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By Michael Byington

As most readers know, we have had a major problem this year with State funding for Kansas Talking Books Sub-Regional Libraries. These are the libraries that are actually at the consumer end of the distribution chain. They are the programs that actually cause Talking Books for the blind and physically handicapped to be mailed to Kansans who want them.

This is a cautiously optimistic article. Advocacy on the part of your KABVI Legislative Committee, assisted by many of you, appears to have gotten us what we need to keep the State Sub-Regional Talking Books programs functioning.

The deadline to get this article into the magazine does not allow me to report to you that the needed funding is absolutely a done deal. There are still a few days left of the wrap up portion of the 2006 Kansas Legislative session. At this writing, however, the needed funding is in Omnibus Appropriation Bills in both the Kansas House and Senate, and these bills have been initially adopted in both Houses. This means that a floor amendment to reconsider, or a Gubernatorial line item veto would be necessary to pull the money out. Both actions appear extremely unlikely.

To provide a little background, Talking Books for the blind and physically handicapped are largely provided through federal funding. The federal government produces the books, provides for their free mailing through the Franking Privledge, and shipps the books to a central point in each State. The individual states must then fund the distribution of the books from that point, and such distribution strategies is where we had a problem in Kansas. The Kansas portion of the distribution system has not had an appreciable funding increase sense 1989. Needless to say, costs have risen from that time to the present. The lack of funding has already caused one sub-regional Kansas library to pull out of the Talking Books distribution program. Three others have been threatening to pull out if more money is not provided. It now appears that the Kansas Talking Book program will garner a $75,000.00 increase in funding.

This money will not allow us to receive wonderful new, expanded services. It may, however, help us keep what we currently have.


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