Braille and Talking Book Library (BTBL) User Advisory Council (BUAC)


In early 2014, following the example of NLS network libraries nationwide, BTBL launched a 7-15 member BTBL User Advisory Council (BUAC).

The purpose of the Council is to provide advice to the California State Library (CSL) and BTBL. Council members have an opportunity to advise and make recommendations to BTBL and CSL management for improvements to library services. However, the Council is not a policy-making body.

We are seeking diverse Northern California geographical representation as well as print disability demographic representation. We truly encourage all who are interested to apply.

The council meets three to four times per year – via teleconference or online – with at least one annual expenses-paid, in-person meeting at the State Library in Sacramento. Councilor terms last for three years, with some one- and two-year terms in the first few years in order to achieve three-year staggered terms for the duration.

The initial applications were reviewed by a selection committee of BTBL staff. Responsibility to review future applications falls to the council.

If you have questions or comments, please contact BTBL Library Director Mike Marlin at or (800) 952-5666. Thank you!

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BUAC Bylaws

BUAC Bylaws (WORD), (PDF)

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Please read the BUAC Bylaws, and if you're interested, we hope you will consider applying for this vital volunteer role.

Applications are accepted continuously throughout the year, with preferred consideration given to applications received by November 15th. The November deadline gives us enough time to review and select applicants in time for a paid/reimbursable meeting at the California State Library in January.

  • BUAC Application Form (WORD), (PDF)

The application is also available via U.S. mail, fax, or email by contacting the library at or
(800) 952-5666.

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Members' Statements of Interest

President, Alan B. Smith (Concord), email

I would like the council, along with other patrons, to educate state legislators about the BTBL. I encourage the BTBL to enhance its search engine to be more "flexible" like Google. With low vision it is easy to mistype an author's name by one letter so the author is not found. Google search "understands" what is meant with typos. Google should be approached to assist with the search logic. I encourage BTBL to broaden its collections of biographies and autobiographies of major historical persons. Quite often I look for a book referenced in a book from the BTBL, and the library does not have it.

Educating state legislators, county, and city officials about library service is a high priority. Through my activities, many legislators are now aware of the BTBL, and the California Library Association's lobbyists often include the importance of the BTBL in their library lobbying efforts. I testified at both SCA 7 hearings in Sacramento last year. This is the proposed constitutional amendment which, if passed, would allow library measures to be passed at 55% rather than the present two thirds super majority requirement. BATF is a group of 18 members appointed by the BART board of directors who are visually/hearing impaired, wheel chair users, senior citizens, or have other disabilities. We advise BART on how to make the system more accessible for all. There have been many achievements in the past two years, including the addition of yellow stripes on almost all stairs to make them more visible. I address the BART board at many board meetings.

I think my years of championing libraries, working with elected officials and now advising BART, have given me the skills to be an effective council member. Thank you.

Vice-President, Margie Donovan (Folsom), email

I have 30+ years of experience of providing services and serving on committees in the blindness community. BTBL is a high priority in my personal life and to ensure that it is widely known about in the community, especially to those that are new to sight-loss. I would like to bring my commitment and vast knowledge of service provision in the blindness community to the table to enhance BTBL's services to the community.

Secretary, Mary Willows, email

(representing the National Federation of the Blind – NFB)

Statement forthcoming

Kathleen (Kathey) Berman (Rancho Cordova), email

(representing California Council of the Blind – CCB)

Hello Everyone,

I'm available to you by email for any library concerns that I can assist you with. I am a long-time library patron due to visual impairment. The library has been integral to my achieving educational goals, expanding my view of the world we live in, and just simply hours of pleasure. For me, reading is a life-long love affair.

My purpose on this committee is to make our library the best it can be and to reach as many people as I can, letting them know what a wonderful resource we have and just how easy it is to be a part of this resource.

Karen Parsegian (Sacramento), email

It is an honor to serve on the Inaugural Advisory committee for the California BTBL and give back a small fraction of time and effort to an organization I have enjoyed immensely since going totally and unexpectedly blind in 2002.

Part of my discovery process to resume a competent, independent and full throttle life has included being a Vocational Rehabilitation client, graduating from the Colorado Center for the Blind NFB in 2003 and feeling the amazing thrill of being hired (then furloughed shortly thereafter with 4 others in my unit) as a California State employee in 2008.

Perhaps the most rewarding pieces of my reinvented life is having the opportunity to speak to schools and groups around the country about disability awareness and to volunteer for two amazing organizations serving youth and now the BUAC.

My most essential travel gear when I'm on the road is my talking books collection. BARD and the miniaturization of technology have greatly enhanced my travel experience. I remain convinced that the NLS BTBL program is primarily responsible for getting me through the challenging transition of losing my sight by keeping my mind active and interested. The happy surprise of finding new selections in my daily mail is a bonus.

I welcome the opportunity to represent adult readers who have come to their visual impairment after having an active career and who wish to stay current in both business and popular culture along with a wide variety of recreational reading.

Roslyn McCoy (Mount Shasta), email

In high school I began learning braille as a last resort due to my profound form of dyslexia.

Within a few months we could see I was gifted. Within 6 months my ability to read braille far exceeded my ability to read print. The Library of Congress suddenly became my best friend, and watching for the mailman lugging boxes of braille books and records was my new joy in life. I spent many hours listening to books, but experienced many difficulties exercising choice of what books I received and when.

Now in the last years, I could hear about a book and many times, I could immediately download the book off my computer. What a joy I could choose a book and not have to wait weeks or months to read it. I have already downloaded an app for my iPad. I am so joyful that I can put the book in my pocket, considering I began with records! Baby we have come a long ways!

I am grateful to the Library of Congress to extend services to me, and someone had to stand up and advocate for the rewriting of regulations on my behalf. If there's some way I can return the gifts that I have been given I would be honored to be of service.

Rio Popper, email

(representing juvenile patrons)

Statement forthcoming

Willis Lyon (Monterey), email

My name is Willis Lyon and I live in Monterey, where I practiced dentistry for 29 years. Prior to that I was in the U.S. Air Force where I served as a Navigator for six years. Reading has been an important part of my life. Whether for escape, entertainment enlightenment, a book has been my constant companion. I have a large wonderful family who are very supportive but they couldn't replace the loss of reading when age-related macular degeneration took away my joy of reading. Talking books and downloading books have restored the light that reading sheds on my life. The VA Blind and Low Vision Clinic along with talking books have made it possible for me to keep the pall of depression at bay. I am honored to represent Veterans and the central coast on the Advisory Council.

Ex Officio:

Mike Marlin, BTBL Director, email

Greg Lucas, State Librarian of California, email

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Meeting Minutes and Agendas

December 5, 2015

August 29, 2015

May 29, 2015

February 7, 2015

September 6, 2014

May 19, 2014

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