The Communication Center of State Services for the Blind is a special library and transcription service providing reading material in alternate formats to citizens of Minnesota who have difficulty reading standard print.
The Communication Center produces a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction books on tape or in braille for individuals, schools, colleges, universities, businesses, government agencies and non-profit organizations.
In addition, the Center is host to the Radio Talking Book Network, the first Radio Reading Service in the world which presents readings from newspapers, magazines, current best-selling books, radio shows on blindness, technology, and independent living accessed by special closed-circuit radios, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The RTB is also streamed on the web. Further, the Communication Center is a "Machine Lending Agency" in Minnesota, for the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped program, lending cassette and phonograph talking book machines to eligible customers.
The organization also offers a Dial-In News service which enables users to access three newspapers using a touch tone phone. This access has been extended to the World Wide Web as well. The Center is also the sponsoring organization for NFB Newsline in Minnesota.
The Center has embarked on a multi-year upgrade and expansion program called the "21st Century Plan". Among other things, this 2.8 million dollar project will replace the Center's analog recording and distribution systems, along with its closed-circuit radio reading service and dial-up telephone newspaper reading service, with a state-of-the-art digital infrastructure. This infrastructure includes a high-speed internal network, 7 terabytes of online book storage, backup of all books to CDROM, digital workstations in 20 recording booths, 100 digital home recording workstations, a duplication system which can produce either analog cassette tapes or DAISY-compatible CDs, downloadable and/or streaming audio via the Internet, and more. The recording software the Center will use is being developed in-house, and by mid to late 2006, the center should be recording books and other materials in DAISY 3, the ANSI/NISO Z39.86 2002 standard. The Center records approximately 1000 textbooks per year for Minnesota students, as well as approximately 250 leisure-reading books per year, which are originally produced for the closed-circuit radio reading service, the Radio Talking Book Network, are now offered via the Minnesota Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and available to other NLS regional libraries.