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NNELS 101 for Alberta Libraries


Alberta can look forward to a growth in equitable library service in the province with NNELS.

Wonder what is happening when and where? In the coming months regional and urban libraries will be coming on-line with real-time library card authentication.  All libraries should shortly receive inquiries about server details.  Access for staff is available by contacting, we will be sending out more information weekly this Fall and Winter.

First round of library connectors are set for Alberta as follows:

  • Calgary Public Library
  • Chinook Arch Regional Library System
  • Edmonton Public Library
  • Red Deer Public Library
  • Shortgrass Regional Library

There are three major pieces a library needs to get going.

  • a print disability patron type;
  • a link to NNELS on the library website; 
  • staff awareness and understanding of NNELS. 

Here's the information your library needs to get started:

1. How do patrons find out about NNELS?

Patrons learn about NNELS from your library as well as from community organizations that are engaged on the network. Once your connector is in place, pease notify your existing patrons with print disabilities that they can use NNELS, and then find ways to connect with other people in your community so that they can learn more about this service.


2. Use best practices to establish eligibility.

NNELS provides Self-Declaration and Competent Authority forms as sample documents which are intended to be adapted to the local needs of libraries. Local public libraries are encouraged to brand the documents, add their own contact information, and ensure the forms comply with the library's own policies. NNELS users are required to adhere to the local policies of their library.  Print-disability is most often verified with a Self-Declaration form -- and, if necessary, with a Competent Authority form.  The decision for how to document a print disability is a local one but information on how the libraries across the network go about it is there to be shared.


3. What do library staff need to know about patron types?

If your library has a connector to NNELS established, and is using a vetted patron type, your eligible patrons with print disabilities can log in to NNELS directly using their library card number and library-issued PIN. Only patrons assigned to the vetted patron types can access the copyright-protected materials in NNELS (open access contents are publicly available to all NNELS site visitors).  Patrons may only access NNELS if they have a print disability, as defined by the Canadian Copyright Act.  Libraries can also assign patron types temporarily if the temporary assignment constitutes a print disability. Find out more about patron eligibility here.


4. How do patrons log in exactly?

First-time NNELS users need to connect with their local public library to complete the local registration procedures (library card, eligibility for NNELS, correct patron type).

At that point, there are two ways users can log in to NNELS for the first time: 

   1. Visit library website and click on the NNELS link to go directly to a login page; 


   2. Go to and click on the "Sign-Up link:

  • Search for their local library, then
  • Click on the link to log in with their library card number and PIN

Any user waiting for local cards to be configured can request access through self-declare and attest to having a print disability. These patrons will be granted temporary NNELS credentials.


5. What if a patron can't log in?

  • Has the patron been assigned the correct patron-type in your library's ILS?
  • Is the patron entering her/his barcode and library-issued PIN number correctly? If the PIN is incorrect, you can change it in your ILS and notify the patron.

If patrons experience ongoing problems, please contact


6. NNELS asks you to add a NNELS link to the library's website.

Since the main way we hope readers will access NNELS is via your library's website, we ask participating libraries to put up at least one link to NNELS. 
  • Download NNELS logos from:
  • Please link from your website to
Some options for text on your website: 
  • Digital talking books for people with print disabiltiies are available from NNELS. This library is participating and all you need is a library card. 
  • Downloadable audiobooks for readers with print disabilties. All you need is a library card.

Please let us know when you've added a  link to your website: we always like to alert @nnelsCA Twitter followers about new libraries coming live on the network.


7. What do staff need to know about content available from NNELS?

Content is predominately popular fiction and non-fiction for adults, though there are some juvenile titles as well. Approximately 10,000 books are currently available in the NNELS catalogue and most are in English; content in French and other languages is actively being sought for NNELS.

Content is selected through a legally-verified process based on requests from readers with print disabilities.  NNELS also grows the collection with large acquisitions of contributed content from alternate format producers. We also work with individual publishers who are committed to including alternate format versions of their works alongside the standard format works in public libraries. Most titles are in DAISY format, although there are some e-braille files and e-text materials in the NNELS repository.

8. How do we make a request for our readers?

Our shared goal is to make it easy for everyone to come into a library and get the information they're looking for. If a librarian or patron is searching the NNELS database and discovers that the needed information does not yet exist in an accessible format, please submit a request to produce the book:  Requesting new content allows NNELS to produce content and share it with everyone.


9. How do patrons use NNELS content?

Many librarians ask what technology we recommend and, unfortunately for those who prefer simplicity, every person has different needs, particularly when it comes to living with a print disability. Currently, we know that many devices (including DAISY readers, tablets, smartphones, desktop computers, and some MP3 players) support DAISY books and other kinds of content available on the NNELS site.

Rather than be prescriptive about the kinds of technology everyone should use, we encourage librarians to conduct their very best reference interviews to learn as much as possible about a patron’s habits and needs. That said, many users come to NNELS with smartphones and other mobile devices. The most common DAISY apps for iPhones, iPads, and iPods are DaisyWorm ($0.99, requires transferring files from a computer) and Voice Dream ($14.95, allows direct download of zip files from, and the most-used app for Android devices is Darwin Reader ($14.95 in the Google Play).


10. Let us know when you have questions.

Most importantly, never hesitate to let us know when you have questions. If you feel stuck, curious, or uncertain about any of the above please know you can always contact NNELS with a help request.  Reach us at anytime.  Your questions help inform us all about what we need to develop, improve, and exchange in order to help enable accessible public library service across Canada.