Katherine Rodda currently has worked as a Music Reader Services Librarian at the National Library Service for the Blind (NLS) in the Library of Congress since 2015. Before this, she has worked as a Reference Librarian with NLS, and was selected as a 2012 Junior Fellow for the Recorded Sound section at the National Audio Visual Conservation Center in the Library of Congress. Katie holds a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the Catholic University of America, a Master’s degree in music theory from Temple University, and a Bachelor’s degree in trombone performance from Gettysburg College.
Donna Koh worked as a Music Reader Services Librarian at the National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Print Disabled for almost four years. During her tenure in the music section, she published several blogs about braille music and how to help blind and visually impaired music students learn. Recently, she published an article in the Music Reference Services Quarterly titled Music Catalog for Blind and Visually Impaired Patrons. Donna and her colleague Katie Rodda have presented about digitizing braille music at several archiving conferences and about working with blind and visually impaired students at the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) conference this spring. Donna earned a Doctorate and a Master’s degree in Piano Performance from Temple University, and a Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Maryland. She currently works as the Overseas Librarian at NLS.
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How would you help students with visual impairments who cannot use print music in your library? Where would you find accessible materials that help instructors work with blind music students? As a music librarian, are you familiar with resources for blind and visually impaired students who are pursuing a degree in music? At the Music Section at the National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Print Disabled, we provide music reader services to patrons who are blind or have low vision. We have accessible books and recordings to help these patrons read, write, study, and enjoy music. We also work with college music librarians and professors in providing instrumental and vocal scores, theory books, and anthologies so that their students can better participate in their coursework, school performances, and in their preparation to be professional musicians. In our presentation, we will offer guidance for working with blind students, including discussions about braille music code, books that teach braille music reading, the NLS braille music collection, and other tools and resources that can help students with visual impairments learn. We will also go over some common challenges and pitfalls instructors and librarians face while working with this group of students. Librarians who are familiar with these resources and how to best serve this population will play a vital role in helping these students successfully complete their education and grow into competent professionals.