Benetech Adds More State Library Partners to Bring Bookshare to Patrons with Reading Barriers

By Laura Deck, posted on

Libraries in Alabama, Massachusetts, and Florida join five other state libraries to offer Bookshare’s 690,000 accessible ebooks to expand reading opportunities.

In December, 2015, New York Public Library expanded its services to offer Bookshare’s library of accessible ebooks to patrons who cannot read printed books due to a disability such as dyslexia, blindness, low vision, or certain mobility impairments. Since then, seven more state or regional libraries have followed suit by offering Bookshare to help individuals in their communities have more meaningful and accessible reading experiences. The program has been so well received that all of these libraries have renewed their Bookshare memberships:

Blind man holding a cane and listening to phone

Three More Libraries Offer Bookshare to Patrons

These libraries recently announced agreements to offer Bookshare to qualifying patrons:

  • Perkins Library for the Blind in Massachusetts
  • Alabama Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
  • Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach in Florida

Qualified library patrons who are registered with any of the libraries listed are eligible for free, unlimited access to Bookshare’s vast online library including bestsellers, literature, nonfiction, picture books, educational texts, career guides, and much more. Individuals who are members of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped automatically qualify for Bookshare.

“Our Bookshare agreement has increased access to alternate format materials for Californians who are unable to read conventional print,” said Mike Marlin, Director of the California Braille and Talking Book Library. “As an enthusiastic reader of Braille and audiobooks and magazines myself, the patrons in all our service areas have benefited greatly from the vast number of titles and authors in myriad genres through Bookshare.”

Read Your Way with Bookshare

With Bookshare ebooks, members can customize their reading experience to best meet their needs. They can listen to words read aloud with high quality text-to-speech voices, read with enlarged fonts, see and hear as spoken words are highlighted, or read in braille. In addition, members can read on a wide variety of devices including tablets, smartphones, computers, assistive technology devices, and MP3 players using a selection of free and paid apps.

Says Patricia Simmons, a library patron with a visual impairment in Los Angeles, California, “A couple of months ago you helped me with Bookshare, and I am so happy. I have never had more books in my life. Everything that I couldn’t find on the BARD app is on Bookshare, so I trade back and forth. With Bookshare and BARD, I can’t miss if I want a good book. All I do is read. I use the Dolphin Easy Reader and the narration is very good. Thank you again so very much!”

Bookshare Helps Libraries Increase Accessible Reading Opportunities

“Our goal is to partner with libraries so that qualified patrons can access the content they need when, where, and how they want it. It is our hope that these partnerships will continue to serve as a model for libraries across the country that seek to broaden their services to their constituents no matter if they read with their eyes, ears, or fingers,” said Brad Turner, VP of Global Literacy, Benetech. “We look forward to expanding our collaboration with state libraries so that all individuals with disabilities have full access to the world of books.”

Currently, all U.S. students with qualifying disabilities can access Bookshare’s library for free. The partnerships with state libraries serve eligible residents who have disabilities and are not students.

We invite other library systems with a similar mission to consider Bookshare to be the online accessible library that can open the world of meaningful reading experiences and learning opportunities for their patrons with reading barriers. For information about library partnerships, contact Lisa Wadors Verne, Program Manager, Education Research and Partnerships.