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“Browsealoud provides accessibility to users who would not ordinarily be able to use it, as well as a vastly improved user experience for those who would otherwise have difficulties.

The translation options Browsealoud offers are far more varied than our system provider supports, which is a huge benefit for our diverse service area. Patrons and staff alike sing its praises due to the intelligible design and breadth of features. At this point, I can’t imagine an online catalogue experience without it!”

- Phillip Berg, Executive Director, Morris Automated Information Network

New Jersey library consortium turns a new page with Browsealoud


Morris Automated Information Network (MAIN) is...


a consortium of 38 public libraries located in Morris, Somerset and Warren Counties in New Jersey. MAIN’s goal is to provide high quality, cost effective shared services to member libraries for their communities.
 
Together, MAIN libraries help more than half a million residents of all ages – from youngsters and families to senior citizens – enjoy a rich spectrum of resources. Patrons can explore over 2.8 million items including eBooks, eAudiobooks, Blu-rays and DVDs, music, museum passes, video games – and of course books. Libraries also serve as a social hub for their local communities, offering space for public meetings, research, lectures and classes, cultural events, exhibitions and more.
 
MAIN was established in 1980 to oversee the automation of local library systems. Over time, it’s evolved into a full-fledged public library consortium. Run as a non-profit organisation, it offers member libraries cost-sharing opportunities, automation services and technical support to make efficient use of citizens’ tax contributions.
 

A tech trailblazer


MAIN was one of the first library networks in the US to digitise its antiquated card catalogue. Initially, electronic records were available exclusively to library staff. Over time, this was opened up as a public resource – and today online catalogues are ubiquitous in libraries around the world.
 
MAIN’s ‘shop window’ is its online catalogue that can be browsed by patrons on PCs or mobile devices – either at home or in library branches. Online requests are often satisfied by reciprocal borrowing arrangements, where physical items held by one library are transported for users to collect at their own local library location.
 
“As a public service provider, our mission is to serve the whole community – and accessibility is a really big component of that” notes Phillip Berg, Executive Director, Morris Automated Information Network.  “Libraries make all kinds of physical provisions for visitors, from wheelchair ramps to lifts and handrails. Ensuring equality of digital access is just as important.”
 
Catalogue users can face a wide range of challenges, as Phillip explains: “A typical patron might be an older individual whose eyeglass prescription isn’t quite up to date: they can often find reading on-screen text difficult. Equally, we have patrons for whom English isn’t their first language.”
 

To boost website accessibility


And to meet its statutory compliance obligations as a public body – MAIN has recently implemented Browsealoud from Texthelp. Adding Browsealoud lets site visitors hear on-screen text read aloud in a choice of natural, easy-to-understand voices with ‘read along’ text highlights for extra support. Non-native English speakers can hear pages translated into different languages. And for readers with dyslexia and other visual impairments, there’s a handy screen masking function and text magnifier to improve on-screen readability.
 
Replacing MAIN’s previous web accessibility solution – while adding extra functionality – Browsealoud has rapidly found favour with patrons and library workers alike.
 
“MAIN is thrilled to have Browsealoud seamlessly integrated into our library system’s online catalogue” confirms Phillip. “Implementation was smooth and easy, with no issues for us and great support at all times from Texthelp.”
 
“Browsealoud provides accessibility to users who would not ordinarily be able to use it, as well as a vastly improved user experience for those who would otherwise have difficulties. The translation options Browsealoud offers are far more varied than our system provider supports, which is a huge benefit for our diverse service area. Patrons and staff alike sing its praises due to the intelligible design and breadth of features. At this point, I can’t imagine an online catalogue experience without it!”
 
Follow MAIN on Twitter @mainlibnj

For more information on how Browsealoud can help your library services, visit our library page