FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Contact: Laura Egerdal, (573) 526-0949
Missouri’s Free Library for the Blind Goes Digital
Carnahan Celebrates Wolfner Library’s 80 years of Service
St. Louis, MO – Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan today commemorated the 80th year of service of both the Wolfner Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) – the Library of Congress’ talking-book and braille program. Currently, more than 11,000 Missourians actively use the Wolfner Library service, which is available at no cost to anyone in Missouri who is unable to use standard print materials due to a visual or physical disability.
“I’m proud to honor both Wolfner and the National Library Service for their 80 years of service to Missourians,” Carnahan said. “Wolfner has always been a national leader in providing great service to the blind community, and we’ll continue working hard to meet the needs of our patrons.”
The St. Louis Public Library was one of just 19 libraries selected by the Library of Congress in 1931 to be the first participants in the National Library Service’s program to provide free library service to adult blind readers, after legislation passed that same year to establish the service. The St. Louis Public Library had already created a special department for the blind in 1924 and had an extensive collection, making it a logical choice.
The St. Louis Public Library administered and housed what would eventually be called the Henry L. Wolfner Memorial Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped from 1931-1977, when the Missouri State Library, which was then overseen by the state Board for Higher Education, took over. In 1985, Wolfner moved from St. Louis to Jefferson City. And finally, in 1993 the Secretary of State took over the administration of Wolfner, and the library has been housed in the State Information Center since.
The Wolfner collection consists of more than 500,000 volumes of books in audio and braille formats on a broad range of fiction and non-fiction subjects for all ages. In addition, more than 25,000 books and magazines are available for download from Wolfner Library’s Braille and Audio Reading Download website. All the books, magazines, and players used to listen to the material are mailed free of charge to and from library patrons. Eligible Missourians can register for this service by filling out an application on the Secretary of State’s website or by contacting Wolfner Library at (800) 392-2614.
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