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This page is intended as a central resource for library staff across Canada.

Saskatchewan library staff, please use Saskatchewan's NNELS page as your primary resource.

NNELS is a collection of digital files in accessible e-text and audio formats for Canadians with print disabilities. Our goals are:

  1. accessible public library service for everyone;
  2. accessible publishing and distribution so that separate collections like ours are no longer required for access to books and reading.

We produce, purchase, exchange, and distribute books in a variety of formats and help libraries pair local readers with books.

If you are new to NNELS and from a public library in Canada, please take our online Staff Training which will give you everything you need to help readers with print disabilities in your community register for NNELS accounts.

NNELS is funded by 8 provincial and territorial governments, and access to our collection is provided free of charge to all eligible Canadians and people acting on their behalf.

Table of Contents

  1. Library Participation
  2. Responsibilities
  3. Library Staff Training
  4. NNELS for Library Websites
  5. Downloads & Handouts
  6. Promotion & Outreach
  7. Regional Resources
  8. Distributed Braille Collection
  9. Assistive Technology Recommendations


1. Library Participation 

To proceed, any library from a non-participating province (these provinces include New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Québec) must sign a BC Libraries Cooperative Access Agreement in order to have access to NNELS. Libraries from participating provinces and territories (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, and Yukon) do not need an agreement because an agreement is already in place between the Co-op and the provincial or territorial government.

NNELS requires public library participation because:

  1. The readers are members of their libraries.
    The reader-library connection ensures library staff have an opportunity to explore all library service options with new patrons, rather than directing readers to an external or separate service provider. This process is an opportunity to explain the full range of library programs, services, formats, and collections to new library members, including those who have their first-ever library cards.
  2. Library staff need to confirm that an individual is eligible for access.
    We have no way to confirm this eligibility ourselves, so we need help from library staff to help process new accounts. Furthermore, we have good relationships with many publishers (who send us files when we ask for them) in part because library staff understand issues of access, privacy, and security and so can be trusted to control access to restricted collections such as ours.

2. Responsibilities

Libraries are responsible for:

  • Ensuring access to copyright-protected files in the NNELS collection is restricted to individuals with print disabilities or people acting on their behalf. Having a library process in place is required to protect NNELS’ ability to continue to provide service, to protect print disabled users, and to encourage publishers to cooperate with NNELS. Print disabled patrons need to know that if challenged, they must be prepared provide evidence (usually from a competent authority) of their disability.
  • Ensuring local community members are aware of NNELS as a source of books in acessible formats;
  • Ensuring front-line library staff have sufficient training in using NNELS and supporting accessibility;
  • Helping individuals with limited internet or technology access obtain books in the formats they require;
  • Determining local services levels and community outreach.

NNELS is responsible for providing: 

  • Books in accessible e-text and audio formats, including those requested by individuals in participating provinces and territories;
  • Registration and technology training for library staff;
  • Technology and format support to library staff who are assisting patrons with NNELS;
  • Templates for promotion and community outreach;
  • Opportunities to participate in NNELS.

3. Library Staff Training

For library staff new to NNELS or looking for a refresher, we offer NNELS Training. This training includes information for libraries using the NNELS Connector for live authentication, as well as for those requiring a User Manager -- more about these distinctions on the Training page.

4. NNELS for Library Websites

What we've learned about libraries putting information about NNELS on their websites:

  1. Multiple links are helpful.
    • A link in the library's "Services" menu to "Accessibility", "Accessible Formats," or "Accessible Services" is like a beacon for people looking for that information.
    • A second link to NNELS on the library's list of library digital resources, possibly for both e-books and audiobooks, is also helpful.
  2. Use an "Accessibility" page to list everything someone looking for accessible services might want to know about the library.

To add NNELS to your website, you will need:

  1. Images! We have a range of website badges and logos.
  2. Text! Please pick and choose the pieces that work for you, and feel free to modify them to suit your needs and audience:
    • Downloadable ebooks and audiobooks for people with print disabilities, which include vision, mobility, and comprehension impairments that prevent someone from being able to read a traditional book.
    • Library registration required. Full catalogue available to view at
    • NNELS is an online public library of books for people with a print disabilities in audiobook, DAISY, PDF, EPUB, e-text, electronic Braille, and other formats.
    • (for libraries with a connector:) After registering at the library, eligible users or friends and family members can access the NNELS catalogue and download material directly, or request assistance from library staff.
    • Eligible users include individuals with print disabilities or people acting on their behalf. Print disabilities include vision, mobility, and comprehension impairments that prevent individuals from being able to read a print book. Approximately 10% of Canadians qualify for access to NNELS.
    • NNELS accepts requests for new books, so if an eligible user cannot find a book in a format that works for them, NNELS can produce it. Requests can be submitted by any logged in users from a participating province or territory.
    • For more information, please visit or contact your library.

5. Downloads & Handouts

6. Promotion & Outreach

7. Regional Resources




8. Distributed Braille Collection

Libraries are able to borrow books from the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS)' physical braille collection. Since physical braille in the public library isn’t common, we have prepared some tips and tricks to help you on your journey. The information provided in the linked pages below is also available to download in a single document. Download the Distributed Braille Collection here.

If you are interested in becoming a host library for braille titles, have any feedback about the NNELS Braille Project, or if there are missing or damaged pages in a title you receive, please contact us. Call 1-888-848-9250, option 5, or email


9. Assistive Technology Recommendations

If you’re interested in learning about and comparing different types of assistive technology and information for purchasing, we’re working on a document that covers it all. As a start, here is a document with a spreadsheet and information on some refreshable braille displays and notetakers