The Estonian Library for the Blind

The Estonian Library for the Blind dates back to 1947 and in the course of time its status and names have varied. In 2004 it became the branch of the Repository Library of Estonia and since June 2010, after having moved to the building of the Repository Library of Estonia, it has become one of the three departments of the Repository Library which is administered and funded by the Estonian Ministry of Culture.

Until June 2010 the Estonian Library for the Blind rented rooms from the North Estonian Association of the Blind in the house the maintenance of which was far beyond the capabilities of the organization. The move to the newly renovated and furnished space in the building of the Repository Library has significantly improved providing library services for the visually impaired people, storing conditions and the working environment for the staff.

Estonian Library for the Blind serves more than 500 visually impaired and other print disabled people all over Estoniaand abroad (e.g.Great Britain,Spain,Canada, and Latvia). Library holdings include audio books (2700 titles), Braille materials (700 titles), tactile books (75 titles), e-books and films with audio description. The library also has a small collection of printed materials on teaching and rehabilitation of visually impaired people which are available for the sighted people interested in these topics.

The library staff  of 11 people is responsible for the production of audio and Braille materials and library services. The annual production is nearly 100 audio book titles and about 50 Braille titles. Literature is made available at the library, by mail and e-mail. The most common service used by the library’s patrons is borrowing on-demand audio books, newspapers and journals in DAISY (Digital Accessible Information SYstem) format. The on-demand materials are delivered to patrons by mail. Electronic newspapers and journals are also accessible through our services by e-mail. All the services are free of charge for the patrons. In 2010 there were nearly 15 000 loans and 1000 visits to the library.

Several innovations have been introduced in the recent years

  • producing audio books in mp3 format since 2007
  • starting restoration and digitisation of old audio books on tapes in 2007
  • producing audio books according to the DAISY standard since 2009
  • implementation of on-demand audio book lending since 2008
  • celebrating Read Aloud Day with a conference since 2005 (six conferences are held in various cities of Estoniaso far)

The working group, including the Estonian Library for the Blind got the Deed of Mother Tongue 2010 award for developing the Estonian spoken command interfaces for various electronic devices for the blind. Due to such development it is easier for the blind users to get advice in their mother tongue while using different technical devices.

Plans for 2011:

  • to create a website for the patrons of the Estonian Library for the Blind to download audio books and ebooks
  • preparations for the IFLA 78th preconference of the Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilites Section planned to be held in Tallinn
  • study Daisy full text books production technology
  • organize a joint seminar on Daisy full text books production with the Finnish Celia library specialists
  • add more films with audio descriptions to the library´s collection

Meeli Veskus

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