Network Library of the Year

Adaptive Services Division wins national award

On June 6, 2013, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress, presented the Network Library of the Year Award to the D.C. Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (DCLBPH), also known as the DC Public Library Adaptive Services Division. The annual award, in its ninth year, carries a $1,000 cash prize. Details are at the Library of Congress website

Acceptance Remarks from Regional Librarian Venetia V. Demson are below.

2012 Network Library of the Year Award Acceptance Remarks
Venetia V. Demson, DC1A Regional Librarian
Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, Whittall Pavilion
June 6, 2013

On behalf of the D.C. Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH) staff and customers, thank you for this meaningful award.
With me here today to receive this award are our District of Columbia State Librarian and Chief Librarian of the DC Public Library, Ginnie Cooper, and members of our staff: Serena McGuire, readers advisor librarian; Rose Asuquo, youth services librarian; Bernard Harrison, equipment control officer; Mike Wayne, collection manager; and Patrick Timony, adaptive technology librarian. Chris Corrigan, who recently joined the NLS staff, is here in spirit, as well. He was our adaptive technology trainer and NLS is so fortunate to have welcomed a librarian of his creativity and talent to their ranks.
Under Ginnie Cooper’s guidance, the D.C. Regional Library has had the flexibility and initiative to imagine and implement innovative programs and services that have inspired the community of people with disabilities we serve. These range from Chris’s JAWS training classes and Braille game nights, Serena’s Talking Book Club and Mike’s accessible video gaming stations, to Rose’s Braille Book Club for Kids and weekly teen after-school programs. Patrick’s annual Accessibility 'unconference' for Web developers set an international trend, and his accessibility hackathons and Do-It-Yourself Faire have expanded awareness of Library for the Blind and public library services to include the app developer and maker space communities. 
Supplementing our iPad accessibility trainings for blind and deaf customers and our twice-monthly Saturday Technology Training Sessions, Patrick and deaf services librarian Janice Rosen have launched semi-monthly Jobs Clubs tailored for members of the blind, deaf and intellectual disabilities communities here in D.C. We recognize that, through Jobs Clubs that help people use assistive technology to prepare resumes and complete online job applications, libraries can play a significant role in the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy’s “Employment First” initiative, aimed at integrating people with disabilities in the workplace and community at large.
The DC Public Library (DCPL) is both the State and Public Library for the District of Columbia. Hence, the integration of the D.C. Regional Library for the Blind in this 26-branch public library system provides a unique opportunity for an inclusive, universal service design for public libraries. 
The LBPH is the core state disability library service, the “sun,” if you will, around which we have developed satellite public library services that engage formal and informal community partners across the disability spectrum. We supplement LBPH collections with collections, online resources and access to programs from the public library. In partnership with University of Maryland iSchool Assistant Professor Mega Subramanian, we train future librarians about library services for people with disabilities at the DC Public Library: students taking her course in “Information and Universal Usability” participate in projects we design and monitor that range from video captioning and generation of Web-based videologs for the deaf community, to Web content accessibility guidelines review and Section 508 manuals.
With Ginnie’s support, we have integrated networked adaptive software into our public library technology infrastructure–JAWS screen reader, MAGic screen magnifier, and WYNN Wizard for learning disabilities–providing access to centrally managed district software licenses on all public PCs in the system. Our Adaptive Services Division is a free public assistive technology training center. The LBPH staff is charged with training public library staff in disability awareness and assistive technology, as well as providing ADA accommodations for system programs and reviewing our website for compatibility with Section 508 accessibility guidelines. The annual Mayor’s disability expo and two-day Secondary Transition Fair and Forum for Youth with Disabilities have brought close to 1,000 students, educators, older adults, people with disabilities and disability community service providers into the public library each year, some of them for the first time.
Our acceptance of this award is tinged with some sadness. Ginnie Cooper, whose benevolent oversight has made all our accomplishments possible, has announced her retirement. She has been lauded in the press for the successful capital improvement program she launched, and D.C. residents are enjoying 15 architecturally significant new or renovated public libraries, with more in process. On the horizon is the renovation of the historic Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library and a great opportunity to integrate universal design and full accessibility into a state-of-the-art facility.
Ginnie has understood that the LBPH, and the Adaptive Services Division in which it is housed, play a special role in our public library system, and, in a way, serve as a national model. Our focus on assistive technology keeps DC Public Library on the leading edge of accessible app and open source software evolution. Our flexibility permits us to plan long-range and partner effectively, as well as provide programming on short notice to incorporate timely information and federal, national and local speakers with high-demand schedules, who themselves benefit from the interaction with our customers. Our specialization in accessibility benefits the library system at large, making us a welcoming community place to learn and socialize for engaged citizens of all ages and abilities. Thank you, Ginnie, for supporting the investment in staff and operations that has made our accomplishments possible. We truly will miss your leadership.
And, once again, thanks to the Library of Congress, the staff of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and our LBPH network colleagues and customers for this distinguished Network Library of the Year Award. Not only does it recognize our past work, it also stimulates us to continue innovating in library services for the disability community.   
Disability is part of the human condition. It does not mean non-functionality, but rather alternate ways to learn, read, work and live full, independent, quality lives. This goes right to the heart of the library’s role in society, as a engine of literacy and life-long learning. We value our customers and are proud to be librarians serving the disability community. 
Again, thank you for this wonderful award.