What’s your favorite form of escapism? Travel, gaming, dining out––they’re all great fun. But their indulgence often requires money or privilege. Reading is the one form of escapism that just about anyone can practice, regardless of income. Even so, roadblocks keep many folks from getting lost in a traditionally printed book. 

Thankfully for New Mexicans, staffers at the New Mexico State Library for the Blind and Print Disabled have committed themselves to removing those barriers. Encounter Culture host Charlotte Jusinski chats with Tim Donahue, Reader Services and Outreach Librarian, and Berdina Nieto, Reader Advisor, both of whom work at LBPD, which is part of the New Mexico State Library system. They discuss LBPD’s impressive list of services, the value of providing patrons access to physical readers and mobile apps, and what’s to love about Santa Fe (spoiler alert: it’s everything!) 

“Nobody wants you to be able to read more and enjoy it than a librarian.” Tim’s not kidding. LBPD librarians relish their role as curators of the written word for blind and print-disabled patrons, connecting them to an extensive inventory of titles (think: novels, cookbooks, poetry) in formats beyond braille. The most popular of these is an ultra-portable, rechargeable unit that plays special audio cassettes. 

LBPD programs are free and available to all who qualify with various impairments along the spectrum of sightedness. LBPD also extends its services to those with certain learning challenges, such as dyslexia. 

But the tech-savvy among LBPD’s clientele needn’t confine their enjoyment to a cassette reader. There’s also an app for instantaneous escapism. As the formats continue to evolve, so do LBPD’s efforts to improve reader participation, especially in more remote areas of the state. 

“It’s a matter of getting the word out, telling doctors and other people that serve the community how they can reach our program,” says Berdina, who believes every New Mexican should have access to a good book. Or even a bad one. While she’s proud of the impact LBPD has had on the lives of its patrons, she’s most grateful for their influence on her. “Working with my patrons, it’s taught me to be more observant and caring to people in general because we don’t know what disabilities they might have.”

To learn about and register for the library’s exceptional services, visit New Mexico State Library for the Blind and Print Disabled. Or, give them a call toll-free at 1800-456-5515. Want to lend your narrative talents to the library’s ongoing recording projects? Get in touch via their toll-free number or locally at 505-546-9770. Information on BARD, the Braille and Audio Reading Download is available online or wherever you download mobile apps.

Visit http://newmexicoculture.org for info about our museums, historic sites, virtual tours, and more.

Encounter Culture, a production of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, is produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios.

Hosted by Charlotte Jusinski, Editor at El Palacio Magazine
Technical Director: Edwin R. Ruiz
Recording Engineer: Kabby at Kabby Sound Studios in Santa Fe
Executive Producer:  Daniel Zillmann
Show Notes: Lisa Widder
Associate Editor: Helen King
Associate Producer: Alex Riegler
Theme Music: D’Santi Nava
Instagram: @newmexicanculture
For more, visit podcast.nmculture.org.

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