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Getting the Most From Your Library
The Internet doesn't have everything! Libraries are still a useful source of reference and information, as well as vast archives of newspapers and telephone directories dating back two centuries-even passenger rolls from ships landing in America. You could look up your grandparent's voyage! Libraries will always facilitate research and specialty libraries concentrate on special topics, such as art, history or music. Consider nosing around at a museum library to learn inside information about its collection and early patrons. The list is endless. Best of all, you can find numerous magazines, books, e-books, podcasts, audiotapes and CDs on loan free for your personal edification.
If you think your local library isn't set up to serve people with disabilities, you haven't been there recently. It's very likely that the public library in your city or village has been transformed by technology. Today's libraries are using technology to help people with disabilities, including blindness, deafness, perceptual impairments and all types of physical disabilities, find the information they want and need. Do not consider any disability an insurmountable barrier to accessing the treasure trove of information available through the public library system.
Here Are Some Ideas for Fishing for Information at Your Local Library
Talk to the reference librarian. She or he has the knowledge to point you to the resources you need. If your local library doesn't have what you're looking for, your library can borrow materials on your behalf from another library.
Remember that libraries aren't just about books. They have, or can obtain for you through interlibrary loans, not only books, but also a wide variety of articles from popular and professional periodicals, videotapes, audio tapes, and other materials.
Some public libraries provide their patrons with Internet access. At your local library, you may be able to obtain time on a computer and surf the 'Net for information you need.
A growing number of libraries provide patrons with visual, physical or learning disabilities books and magazines on tape and the machines needed to play the tapes. The tape players often include remote controls which make them easier for people with motor impairments to use. Thousands of books and hundreds of magazines and journals are available on tape.
Braille publications also are an option often available through public libraries. So are text readers, machines which enlarge a screen image so electronic text (for a CD or other storage device) easily can be read by a person with a visual disability.
For specialized materials, visit the Web site of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped or NLS (a division of the U.S. Library of Congress), NLs administers a network of libraries with free services for those with print disabilities. Library patrons can expect to borrow audo or braille books which are delivered to eligible readers by postage-free mail and are returned in the same manner. Devices to play the materials are also loaned free. Click here to search for the location in your state.
The NLS provides some services directly:
Share with your local librarian information about an organization called Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI), which aims to help educators and professional librarians better serve people with disabilities. EASI provides courses and webinars on topics related to accessibility of accessible information technology. EASI's courses and webinars are provided in an accessible format and its instructors and presenters either are users of adaptive technology or are professional staff supporting adaptive technologies.