History of the Library

The North Carolina Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NCLBPH) has served its citizens proudly since September of 1958 when it was founded as the North Carolina Regional Library for the Blind. It was originally housed in the Mansion Park Building on Blount Street in Raleigh.

In January of 1959 the library became a part of the State Library of North Carolina. The library then served 881 people with books recorded on 33 1/3 records. Braille books were originally only circulated from the National Library Service for the Blind from Washington, DC.

From 1961 to 1973, the library contracted with South Carolina to provide talking book service for the Palmetto State. During this time the library was known as the North Carolina - South Carolina Regional Library for the Blind.

In 1966 the library moved to 1124 Hillsborough Street. During this year Congress amended the Pratt-Smoot Act of 1931 to add persons with physical handicaps to those eligible for service. The name of the library was then changed to NC - SC Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. The library added books on open-reel tape and in large print. Books on open-reel tape were discontinued in 1973. The Library Construction and Services Act (LCSA) helped the library expand its services.

In 1967 the library was added to the Special Services Section of the State Library and braille books were added as a service of the library.

In 1969 cassette books were added as a service and the library moved to 1314 Dale Street.

In 1972 the library began producing locally recorded or brailled materials using volunteers.

In 1973 South Carolina formed a Regional Library and began serving the 2242 patrons who lived in the state.

In 1975 the Special Projects Branch (now known as Volunteer Services) was formed.

In 1976 the library was damaged by an arson fire.

In 1977 the North Carolina General Assembly allocated money for a new facility for the library. A subregional library was opened in Charlotte at the Mecklenburg Public Library with funds from LSCA.

In September of 1978 the library moved into its current 21,850 square foot facility at 1841 Capital Boulevard.

In 1981 the Charlotte subregional library was closed due to a lack of funding.

1982 to 1986 the library planned and implemented the KLAS Library Automation System. The system was developed by Keystone in Raleigh and went on line in November 1986.

In 1988 the library underwent major renovation to its facilities.

In October of 1989 The Friends of the North Carolina for the Blind and Physically Handicapped was formed.

In September of 1992 the library moved its library automation system to an IBM Personal Computer and launched a new version of KLAS that it helped Keystone redesign. This same system with its revisions is now used in majority of libraries for the blind and physically handicapped in the United States.

In late 1993 Descriptive Video Service was added. This program is funded by the Friends of the Library.

In 1994 the library began the Authors Reading and Recording Own Works (ARROW) program. North Carolina authors came into the library's studios in Raleigh and recorded their own works for circulation in the cassette collection. Numberous authors have volunteered for this program.

In 1995 long time Section Chief and Regional Librarian Charles Fox retired.

In 1996 Francine Martin assumes Charles Fox's position as Regional Librarian.

In September 1996 Raleigh was hit by Hurricane Fran and the library was shut down for one week.

In the fall of 1996, as part of the reorganization of the State Library, the library became a branch of the Library Services Section.

In September of 1998 the library celebrated its 40th anniversary with a gala open house.

In 1998 the library, with help of the Friends of the Library and The Lions Club was able to install a commercial grade braille printing system.

In 1999 the State Library puts in 2 public access computers in its information center and 1 at the library equipped with screen reading and screen magnification software, a talking web browsing program, and wheelchair access. In 2000 the State Library was awarded the Raleigh Mayor's Committee for Persons with Disabilities 20000 Citizen Involvement Award. The State Library was also awarded a Leadership Award by the NC Assistive Technology Project and Partnerships in Assistive Technology.

In June 2008 Regional Librarian Francine Martin retires after many years of distinguished service to the library. Because of Francine's efforts and solid guidance the library carries on its tradition of excellent service and preparation for the digital transition.

In July of 2008 Carl Keehn assumes Francine Martin's position as Regional Librarian.

In August of 2009 the library received its first shipment of digital players from NLS. This ushered in a new era of service. Patrons now have the option of receiving digital book cartridges for playing on these new players and downloading digital books from the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service.

In September of 2009 the library celebrates its 50th anniversary with a gala open house.