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Calif. State Library Program Mails Thousands Of Books To The Blind

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

The California State Library in Sacramento ships 250,000 books in Braille and books on tape to libraries in 48 California counties each year.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Every day the California State Library in Sacramento mails two thousand Braille and audio books primarily to the blind for a longstanding program that few people know about.

The basement of the California State Library is very quiet, as you might imagine, and very full with row upon row of large green, bound volumes with thick white pages printed in Braille.

Alex Vassar is with the library and says there are 300,000 titles to choose from.

"It is every kind of book that people would want to read. There are romance novels, there are how-to books, there are books on government, current events," Vassar said. 

There are also several rows of smaller, green, plastic containers that hold books on tape.

"Because of how the words are printed in a Braille book, the pages can't be bound quite as tightly. So, you end up with multiple volumes for what would be a very small book. That actually contrasts with the new digital audio book which are on flash drives."

About 2,000 orders are processed each day upstairs. The program helps more people enjoy reading, but it also helps other people with special needs.

Krishell Aflague is an employment training specialist for the non-profit INALLIANCE. As she talks about the program, one of the trainees checks to make sure the numbers match on the books on tape and their cases.

"It's important because it helps our participants how to become more independent and that's what our program is trying to promote," Aflague said. 

The books are not only for the blind. Anyone with a disability that prevents them from holding or reading a book may sign up for the program with a note from a doctor.

The program is funded by the Library of Congress.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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