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The Library of Congress, as authorized by Public Law 89-522, administers a national reading program for blind and physically handicapped residents
of the United States and for all U.S. citizens living abroad. Under the management of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
(NLS), books and magazines in braille and recorded formats, as well as specially designed playback equipment, are produced and distributed through a
network of state and locally supported libraries. Program policy is to provide handicapped readers with access to a broad collection of general interest reading
material in adequate quantity and scope, in appropriate language and reading level, and with careful attention to quality control of all products. Advisory
committees, which include consumer and library representatives, provide recommendations for program additions and enhancements. In addition, research
and evaluation are conducted to improve the quality of books, equipment, and service.


To ensure the availability of a basic, high quality library service for eligible blind and physically handicapped individuals, the following management goals are represented in this fiscal 2001 budget request:

1. With cooperation from the network of librarians serving blind and physically handicapped individuals, the National Library Service
for the Blind and Physically Handicapped will strive to maintain current level of service to library patrons, while simultaneously
providing basic service to eligible individuals entering the program as new users;

2. Maintain a level of sound reproduction machines able to satisfy basic users' requirements while developing no waiting lines; and

3. Explore digital technological possibilities to the point of considering adaptations of a cost effective, efficient, internationally acceptable, user-friendly delivery system through implementation of the NISO/ANSI/ISO process.

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A free national library program of braille and recorded materials for blind and physically handicapped persons is administered by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. NLS selects and produces full-length books and magazines in braille and on recorded disc and cassette. Reading materials are distributed to a cooperating network of regional and sub-regional (local) libraries where they are circulated to eligible borrowers. Reading materials and playback machines are sent to borrowers and returned to libraries by postage-free mail. Established by an act of Congress in 1931 to serve blind adults, the program was expanded in 1952 to include children, in 1962 to provide music materials, and again in 1966 to include individuals with other physical impairments that prevent the reading of standard print. In 1996, the U.S. Copyright Law was amended to allow NLS to produce audio and braille books without the requirement to gain permission from the copyright holder.


Anyone who is unable to read or use standard printed materials as a result of temporary or permanent visual or physical limitations may receive service. A survey sponsored by NLS found that two million persons with some type of visual impairment may be eligible and another million with physical conditions such as paralysis, missing arms or hands, lack of muscle coordination, or prolonged weakness could benefit from the use of reading materials in recorded form.


Books are selected on the basis of their appeal to a wide range of interests. Bestsellers, biographies, fiction, and how-to books are in great demand. A limited number of titles are produced in Spanish and other languages for readers whose primary language is not English. Registered borrowers learn of new books added to the collection through two bimonthly publications, Braille Book Review and Talking Book Topics. Through a union catalog available on microfiche and CD-ROM, every network library has access to the entire NLS book collection and to the resources of several cooperating agencies.

Seventy-nine magazines in audio and braille formats are offered through the program. Readers may request free subscriptions to US News and World Report, National Geographic, Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated for Kids, People, Rolling Stone, PC World, Smart Computing, Bon Appétit, the Women's NBA schedule, and many other popular magazines. Current issues are mailed to readers at the same time the print issues appear


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Free correspondence courses leading to certification in braille transcribing (literary, music, and math braille) and braille proofreading are offered. Voice auditions and informal training are given to volunteer tape narrators affiliated with local recording groups. A directory of volunteer groups that produce books for libraries and individuals is published biennially. Volunteers may call on NLS staff for their expertise in braille transcription and recording techniques.


The NLS research program is directed toward improving the quality of reading materials and related equipment, controlling program costs, and reducing the time required to deliver services to users. Significant research activities include development of a national standard for a digital talking book player and the creation of an economic model for use in comparing alternative talking book delivery systems.


In fiscal 2001, the major NLS objectives related to funding requests for providing service to a projected readership of over 761,000 blind and physically handicapped patrons and 138 network libraries are: (1) production and repair of playback equipment and accessories adapted to the needs of blind and physically handicapped individuals for their use in the Library of Congress talking book program; (2) support for development of audit recommended control systems; and (3) pursuit of a state-of-the-art, user friendly, audio delivery system.


The Library is requesting a total of $48,983,000 to support this program in fiscal 2001. This includes $367,389 in mandatory salary costs and $813,950 in price level increases.

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(2) Annualization of January 2000 pay raise

This increase is necessary to provide for annualization of the 2000 pay raise of 4 94 percent effective in January

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Justification of Increases and Decreases

Fiscal 1999 Actual Fiscal 2000 Budget Fiscal 2001 Estimate FTE Amount FTE Amount



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This increase is necessary to provide for a 3.7 percent pay increase effective January 2001.

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This increase is necessary to provide for the 0.6 percent personnel benefits increase effective in fiscal 2001. This increase represents the most current OMB estimate for benefits increases.

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Fiscal 2001 has 260 days - one day less than fiscal 2000.

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$ 28,490

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