MHLS Home Outreach Services

Outreach programs and services are offered free by the Mid-Hudson Library System through local public libraries. Outreach Services are mandated by the New York State Department of Education as a way to provide library services to target populations who are most in need and who often are not regular library users. This includes service to the following groups:

Blind / Physically Handicapped:

  • Blind, Visually Impairment, Print Disabled
    • OverDrive LEAP Program: As of 1/2013 we have instituted the OverDrive LEAP program. There is a link on the MHLS Digital Download page at that says "Accessible eBooks - Click here" giving patrons with print disabilities access to eBooks. Library eBook Accessibility Program (LEAP) is a partnership between OverDrive and The link directs patrons to apply for a Bookshare membership from our OverDrive-powered site. The accessible books will be provided by Bookshare to patrons enrolled in LEAP. OverDrive's role in the program is to fully fund one year of membership for your qualifying patrons (details on ).
      • Qualification / Proof of Disability: The form must be filled in and signed by a qualified professional in the field of disabilities services, education, medicine or psychology. This professional must be a recognized expert who attests to the physical basis of the visual, perceptual, or other physical disability that limits the applicant's use of standard print. Appropriate certifying experts may differ for different disabilities. In the case of blindness and visual impairments, an appropriate certifier may be a physician, ophthalmologist, or optometrist; in the case of a perceptual disability, a neurologist, learning disability specialist (a teacher with this type of certification is an example), or psychologist with a background in disabilities may be the most qualified certifying professional. A social worker with direct knowledge of your circumstances or a federal or state agency that maintains registries of qualified people with disabilities for benefits purposes may provide certification. If you are a college or university student, your school's Disability Student Services staff may provide certification. Full information.
      • Brochure: what is OverDrive LEAP; who is involved; what books & formats are available; how does LEAP work.
      • Fact Sheet
      • Registration directions for patrons: part 1 & part 2 (process on the Bookshare website)
    • State Talking Book and Braille Library (TBBL). Free player and taped materials are available to eligible patrons by application from the library. Applications for adults and youth, and instructions on how to join the TBBL are available online .
      • Eligibility: Full information . Patrons are eligible for this library service if they are a resident of upstate New York , of any age, and they have a physical disability that prevents them from reading print materials:
        • They can't see well enough to read conventional print. Specifically, they must be legally blind, with vision in the better eye of 20/200 or less with correcting lenses, or have a visual field no greater than 20 degrees in diameter, or be unable to see well enough to focus long enough to read standard print, even with corrective lenses.
        • OR:
        • They have a permanent or temporary physical limitation which prevents them from holding a book or turning its pages. Physical disabilities which may prevent the ability to read include multiple sclerosis, stroke, cerebral palsy, severe arthritis, paralysis, a missing arm or hand, lack of muscle coordination, and prolonged weakness.
        • OR:
        • They have a physically-based reading disability. They must be certified by a medical doctor as having a reading or learning disability due to an organic dysfunction severe enough to prevent reading in the usual manner.
      • Once they are registered with the TBBL program they are eligible for the BARD: Braille and Audio Reading Download : . Download thousands of free audio books to play on the new digital talking book machines.  The Talking Book and Braille Library (TBBL) librarians recommend that your eligible patrons to use BARD downloading as the primary way to obtain audio books. Only 25% of the TBBL collection is available in cartridge format, while 100% of the digital collection is available via download from BARD. Downloading is the easiest and most efficient way to receive audio books from the New York State Talking Book and Braille Library. There are only about 8,000 digital books currently available in the traditional green cartridge format that go out to TBBL patrons via U.S. mail, and many of the popular titles are all checked out with a long waiting list and wait time. Using BARD is a more efficient way for your patrons to get your books because it gives them immediate access to the complete digital collection of over 30,000 digital books, available for immediate download.  Magazines are also available for download. The Digital Talking Book Machine plays the digital books that you download from BARD. For more information see
        • BARD application instructions:
          • Library staff members must choose the application for institutions. (Then you can practice using it to help patrons.)
          • Individual TBBL members must choose the application for individuals.
          • How does it work?
            • As a TBBL member, you are eligible to use the download service, but you must fill out the online application first. Be sure to input all information accurately. Under "Please select a library" be sure to choose New York State Talking Book and Braille Library in Albany, NY as the library you are affiliated with.
            • The email address you use on the application will become your BARD login. Once your application is accepted, you will receive a temporary password in an email. You then must reset it after you login to BARD with your temporary password the first time.
            • Once you are logged in to BARD, searching and browsing is simple. You can search and browse by author, title and subject, or keyword will search everything.
            • The digital player has been pre-programmed to play the downloaded audio books. Due to digital rights management copyright restrictions, the downloaded books will not play on your computer or mp3 player. After you download the audio books from NLS BARD, save or copy the book folders to a blank digital cartridge (available for purchase) or a USB flash drive.  The books will automatically start to play when you insert your cartridge or USB flash drive into the digital talking book player. The flash drive USB port is on the right side of your player.
            • Instructions for downloading the books can be found on
            • If you have questions about BARD call them at (800) 342-3688, Monday through Friday, to speak to a library staff member. Or leave a message and they will call you back. Or send an email to .


Residents of Institutions:

Correctional Facilities:


Educationally Disadvantaged:

Developmentally or learning disabled:

Unemployed & in need of job placement assistance:

Living in area underserved by a library:

  • MHLS consultation services are available on an as needed basis.

Members of Ethnic Minorities in need of Special Services:

  • Titles in languages other than English are in the MHLS Library Catalog. You can view them by choosing Advanced Search, then select the languagte of your choice from the Language drop-down list

Additional Resources:

  • A free, confidential multi-lingual service, in operation 24 hours-a-day, 7days a week. Dial 2-1-1 when you don’t know where else to turn. (For 2-1-1 Service in Columbia and Greene Counties, call: 1-800-899-1479)

  • Across the Valley: Changes & TrendsAcross the Valley: Changes & Trends: a long-range community analysis outlining changes across the region and their possible implications.
  • Tools for TransitionTools for Transition: Suggestions and Strategies for Libraries: a listing of potential actions libraries can take in response to changes identified in the Across the Valley report. Libraries can tailor toolkit resources to their own locale.



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