Penfriend first at libraries

MILNGAVIE and Bearsden libraries are leading the way as the first local authority in Scotland to introduce the award-winning Penfriend.

Volunteers from the Soroptomists have been recording book information to the audio labelling device for readers and it is planned that this will be available in every library in East Dunbartonshire.

Other volunteers have been recording information to the Penpal, which is a version available for young library members.

Councillor Amanda Stewart, chair of the leisure and culture trust, said: “Visiting the library and choosing a book is a personal experience and for readers with a visual or print impairment this can often mean having to rely on a member of staff or friend when choosing a book. Penfriend will allow users to browse and choose a book by themselves thereby maximising their independence of choice.

“I urge visually-impaired readers, their family and friends to contact their local library for more information.”

The innovative tool has been developed by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and will allow library users with visual and print impairments to listen to pre-recorded information on books and resources.

Penfriend is a hand-held device shaped like a pen and is used to record and store sound files which are linked to individually coded labels.

The information is activated when the labels are touched by the tip of the Penfriend allowing the library user to listen to information such as the title, author, length of book, content warning if provided and a synopsis of the story.