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Dear Colleagues

Public Libraries in Canada are being called upon to provide an increasing
variety of services while resources to do so remain static or are
dwindling.  In this climate it is difficult to talk about expanding
services, particularly to a relatively small segment of the
population.  However, we are writing to ask you to do just that.

In Canada it is estimated that there are three million people who are
permanently unable to access print.  This group has available to them only
five per cent of library print material available in alternate formats such
as audio, e text or Braille.  Many libraries have successfully set up
distribution systems for the material that does exist, but the fact remains
there is an unacceptable gap in library content available to persons with a
print disability versus their sighted neighbours.

In June 2003 the Canadian Library Association unanimously endorsed a
resolution that in part stated:

"Be it resolved that the Canadian Library Association recommends, through
joint funding by Federal, Provincial, and Territorial governments, the
establishment of a national network of public and private sector
constituents to ensure that Canada provides an alternative format library
service for Canadians unable to read print which is comparable to that
provided by most developed countries in the world."

In October of this year the Council of Administrators of Large Urban Public
Libraries passed the following motion:

That CALUPL support both the CLA and Canadian National Institute for the
Blind (CNIB) directions requesting the Federal Government to provide annual
funding to subsidize the production of alternate materials for the sight
impaired in Canada;

With a federal election expected in May of this year we would like to ask
your help to move the above resolutions onto the political agenda.  The
CNIB is mounting a letter writing campaign to all MP's and candidates
through an email advocacy network. Between now and the election, weekly
letters will be sent to MP's and candidates asking them to commit to
providing resources for the production of library content in alternate format.

Would you join this letter writing campaign?  To sign on please notify
Bernard Nunan at CNIB's Consumer and Government Relations Office  (email:
<mailto:[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask] ).  Please tell him
that you want to join the library advocacy list and then you will receive
one email a week from him with a sample letter to an MP that you may use or
modify as you wish and send to your local candidates and any other
appropriate contacts that you may have.

Please join us in this advocacy effort.

Shelagh Paterson, Advocacy Coordinator, CNIB Library for the Blind

Jane Beaumont, Vice-Chair, CNIB Library Board