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State Librarian Jesse White Awards Nearly $2 Million in Grants

Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White awarded over $1,500,000 in Talking Book Center grants to three library systems and over $350,000 in Radio Information Service grants, the Illinois State Library (I.S.L.) announced last week. Secretary White awarded $1,526,542 in Talking Book Center (T.B.C.) grants to the Chicago Public Library and two multi-type library systems that provide support to libraries throughout the state.

These Illinois Regional Library Systems are the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (R.A.I.L.S.) and the Illinois Heartland Library System (I.H.L.S.). These three systems and the I.S.L. provide talking book and Braille services for Illinois residents who are blind or suffer other visual impairments.

“Talking books offer a wonderful opportunity for anyone who cannot use regular print materials due to blindness, visual impairment or physical disability,” said White. “Literacy tools should be available to all, regardless of impairment or disability.”

The I.S.L. stated, “The Talking Book and Braille Service (T.B.B.S.) supports the activities of the Illinois Network of Libraries Serving the Blind and Physically Handicapped in providing public library service to any Illinois resident who is unable to read standard print material due to a permanent or temporary visual or physical disability.”

The four customer service sites are the Regional Library in Springfield, the Chicago Public Library Talking Book Center at the Harold Washington Library Center, the Illinois Talking Book Advisory and Outreach Center in Burr Ridge and the Illinois Machine Sub-Lending Agency in DuQuoin. All sites strive to enrich the quality of life for eligible Illinois residents.

The Regional Library acts as the liaison with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (N.L.S.), a service of the Library of Congress, and circulates books to all residents enrolled in T.B.B.S. In conjunction with the local service centers, the regional center provides a full range of library services specializing in braille and audio books.

The R.A.I.L.S. Illinois Talking Book Outreach Center serves Adams, Alexander, Bond, Boone, Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, DeKalb, DeWitt, Douglas, DuPage, Edgar, Edward, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Gallatin, Greene, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Lawrence, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Massac, McDonough, McHenry, McLean, Menard, Mercer, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Peoria, Perry, Piatt, Pike, Pope, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Richland, Rock Island, Saint Clair, Saline, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, Stark, Stephenson, Tazewell, Union, Vermillion, Wabash, Warren, Washington, Wayne, White, Whiteside, Williamson, Will, Winnebago, and Woodford counties, as well as parts of Cook County. It is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

The Southern Illinois Talking Book Center in Carterville is closed. Insofar as the N.L.S. is concerned, the I.S.L. is a Regional Library while the R.A.I.L.S. Illinois Talking Book Outreach Center and the Chicago Public Library Talking Book Center are Subregional Libraries or Advisory/Outreach Centers.

The address of the I.S.L. Talking Book and Braille Service is 300 South Second Street, Springfield, Illinois 62701-1796. The phone number is (217) 782-9435.

The toll free number is (800) 665-5576, extension 5. The T.D.D. number is (888) 261-7863.

Secretary White also awarded $364,530 in Radio Information Service (R.I.S.) grants to eleven radio stations. According to the I.L.S., White did this “in order to ensure that residents who are unable to read standard print material due to a disability have access to information published in newspapers and magazines.”

Thousands of Illinois residents are able to use this service each day to listen to RIS broadcasts of local news. These programs are broadcast on a special radio called a sideband receiver. Anyone who has a visual or physical disability that impairs his or her ability to read may be eligible to obtain a sideband receiver at no cost.

Many programs are broadcast daily and include hours of local programming. Local newspapers are read and usually include pieces of news that may be omitted from television news broadcasts. A variety of topics are available, including obituaries, grocery ads and comics. RIS also produces public affairs programs and listener call-in shows.

“By providing audio versions of printed material, residents who have visual or physical disabilities are able to access printed information for educational, informational and recreational purposes,” said White. “The service allows people to remain engaged in their communities by providing detailed local and regional reporting usually only found in print or on the Internet.”

The R.I.S. grant recipients are Augustana College in Rock Island, which received $27,700; Bradley University in Peoria, which received $27,550; The Chicago Lighthouse, which received $68,599; Lewis & Clark Community College in Godfrey, which received $17,438; The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Belleville, which received $51,777; Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, which received $28,273; Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, which received $21,353; Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel which received $27,185; University of Illinois in Springfield, which received $28,455; University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, which received $29,232; and Western Illinois University in Macomb, which received $36,968.

For more information about T.B.B.S. or R.I.S., librarians can call Sharon Ruda at (217) 782-9435 or e-mail her at sruda [at]

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