Library Blog: State Library offers Talking Books and BARD

Ben Loftis Contributing Columnist

January 7, 2014

Recently, I discussed the State Library’s ebrary catalog of online reference materials and books. This week, I am going to write about another State Library service — Talking Books. Talking Books is a program for those with physical disabilities that prevent them from reading traditional printed materials. Individuals eligible for the service may have visual problems such as blindness, legal blindness, or low vision, as well as individuals with physical disabilities such as missing arms or hands, lack of muscle coordination, prolonged weakness, or physically-based reading disabilities such as dyslexia.

Talking Books provides those meeting the criteria with books and magazines in non-traditional formats which are more usable for its patrons. Special formats include large print and braille books, as well as digital cartridges (for a variety of logistical reasons including durability, Talking Books utilizes digital cartridges or audio cassettes instead of CDs). Patrons of Talking Books receive a bimonthly and annual catalog of available titles, and a catalog can also be found at the State Library’s website. Most materials are loaned for 30 days, though no fines are charged.

Recently, Talking Books has also made an online service available called BARD, the Braille and Audio Reading Download. BARD allows users to download audio and braille books to a home computer and then listen to them on an authorized Talking Book player or send them to a Braille display. BARD also features a mobile application called BARD Mobile which can be used on iOS devices to download material to those devices. BARD is open to users of Talking Books Services who are in good standing.

Talking Books provides a much more extensive collection of large print and audio titles than is available locally, though UCCL does maintain a collection of large print titles and audio books on CD, and will continue to grow that collection. Patrons interested in using Talking Books services can complete an application at UCCL, at the State Library, or online through the Talking Books website (http://www.statelibrary.sc.gov/Talking-Book-Services/). They can be reached by phone at 1-800-922-7818 or on their local number at 803-734-4611. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can reach Talking Books at 711-734-4611. Volunteer opportunities are also available with Talking Books.