Here's the letter from the editor of Matilda Ziegler Magazine, which explains why Carrie was deserving of this award:
A Letter from the Editor
New York City
Dec. 21, 2006
Last September I asked Ziegler readers to nominate someone for our annual James H. Veale Humanitarian Award. This award, in the form of a plaque, recognizes a sighted person who has contributed to the well-being of blind people. In response to that request, I received three worthy nominations.
Earlier this month I presented the trio of nominees to the board of directors of the E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation for the Blind, which funds this magazine as well as eye research programs at universities across the United States. Although the members of our board were impressed with all three nominees, they awarded Carrie Karnos of Palo Alto, CA, the 2006 Veale Award for her work with an accessible online library called Bookshare.
According to the Bookshare.org Web site, a $25 initiation fee and a $50 annual subscription "gives patrons access to a library of more than 30,000 books and 150 newspapers. Bookshare's collection includes all the books that have appeared in the top 10 on The New York Times Best Sellers lists in fiction and nonfiction, hardback and paperback alike, from September 2005 through November 2006. These titles are available now for download by subscribers in both DAISY and BRF formats."
Working for an organization with a long, illustrious history, I am always curious about how other organizations got their start. I found Bookshare's interesting history on its Web site's About Us section:
"Benetech, a new kind of nonprofit enterprise, is sponsoring the Bookshare initiative. Benetech melds the mission and heart of social activism with the powerful methods and tools of the technology community. Benetech doesn't give technology away, but instead develops socially beneficial and affordable products and services that are not financially attractive to for-profit companies.
"Benetech's origins start with its Arkenstone project. In 1989, a group of visionary Silicon Valley engineers and executives asked themselves a profound question: `Why couldn't the far-reaching power of the PC with voice synthesis be combined with scanning technology to create a usable, affordable reading machine for the blind?' The market was small and for-profit companies were not interested. Benetech was formed as a nonprofit enterprise to bridge the gap between `the possible and profitable.'
"During Arkenstone's 11 years, Benetech sold literacy products under the Arkenstone brand in more than a dozen languages to over 35,000 individuals in 60 countries. The goal from the beginning was to empower people with vision and learning disabilities to use state-of-the-art technology to achieve independence and high performance in the workplace. During this time, 99 percent of the nonprofit's budget came from product sales.
"Today, Benetech has become one of the nation's most successful examples of high- technology social enterprises, using an innovative business model to achieve major social objectives in education, employment and independence. The Arkenstone product line was so successful that it was purchased by a for-profit company and was thereby assured expansion capital and sustainability. The income received from the sale of Arkenstone provided the core capital for Benetech and seed investment for Bookshare."
Now that I know more about Bookshare, it is easy to understand why Carrie Karnos would choose to help such an outstanding, unique organization. Lena Hinkle, a Ziegler reader from San Diego, CA, sent the letter nominating Ms. Karnos.
She wrote, "Carrie Karnos is a Bookshare.org volunteer who has given blind readers access to more than 2,000 books. What makes Bookshare unique is that this library is truly at our fingertips and lets its patrons keep their downloaded books that are in specialized formats. What makes Carrie unique is her dedication. Since retiring, she has donated time and energy and books to Bookshare so that all of us who cannot read print enjoy a wide variety of selections that are available nowhere else in accessible media.
"To submit a book to Bookshare, Carrie has to choose it, scan it, correct OCR (optical character recognition) errors, upload it to the Web site, and complete the donation process. Carrie does not just submit books she enjoys, she has committed herself to widening the scope of accessible books and has given the library old books as well as new books, bestsellers as well as patrons' requests, art books and history books, craft books and Latin books, lots of nonfiction, huge books and small books, mysteries and science fiction, reference as well as humor. Although children's books and Latin books present many difficulties to prepare, Carrie has donated many children's books and enough Latin books to get me through two years of college Latin.
"Every month, Carrie scans and proofs all of the books on The New York Times Best Sellers list, which sometimes is a lot of books. She also assists other Bookshare volunteers with their proofreading projects and spends time in the Bookshare office doing whatever needs to be done.
"My words do not begin to tell you how significant Carrie's contributions are to blind people. Notice that it is because of Carrie's work that almost 10 percent of Bookshare's library exists. She brings the printed word to students, teachers, other professionals and avid readers."
Ms. Hinkle concluded her letter of nomination with an eloquent entreaty. She wrote, "Please consider Carrie Karnos for this award. She truly is one of the great, quiet humanitarians who carry on Matilda Ziegler's legacy of literacy for those of us who are blind."
Ms. Hinkle's conclusion really resonated with me and the board members of the E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation. Congratulations to Carrie Karnos, recipient of the 2006 James H. Veale Humanitarian Award. Yours truly, Gregory Evanina Editor