National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped


National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped supports veterans’ reading needs through priority lending of reading materials.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS/BPH) joins the nation in commemorating its veterans on this 63rd anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. NLS is especially dedicated to serving the reading needs of the nation’s blind and physically handicapped veterans, who account for some of its most avid patrons.

Under the Pratt-Smoot Act (1931), NLS provides priority lending of its materials to honorably discharged blind and physically handicapped military personnel. This free service loans members books and magazines in audio, braille, and large print as well as music scores in audio and braille through its network of regional and subregional libraries. NLS considers its service to veterans to be one of its most important duties.

“Our nation’s veterans served us well, now it’s time for us to serve them well. Helping America’s veterans keep reading in their lives is not only a core part of our founding mandate,” said Frank Kurt Cylke, NLS director, “It is our chance to serve those who have so bravely served our country.”

For veterans’ reading pleasure, NLS maintains an extensive collection of military history and biographies. Ranging from classics to current bestsellers, the collection includes Andrew Roberts’ Napoleon & Wellington: The Battle of Waterloo—and the Great Commanders Who Fought It (2001), Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in their Own Words (2003) by Larry Smith, and America’s Splendid Little Wars: A Short History of U.S. Military Engagements 1975-2000 (2003) by Peter Huchthausen. Bestsellers currently in production include American Soldier (2004) by Tommy Franks and His Excellency: George Washington (2004) by Joseph J. Ellis.

Tom Miller, Executive Director of the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) and a veteran totally blinded by a landmine in Vietnam in 1967, is a long-time supporter of the Talking Books program and invites more veterans to enroll. “I encourage visually impaired and physically handicapped veterans of any age to look into this free service which brings reading directly into their homes,” said Miller. “It is a benefit far too many of us don’t take advantage of.”

Anyone who is a resident of the United States or an American citizen living abroad and who cannot read or use standard print materials because of a visual or physical impairment may qualify to participate in the Talking Books program. Applications may be requested from the regional or subregional library closest to an individual interested in joining the program. A searchable list of locations is available at , or by calling this toll free number: 1-800-424-9100.

NLS has had a long-standing, trusted relationship with veterans. Dedicated to delivering the best service possible, NLS has actively engaged veterans in the development of NLS services. In fact, veteran input was the driving force behind the extension of eligibility to physically disabled veterans in 1966, as well as the decision to record light recreation reading and vocational materials to satisfy the tastes of younger blinded WWII vets.