Special Exhibit Celebrating Literacy
The New York State Library’s Talking Book and Braille Library hosted The Louis Braille Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit, celebrating the 2009 bicentennial of the birth of Louis Braille. Braille is the inventor who bestowed the gift of literacy to blind people around the world. The exhibit was on view in the Research Library and the State Museum in October. Produced by the National Braille Press in Boston, Massachusetts, the exhibit continues to be displayed in many other libraries and educational settings throughout the United States.
When the 2009 H1N1 pandemic found New Yorkers scrambling for information, the State Library responded with a public web site providing links to online information on the Swine Flu. Users can find reports from the Centers for Disease Control, the New York Department of Health, and the World Health Organization as well as links to web sites and documents that provide information on flu prevention and scope, other news, and information resources.
In 2009, Library staff made in-house and on-site presentations on how to use the genealogical collections, online consumer health resources, how to get the most from the Library’s legal and other online databases and extensive patent resources.
A visiting group from the Tyendinaga Adult Mohawk Language School spent a sunny October day visiting the Library and its sister program areas of Cultural Education. Canadian descendants of the historic Fort Hunter Mohawks of New York, they visited the 11th floor in the Library’s Manuscripts & Special Collections division and saw collections pertaining to the Mohawk and Iroquois peoples.
Visitors on-site and online can enjoy a virtual exhibit related to the 200th anniversary of Robert Fulton's first steamboat round-trip between Albany and New York City in 1807 featured in State Research Library collections and resources. Steamboats on the Hudson, can be accessed at http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/mssc/steamboats/.
Teachers and students can access classroom resources from the Research Library, including:
A complete teaching unit on The Great Railroad Strike available at http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/teacherguides/strike/.
Images of prints, broadsides, and manuscripts via the Library’s Digital Collections link at www.nysl.nysed.gov/scandocs/. Documents include the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in Lincoln’s own handwriting, the original 1630 contract of sale of land along the Hudson River between the Mahican Indians and Kiliean Van Rensselaer, and the letters of abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
The New York State Talking Book and Braille Library (TBBL) launched a series of upgrades in 2009.
The upgrade of the Library's current computer system to the Keystone Library Automation System (KLAS) will enable TBBL to join the ranks of eighty other libraries in the National Library Service's network. Enhanced features of the Keystone system will improve TBBL's ability to tailor each individual borrower's service to their specific reading needs.
Meanwhile, a new digital audio technology will provide the backbone of future services to the more than 36,000 New Yorkers TBBL serves in 55 Upstate counties. Since the 1970's, analog audio cassette book (RC) and cassette book machine (CBM) technology has been the standard format of services to New Yorkers with disabilities who receive talking books and magazines and the necessary equipment to enjoy them. The new digital technology features reading materials on flash drives and smaller, lighter machines.
Cassette books will continue to be available for many years, and new cassette books will be produced until the end of 2010 alongside the digital books. Beginning in 2011, all new titles produced by the National Library Service will be in the digital format.
National Federation of the Blind Convention
TBBL Library Program Manager Sharon Phillips updated attendees at the National Federation of the Blind of New York State convention on October 24 on the new technology developments at the State Research Library. Governor Paterson attended the convention to show his support for promoting Braille literacy and for addressing the problem of extremely high unemployment among individuals with visual impairments.