New recording studio for talking books unveiled in Helena - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

New recording studio for talking books unveiled in Helena

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The State Library's talking book library serves as a bridge that connects them with literature for thousands of visually impaired Montanans.

The library dedicated a brand new recording studio that will make even more books available on Wednesday.

The new, modular $95,000 recording booth was funded entirely by donations. The first $17,000 came from the Federation of Women’s Clubs of Montana and the rest through individual donors.

The Montana State Library got its first recording studio in 1983, and it's been turning print into spoken word ever since.

More than 2,100 people use the Talking Book Library service, including Vicky Greaney, president of the Capital City Chapter of the Montana Association for the Blind.

“When I first lost my sight, the idea of not being able to read was…just unbelievable," Greaney said.

Now thanks to a handful of volunteers who read the books and edit them together, Greaney is able to stay connected. "People who lose their vision and feel so cut off - when they get the books, it's like touch with the outside world," Greaney said.

The library currently has about 1,100 titles available through the Talking Book service and all of the titles relate to Montana in some way. Library officials say they will eventually be able to double the number of books recorded and released to the public.

Those books then make their way to the National Library Service where the entire country can access them.

Karen Keninger, Director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at the Library of Congress, flew into Helena to help dedicate the recording studio.

"We can share these materials with all of the libraries throughout the country who serve the blind and physically handicapped. In fact, on the plane over I was reading one of the books that was recorded here. A fascinating memoir of Montana," Keninger said.

The books are available online and on tape through a special machine. Depending on the length, the books take anywhere from three months to a year to record and edit.

"It's going to make a lot of difference in the lives of people in Montana who use the service and people around the whole United States,” Keninger said.

Click here for more information on the Talking Book Library.

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