Accessible books

Digital service for visually impaired

The Finnish special library Celia

The Internet as an alternative to CDs

The Finnish state-owned special library Celia provides literature (fiction, non-fiction and educational texts) in accessible formats to those who are unable to read standard, printed books. The texts are available as accessible books, e-books or in Braille. In 2016 over 30.000 individuals used Celia’s services, with subscribers loaning up to a million publications annually.

In 2008 Celia started to investigate and test various alternatives for the distribution of accessible books over the Internet. Prior to this, subscribers reserved books online via Celia’s webpage, which were then distributed through the mail in the form of CDs or cassette tapes.

Celia sought an online distribution system that could be integrated into its already existing library system, through which the administration of subscribers, audio material, etc. and lending was organized.

Graphical overview of the integration of the Pratsam and Celia systems

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Immediate availability

In 2009 the Pratsam system was integrated into the Celia system and the new system taken into use. The introduction of the new system occurred at the same time that Celia digitalized its entire analogue library; numbered at the time as 28.000 accessible publications (now over 40.000).

In the initial version, the new online service streamed accessible books to a Pratsam software program called PuhElias Reader, used with Microsoft Windows. One advantage of continuous streaming was that a subscriber could start to listen to a text immediately after it had been borrowed.

Today, the software program is called Pratsam Reader Win and, in addition to other various improvements, now also supports the DAISY Online standard.

The first supplied DAISY Online system

In 2011, Celia’s online distribution system entered a second phase of development. During this second phase, the international DAISY Online protocol was supported and Pratsam thereby became the first in the world to deliver a supplied solution using the new standard.

During a third phase of development, Celia together with Pratsam launched the Vera service, which included a player for direct playback using a web browser (Pratsam Reader Web) and which could also be used to download accessible books with audio watermarks (the audio watermarking technology was developed by Pratsam). Following these improvements, the online use of Celia’s services has increased by 50 % each year.

Substantial cost savings

Since Pratsam’s distribution solutions and DAISY players for computer and mobile devices have been supplied, more and more Celia subscribers have switched from borrowing CDs to digital distribution. In 2016 online users increased from 27 to 39 percent of all users. This in turn has led to substantial savings for the library, in regard to copying and postage costs.

Scalability and high-quality security

During autumn 2015, Celia introduced a Pratsam Reader App to subscribers that could be used with iOS or Android mobile devices. Over the space of one and a half months, 1.000 subscribers downloaded the Pratsam Reader App.

Thanks to its new online services, Celia’s total number of subscribers increased by 12 percent during 2016, and the number of online users reached 11.586 in total by December.

An impartial, third party has evaluated the security of the online services available through Celia (provided by Pratsam) and determined that they are of a high quality and secure.