OLYMPIA — Washington Talking Book & Braille Library (WTBBL) will once again be able to fulfill audio- and braille-book orders starting Thursday, June 4 after Gov. Jay Inslee approved a waiver for the facility to begin providing limited services.
WTBBL, a program of the Washington State Library under Secretary of State Kim Wyman, has been closed during the pandemic. Wyman sent a letter to the governor in May requesting staff be allowed to resume book distribution before Phase 3, the original time WTBBL was slated to reopen.
“I appreciate the governor’s recognition of the unique and meaningful services the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library provides to thousands of people throughout the state, and we look forward to serving our patrons again soon,” said Wyman. “As we resume certain services, the safety and wellbeing of our staff and patrons is paramount, and we will be following health officials’ guidance and recommendations throughout the process.”
Of WTBBL’s nearly 8,000 patrons, more than 98% use audiobook distribution services. Since the library’s closure in March due to the stay-home order, WTBBL has received roughly 500 calls and emails from impacted individuals and family members, explaining lack of services has adversely affected their wellbeing.
“Our services are about much more than providing patrons with reading materials for their leisure, with many of our audio- and braille-books offering a connection to the world, health and wellness, and educational resources,” said WTBBL Director Danielle Miller. “Our patrons, who are often isolated and challenged by a lack of services, including internet, have been feeling even further isolated from resources they need during this pandemic. I’m thrilled we’ll be able to resume our book distributions soon so our patrons can regain access to meaningful materials as they continue to navigate living through this pandemic.”
WTBBL provides services in person and by mail to any Washington resident unable to read standard print materials due to blindness, visual impairment, or physical or reading disability.
Washington’s Office of Secretary of State oversees a number of areas within state government, including managing state elections, registering corporations and charities, and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office also manages the State Archives and the State Library, documents extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington, oversees the Combined Fund Drive for charitable giving by state employees and administers the state’s Address Confidentiality Program to help protect survivors of crime.