Spotlight on Sharing: Rethinking Large Print

Readers of large print come in all ages and abilities. Large print is appealing because the font size, combined with more white space and anti-glare paper, reduces eye strain and helps with deep reading, comprehension, and fluency.

Who reads large print?

  • People of all ages, from young children to older adults;
  • People who are blind or partially sighted;
  • People who experience eye strain when reading regular print;
  • People with dyslexia and other learning disabilities;
  • Experienced readers as well as those learning to read;
  • Visual learners;
  • English language learners;
  • Children with new cochlear implants, who use large print in combination with audiobooks to learn to hear words;
  • and many more!

Large print is helpful to many different types of readers for many different reasons. And while they might prefer a large print format, they still want a wide variety of high quality, popular titles, just like any other reader.

Challenges of large print

  • Availability. About half of popular books are not published in large print, and only a few mid-list titles ever make it to large print.
  • Lag. With the exception of select popular titles, most large print books are published well after the regular hardcover edition.
  • Price. Large print books cost about 50 percent more than regular print due to their short publishing runs and binding requirements.
  • Size. Large print books are more difficult to carry because they tend to be bigger and heavier than regular print, although newer publications are smaller and less bulky.
  • Perception. Young people especially might feel there is a stigma associated with reading large print books.

Large Print and E-Readers

Readers who prefer their Kindles and other e-readers have the ability to increase the font size on their devices, which is a valuable feature. However, many people—including young people—still prefer reading in print, so it’s important to provide a variety of large print options for all ages. (Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, 5th ed.)

Colorado Talking Book Library

If you have patrons that would benefit from large print, please let them know about Colorado Talking Book Library (CTBL), a unique and valuable resource for people with visual, physical, and learning disabilities since 1932. It is part of a network of libraries across the country that partner with the Library of Congress to provide services to the print-disabled. Besides their extensive collection of audiobooks, they also house over 22,000 large print and 7,000 braille titles.

CTBL will be hosting its annual Patron Open House on Tuesday, July 12, 2016, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Please extend the invitation to your interested patrons. Attendees will have an opportunity to meet staff and local narrators, as well as tour the library. At 11:00 a.m. Cary Johnson, Director of Crime Prevention in the 1st District Attorney’s Office, will present the “Power Against Fraud Seminar.” Get more information from the official invitation.

CTBL patrons are passionate readers who are excited about large print services:

“Living in a rural area, there are a limited number of Large Print books available. To get these books in the mail is a great blessing. Currently, I am reading two books a week. -Can’t read small print.”

“Large print is critical & important to people w/ poor vision-who still have passion to read but not the eyes!”

“As I read up to two books a week I think this service is fantastic. It enables me to lead a normal life in spite of my vision problems.”

“I love getting my turquoise colored zipper bag and immediately seeing what’s inside! These books have been a blessing to me as I regain ability to follow a line of print and a line of thought. I need to have someone help me find the list of titles and authors you have because I know there’s much I could be enjoying. I appreciate individual attention-as soon as there is a new John Grisham book available, I receive it from you! Thank you so much!”

This post is part of the Spotlight on Sharing initiative, which aims to increase the visibility of resource sharing in Colorado libraries. How does YOUR library serve print-disabled patrons? Let us know by filling out this super short form. If you’re on Twitter, tweet @hitchlib or use the hashtag #spotlightonsharing.

Amy Hitchner
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