The Federal Government has recently made $1M available to public libraries to support Australians with a print disability. This Increasing Access Library Initiative is being managed by the Federal Department FaHCSIA with ALIA contracted to manage the allocation process – see http://www.alia.org.au/Library_Initiative
This Initiative will see 845 audio readers specifically designed for people with a print disability provided to over 500 public libraries throughout Australia. For some libraries this will be their first use of such technology, while for others it will provide a welcome boost to their existing service.
While a number of SA public libraries put in individual submissions for readers, Public Library Services also put in a consortium submission to on behalf of the network. Through this process 132 devices have been allocated to PLS for distribution throughout South Australia. At PLS Veronica and Teresa have been managing the expressions of interest prociess and have almost finalized the allocation of devices to libraries. 28 libraries will receive devices in the near future.
We are also working with ALIA and the two providers of readers to arrange any training that may be required and to provide access to content. It is anticipated that the State-wide Digital Content project will also provide access to content for users of these readers.
PLS looks forward to providing the readers to libraries and brokering any initial support that libraries may require.
Behind the physical benefits these readers will make to the lives of people in a range of communities is an interesting development. For a number of years various library agencies have attempted to engage with the Federal Government regarding the important role that the nation’s 1,500+ public libraries play in the lives of millions of Australians. This campaign has usually been met with polite and sincere appreciation for what we do, but no tangible recognition of the role that libraries play. So it is heartening to see public libraries being seen and utilised as delivery partners for the Federal Government for this project.