Sunday, April 29, 2012


For the last week I’ve been going to the library everymorning before going to work. It’s a pleasant place, a library in the morning, in your housecoat, with your hair still askew and your eyes barely open. I am preparing a summer reading collection, biographies, fiction, a little history, a really fine assortment of materials to keep me happy all summer. What better place to do it than at the CNIB Library, now that it has revised its website? If you are an eligible client of theirs, you can browse for books, locate audio and braille editions, and download them to read on your own personal machines. It’s a miracle really. If he were here, I am certain that Sir William Mulock would be delighted by the development. He was, in his day, a forward-looking fellow, the kind who would implement snazzy new ideas. In 1898, Postmaster General Sir William Mulock granted free postage, known as franking, for all braille material sent through the mail. Later, after the invention of sound recording, audio books were granted the same privilege. It would be impossible to calculate how much it would have cost to distribute all the braille and talking books by mail over the past 114 years. Until very recently, almost all blind canadians ordered books from the CNIB Library in Toronto and waited for them to arrive in the mail. But times have changed. I was getting CNIB books by mail before Canada had its 100th birthday. I was getting them before anybody got to the moon. And getting books free in the mail was a wondrous thing which I loved, and I doubt if any Canadian was more grateful to Sir William than I was. But getting books on the Internet, in the cool of the morning, before leaving for work is even better.

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