Talking Book Center
The Alaska State Library Talking Book Center is a cooperative effort between the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the Alaska State Library, and the Utah 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.
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 Alaska State Library Talking Book Center and the Utah State Library Program for the Blind and Disabled work together to serve you. Contact information listed below or download our contact flyer [PDF].
To request books or magazines, replace broken listening machines, ask reference questions, and get help with digital, BARD, Braille and large print library materials.
Individuals qualify for service if they have a visual or physical disability that limits use of regular print. Contact the Alaska Talking Book Center for more information.
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.
The Alaska Talking Book Center serves only individuals who have applied for service and meet the eligibility requirements set by law. All new applications for talking book service must be submitted to the Alaska State Library for approval.
The Utah State Library Program for the Blind and Disabled will provide you with the necessary equipment to listen to books for as long as you want to use the program. You are required to borrow at least one book per year or subscribe to a magazine produced by the National Library Service for the Blind or Handicapped in order to retain use of our equipment.
You have three different ways to identify books you may want to read. When using these resources, keep in mind the following book abbreviations: DB = Digital Book; BR = Braille; RC = Recorded Cassette.
- Search Utah’s Online Catalog–KLAS at blindlibrary.utah.gov
- Search the National Library Service Online Catalog
- Review the annual printed catalog of books or Talking Book Topics, a bi-monthly list of new books that is sent to patrons in the mail. Talking Book Topics is an annotated, large print list of the newest books available to patrons. You can also request an audio version of Talking Book Topics.
The loan period for all talking books is eight weeks. 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 the books to Utah. You can always request these books again when you have more time.
All books and magazines are mailed to you postage-free and are returned to Utah 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 Utah 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 these books are returned to Utah, they are replaced to keep you at the same number of books.
Contact Utah whenever you want to make changes to the materials you receive. Changes may include:
- Quantity and frequency of books sent.
- Reading interests.
- Magazine subscription changes.
- Equipment malfunctions. If your listening machine is not working or will not hold a battery charge, please contact the Utah State Library Program for the Blind and Disabled to request a replacement machine.
- Temporary change of address. Utah can send books and magazines to a temporary address while you are on vacation.
- Hold service. If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time and do not want materials sent, Utah will put your service on hold.
- Permanent changes of address. Let us know your new address, so you continue to receive books. If you are moving out of Alaska, Utah will send your records to the new library that will serve you. You can even take your equipment with you.
- If you need help with your listening equipment or replacement equipment.
You're always welcome to contact Alaska if you have any questions or concerns about your service.
Digital books, magazines, and web Braille are now available for download free of charge from the BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website to your iPhone or Android device. There are currently more than 25,000 digital books and over 40 magazines from which to choose.
All active patrons are eligible. Please contact Utah for details about how to access the BARD program or search http://blindlibrary.utah.gov/bard.html.
Music is not available from the Alaska or Utah Talking Book Centers. However, there is a special music library maintained by the National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Physically Handicapped 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 Alaska Talking Book Center? You can help the library serve others by making a donation. You can also remember a loved one who enjoyed services. Acknowledgments will be sent to all donors.
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
395 Whittier Street
Juneau, AK 99801
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Products and Services
Any mention of products and services in this list is for information only and does not imply endorsement by the Alaska State Library Talking Book Center.