The National Federation of the Blind
Jacobus tenBroek Library
- Mission. The mission of the Jacobus tenBroek Library is to serve the members of the National Federation of the Blind and blind people everywhere'by providing a fully accessible, comprehensive information source on the organized blind civil rights movement and non-medical aspects of blindness.
- Vision. The tenBroek Library will be the repository of the world's most comprehensive research collection on non-medical aspects of blindness. It is not a library for the blind, but rather a library about blindness and blind people. Its collections will include books in all formats, audio-visual materials, archival and manuscript collections, and artifacts useful for research and exhibition.
Its success will be measured by the degree to which it reinforces the simple truths about blindness: that it is respectable to be blind, and that the blind are neither more nor less than normal people who cannot see. The library will provide exposure to all beliefs'positive and negative'about blindness and blind people, so that library readers may have the opportunity to test their ideas.
The collections of the tenBroek Library will be available on-site to all who have a legitimate need to use them. Blind library users will have full access to all material, regardless of format. Over time the library will make more and more of its collections accessible in digitized form over the World Wide Web.
The library will be of use to anyone wishing to learn how the blind have been perceived, how the blind have fashioned their own self-perception, and how the blind have interacted with institutions and agencies. We invite scholars working on issues of blindness in literature, in history, and in society today. We invite investigators looking for source material on which to base policy research and research on methods of rehabilitation. We invite teachers of and workers with the blind looking for the most advanced methods of proper training.
Above all, our vision of the library is a place'both physical and virtual'where the blind and their friends and allies can learn about blindness and the struggles of the blind.
- Governance. The Jacobus tenBroek Library belongs to the members of the National Federation of the Blind and is governed by the wishes of the members as expressed at the national conventions. Each year the assembled members elect members of the board of directors and officers'including (every other year) the president of the NFB, who serves as chief executive officer. Library policy will be determined in consultation with the president and, where he or she finds appropriate, with the board.
- Advisory Committee. The director of the tenBroek Library, in consultation with the executive director of the Jernigan Institute, will recommend to the president candidates for positions on a Library Advisory Committee.
The president of the NFB or his designee will chair this committee. Members will include blind and sighted people, and both members and non-members of the Federation. They will represent the various constituencies of the library, including but not limited to: historians and other researchers in the humanities, policy analysts and other social scientists, and rehabilitation workers.
Criteria for membership will include one or more of the following: active membership in the NFB, expertise in management of library special collections, subject expertise in academic disciplines served by the library, and standing in government or the business community.
The purpose of this committee is to advise the director of the tenBroek Library, to lend the prestige of its members to the library, and generally to oversee the library's functioning. It has no policy-making role, although it may make policy recommendations to be considered by the organization.
- Integrated Library System. A grant from the Small Business Administration is providing the funds needed to create a state of the art integrated library system that is fully accessible non-visually. The system will include modules for cataloging, acquisitions, serials control, authority control, circulation, and interlibrary loan. The integrated system will accommodate manuscript and archival collections, digital collections, and museum items (for both exhibit and research). It will incorporate fully-searchable finding aids for the collections.
- Federation literature. All Federation publications will be listed in the online catalog, with links to digital files (where they exist). The Independence Market will be responsible for distributing and maintaining a supply of print, Braille, and audio copies as appropriate.
- Documenting the history of the Federation. The library will undertake special projects on the history of the NFB, including an index to the Braille Monitor and preparation of a list of all officers and board members from 1940 to the present.
- Audio-visual collections. A project was begun some years ago to migrate audio-visual material with NFB content (including movies, phonograph disks and magnetic tapes) to digital media. We will complete this project, list all the digital media in the online catalog, and provide links as appropriate from the catalog to the digital media.
- Oral history. The library will be responsible for an oral history program whose purpose will be to document the history of the blind movement, the achievements of notable blind individuals, and the struggles and successes of ordinary blind people. The library will arrange for digital video recording of all oral history interviews, and for professional preparation of transcripts. It will maintain a collection of these recordings and transcripts, making them accessible through the NFB Web site as appropriate.
- Reference service. The primary constituency of the tenBroek library is the membership of the National Federation of the Blind, but its collections and services are available to scholars, journalists, and the general public. The library will supply reference assistance on non-medical research questions presented in person, by e-mail, or by telephone. The library will refer medical questions to public libraries including the National Library of Medicine. Requests for information about the Federation or services available to people who are blind or with low vision will be referred to other offices at the national center.
- Collection building: books and other published materials. Implementation of the Integrated Library System will provide an automated, seamless acquisitions process, once an item has been approved for purchase.
- Records management, institutional archives, and manuscript collections. The tenBroek Library will be responsible for all manuscript collections, institutional archives, and current records (with the exception of those retained by the legal and accounting offices). Of particular importance are the personal papers of Jacobus tenBroek. At present the tenBroek papers and the institutional archives of the Federation constitute the most important research resource in the library. Getting this material organized for use by researchers is a high priority.
- Web site. The tenBroek Library Web site will describe the library's collections and programs and will serve as a portal for public access to the online catalog.
- Seminars and conferences. The April 2008 tenBroek symposium on disability law was a great success, and planning for the 2009 tenBroek seminar is underway. We plan to seek funding for similar events at which scholars and others will present material on how blindness and other disabilities relate to other disciplines.
- Relationships with other libraries. The tenBroek Library will seek to establish cooperative relationships with other research libraries dealing with blindness and the blind.
- Full-text access to material in digital form. The tenBroek Library is committed ultimately to providing Web-based full-text access to its entire collection.
- Photo collection. The library will maintain a file of digital and digitized photographs of interest to the Federation.
- Exhibits. The tenBroek library is already the home to several exhibits. We plan to expand this program with the ultimate goal of creating a tactile Museum of Blindness. This museum will include art especially created for both blind and sighted visitors as well as historical examples of technologies for the blind.