Sechelt library first in B.C. to catalogue collection in Braille


The Sechelt library has become the first public library in B.C. to have its audio collection catalogued in Braille for the sight impaired.

The Braille labels were affixed to more than 1,000 audio book titles last weekend when members of the Canadian Braille Service visited the Coast. The labels will allow sight-impaired patrons of the library, like Bill Conway, to peruse the audio collection without any help from staff.

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Library technician Janette Hellmuth said the labels will give Conway and other users an independence they didn’t have before.

“It’s a standard [Conway] and others would like to see in all libraries,” Hellmuth said, noting the project was two years in the making and instigated by Conway.

Conway said he pushed for the service locally because once a sight-impaired person takes a stack of audio books home from the library they have no way of knowing which is which, without playing them first.

“Now we’ll be able to know what books to listen to first if we get a whole stack at once and it will also provide an opportunity to browse the library, and I think that’s pretty unique,” Conway said. “I’ve never browsed a library in my life.”

He’s looking forward to using the new system and said it’s a real feather in the cap for the Sechelt library, which regularly serves around 30 visually impaired patrons on the Coast.

“It makes our library more accessible than any other library in B.C. right now for one and all,” Conway said.

“I really truly appreciated the library taking on the initiative and I’m very pleased to have the project come to fruition.”

The total project cost about $2,000 and Hellmuth said the library has applied for an accessibility grant that is hoped to cover the bill.

In the future the library will budget for more Braille labelling of audio books when they are added to the collection.  The current audio book CD collection at the Sechelt library has 1,023 titles including adult, teen and juvenile. 

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