This webpage outlines the strategic framework for the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS), 2022-24. The framework includes an overview of NNELS, highlighting its vision, mission, and goals. In addition, it details all strategic priorities and associated projects. The NNELS Steering Committee and founding members approved the framework in January 2022.
Table of Contents
- About NNELS
- Strategic Priorities
- Future Considerations
The National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS) is a digital repository of accessible formats for Canadian public library patrons with print disabilities. NNELS creates accessible books for people who need formats other than conventional print and works with a network of Canadian public libraries to make that content available. NNELS also works with publishers to empower them to produce books that are accessible from the beginning.
An equitable reading landscape where all reading material is available to all people regardless of reading preference or need.
To contribute to an equitable reading landscape by supporting Canadian public libraries in distributing materials in accessible formats for patrons with print disabilities and by supporting publishers in creating born-accessible books.
- Develop and maintain a digital repository of accessible books
- Empower public libraries to serve their patrons with print disabilities directly
- Advance the agenda of accessible publishing and contribute to an equitable reading landscape
- supports libraries in providing direct and integrated service for patrons with print disabilities
- is owned and accountable to the Canadian public libraries in participating jurisdictions
- is made stronger by partnerships in Canada and around the world
- is informed by the lived experience of people with print disabilities
- builds capacity and employment opportunities for people with print disabilities
Areas of Strength
- A growing digital library of accessible formats: NNELS uses its strong connection to Canadian public libraries to build a network that supports accessible public library service delivery. NNELS is built by user request, with limited curation, and owned by Canadian libraries. Since its inception, NNELS has significantly increased the amount of content offered to library patrons with print disabilities.
- A leader in accessible-format production: NNELS works to educate Canadian publishers to produce quality born-accessible books. NNELS is considered an international leader in the born-accessible movement and has received the 2021 Accessible Books Consortium International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing.
- Informed by people with lived experience of print disabilities: People with print disabilities are at the centre of the NNELS services, services that are built on the principle of equitable access to reading for all Canadians. NNELS employs people with lived experience to do the work and shape the organization.
- Innovative and forward-thinking: NNELS is pushing the envelope for accessibility in libraries and publishing. From simultaneous releases of braille to an annual Accessible Publishing Summit to app testing to leading electronic braille and tactile graphic production, NNELS works on the accessibility issues of the present but anticipates the gaps of the future.
NNELS has two strategic priorities and seven identified goals that support the priorities. NNELS will work toward realizing each of these goals over the next three years (2021-2024).
1. Provision of Accessible Collections and Library Services
Goal 1: Growing the Collection
Actions: NNELS will seek ways to streamline and increase the production of accessible titles on demand for patrons with print disabilities focusing on high-demand and current literary award materials. NNELS will increase relevance and grow the collection by responding promptly to user requests for titles they want to read and the format they prefer. NNELS will continue to expand its capacity by working with volunteer and paid narrators to produce quality, accessible audiobooks.
Goal 2: Providing Training for Libraries in Accessible Services
Actions: Public Library Accessible Resource Centre Project (PLARC): Following the recommendations in the third piece of the Landscape Review Research, and in partnership with the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) and eBound, NNELS will expand its role to provide accessibility training for libraries by building a consolidated nation-wide Library Resource Centre (website) to support public libraries in ensuring that all aspects of mainstream library services, both physical and digital, are inclusive and accessible.
Goal 3: Providing Digital Literacy Training for People with Print Disabilities
Actions: NNELS will continue creating digital literacy resources. The digital literacy resources support and train persons with print disabilities in the digital technology (hardware and software) required to access eBooks in different formats. The resources will include tutorials, videos, and instructions.
Goal 4: Increasing Braille Availability
Actions: NNELS will increase braille availability in Canada by producing electronic braille files for the repository, and working directly with publishers on simultaneous releases of braille titles alongside print counterparts. NNELS will continue its support for a shared Canadian public library Distributed Braille Collection, which makes physical braille available to Canadian braille readers.
Goal 5: Testing Accessibility of Library Reading Applications
Actions: NNELS understands that even if a book is accessible, an inaccessible reading platform can create a barrier for someone with a print disability. NNELS will perform extensive testing on library and commercial reading applications and platforms from the perspectives of those with different print disabilities, relying on its team of Accessibility Testers. The findings and recommendations are sent to the vendor and made publicly available to support libraries procuring accessible electronic resources.
2. Enhance Accessible Publishing in Canada
Goal 1: Providing Publisher Education
Actions: NNELS will maintain its support for the born-accessible paradigm by providing education for Canadian publishers. NNELS will continue to conduct accessibility audits of publisher files and provide advice about workflow changes, and direct training through webinars and conference presentations. NNELS will maintain and update the Accessible Publishing website, where publishers can find a variety or resources, including reports, best practices, and information from the Accessible Publishing Summit.
Goal 2: Bringing Together Experts in the Accessible Publishing Production and Distribution Chain
Actions: NNELS will continue to convene an annual Accessible Publishing Summit, which brings together experts and leaders in the accessible publishing supply chain, including Canadian publishers, alternate-format producers, vendors, government representatives, and librarians. The multi-day event focuses on the future of accessible publishing and strategizes ways to move the born-accessible agenda forward.
Since its inception, NNELS has grown from an accessible-format repository for public libraries into a leader in accessible reading, both nationally and internationally. As the landscape for accessibility is ever-changing and fast-paced, NNELS will remain cognizant of new collaboration, work, and funding opportunities. Some potential areas for future projects include: working with Canadian post-secondary institutions, working with governments on accessible documents and resources, and continuing to engage stakeholders directly.