Early Lending Libraries for Blind Patrons
The Pratt-Smoot Act of 1931 provided that the Library of Congress would be provided $100,000 for fiscal year 1932 to provide services for blind adults, and the National Library Service (NLS) began. Although we often think of the NLS as home of Talking Books, it has a large collection of braille books and magazines.
According to the NLS History page lending libraries for tactile print began as early as 1868 when the Boston Public Library received eight volumes of embossed print and formed a department for blind patrons. In 1882, the Pennsylvania Home Teacher Society Free Circulating Library for the Blind, a forerunner of the vision rehabilitation therapist profession, was formed. Later, in 1899, this was incorporated into the Free Library of Philadelphia, in 1899.
At the time, there were as many as 5 tactile reading systems available, including braille, embossed print, Moon, and New York Point.
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