History of the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library

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Thank you for visiting the WTBBL website and please enjoy the following abbreviated history of our amazing library.

1906 Seattle Public Library (SPL) began library service to individuals in Washington State who read braille.

1907 First embossed books for the blind were circulated by SPL.

1919 Service had grown to point where librarian Fanny Howley was assigned part-time to serve blind. Braille transcriber groups such as Junior League, Seattle Council of Jewish Women, and Seattle Chapter of American Red Cross were active. (Stephanie "Fanny" Howley 1919-1932)

1931 Washington library became part of the national braille and talking books network started by the Library of Congress (Pratt Smoot Act).

1932 Drusilla Dorland (Acting) head librarian 1932-1937.

1934 Talking books were introduced on special phonograph records that played at 33 1/3 r.p.m. (commerRecording Studio, 1964cial records at the time played at 78 r.p.m.)

1934 Inception of Library of Congress program; SPL became one of the regional Libraries (serving Washington, Montana and Alaska).

1937 Stephanie Howley, head librarian from 1937-1952.

1945  Library for the Blind moved to SPL Fremont Branch basement.

1952  Mrs. Howley retired and Florence Grannis took over as head librarian from 1952-1960.

1954  The Division for the Blind moved to the basement of SPL Susan Henry Memorial Library, with the lower floor especially designed for work with the blind.

1960  Mrs. Grannis moved to Iowa Library for the Blind; Marcia Finseth became head librarian. (1960-1974)

1962  Records redesigned to play at 16 2/3 r.p.m. down from 33 1/3. This halved the size of books. Later developments reduced the speed further to 8 1/3 r.p.m. on flexible disks. The talking books on records and flexible disks endured through the rest of the century and were finally pulled from service in 2001.

1967  The Books for the Blind program was extended to any hanVolunteers, 1964. Photo: Post-Intelligencer Collection, Museum of History and Industrydicapped person certified as unable to read conventional printed materials. (1/1/67)

1968  Talking book service to Montana residents was transferred to the Montana State Library. (Braille service transferred a few years later)

1969  National Library Service started the cassette talking book program.

1973  The name in Seattle changed to the Washington Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

1973  The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped moved to new quarters at King County Library building at 811 Harrison Street. (3/12/73)

1973  Radio Talking Book Service started. (3/22/73)

1973  Alaska State Library in Juneau established as a sub-regional library. (7/73)

1974  Marcia Finseth retired; Sharon Hammer became regional librarian. (1974-1979)

1975  Funding for the Washington Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped shifted to the state, and Seattle Public Library's work becomes a contractual service to the Washington State Library.

1975  Braille and taping service was added to the Washington Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. (7/75)

1976  Washington Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped no longer circulated materials to Alaska residents. (7/76 Alaska became regional library.)

1977  The radio became the Radio Reading Service.

1979  Jan Ames became interim regional librarian on 9/5/78 and on 1/2/79 became WTBBL Director until retiring on 9/29/02.

1983  The Radio ReadRadio Reading Studio, 1973ing Service became the Evergreen Radio Reading Service on 4/25/83.

1983  The National Guard, Boeing, WTBBL staff and volunteers moved the Library from 811 Harrison to 821 Lenora Street on 10/1/83.

1985  The Washington Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped circulation was automated. Using adaptive equipment, blind staff members were able to access the system.

1985  The Braille Program was revitalized.

1986  A formal Children's Program began.

1994  On 1/1/94 the Washington Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped changed its name to the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library.

1996  A State grant was secured to renovate the Lenora Street building. WBrochure, 1965: Text reads Introducing Library Service for the Blind in Washington, Montana and Alaska. Seattle Public Library for the BlindTBBL was moved into temporary facilities at 717 Virginia Street (the Love Building) on 7/20/96.

1997  On 7/12/97 WTBBL moved back to Lenora Street. The entrance and address changed to 2021 9th Avenue. WTBBL continued to have the first floor, but also acquired a new dock area on the second floor, as well as inside parking. WTBBL re-opened to the public 8/4/97.

2002  Gloria Leonard, acting director 12/2/02-12/2/03, became Director 12/3/03 until moving to SPL 4/08.

2008  Danielle Miller (formerly King) was hired by Washington State Library/Office of Secretary of State 4/28/08 as the Program Manager at WTBBL, prior to the transition of WTBBL to the State.

2008  On July 1, 2008, administration of the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library moved from Seattle Public Library to Washington State Library/Office of Secretary of State.

2010  On June, 18, 2010, Danielle Miller, WTBBL Program Manager, Jan Walsh, Washington State Library and Sue Ammeter, WTBBL Patron Advisory Council Chair, received the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped's (NLS) Network Library of the Year award for 2009. This award commends a regional library for excellence, innovation, and special achievement in providing library service to blind and physically handicapped individuals in a calendar year.

2012  Mayor Mike McGinn proclaimed June 5, 2012 as Washington Talking Book & Braille Library Day. WTBBL was honored with the Mayor’s Award and Proclamation for its work empowering individuals with disabilities. A Mayoral Proclamation was presented to Danielle Miller, Program Manager and Quincy Daniels, WTBBL patron, in print and braille.