Resolution 2014 – 04 Regarding the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

WHEREAS, the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH) serves as the public library for 10,000 Maryland residents who are unable to use their local public library due to print disabilities; and

WHEREAS, LBPH’s patrons range in age from young children to centenarians, yet the number of clients being served is not expanding even though the number of blind people in the population is growing; and

WHEREAS, LBPH provides its patrons with access to materials in a number of accessible formats such as Braille, large print, audio recording, descriptive video, and downloadable Braille and audio files in order to serve the wide range of needs of its patrons; and

WHEREAS, in addition to maintaining and circulating its collections, LBPH staff provides a variety of typical public library activities, including adult educational and cultural programs designed to meet the unique needs of LBPH patrons; and

WHEREAS, according to the Revised Standards and Guidelines of Service for the Library of Congress Network of Libraries for the Blind and Physically Handicapped 2011 (published by the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies, American Library Association), LBPH should have a staff of 24 persons for the number of patrons served, but it falls woefully short of this number; and

WHEREAS, LBPH also does not meet these guidelines in terms of the kind of staffing recommended for a library of its size, and inappropriately uses volunteers to perform functions that should be handled by permanent staff; and

WHEREAS, LBPH, like any library needs to be fully staffed in order to provide quality service to its patrons; and

WHEREAS, since July 2014, LBPH has been operating without a Director; and

WHEREAS, in August 2014, patrons were informed that the number of reference hours available to work with librarians would be reduced, due to limited staff; and

WHEREAS, LBPH is part of the Division of Library Development and Services in the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE); and

WHEREAS, due to the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, LBPH finally has a mechanism for proper state funding, but the promise of improved services will not be met if MSDE does not take immediate steps to hire a director and fill all staff vacancies; and

WHEREAS, this failure by MSDE is especially tragic because patrons have no alternative for meeting their library needs: Now, Therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Convention assembled this sixteenth day of November, 2014, in the city of Towson, Maryland, that this organization insist that the MSDE promptly fill the position of director for LBPH; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly urge MSDE to take immediate action to bring LBPH into compliance with the standards set forth by the guidelines of the American Library Association, thereby restoring all services to LBPH patrons.