Talking Book Center
The Alaska State Library Talking Book Center is a cooperative effort between the National Library Service and the Alaska State Library to provide Alaskans, who cannot read standard print, with talking books and Braille service.
If you know someone who can use this free reading program - someone temporarily or permanently unable to read standard print - you can help that person fill leisure hours, continue studies, or just keep in touch with the world.
Our talking books are available on loan with special playback equipment to eligible individuals. Any U.S. citizen or resident who cannot hold a book or read standard print can apply to borrow these materials. Books, magazines, and playback equipment are mailed postage-free directly to the borrower
The Talking Book Center is located in Anchorage at:
344 West 3rd Avenue, Suite 125
Anchorage, AK 99501-2337
toll-free (in-state only): 800.776.6566
Hours of Service are:
8:00am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday
All patrons are encouraged to visit the Library when they are in the Anchorage area.
Individuals qualify for service if they have a visual or physical disability that limits use of regular print.
Individuals may also qualify because of a reading disability which results from "organic dysfunction." For example, a person with dyslexia would qualify if that condition were severe enough to prevent the reading of regular print in a normal manner.
A medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy must sign applications for individuals with reading disability. This requirement can be confusing because individuals with reading disability are often evaluated by school psychologists.
Contact the Talking Book Center for more information.
The TBC serves only individuals who have applied for service and meet the eligibility requirements set by law.
The TBC will provide you with the necessary equipment to listen to books for as long as you want to use the program. You will be required to borrow at least one book per year from the TBC or subscribe to an NLS produced magazine in order to retain the use of our equipment
To get the best selection of books, use the catalog that you receive. If at any time there is a specific book that you would like to have sent, contact the TBC.
The loan period for all talking books is one month. If more time is needed to finish a book, you can keep it longer. Just remember, there are other readers who may be waiting for that book. If you find books stacking up and don't have the time to read them, return them to the TBC. They can always be sent to you again when you have more time.
Receiving and Returning Materials
All books and magazines are mailed to you postage-free and are returned to us postage-free. On the outside of the container there is a slot with a reversible mailing card. When you return a book, turn the mailing card over so that the TBC address is showing and put it in the mailbox.
If you receive a defective book, please make a note of it on the mailing card. When returning the book, check the box next to Damaged Book to let staff know that there is a problem.
The most popular option is turn-around service: you start with a specific number of books and as they are returned to the TBC, they are replaced to keep you at the same number of books.
Contact the TBC whenever you want to make any changes. Some of the more frequent changes made are:
- Quantity and frequency of books sent.
- Reading interests.
- Magazine subscription changes.
- Temporary change of address. The TBC will have books and magazines sent to a temporary address while you are on vacation.
- Permanent changes of address. Let us know your new address, so you continue to receive books. If you are moving out of state, the TBC will send your records to the new library that will serve you. You can even take your equipment with you.
- Hold service. If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time and do not want materials sent, the TBC will put your service on hold.
Digital books, magazines, and web Braille are now available for download free of charge from the BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. There are currently more than 20,000 digital books and over 40 magazines from which to choose.
Any active patron of the Talking Book Service is eligible. In order to participate, you must first fill out an online BARD application.
You will need an active email address and high-speed internet, as well as knowledge of downloading, unzipping, and transferring files to download books. Once books are downloaded, they can be stored on a flash drive. You can use your digital talking book player or you can buy a third-party digital book player to listen to these books. BARD digital books will not play on your computer or mp3 player.
If you have any questions about using BARD, please contact the TBC.
A free mobile application for the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) site was released in September 2013. The app can be downloaded onto an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch from the iTunes App Store by searching for "bardmobile."
To use the app, you will need to be registered to use BARD. If you do not have a BARD account, you can fill out an online application. If you are already registered and have forgotten your password, please contact the Center at 269-6575.
Once you download the app, you can instantly download and play books in audio and braille. An Android based app will be released in 2014.
While the app is Free, some data charges may apply if you use your data plan for downloading. You can choose to only download using Wi-Fi, by turning off the "Download over mobile network" setting in your BARD Mobile App User Account Settings menu.
All of the iOS devices have VoiceOver built in, which will read the screen aloud to you as you navigate the app. For those new to Voiceover, here is a great resource that will explain some of the gestures that you use to navigate your iOS device: http://accessibility.umn.edu/tl_files/accessibility/podcasts/gestures.pdf.
Online user guide:
A video introduction from NLS:
To search for books online, visit the National Library Service Online Catalog. When using the catalog, keep in mind the following book abbreviations: DB = Digital Book; BR = Braille; RC = Recorded Cassette. To see if a book is available locally, contact the TBC.
The TBC has a small collection of Large Print books to borrow. Look through the catalog and contact us to receive books.
A catalog, Talking Book Topics, is sent to patrons in the mail bimonthly. Talking Book Topics is an annotated, large print list of the newest books available to patrons. It can also be accessed in an audio version upon request.
Music is not available from the TBC.
However, there is a special music library maintained by NLS in Washington, DC. The collection contains music education materials and instruction such as:
- Braille - music scores and books about music
- Large print - music scores and books about music
- Audio self-instructional courses, books, and other materials
Please contact NLS directly by calling 800.424.8567 or emailing NLSM@loc.gov.
Why donate to the TBC? You can help the library serve others by making a donation. You can also remember a loved one who enjoyed services.
To make a donation, please:
- Make checks out to Alaska Library Network—ALN is a registered 501 (c) 3 so donations are tax deductible.
- Note on the check that the donation is for the Talking Book Center
- Indicate the name of your loved one if making a donation on her/his behalf
- Mail the check to:
Alaska Library Network
344 W. 3rd Ave # 125
Anchorage, AK 99501-2338
- Acknowledgments will be sent to all donors
Accessible Television Portal
This portal provides access to described educational television shows for students who have visual disabilities and captioned educational television shows for students who have hearing disabilities. Students with disabilities, family members, teachers, and other professionals qualify to borrow media through the mail or online through this Described and Captioned Media Program. Users must register online in order to access these materials.
Alaska Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired
The Center offers a wealth of resources including Low Vision Clinics, Vision Rehabilitation, Employment Placement and Public Benefits Counseling, the Visually Impaired Senior Alaskans program, Rural Outreach, and programs for Independent Youth.
Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation webpage offers a listing of available services from the division as well as an evaluative listing of key, online, disability resources.
Assistive Technologies of Alaska (ATLA)
Assistive Technologies of Alaska is concerned with getting technology into the hands of people with disabilities so they might live, work, and be a part of their community more independently.
A fee-based service that offers unlimited access to accessible books, textbooks, newspapers and magazines. Individuals can sign up for membership and access the library on their own. Organizations can sign up and provide access to their students or clients.
Bookshare Free Subscription for One Year
If your library is a member of Listen Alaska, you may be eligible for a free subscription for one year to Bookshare. This will allow you to download 20 items per month for 12 months from a catalog of over 60,000 books, magazines and newspapers. Go to the Accessible eBooks link at http://listenalaska.lib.overdrive.com/DFA2A617-275D-4269-A7DE-6C1D9B0E8A58/10/50/en/Default.htm with your public library card to sign up for service.
A fee-based, non-profit group that provides audio textbooks to students with learning disabilities and visual impairments. Check with your school to see if it has an institutional membership.
Check out free, downloadable audiobooks and e-books to your computer or supported devices – contact the TBC for your patron ID to start borrowing books.