Having trouble reading your favorite paperback mysteries? Do those issues of TIME and NEWSWEEK seem to pile up, unread, because the type seems to be getting more and more illegible?

If so, you may want to check out one of the region’s busiest libraries, a library you may well have never heard of: The Cincinnati Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped. If you or a loved one has trouble reading a traditional book or gazing at a standard computer screen, then this is the place to go.

“People may not understand they don’t have to be blind to use the facility,” points out library director Donna Foust. “The library is for older people who need large print books, or anyone who has trouble reading a traditional book.

“We also serve people who can’t hold a book or turn a page because of MS or Parkinson’s,” adds the librarian. If your vision is 20/200 or less, or if you have focusing trouble, or any medical condition — or even a reading disability — you may well qualify for free books-on-tape, delivered to your door yet.

The library recently celebrated 100 years of service to Greater Cincinnati’s sight impaired, physically challenged, and reading disabled.
Each day, Foust and her staff of eight librarians pack up and deliver more than a thousand talking books to patrons across Greater Cincinnati. “More people listen to audio cassette books than use Braille these days,” observes Foust, noting that the average patron checks out 51 talking books each year.

“Our collection is bigger than any other in the region: 37,500 cassettes along with 12,000 Braille books,” notes Foust. “And it grows every day.” The most popular titles? Unabridged mysteries by Danielle Steele, Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, Faye Kellerman and Jonathan Kellerman.

The Library for the Blind was founded in 1901 by two sisters — Georgia D. and Florence B. Trader — as only the fourth such library in the nation. In 1944, Helen Keller herself honored the Trader sisters for their service at a commemoration ceremony. Today, the facility remains one of 56 regional libraries that comprise the National Library Service for the blind and handicapped.

The library actually altered its name years ago from the Cincinnati Library for the Blind — adding the”& Physically Handicapped” — to reflect a new emphasis on service to anyone who can’t read a book or is challenged by a reading disability.

The library’s on-site facilities include a Job Action Work Station, which provides the visually impaired with access to the Internet; an Arkenstone device, which can convert print materials to voice output through the use of a scanner; a print enlarger which can produce copies of documents and personal mail up to 65 times the original size; Braille typewriters; and Zoom Text, which enlarges screen print on the library’s PC computers. There are also private listening booths and three-dimensional globes and maps available.

The Cincinnati Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped is located at 800 Vine St., downtown. For more information or to learn if you qualify to use its free services, call (800) 582-0335.