Librarian of Congress James H. Billington recently announced the appointment of Karen A. Keninger as director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), effective March 26, 2012. Keninger succeeds Frank Kurt Cylke, who retired from federal service on February 28, 2011.
"Ms. Keninger's qualifications and experience are superb for this position," said Billington in announcing the appointment. "She has demonstrated leadership and strategic thinking throughout her career." Since 2008, Keninger has been the director of the Iowa Department for the Blind, a leading provider in the United States of vocational rehabilitation and independent-living programs and library services for blind and visually impaired individuals. Keninger was selected from an impressive pool of candidates following an extensive search process that began last year.
"Keninger is no stranger to the NLS program," Billington noted. "She is a highly respected administrator and a leader in the NLS library network." As director of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped for eight years, from 2000-2008, Keninger managed the statewide library program, the machine-lending agency, instructional materials center, braille production, and audio production units. Keninger's initiatives included the planning and implementation of a new, in-house digital recording program with a state-of-the-art recording studio and a corps of volunteers to expand and transform the state's audio-production program.
"Keninger has a proven track record of collaboration and innovation," said Billington. She served on the Digital Long-Term Planning Group established by NLS in 2001 to guide planning for the now successfully completed digital talking book transition, and on the successor Digital Transition Advisory Committee. She led the transition in Iowa from analog to digital talking books and players and was successful in securing funds for the digital conversion of locally-produced talking books. She is a daily user of the full range of information technologies for the blind and visually impaired, including Web-Braille, digital talking book machines and books, and online download services.
Throughout her career, Keninger has established and maintained effective working relationships with a broad range of individuals and organizations at the national, state, and local levels. Keninger was elected 2012 president of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind. From 2002-2008, she served as chair of the Consortium of User Libraries.
Keninger holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Drake University in Iowa and a master's degree in English, business and technical writing from Iowa State University. She completed graduate courses in library and information science at the University of Iowa.
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) in the Library of Congress administers the talking-book and braille program, a free library service available to residents of the United States and its territories and American citizens living abroad whose low vision, blindness, or physical handicap makes reading regular print difficult. Through its national network of regional libraries, NLS mails digital audio players and books and magazines -- in audio and in braille -- directly to enrollees at no cost. Music instructional materials are available in large-print, braille, and recorded formats. Select materials are also available online for download. More information is available at www.loc.gov/nls or 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).