This is a guest post by Kathryn Marguy, a public affairs specialist at NLS.
At the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), we’ve been delighted by the enthusiastic reader response to the rollout of a Spanish site at the top of our home page.
Since the site’s February debut, readers have jumped at the chance to find the newest reading materials in Spanish-language audio and Braille. The new site also features Spanish-language guides to our most popular resources, including frequently-asked questions about our BARD Mobile reading app, information about our accessible music scores and details on how to obtain a free currency reader for blind and visually impaired users.
News of the site was picked up in the media by the likes of Telemundo and Voice of America. Our network libraries across the country have been good partners in getting the word out. For months after the February launch, NLS sitewide traffic was led by areas with large Spanish-speaking demographics, including Puerto Rico.
This focus on Spanish readers is part of NLS’s efforts to expand our offerings of books in international languages.
Thanks to a landmark international copyright agreement known as the Marrakesh Treaty in 2013, NLS has built its collection to offer accessible-format books in more than 26 languages (and counting!) including Japanese, German and Arabic. We’ve seen our catalog of books in languages other than English bloom from a few hundred to tens of thousands. This includes popular new releases, beloved classics and everything in between. More than 50 countries now participate.
The result? NLS readers have downloaded more than 100,000 books made available through the treaty. That’s part of the explosion of titles that helped us launch our new Spanish-language site.
Of course, this is just an extension of what NLS has always done. For more than 90 years, we have distributed free books in audio and Braille to patrons across the country who otherwise cannot read print books because of a visual, physical, or reading disability. We are always adopting new technologies — from circulating the first ever audiobooks on vinyl records in the 1930s to designing our celebrated BARD Mobile app and our Braille eReaders, where patrons can download titles instantly, from a library of hundreds of thousands of books and magazines.
In the years ahead, we look forward to helping more of our patrons share the transformational power of reading. If you or someone you know could benefit from accessible reading materials, visit us anytime.