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Victor Reader Stream Kits

Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
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Innovation Leader: Paula Brehm-Heeger, Library Services Manager, Central Region, paula.brehm-heeger@cincinnatilibrary.org

Problem Statement

Visually impaired and homebound customers need support tailored to their unique needs in order to access the wide range of resources available from the Library. This is becoming an increasing urgent need as access moves from print and CD to downloadable formats.

Innovation

The Library received an LSTA grant to purchase thirty MP3 Victor Reader Stream (VRS) players specifically designed to be user friendly devices for visually impaired individuals. The Library’s Outreach Department staff developed Victor Reader Stream Kits which include the VRS device, headphones, vendor-supplied print and audio instructions plus a Library-created, simplified user guide in both Large Print and Braille formats. When a VRS kit is requested Outreach Department staff locate downloadable books in formats compatible with the VRS in the Library’s catalog and download the items to the Victor Reader Stream. The VRS kits can be mailed, delivered, or picked up at any library location depending on the needs of the visually impaired or homebound customer. The VRS kits have been publicized to the target audience of visually impaired and homebound customers through the Cincinnati Association for the Blind, activity directors at nursing homes, the Library’s regular contact with “Books by Mail” homebound customers and general library publications. An adapted user guide and instructional podcast is also available on the Library’s webpage.

Progress

The Victor Reader Stream kits were fully implemented in June 2010 and have circulated 68 times. They have been borrowed by a variety of customers including senior book club members at nursing homes, multiple developmentally delayed adult living in institutions listening to juvenile materials, and a visually impaired resident of a senior apartment who couldn’t afford a CD player. Outreach Services staff provided initial system-wide staff training on the VRS devices. Public training has been offered at 4 Library locations. The VRS project has enhanced the Library’s relationship with local organizations serving blind and visually impaired individuals, in particular our relationship with the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. This organization created an audio described video presentation featuring the Victor Reader Streams and information about VRS availability at the Library which was then presented at various community fairs and events last summer. Our VRS project was featured as a 2010 Special Grant Spotlight on WebJunction Ohio, an online resource sponsored by the State Library of Ohio.