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NLS: Overseas Outlook

July-December 2003,
Volume 26, Number 2

Equipment Notes

Patrons needing a replacement cassette player do not need to wait until the returned machine reaches NLS. Patrons should immediately request a replacement machine when it starts malfunctioning. Along with their requests for a replacement cassette player, patrons should send their telephone numbers to expedite the delivery of new equipment through Federal Express.

NLS will continue to send C1 cassette players that work on 110-volt current to overseas patrons. Patrons in those countries with 220-volt electricity will receive a converter to use with the machine.

Federal Express will not deliver the machines to addresses with APO or post office boxes. FedEx will deliver only to a street address. Patrons with only APO address should expect the machines to arrive within normal time.

E-mail Correspondence

Many overseas readers are communicating with the overseas librarian by e-mail, which expedites communication and service. Patrons must include their full names with e-mail correspondence in order to ensure a quick response.

Magazine has Changed

The cassette magazine Travel Holiday has been replaced by Travel and Leisure.

Patron Millie Rosenblatt turns darkness to light

Occasionally Overseas Outlook publishes articles about overseas readers and their accomplishments. This edition profiles Milllie Rosenblatt, an overseas patron living in Israel.

Millie Rosenblatt, a Haifa grandmother of five, migrated to Israel in 1980. Since then she has helped at least 30 Americans with disabilities who reside in Israel apply for free library service from NLS.

"Everyone must know someone who is physically or mentally disabled," said the 76-year old Rosenblatt. "Society's challenge is to provide assistance for the disabled and their families so that they may become productive members in their communities, accepted for their strengths, and not pushed aside to be governed by their weaknesses." She continued, "Able-bodied individuals will gravitate toward new, constructive behavior once their awareness is heightened and their sensitivity is finely honed. We do this by identifying the needs that have to be addressed with direct, precise, surprisingly simple answers that will set us on a better course."

With this goal in mind, Rosenblatt, as one of the millions of people who have lost their vision as a result of macular degeneration, wrote 33 essays. She says "My own experience backs up my work and immodestly I tell you that my sense of humor and positive personality results in compelling reading. My life's dream today is to reach out to the public with these ideas. I interview well, I hang loose; and the love and interest I have for people is obvious."

Community activism comes naturally to Rosenblatt. Before becoming legally blind in 1968, she was chairwoman for one of the Democratic

Party headquarters in southwestern Texas, and helped to manage the Kennedy-Johnson presidential campaign in 1960. Rosenblatt says she was also among the civil rights activists who worked to desegregate South Dakota.

Affectionately called "Millie" by her friends and family, Rosenblatt was born on May 14, 1927, in the Bronx, New York. She graduated with a bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College and did two years of graduate work in Public Administration at New York University. Rosenblatt became legally blind in 1967 because of macular degeneration and totally blind in 1992.

She married her husband, Paul, in 1951, and on December 23, 2003, she will celebrate her 52nd wedding anniversary. The couple have four children and five grandchildren. United States natives, they lived in New York, Texas, South Dakota, and California. They have also lived in Turkey, England, and Israel. Throughout their travels, Rosenblatt maintained her career as an educator in religious schools. She has been a teacher, an administrator, and a principal throughout her 25 years of service.

Rosenblatt recalls that the day she realized she would never see again, two of her four children were still teenagers and two were just post-teens. She wanted to turn her darkness into light. Because light had always meant knowledge to the educator, she decided to register for the Master in Education program at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.

Millie credits her husband with encouraging her and with helping her apply for and receive materials from NLS. In addition to the recorded materials she received from the NLS, her then thirteen-year-old daughter, Shana, recorded Jean Jacques Rousseau's book on education for her and actors from the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts recorded other materials that were not available from the free library service for her.

Finally on May 7, 1977, the Pepperdine University dean of education escorted Rosenblatt to received her degree from the president of the university. The dean announced, Rosenblatt recalled, that she had achieved a 4.0 average in her studies--a perfect score.

"If I had succeeded in moving my children a notch toward perseverance, self-confidence, determination, commitment, good values, and belief in themselves and their goals," said Rosenblatt, "my darkness ceased at the moment to be liability and became a reward."

Selected Sources for Electronic Texts

This is a selected list of online sources for electronic texts. The files are in a variety of formats ranging from plain text to digital audio and digital braille. Most can be downloaded and read offline. Electronic braille materials can also be embossed. Web sites vary with regards to accessibility and questions should be directed to the sites' webmasters. Each entry lists the telephone numbers, web site address and e-mail addresses, for further information.

Accessible Book Collection
(703) 631-1585
Provides high-interest, low-reading-level digital text in HTML to individuals with a documented disability that prevents reading standard print. Also serves government and nonprofit schools and rehabilitation centers. Annual subscription fee $44.95.
Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts
(574) 246-0639
Has a collection of free public domain documents from American literature, English literature, and Western philosophy. Books are in PDF and text formats.
888-283-5051 or 888-429-5575
Includes forty-five hundred audio books and fourteen thousand other audio programs in a broad range of subjects that can be downloaded to a computer. Readers can listen immediately, transfer files to an audio player, or burn them onto a CD. Items are spoken-word audio in a proprietary Audible.com format. Cost: $14.95-$19.95 per month.
Offers the classics of literature, nonfiction, and reference books free of charge. Includes books of quotations, the 1914 Oxford edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, the Columbia Gazetteer, Gray's Anatomy, and Strunk's Elements of Style. Books are offered in various proprietary e-book formats.
Bibliomania.com Ltd
Offers free online literature of classic fiction, drama, poetry, and short stories. Also offers contemporary articles and interviews. Most books are in HTML format.
(650) 475-5440
Provides digital books in a broad range of subjects to United States residents who have a visual or other print disability. Books are in text format and contracted braille. Most text files are presented with XML markup and the site includes tools for reading these files. Requires completion of an online form, proof of disability, and payment of $25 sign-up fee and $50 annual subscription.
Braille Book Files
Has books at all grade levels that are submitted by teachers and transcribers; the site is maintained by the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Access is password-protected and limited to individuals who have a visual or other print disability and to members of a nonprofit organization or governmental agency that provides specialized services to such individuals. Books are in MegaDots, Duxbury, and ASCII format.
Contains free literature for which copyright protection has expired. Presents these works in eight categories: fiction, nonfiction, drama, children, poetry, Shakespeare, short stories, and classical. All books are in HTML; includes a plain-text format that eliminates most graphics.
Electronic Text Center
(434) 924-3230
Combines a free online archive of tens of thousands of SGML- and XML-encoded electronic texts and images in the humanities with a service at the University of Virginia Library that offers hardware and software suitable for the creation and analysis of text. Most material is in SGML or XML; site includes tools for reading these file types.
(973) 701-6771
Publishes and distributes fiction and nonfiction in a variety of proprietary e-book formats. Costs 49 cents for short stories to $4.99 and up for lengthy works.
Has more than two thousand books, stories, poems, plays, and religious and historical documents in HTML format. Readers can read online at no charge or can purchase the entire collection on CD-ROM for $19.99.
International Electronic Braille Book Library
(410) 659-9314
Contains more than one thousand titles of electronic braille books, including classics and publications of the National Federation of the Blind. Files are in contracted braille ASCII format and may be read online or downloaded for viewing offline or embossing.
Internet Public Library (IPL) Books Collection
(734) 764-4386
Includes more than twenty thousand online books, stories, essays, poems, articles, dramas, letters, and speeches that are freely available online. Material is in text and HTML format.
netLibrary, a division of Online Computer Library Center (OCLC)
Offers more than thirty-seven thousand e-book titles in subjects such as arts, business, history, literature, religion, science, and technology to academic, public, and corporate libraries that purchase a collection of titles. Patrons must create an account with an affiliated library in order to access the collection. Books are in a proprietary e-book format.
The Online Books Page
(215) 573-0758 or (215) 898-7091
Includes more than nineteen thousand English works that are available online at no charge. Has a listing of foreign language and literature resources and an archive of serials. Books are in HTML format.
Page by Page Books
Has hundreds of free classic books that are in the public domain, including United States historical documents and presidential inaugural addresses. Books can be read online one page at a time.
Project Gutenberg
www.promo.net/pg/ or www.gutenberg.net
Has three types of free texts: light literature such as Peter Pan, serious literature such as the Bible and works of Shakespeare, and reference works such as Roget's Thesaurus and almanacs. Most books are in text or HTML format; a few require proprietary e-book reading software.
(713) 358-2600
Has a collection of books and journal articles in the humanities and social sciences selected by professional collection development librarians. Uses dynamic HTML and Javascript. Offers monthly ($24.95), quarterly ($49.95), and annual ($129.95) subscription plans.
Tiflolibros: E-Books for the Blind
Has more than five thousand digital books in Spanish that can be downloaded. Includes a small but growing number of books in English, German, French, Italian, and Portuguese. Must register to receive password to access collection.
Provides braille magazines produced by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), press-braille books produced by NLS since 1992, and braille music scores. Access is password-protected and limited to NLS patrons (residents of the United States or American citizens living abroad who have a visual or other print disability) and eligible institutions. Files, which are in contracted braille ASCII format, may be read online or downloaded for viewing offline or embossing.

Selected List of Additional Resources

Digital Librarian: A Librarian's Choice of the Best of the Web
Maintained by Margaret Vail Anderson, a librarian in Cortland, New York.
Directory of Electronic Text Centers, Rutgers University
Has links to electronic text centers in the United States, Canada, and Australia.
E-Digital Books, LLC
Provides a clearinghouse for writers to place their electronic literature online. Readers can download a book to a computer hard drive or obtain on CD-ROM; price varies by size of the file.
Electronic Text Collections
Has links to historical and literary sources from different time periods in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States.
Electronic Text Collections in Western European Literature
Lists Internet sources for literary texts in western European languages other than English.
Electronic Texts
Has links to general collections; classics and history; constitutions, laws, and treaties; economics; literature, drama, and poetry; mythology and folklore; philosophy; and religion.
Electronic Texts and Documents, University of Washington
Has links to a variety of topics, such as country studies, the Irish famine, Mark Twain, the Vatican files, and World War I.
Humanities Text Initiative, University of Michigan
Includes the American Verse Project, different versions of the Bible, and The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (hosted for the Abraham Lincoln Association).
LETRS: Library Electronic Text Resource Service
Provides humanities-related electronic texts via the Internet and in the LETRS Humanities Computing Lab, Indiana University.
Library of Congress Full-Text Resources
Presents American Memory: Historical Collections that include primary source materials relating to American culture and history; country studies, with the full text of handbooks on ninety-one countries; and Meeting of Frontiers, presented in both English and Russian, which tells the story of the exploration and settlement of the American West and of the Russian Far East and Siberia.
Includes links to electronic texts, virtual encyclopedias, virtual newspapers, and fast facts such as almanacs, quotations, and thesauri.

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Posted on 2006-02-24