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AWS Foundation has awarded $100,000 to the Allen County Public Library’s Audio Reading Service (ARS) to support a digital upgrade of the ARS recording studios.

The grant will fund the majority of the $130,000 estimated total project cost which will upgrade the nearly twenty-year-old studios from analog to digital. The planned improvements will increase the quality and scope of ARS productions while ushering in time-saving automations that will increase staff capacity for new project development.

ARS currently provides audio access for people who have disabilities that prevent them from reading printed material. This includes people with blindness, low vision, visual processing disorder, learning disabilities, and physical disabilities that make it difficult to hold or comprehend print materials. More than 100 local volunteers provide live and recorded readings of the Journal Gazette, area newspapers, grocery ads, sports, obituaries, area events, and a variety of regional and national magazines. ARS reaches more than 1,500 rural and urban listeners in Allen County and throughout northeast Indiana through radio and television broadcasts and digital streaming services.

“It is just so exciting to see the community, through AWS Foundation, invest in this critical resource,” said Georgean C. Johnson-Coffey, Manager of ARS. “This upgrade is going to let us do our work better, easier, and further into the future. We are so grateful to AWS Foundation for supporting this work and seeing the value in our service!”

The ACPL sought the grant opportunity upgrade from analog to digital given the timing of some planned studio upgrades to the facility itself. Planned upgrades were needed to ensure a safe future work environment for volunteers and staff in the current ARS facilities, so it was decided that this would be the appropriate time to make the move to digital as well. The significant cost, however, necessitated outside funding, so ACPL leadership decided to apply for its first grant through AWS Foundation.

“When we learned that AWSF’s mission is to help individuals ‘engage fully and meaningfully in all aspects of community life’ we felt it could be a good match to ARS’s unique purpose and funding needs,” said ACPL Executive Director Susan P. Baier. “The daily work of ARS is to remove barriers to reading local print news, event information, stories, and more in order to keep people connected to their community.”

The ACPL received notification of the award in late August. Renovations are scheduled to begin in late 2023.

“ACPL branches work to be accessible to all but sometimes it isn’t possible to travel to one of the many locations,” says Patti Hays, AWSF CEO. “ARS can provide information, entertainment, and a wide range of timely publications to those with disabilities. Whether a disability is temporary or enduring, ARS helps everyone in Allen County stay connected. AWSF is pleased to help ensure those services for years to come.”

For more information about the ACPL’s Audio Reading Service, contact (260) 421-1376 or



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