FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, March 1, 2021

Mary Stadick Smith, South Dakota Department of Education, 1-605-773-7228 , or
Ruth Raveling, South Dakota Department of Education, 1-605-773-2593 ,

Braille and Talking Book Library celebrating 90 years of National Library Service

PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library (BTBL), a program of the State Library, is celebrating the National Library Service's (NLS) 90th anniversary. The South Dakota BTBL is an affiliate of the NLS.

Throughout 2021, the NLS is highlighting its history and the array of services it provides to patrons. The national celebration will kick off with a special virtual concert featuring jazz pianist Matthew Whitaker on March 3, marking the day that the founding legislation was signed by President Hoover. The concert will take place at 7 p.m. CST on the Library of Congress's YouTube channel .

Learn more about Whitaker and this special concert on the National Library Service's Music Notes Blog: .

Libraries for blind adults were established by an Act of Congress in 1931. Since then, the law has expanded to include services for blind children, individuals with physical impairments who are unable to read standard print, and individuals with a reading disability caused by a physical dysfunction.

In the 1960s, many regional braille and talking book libraries were established using Library Service and Construction Act federal funds, including the South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library in 1969.

The South Dakota BTBL provides free library services to eligible individuals in communities across the state in accessible formats including braille and digital audio talking books mailed to patrons for free, or downloadable from the NLS BARD website and BARD mobile app.

In 2020, the South Dakota BTBL circulated 127,886 books and served 2,185 patrons, of whom 333 were new. The library facilitated summer and winter reading programs for young readers. And library patrons checked out 728 audio descriptive videos, which describe the visual elements of a movie (action, characters, locations, costumes, and sets) without interfering with the dialogue or sound effects.

Volunteers spent 1,251 hours recording books for the BTBL's South Dakota collection, which includes books of state and regional interest, books by South Dakota authors, and other books not available in accessible audio format, like Prairie Award nominees that students can read and vote on each year. Find information about volunteering at

The NLS is a free braille and talking book library service for people with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that prevents them from reading or holding the printed page. For more information, call the South Dakota State Library at 1-800-423-6665.