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Machine assists in reading for those with low vision

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Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

For people with vision problems, Aladdin may be able to grant them their wish - reading the newspaper.

An Aladdin machine, produced by Telesensory, assists those with low vision by magnifying the print in a newspaper, magazine or book as it displays the words in much-larger type on a screen similar to a computer monitor.

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An Aladdin machine was recently installed at the Kitchigami Regional Library in Bemidji.

"The enlarging device is just a wondering tool," said Branch Manager Paul Ericsson.

The Aladdin is now set up near the back of the library near its display of periodicals such as magazines and newspapers.

Those with low vision often have a hard time reading such materials because of their fine print, Ericsson said.

The Aladdin basically functions as a large magnifying glass - but it comes with some handy features. While it typically displays large, black words on a standard white background, with a quick turn of a knob, one could choose to make the font white and the background black. Or orange, blue, red, green, etc. The same can be done with the color of the font.

It works faster than a computer. While reading a newspaper, for instance, the reader would just glide the paper upward as he or she reads further down its columns. The words are displayed nearly instantaneously.

The Aladdin was donated to the Kitchigami Regional Library System by a Longville woman, Ericsson said.

"It's a great service we can provide," Ericsson said. "We are very appreciative to the patron who donated it."

Ericsson is now spreading the word about the library's latest acquisition. On Tuesday he made a presentation regarding the Aladdin and other library services to the Bemidji City Council. He also has brought it along with him to a pancake breakfast.

The Aladdin adds to the library's existing materials for the low vision and blind, Ericsson said.

"When you think of a public library, you think of reading, but for people whose vision is a challenge, that doesn't mean the library isn't open to them," Ericsson said on Tuesday,

The Bemidji library already offers racks full of large-print books and books on cassette and CD.

"For some people, these are for them really the only way they can read," he said.

Its large-print collection features permanent placements and also a rotating collection of large-print books from the Kitchigami Regional Library System.

While the library already offers books on both CD and cassette, the library also plans to soon have downloadable books available for MP3 players, Ericsson said.

For those seeking a specific large-print book or book on tape, if the Bemidji library does not have it, chances are good that staff can find it, Ericsson said.

The Bemidji branch is connected with the other branches within the KRLS and can search for materials at other sites. Also, most library systems in the state are connected through MnLINK, the Minnesota Library Information Network. Patrons may go to a local branch or online and search for the materials they are seeking, directing them to be sent to their local library, Ericsson said.

The Kitchigami Regional Library in Bemidji is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Its Web site is krls.org/branches/branch_bj.html.

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