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Standing Committee Members from September 1997

Expert Meeting - one of the most succesful yet Standing Committee takes new shape!

Keynote Speeches Address New and Fundamental Issues

Standing Committee Takes New Shape!

Standing Committee to meet with President of the World Blind Union

Libraries Bridging Information Gaps

Election of the President of IFLA

Amsterdam 1998!

Call for participation IFLA 1998

Libraries for the Blind look at next Generation of Talking Books

Newsletter of the Section of Libraries for the Blind

Fall '97

The IFLA - SLB Newsletter is issued twice a year: spring and autumn.


Rosemary Kavanagh

The CNIB Library for the Blind
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M4G 3 E8
Tel. +1 (416)480-7521
Fax. +1 (416)480-7700
E-mail: kavanar@lib.cnib.ca


Beatrice Christensen Skld,

The Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille S-122 88 Enskede
E-mail: bea.christensen@tpb.se

The Newsletter is available in braille and on diskette.

Standing Committee Members from September 1997


Beatrice Christensen-Skld

The Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille,
TPB S-122 88 Enskede
Tel. +46-8-399374
Fax. +46-8-6599467
e-mail: bea.christensen@tpb.se


Karen Marie Ellefsen

The Norwegian Talking and Braille Book Library
POB 5834 Majorstua
0308 Oslo
e-mail: Karen.M.Ellefsen@NLB.No

Matthijs Balfoort, Holland
Odissa Blanco, Cuba
Rodolfo Cattani, Italy
Henri Chauchat, France (Special Advisor) Catherine Desbuquois, France
Jo Dister, Holland (Special Advisor) Galina P. Diyanskaja, Russia
Rosemary Kavanagh, Canada
Hiroshi Kawamura, Japan
Stephen King, UK
Barbara Mates, USA
Michael Moodie, USA
Nic Snyman, Southafrica
Marie-Pierre Tallec, France
Winnie Vitzansky, Denmark
Rainer Witte, Germany

Corresponding members:

Diane Bays, Canada
Barbara Fewtrell, Australia

Expert Meeting - one of the most succesful yet Standing Committee takes new shape!

In what was one of the most successful pre-conference meetings yet, more than 160 participants from 30 countries spent three days in Kge, Denmark, from August 26th when participants began to arrive to August 29th when they departed. The Pre-Conference theme was Information Technologies and Library Services for the Visually Impaired.

The Danish Minister of Culture, Ebbe Lundgaard opened the proceedings with a brief welcome and speech to inspire participants. Also present at the opening were the Danish National Librarian, Morten Laursen Vig, and Lise Thomsen, Chairman of the User Committee of the Danish National Library for the Blind. Entertainment was provided by Leif Ramlv Svendsen, a Danish flute player and the Theatre Group of the Danish - Deaf Bind.

Winnie Vitzansky, Director of the Danish National Library for the Blind (DBB) described the Danish way of delivering library services to Blind and Printhandicapped people in Denmark. Winnie succinctly summarized the changes in DBB with the statement that Whereas we used to have an old- fashioned library for the blind with very few trained librarians and professionals, today we have a decentralised system centred around a fully professional modern library of the Blind.

The opening of the Expert Meeting was followed by keynote speeches convened by the Chair of the Section of Libraries for the Blind, Beatrice Christensen SkÀ?_Àld, and the opening of the exhibition. The two succeeding days were dominated by the Seminar: Overcoming the Barriers to the Virtual Library of Alternate Format Materials.

Deliberations were supported by study and cultural tours such as the tour of the Danish National Library for the Blind, the Ringsted Public Library and a tour of the ancient quarters of Koge.

Seven companies joined the Expert Meeting to support the exhibitions. These included IBM Deutschland, Otari (Germany), Braillo Norway, Plextor Co. Ltd (Japan), Blista Brailletec (Germany), Index AB (Sweden), Techno-Vision (UK).

At the close of the Expert meeting the Danish National Library for the Blind and staff were thanked for the excellent arrangements and the support provided by staff from the Library to Conference participants. Papers from the Expert Meeting are available from the Website of the Danish National Library for the Blind (DBB).

The address is: http://www.dbb.dk/ifla/papers.htm

Keynote Speeches Address New and Fundamental Issues

Pedro Zurita, Secretary General of the World Blind Union, addressed the Expert Meeting on The Users Perspective on Information Technology. Pedro reminded participants that the blind community is not homogeneous. Consequently, designing the future digital talking books for the use of blind and visually impaired people needed to bear this in mind. He felt that the international field testing of the digital talking book player Plextalk had two worthwhile features - it valued the opinions of users and it did not exclude blind people in developing countries. Among other things Pedro felt the blind community should work tirelessly to achieve an international standard.

Stephen P. King, Director, Technical and Consumer Services, Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) addressed issues regarding the integrated digital production of special format materials. Stephens paper acknowledged that we are at the start of a revolution. The digital production revolution". However, blind and partially sighted people have the same information needs as everyone else and want to read the same information in the same situations and require similar convenience of access. He emphasised the importance of working cooperatively to save costs, to gain the confidence of funders, and political organizations such as the World Blind Union and share the cost of skills development and training.

Victoria Owen, Director of Library Services, Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) presented the virtual library and the strategies, policies and copyright issues needed to establish a virtual service. She introduced several definitions of the virtual library including the concept of a digitally connected or networked service which delivers information from worldwide library and commercial information and knowledge sources. Victoria used the Information Resource Centre (IRC) of the CNIB Library for the Blind as an example of a service which transparently connects users to remote libraries and databases. Both the clients of the IRC, the CNIB s national reference library, and its sources of information are remote. However, the IRC used entrepreneurship, technology and partnerships to improve service to blind clients. Because the location of the service is immaterial, anyone from anywhere can use it.

Overcoming the Barriers

The theme for August 28th and 29th Expert Meeting was carefully chosen to signal the focus of the community on addressing the future of library services. Overcoming the Barriers to the Virtual Library of Alternate Format Materials resulted in a two day presentation of eclectic materials on a wide variety of topics. The first session Digital Media Standards: Barrier or Enhancer addressed issues around the development of DAISY (Digital Audio Information System), Kjell Hansson, the Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille (TPB), described how TPB along with Labyrinten had created a working talking book system to make information in human voice more accessible to readers. Hiroshi Kawamura, Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons, reported to the community on the results of the world field testing of DAISY and Plextalk as a talking book system.

Robert P. Korsloot, Netherlands Library for the Blind, stretched participants systematic thinking and planning with a formula for a blueprint for the ultimate digital library of the future. George Kerscher, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic and the DAISY Consortium, told participants that the Internet and HTML offered great possibilities for structuring both audio and electronic texts. Stig Becker, The Swedish Handicap Institute, described a project CESAR for determining how well different screen alternatives for reading systems live up to their claims of being both usable and reliable. Marten Verboom, Centre for Talking Reading Materials, described VISUel a system for distributing e lectronic documents in the most efficient and accessible way.

The day closed with a fascinating discussion led by Stephen King on what needed to be done to achieve the vision of the virtual library for the blind.

The final day of the Expert Meeting began with Michael Moodie, National Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress taking the group on a journey through different online public access catalogues. Richard Tucker, The Dutch Students Library for the Blind and other Printhandicapped, described the European project Testlab which set out to conduct a series of experiments in five countries to make library service accessible in university and public libraries. David Mann, Royal National Institute for the Blind brought the latest word on Copyright and the rights of blind and partially sighted people in an overview of various countries and initiatives to make books and information more available to blind people. Kevin Carey, Access Enterprises for Information Opportunities Universal, discussed access in the information society in terms of income, integrity and the visually impaired consumer. He closed the presentations for the day with a reminder that blind people have been too comfortable talking to themselves and must brave the cold wind of the global market to reach the high ground.

Standing Committee Takes New Shape!

Beatrice Christensen Skld, Chair and Karen Marie Ellefsen, Secretary were relected at the meeting of the Standing Committee in Copenhagen.

New members of the Committee are :

Catherine Desbuqois, Centre Pompidou, France, Galina Diyanskaja, The Russian State Library for the Blind, Moscow, Barbara Mates, Cleveland Public Library, Ohio, USA.

Special advisors were elected and are Henri Chachat, Association Valentin Hauy, Paris, France and Jo Dister, Director of the Dutch Library of Talking Books and Braille in the Hague.


Marie Cecile Robin, Frederic Plain-Japy and Fernando Martinez Garrido and Winnie Vitzansky.

We thank our outgoing members for their support and dedication to the work of the section. Many have contributed years of service to the development of library service for the blind.

Standing Committee to meet with President of the World Blind Union

Chair Beatrice Christensen Skld reported at the open meeting of the Committee in Copenhagen Denmark that the President of the World Blind Union, Euclid J. Herie, had been invited to meet with the Committee to discuss greater cooperation between the World Blind Union and the Section. Members are concerned that the development of library service, particularly in developing countries, can benefit from a partnership with the World Blind Union whose initiatives on literacy are well established. The next meeting of the Standing Committee is to be held in Toronto, Canada in February 1998. Dr. Herie has been invited to attend that meeting.

Libraries Bridging Information Gaps

This theme for the session of Libraries Serving Disadvantaged Persons joint with Libraries for the Blind on September 3 1997, IFLA, Copenhagen, Denmark underscored presentations from the United States, Bulgaria, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Canada.

In the afternoon session, Johannes Balsev, County Library of Ribe Amt, Esbjerg, Denmark presented the development of library services to the printhandicapped in Denmark as a joining of forces of strong handicap organizations which had resulted in a vibrant and successful service. The service had developed in a social context of Danish Library Legislation which is based on the premise that library services are for everyone regardless of place of residence, language, disability etc. therefore the futurologist who advised that library services were to be designed for the formal and informal establishment and that courting the weakest members of society would only lead to marginalization of library services was correct in a way. It was the strength of these organizations joining forces that had created a service with wide political support.

Peter Craddock, Director, Share the Vision, United Kingdom, described Share The Vision (STV) as a United Kingdom Partnership Agency which is working closely with public libraries to promote library and information services to blind and visually impaired people. Public Libraries are perceived as primary point of access to the services that are available. The presentation outlined some of the critical issues in developing the partnerships and the importance of coordinating national and local resources.

Rosemary Kavanagh, Executive Director, and Barbara Freeze, Director of Systems and Operations, Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) Library, integrated their presentation on VISUNET:CANADA with video clips of the national library service for blind and printhandicapped Canadians. The presentation proposed that the greatest issue facing blind people had not changed. This was the paucity of information resources. However, through partnerships with other libraries, use of the Internet and other electronic resources such as electronic books, newspapers and magazines delivered through the network by telephone or computer, information resources could be expanded along with catalogue access anywhere in Canada. The network allowed both Libraries and clients to access the resources of the Library and will also link other library resources all over the world to create best content for printhandicapped people.

In an unusual departure for IFLA sessions the CNIB used this international venue to formally launch VISUNET:CANADA with support from Dr. Euclid Herie, President of the World Blind Union. Dr. Herie, recognizing the importance of linking libraries and information, urged librarians to connect not cut the virtual ribbon of library service to blind people.

Election of the President of IFLA

The election to sections and boards of IFLA took place in Copenhagen. The new President is Christine Deschamps, University Librarian of Paris, France who took over from Robert Wedgeworth, University of Illinois, USA who served two periods.

Amsterdam 1998!

The Section of Libraries for the Blind is planning to hold an open session and a workshop during the IFLA general conference in Amsterdam on August 1998. The open session will continue the theme of the virtual library developed in Kge, Denmark at the Expert Meeting. This session will be a joint venture with the Section of Libraries serving disadvantaged persons. The theme of the workshop will be Readers with special Needs. More information will be available in the next issue of this newsletter.

Call for participation IFLA 1998

The Dutch Library for Visually and Print Handicapped Students and Professionals (SVB) in Amsterdam is one of the organisers of IFLA 1998 Conference and member of the Standing Committee Section Libraries for the Blind.

The SVB calls up librarians or representatives from former Eastern bloc and Third World countries to join the IFLA Conference 98 to be held 16th to 21st August in Amsterdam.

The SVB has raised funds to cover travelling, hotel and per diem expenses during the conference period. Candidates working for the visually and print handicapped, who want to participate need to apply to the SVB. Application before 1st December 1997.

Application should be adressed by:

    letter to
    IFLA 98 Fund
    Molenpad 2
    1016 GM Amsterdam
    fax to 00 31 20 6208459
    E-mail tombalfoort@svb.nl

    Conditions for application:
    candidates work field is visually and print handicapped
    enclosed: the candidates curriculum vitae
    enclosed: a description of the candidates library/organisation

Libraries for the Blind look at next Generation of Talking Books

Recent meetings of the DAISY Consortium in Copenhagen, Denmark August 22-24 1997 and the NISO/Standards Committee, Washington, USA September 25-26 1997 are addressing conversion to digital audio. Participants are discovering that the next generation of talking books cannot be separated from digital library development.

Both groups agree that the source file is important to defining the products that will meet the various markets of future libraries serving the blind. Consequently the technical committees of both are examining file formats, the structuring of books and the ability to navigate a book to access its contents.

While the groups are working separately in Europe and the USA both are addressing similar issues and are exchanging information on technical issues. Both initiatives represent the greatest gathering of Libraries and stakeholders working in cooperation.

The consensus of participants is that the future generation of talking books cannot be solved in isolation and partnerships are needed to resolve exchanging materials, and simply to share the cost of development and conversion.


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