Helen K. Bailey

Master of Science in Information Studies
Certificate of Advanced Study in Library and Archives Conservation
University of Texas at Austin, School of Information

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Braille Preservation Survey

This research survey was conducted in the fall of 2007 as a term project for the graduate course INF 392E: Technology and Structure of Records Materials, instructed by Karen Pavelka at the University of Texas at Austin School of Information.


Braille books are, in essence, no different than the printed books from which they are transcribed.  They contain the same words and convey the same meaning.  The only difference between a Braille book and its printed counterpart is textual three-dimensionality.  This may seem like a small difference, but it is vital to its blind readers, for whom three-dimensionality is necessary for comprehension.  For the field of library professionals, however, three-dimensional text creates concerns not seen in ordinary, flat-printed books.  These problems begin with materials and manufacture and continue through housing, shelving, handling, damage and repair.  

This paper will explore the issues regarding the preservation of Braille documents.  In addition to a review of the electronic and print resources on the subject, a survey was conducted to determine the actual issues faced by librarians in the housing and maintenance of Braille documents.  A link to the survey is listed in the bibliography, and a printed summary of the survey results can be provided upon request. 

The paper is divided into six parts, the first two being a history of Braille and an overview of the methods and materials used in the manufacture of Braille books.  There is a section on potential issues in Braille preservation, followed by the survey results which give testimony to some of the actual problems currently seen in libraries housing Braille documents.  The final section discusses the current practices for preservation of Braille books, and the conclusion suggests topics for further research in the area of Braille preservation.

Download a PDF of the full survey report.

© 2008, Helen Kuncicky Bailey. Creative Commons License Updated April 25 , 2010.