The Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), at the Library of Congress in the United States have partnered to exchange accessible books, thanks to the Marrakesh Treaty. The Marrakesh Treaty allows for the exchange of accessible books across national boundaries for people with print disabilities worldwide.
“We are delighted to be receiving more than 80,000 titles in audio and braille from our American colleagues at NLS and they have already added CELA produced titles to their collection. Thanks to the Marrakesh Treaty these types of exchanges are now possible, dramatically increasing the number of titles that accessible libraries like CELA and NLS can access” says Laurie Davidson, Executive Director of the Centre for Equitable Library Access.
Canada was the key 20th country to enter into the Marrakesh Treaty in 2016, bringing the treaty into force and allowing for world-wide exchanges. The US acceded to the agreement in 2019, laying the groundwork for this exchange of these materials with CELA.
As part of the exchange, NLS is adding more than 2000 CELA titles including audio, braille to their collection, and the books have already proved to be popular, with NLS readers downloading the titles more than 10,000 times.
“We could not be more pleased with this opportunity to work with CELA” said Jason Yasner, NLS Deputy Director. “We believe that partnerships such as this, which have resulted from the Marrakesh Treaty, will benefit blind and print disabled readers across the globe for a long time to come.”
Laurie Davidson also says that “the Marrakesh Treaty has the potential to have a profound impact on the number of titles available not only to CELA users but also to users with print disabilities around the world who have far less access to reading materials. Countries like Canada have an obligation to continue working towards a more equitable reading landscape, both at home, and for those around the world to help overcome the book famine for those who read in accessible formats. Reading is a fundamental right, and we know how important access to books is for academic, economic and social inclusion.”
The agreement between CELA and NLS is ongoing, and the organizations will continue to exchange new titles as they become available. CELA users will find the NLS titles in CELA’s collection beginning in September. The first addition to the collection will include the top ‘100 NLS circulated titles’ and additional popular titles.