FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
GLASS MEETINGS SHOW STATEWIDE SUPPORT FOR GEORGIA'S TALKING BOOK CENTERS
The results are in from the series of 12 public meetings held around the state in the first quarter of 2010, and those people who live within an easily traveled distance of a Georgia Talking Book Center (TBC) want their center to remain as is.
Georgia Libraries for Accessible Statewide Services (GLASS) conducted the meetings to give patrons the opportunity to share suggestions for service improvements. The goal is to provide more efficient, effective service to citizens with visual or physical disabilities that prevent the use of regular print materials.
“Those who attended our meetings were quick to point out that they enjoy the personalized service they receive from the committed and knowledgeable staff members at Georgia’s TBCs,” said Lyn Hopper, assistant state librarian for library development.
The GLASS network of 11 libraries and one outreach center serves every corner of the state, offering a variety of programs and support services, including the distribution of Braille and audio materials from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped that are circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail. GLASS network members are strategically located throughout the state, and the network maintains affiliations with each of the state’s nearly 390 public libraries.
“People who live farther away from a center may not get the same browsing opportunities as those who do live near a TBC,” Hopper said, “and mail service from the Atlanta and North Georgia centers to patrons in South Georgia seems much slower than to and within the northern half of the state. So we clearly have work to do to solve these and other issues. But because of the overwhelming need and support for this service, there will be no changes to the GLASS network in fiscal year 2011.”
GLASS Director Stella Cone said that duplication of and within collections needs to be reduced, and that TBC staff members often must spend too much of their time processing mail. “The time spent on mail clearly would be better spent providing personal service to patrons,” she said. “If there’s anything we have learned from these meetings, it’s that the personal touch from a trusted readers‘ adviser is among the most important aspects of what the GLASS network provides.
“Many patrons like being able to visit their accessible library, but they are also happy with service by phone, as long as they have a toll-free number and a consistent and trusted person to help them.”
Cone noted that GLASS patrons and staff who attended the meetings were nearly unanimous in voicing their belief that outreach services should be as localized as possible — ideally in every county or in small, multicounty areas.
“Library systems that don’t currently host TBCs would need staff and staff training for this, and that may not be possible in the current economy,” she said, “so we will be looking at ways to provide a more balanced distribution of service, raise awareness in the areas where no local TBC exists, and better integrate patrons into our services through regular libraries. Mail distribution can be handled anywhere, as long as delivery times are fast.”
Hopper indicated that other opportunities for improving GLASS service include developing Friends groups for the GLASS outlets, partnering with other service organizations, and using current TBC staff — as well as interested patrons — to help train public library staff in the initial sign-up and delivery phases of GLASS service.
The planning team will continue to gather additional data and will meet again this summer to determine and refine the most effective methods for providing statewide services. Information of particular interest to the team includes:
* an examination of the effectiveness and efficiency of the outreach center model (currently used by the LaFayette outreach center and Rome’s Northwest Georgia Talking Book Library);
* a cost study comparing a centralized mailing service to the current model;
* use statistics by county to compare levels of service throughout the state; and
* an online survey and possibly more public meetings to gather input from patrons who live in counties without a local library for accessible services.
A short, online survey about Georgia’s TBCs and the services they provide is now available at www.georgialibraries.org/glass/. GLASS encourages all users of the service, affiliated service providers, and library staff — especially those in communities where no TBC is located — to complete the survey by May 31.
For more information, contact:
Georgia Public Library Service
1800 Century Place, Suite 150
Atlanta, GA 30345
Talking Books are a free public library service for the visually, physically, and reading disabled. The Northeast Georgia Talking Book Center is part of the Athens-Clarke County Library and the Georgia Library for Accessible Services. For more information about our service, please visit our website.
Friday, May 14, 2010
- ► 2012 (141)
- ► 2011 (151)
- ▼ May (10)
- ► 2009 (116)