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. Thus far we have been meeting in person quarterly. Councilor terms last for two years, and one third of the Council membership rotates off each year.
The initial applications were reviewed by a selection committee of BTBL staff, and ever since, responsibility to review applications has been the domain of the council selection committee.
If you have questions or comments, please contact BTBL Library Director Mike Marlin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 952-5666. Thank you!
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.
The application is also available via U.S. mail, fax, or email by contacting the library at email@example.com or
Chair, Richard Rueda (Sacramento), email
It's an honor to serve on the Braille and Talking Book User Advisory Council. I have spent the past two decades working in the field of Rehabilitation Counseling and specifically working with blind and visually impaired youth, their families and the community. Presently, I work as a Consultant with the Society for the Blind in Sacramento assisting in the development of a first-rate employment readiness program for teens and adults who are blind or low vision.
Literacy in all forms is essential and vital to our health and well-being. Advocating for literature accessibility in all formats from Braille, to electronic text and all formats in-between is something that is close to me. I will continue to bring these passions to the Council and further its mission through community engagements and beyond.
Vice-Chair, 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.
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.
Janet Snow (Redding), email
(representing the National Federation of the Blind – NFB)
The Braille and Talking Book Library has been a part of my life since I was 12 years old. Starting out reading books in Braille and on talking book records, it has been a thrilling experience to observe and utilize many of the services that BTBL has made available to its users through the years. From having to pack a Braille book in my suit case when going on vacation with family, then being able to carry a phone in my purse with my favorite book selection downloaded and ready for me to read, has been a joy to behold. Even the way we read braille has changed by using a braille display. And with the development of new and innovative ideas in assistive technology, the possibilities seem limitless.
I am grateful to have a small part to play in whatever lies ahead for the Braille and Talking Book Library. I am willing to listen, learn, and help in the advancement and fulfillment of plans and goals.
Lenore Presley (Sacramento), email
(Representing the DeafBlind community)
I've been a bookworm since I was a child and thoroughly enjoy reading. I was born Deaf and developed retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disorder that results in progressive blindness, as a result of Usher's syndrome. There is only a very small population of people with a combination of hearing and vision issues in our country and in the state of California.
I learned Braille later in life and being able to access the world has enabled me to participate in and serve the DeafBlind community at the national and state level since 1997. Through my experience in the DeafBlind community I have observed how under-served the DeafBlind community has been in all areas of public access including employment, vocational rehabilitation, education, and independent living. This includes accessing the Braille and Talking Book Library.
I am currently on the Northern California Association of the DeafBlind (NCADB) board of directors. In my capacity as a board member, I invited Mike Marlin and MaryJane Kayes to give a presentation to the DeafBlind members of NCADB at a Sacramento NCADB social in March 2016. I did this as an attempt to bring awareness to the DeafBlind community the availability of NLS and BTBL. I wanted to promote awareness because, as a patron of BTBL, I have enjoyed access to the world of literature as part of enhancing the quality of my independent living. I wanted my fellow DeafBlind members of the community to experience the same quality of life.
Mike was gracious to encourage me to join the BUAC as a representative of the DeafBlid community. It is truly an honor to be selected to the BUAC knowing that my contributions to and activities on the BUAC will be greatly valued and appreciated. As a member of the BUAC, it is my goal to advocate for the greater growth of Braille books because individuals with severe to profound hearing loss may not find digital books to be the best medium to access books and magazines. There are less Braille formatted titles in the NLS collection, and I believe it would benefit to add text to digital titles so that everybody can have faster access to newly available materials, especially new bestsellers. To me, everybody with a print disability, including DeafBlind persons, should have EQUAL access to all print media, so it is necessary to ensure faster access to new materials by adding text to digital books. Bookshare.org has been very successful in doing this and I am very confident that NLS could easily achieve the same.
Happy reading in an accessible way!
Shannon Dillon (Folsom)
Maile George (Concord)
Connie Bateman (Sacramento)
Erlin “Andy” Andersen (Cottonwood)
Gayle Miller (Wynton)
Osvaldo “Ozzy” Martinez (Merced)
Mike Marlin, BTBL Director, email
Rebecca Wendt, SLS Bureau Chief, email
Greg Lucas, State Librarian of California, email
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