“Books break the shackles of time – proof that humans can work magic.” – Carl Sagan
Books are many things – a past time, entertainment, an outlet, a friend. An enjoyable experience and shared passion for many, books connect individuals of every walk of life – and ability.
Founded in 1967, the Talking Book & Braille Center, located in Trenton, N.J., is a library that provides no-cost, home-delivered services, on behalf of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at the Library of Congress, to children, teens and adults in New Jersey who have visual or hearing impairments.
The center boasts a large print and audio collection and provides braille books, audio books and books with a larger font size to anyone in the state. Each item ordered is sent via mail, free of charge.
The services provided by the center are special, with only a true bookworm able to take on the task of finding the right match for a reader.
For Stephen Felle, Outreach Librarian, the job is a welcome challenge. Stephen graduated with his Bachelor’s in English from the Technical College of New Jersey and Master’s in information science with a concentration in library sciences from Rutgers-New Brunswick.
I Always Wanted to be a Librarian
“I always wanted to be a librarian and help people,” says Stephen. “The human element of connecting with people over books is extremely rewarding.”
Stephen connects readers with the appropriate form of a book for their impairments. Whether through a call or walk-in, he enjoys raising awareness about what is available to individuals who have lost their zest for reading.
“My job is to find opportunities and outlets to talk about our services so when the opportunity to exhibit at Bacharach’s Ability Fair came up, I jumped on it!” said Stephen.
However, the center is not without some fans – many individuals have become daily callers.
“Some people call once a day. You get to know them and recognize their voice,” said Stephen. “It’s always rewarding to know that our services bring joy to the people who use them and keep them coming back to us.”
Books are so Important
Many of the people who benefit from the center’s services are older, with their children calling in an order. Over the years, the center has been praised for their ability to empower older people who have been sidelined by their disabilities.
One e-mail testimonial reads, “My parents regularly received books on tape from your library, and it was a godsend. They were in poor health, but lifelong, avid readers. Once their eyesight diminished to the point where reading was near impossible, they learned about your service. Indeed, over the last year or two, they spent many hours listening to the talking books…Your staff does an amazing job selecting books and coordinating the service. Thank you from the bottom of my heart in making my parents’ last couple of years a more interesting and enjoyable time because of your books.”
At the Talking Book & Braille Center, finding the untaken path to bring the joy of reading to an individual is top priority.
“We’re dedicated to enriching people’s lives. The more people who know about our services, the better,” says Stephen. “If they’re eligible, we are here to help them have a wonderful experience and discover a passion for books beyond limitations.”