San Francisco Public Library Reopens Talking Books and Braille Center After $1.9 Million Renovation

SAN FRANCISCO, November 8, 2023—San Francisco Public Library announces the reopening of its award-winning Talking Books and Braille Center (TBBC) after a $1.9 million renovation and a 15-month closure. The center, which serves individuals who are Blind or Visually impaired, has undergone a transformation to better cater to the needs of the community. 

Located on the second floor of the Main Library, the 3,480-square-foot TBBC, formerly known as the Library for the Blind and Print Disabled, is part of the National Library Service administered by the Library of Congress. The renovation project, which commenced on August 15, 2022, was a collaborative effort involving Library staff, San Francisco Public Works, the TBBC Advisory Committee and architect Chris Downey, who is himself sightless. The goal was to create a welcoming and inclusive space for the Blind, Low-Vision and Print Disabled communities in San Francisco.  

“San Francisco Public Library is excited to welcome back its valued TBBC patrons and invites the community to explore the revitalized center,” says City Librarian Michael Lambert. “With its renewed commitment to accessibility and inclusivity, the TBBC is poised to serve as a hub of empowerment and enrichment for Blind and Low Vision individuals.” 

The renovation enhanced the space for the Blind and Visually Impaired community by incorporating design elements such as floor textures and brightly colored furnishings, facilitating easier navigation and orientation. Notable design features of the renovated TBBC include an open area for group activities, spacious peer learning rooms, improved acoustics and privacy, a new service desk, a separate lounge space and dedicated rooms equipped with assistive technology. 

“This collaborative project embodies the San Francisco Public Library’s commitment to expanding access to information for all our communities,” said interim Public Works Director Carla Short, whose team provided architectural design, engineering, project and construction management, and carpentry, plumbing and other building trades services. “This has been an exciting opportunity for us to deliver these meaningful improvements.” 

The newly renovated TBBC boasts an impressive array of features and services. Patrons have access to a collection of more than 100,000 digital "talking book" titles. Additionally, TBBC offers digital book mailings, audio-described DVDs, a refreshable braille display, an embosser for printing in braille or tactile maps and a desktop video magnifier for magnifying books and documents with speech. The center also provides computer workstations equipped with assistive technology for Blind and Low Vision patrons. 

“After 10 years of planning and implementation, among peers and professionals, the state-of-the-art TBBC Library, at the SFPL, is open to grateful patrons,” exclaimed Tommie Lussier, president of the TBBC Advisory Committee. “We thank the caring and capable staff of the SFPL and especially the staff at the TBBC who have truly earned the love and respect of their patrons.” 

Beyond its extensive resources, TBBC hosts a variety of engaging activities and events. Visitors can look forward to art exhibitions, book talks, programming for Spanish speakers, audio-described film showings, a book club and more. The center aims to foster a sense of community and connection among its patrons. 

For more information about the Talking Books and Braille Center, visit the San Francisco Public Library website or contact the Library directly. 

About San Francisco Public Library: 

The San Francisco Public Library is a renowned institution dedicated to providing free and equal access to information, knowledge, independent learning, and the joys of reading to the diverse communities of San Francisco. With its extensive collection, innovative programs, and welcoming spaces, the library strives to inspire and empower all individuals to discover, connect, and grow. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Michelle Jeffers, or (415) 557-4282 

November 8, 2023