Newberg library adds section for the visually impaired
Becoming the first in Yamhill County to do so, the Newberg Public Library has added a dedicated section of books for blind and partially sighted library patrons.
The collection is in its infancy, but library director Will Worthey said he and library staff are excited to provide more accessible materials for the visually impaired.
"While there are a handful of resources at libraries throughout the county for the blind and partially sighted, the Newberg library will be the first with a dedicated section that caregivers or family members can direct people to. This includes books converted to braille along with other written materials of varying format.
"The idea began after we reorganized the library's nonfiction section," Worthey said. "Earlier this year, before COVID, we reorganized that section and realized we had created some extra space of four bookcases. We asked ourselves what we could do with that and it occurred to me that no library in Yamhill County has a braille collection. I decided to create a section that contains resources for the blind and partially sighted."
The section includes books embossed in braille for the blind, as well as magnifiers, adaption devices and large print materials for the partially sighted. Worthey also purchased a braille embossing machine so the library can convert copyright free materials they find online into braille for visually impaired readers of all ages.
"The first couple months, we're really trying to hammer out the technicalities of putting together a braille collection and serving the partially sighted as well," Worthey said. "We acquired the bibliographic data for braille items, which will help caregivers and those with screen readers. We figured out how to get the items into a proper display format, then set up the collection for the community.
"The embossing machine was similar in price to a high-quality laser printer. It attaches to a regular PC and it turns text into braille dots like a printer would print out written words. We plan to offer the embosser to the public in the future as well, but right now it's a very useful tool for us to build this section."
While there are roughly 30 items in the small collection now, Worthey hopes to expand the offerings in the future and welcomes suggestions from the community. At the suggestion of a local visually impaired man, the library also added braille dots on library shelves as well to assist those navigating the library who might need them.
Hearing from the community has proven crucial in this process, Worthey said.
"We consulted with a mom who has a visually impaired daughter about what might be useful in the children's collection, and also with a blind gentleman in the community who has expressed interest in us having a collection," he said. "It will be a while before we have a robust collection, but this is a great start and we're happy to serve this community as best we can."
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