The library has received a $5,000 donation from the Butler Family Foundation. The gift was made by Lincolnshire resident Gilbert Adams in honor of his wife, Lynne Butler Adams, who was head librarian at Vernon Area from 1973 to 1985. The donation allows the library to begin a pilot program offering portable assistive technology devices for people with low vision, extending access to print materials.
The library is acquiring two types of handheld electronic devices that allow people with visual impairments to read print materials, regardless of format. The Ruby XL HD is a video magnifier with an auto-focus camera. When held up to a print source such as a book or newspaper, the device displays a clear, enlarged image on a high-resolution screen, which can be adjusted for optimal viewing. The Ruby XL HD retails for $895.
The OrCam Read will also be purchased. Priced at $1800, the device features a smart camera and reads text aloud from any printed surface or digital screen. The OrCam also responds to voice commands, allowing the user to request specific content, such as an entire page, headlines or the desserts section of a menu. This device is useful for people with low vision and those who are blind.
Initially the Ruby XL and OrCam Read will be made available to local senior centers. An early evaluation by Sunrise of Buffalo Grove was enthusiastic. Activities Coordinator Sue Church called both tools “amazing,” adding that the devices go beyond books to “help with daily living situations, including reading the paper, which I know residents with low vision miss.”
Church added that many lifelong readers would prefer to continue to read independently, not be read to. “For some, large print text has become a struggle,” she said.
As head librarian, Lynne Butler played a critical role in establishing Vernon Area Library and fostering its early growth. She began her work when the library was located in a temporary building in the parking lot of Adlai Stevenson High School. Butler took part in the ground-breaking ceremonies for the first library building, situated along Indian Creek Road. (Today that building is called “the Annex,” providing office and meeting space.)
Throughout her tenure, Butler faithfully served the public and attended board meetings before retiring in 1985. As an area resident, she has remained involved in the life of the library, attending author events, book discussions and retirement parties for her colleagues.
Vernon Area Library delivers books, DVDs and other materials to 13 local senior centers. For more information, visit VAPLD.info/seniors.