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  AFB Talking Book Exhibit

Letter from Robert B. Irwin, AFB Executive Director to H. H. B. Meyer, Library of Congress informing him of the potential of Talking Books for the blind, April 5, 1932.

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Developing Partnerships
The Library of Congress

The Pratt-Smoot Act of March 1931 authorized the Library of Congress to administer a project in which selected libraries would "serve as local or regional centers for the circulation of books" to adults with vision loss. Eighteen libraries were chosen to distribute the books, and the Library of Congress selected fifteen titles to be brailled. This was the beginning of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

This distribution system was indispensable to the success of the Talking Book project. Displayed on this page is a letter that AFB Executive Director Robert B. Irwin wrote in April 1932 to H. H. B. Meyer at the Library of Congress asking him to consider producing books on records. Meanwhile, the American Foundation for the Blind lobbied the federal government for funding to distribute Talking Books. On March 3, 1933, a law was passed setting aside $10,000 for Talking Books out of the $100,000 allocated to the Library of Congress to provide books to adults with vision loss. U.S. President Herbert Hoover signed the bill into law on the following day, the last day of his presidency.

However, the Library of Congress would not assign this money until it was certain that enough Talking Book machines were readily available to listeners with vision loss. As a result, AFB sent field agents to local state agencies for the blind, and organized fund raising activities to pay for machines to be distributed within local communities.


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Pratt-Smoot Act: That All May Read
The Library of Congress
Solely for the Use of the Blind


AFB Talking Book Galleries:
Early History
Early History
Partnerships
Partnerships
Helen Keller
Helen Keller
Operations Begin
Operations Begin
Technology
Technology
Narrators
Narrators

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75 Years of AFB and Talking Books

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