Libraries for the Blind Launch
State libraries for the blind in Colorado, Delaware, Illinois,
New Hampshire, and Oregon, along with the National Library
Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part
of the Library of Congress, have partnered to launch an innovative
digital audiobook service for visually impaired users. Unabridged
(http://www.unabridged.info/) enables blind patrons to check
out and download digital spoken word audio books directly to
their computers. The digital audio books can then be played
back on a PC, transferred to a portable MP3 playback device,
or burned onto CDs.
Member Libraries include: Colorado Talking Book Library; Delaware
Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped; Illinois
Network of Libraries Serving the Blind and Physically Handicapped;
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped;
New Hampshire State Library, Talking Books Program; and Oregon
State Library, Talking Book & Braille Services.
The first year of the program will serve as the pilot phase,
with a limited number of users in each participating state.
Early responses from librarians and patrons have been very
positive. During the first month of the service use of the
collection has been brisk, and reports of technical problems
have been sparse. Lori Bell, Director of the Mid-Illinois Talking
Book Center, noted, “I am very excited about this project.
Our readers are eager to try digital audio books. Through Unabridged
they can browse, select a book and download it directly to
Unabridged is powered by the new digital audio book system
from OverDrive (http://www.overdrive.com/). The content is
delivered as encrypted Windows Media Audio (WMA) files applying
Digital Rights Management service (DRM). Playback on a personal
computer is accomplished using the new OverDrive Media Console
(OMC) software. OMC builds on the existing features of Windows
Media Player to offer key functionalities useful to digital
audio books users, such as MediaMarkers, which allow non-linear
navigation, bookmarks, and the ability to skip back 15 seconds
in the digital audio book. OMC also enables variable speed
playback, an exciting new feature for a mainstream digital
audio book system designed for the general consumer market.
The OMC offers enhanced accessibility and general usability
for blind and visually impaired readers.#