The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, provides blind and physically handicapped readers with free reading materials. Through its talking-book program, books on tape and special playback equipment are mailed directly to patrons at no cost to them. The program is a lifeline for many, enabling them to read independently. The National Library Service and its network of local and regional libraries play a special role in ensuring that all people can access and be inspired by the written word.

The program does more than facilitate reading--it also brings people together. Talking-book clubs, offered through NLS regional and sub-regional libraries, provide patrons with the opportunity to discuss the books they have read and to share their love of reading with others. "My interest in books has developed," says talking-book club member Michael Conrad, a patron of the Los Angeles regional library. "The meetings also get me out to socialize. I have great discussions and meet new people."

Talking-book clubs also expose patrons to new materials, broadening their appetites for literature, expanding their imaginations, and encouraging them to pursue new pastimes. With a collection of more than 400,000 titles including the latest bestsellers, classics, biographies, romances, mysteries, and westerns, NLS offers no shortage of inspiration. Recent book-club discussions have focused on top-sellers such as The Kite Runner, Marley and Me, Wicked, The Secret Life of Bees, and The Black Dahlia. "I've been introduced to things I wouldn't have thought of reading," says talking-book club participant Bea Thaxter, of Los Angeles. "Now I am even writing-and I never knew I could."

Book club discussions often inspire NLS patrons to explore new ways to connect with the world around them. A number have taken on leadership roles in their local communities, starting their own book-discussion groups. Others have used talking-book resources to participate in other book clubs not affiliated with their local libraries.

About NLS Talking-Book Clubs
NLS regional and sub-regional libraries offer book groups to readers of all ages. Many of the 132 cooperating libraries host summer reading clubs for young patrons and participate in NLS's national 102 Talking-Book Club, which honors centenarian patrons for their lifelong devotion to reading. Those unable to attend NLS book-club meetings can often participate by telephone or computer. Online-only clubs are also available, allowing NLS patrons nationwide to connect with other sighted and visually impaired book-lovers without leaving home.

About the National Library Service
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, administers the talking-book program, a free library service available to U.S. residents or American citizens living abroad whose low vision, blindness, or physical handicap makes reading a standard printed page difficult.

Through its national network of regional libraries, NLS mails books and magazines in Braille and on cassette and audio playback equipment directly to enrollees at no cost. Further information on talking-book clubs and eligibility requirements and enrollment procedures for the talking-book program are available through http://www.loc.gov/nls or 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).
Additional health information for seniors can be found at: www.seniorresource.com/health.htm

Taken from June 2007 Seniorresource E-Zine





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