STEAM and Baltimore YouthWorks to begin the Build a Better Book project to create multi-modal tactile storybooks
  • Presented at multiple public libraries on the Build a Better Book project to encourage more maker spaces to create new tactile, multi-modal storybooks
  • Sent Braille Bettie across the state to promote Read Braille across Maryland, a program in cooperation with the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland and Governor Hogan to Read Across Maryland.  Braille Bettie appeared with many of our Braille readers and partners through social media posts.
  • Encouraged reading through the summer for both youth and adults with the Summer Reading Program theme “A Universe of Stories”
  • Assisted with making NASA learning kits accessible.  These kits are being used by public libraries for programming across the state.
  • Visited all three NFB Bell Academies
  • Provided service to 13 inmates at the Roxbury Correctional Institute in cooperation with librarians there
  • Began planning for a transition to creating customized cartridges for patrons in the coming year
  • Began offering Bookshare accounts to patrons of our library who are new to Bookshare
  • Hosted Teleconferences on Microagressions, One Maryland One Book, and Weather and Disaster Preparedness
  • Created a program and curriculum for accessible STEM programs through a grant from the Rural Maryland Council.
  • Served alongside 36 dedicated volunteers who gave over 1970 hours of service
  • Served over 50 students at 11 colleges and universities with accessible textbooks through the Maryland Accessible Textbook program
  • Added more than 800 new patrons and circulated over 220,000 items including digital cartridges, Braille books, large print, downloadable content, DVDs and equipment.
  • Served 6700 active patrons in every county across the State of Maryland
  • Connected with Nonprofits, Social Workers, TVIs, and other professionals to help them connect their clients to us
  • Welcomed new staff:  Kevin Middleton (IT), Taryn Tranby (Secretary/Patron Services), Brittney Lee (MAT program associate), William Jones (Maintenance)
  • Said goodbye to Leslie Bowman, a fierce advocate for our library and the blind community, as she moved to Missouri to lead the Wolfner Talking Book Library (and be closer to her granddaughter).  She led many new initiatives in the few years she was here.
  • Announced a new director – that’d be me.

So perhaps we’ll call this our Apollo 12 . . . or our Apollo 17 . . . or even our Apollo 13 but whatever happens in or out of our control, we will listen, we will learn, we will ask questions, we will solve problems, we will turn difficulties into successes and grow in our service to our patrons – you all -- across Maryland. 

This next voyage is already in progress:

By this time next year but much sooner, we will be the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Print Disabled.  This will line us up with the language of the Marrakesh Treaty, ratified by the US in February 2019, and with the NLS which changed its name on October 1.  It will reflect our commitment to making information and reading material accessible for all.

By this time next year but much sooner, we will have implemented the Duplication on Demand service model which will enable the efficient creation of custom cartridges with multiple titles for patrons.  Patrons who get cartridges from us will see more books available more readily.  These changes benefit you the patron because we can focus on our energy on serving your information needs.

By this time next year but much sooner, we will have hosted a fourth Center Stage Mobile Theater production, offered more creative tactile tours, presented a series of teleconferences in cooperation with the University of Maryland Extension, experimented with hosting TUG through Zoom or other online remote meeting applications, encouraged readers to “Imagine Your Story” through the Summer Reading Program, and recorded more books and completed another phase of our Analog-to-Digital conversion of retrospective Marylandia books.

By this time next year and much sooner, we will be connecting with our blind and print disabled veterans, and people seeking job readiness skills.

By this time next year and much sooner (meaning right now), we will offer our patrons accounts with Bookshare.

By this time next year and much sooner, we will have discovered more of the informal networks that bring our patrons together so that we can connect you to services, information, resources and reading materials as information providers across the state.

We are grateful to our partners in NFB, MSDE, BISM, DoRS, MDTAP, our Advisory Council and our Friends group for serving our shared patrons alongside each other.

So talk to us.  Let us hear from you.  We will walk alongside you.  It took people from all walks of life bringing their pieces to the puzzle to get to the moon again and again.  It will take the same philosophy to continue the mission of serving the blind and print disabled community in the State of Maryland.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Marylandia Collection: Update

Marylandia Collection: Update

Contributed by Mary Ramos, Collection Development Librarian

Marylandia Boiler Plate

The Marylandia Collection is produced by the LBPH Recording Studio. This collection includes books by Maryland authors and select regional authors and books of particular interest to Marylanders.  The Marylandia Collection is available for download through Braille & Audio Reading Download (BARD).  


DBC12455 – Edgar Allan Poe's Baltimore, by David Gaylin
Narrated by Ken Hunkins

Edgar Allan Poe wrote his great works while living in several cities on the East Coast of the United States, but Baltimore's claim to him is special. His ancestors settled in the burgeoning town on the Chesapeake during the 18th century, and it was in Baltimore that he found refuge when his foster family in Virginia shut him out. Most importantly, it was here that he was first paid for his literary work. If Baltimore discovered Poe, it also has the inglorious honor of being the place that destroyed him. On October 7, 1849, he died in this city, then known as "Mob Town." Edgar Allan Poe's Baltimore is the first book to explore the poet's life in this port city and in the quaint little house on Amity Street, where he once wrote. For high school and adult.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Library Event

Weather and Disaster Preparedness 

Weather and Disaster Program Slider

Free Teleconference 

Contributed by Ashley Biggs, Outreach Librarian

Are you ready for winter weather?

Maryland has made much progress with respect to emergency preparedness, response, and disaster recovery. The ability to access information by all Maryland residents is crucial, particularly those with disabilities or certain limitations. Please join us on November 6 at 6:30 p.m. for a lively and informative conference call presentation with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and the Maryland Department of Disabilities to discuss how the State of Maryland prepares for, mitigates against, and responds to emergencies and what resources are available before, during, and after a crisis.  The program should take about 40 minutes with a Q&A to follow.

Join us on:
Wednesday, November 6 at 6:30 PM
Join Hangouts Meet: 

Join by phone
‪1 513-816-0553;‬ PIN: ‪793 600 511‬#

Presentation Slides are available here​. This program will NOT be recorded.