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Talking Book Center

What We Can Do for You

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.

Promotional Documents

Contact Information

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].

Utah State Library Logo

To request books or magazines, replace broken listening machines, ask reference questions, and get help with digital, BARD, Braille and large print library materials.

AK Talking Books Logo

For general questions about talking book services and for prospective patrons to apply for library services.

Eligibility Requirements

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.

Application for Service

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.

Word application PDF Application


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.

How to Order Books

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
  • 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.

Loan Period

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.

Receiving and Returning Materials

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.

Type of Service

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.

Changes in Service

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.

Download Books Directly from BARD

BARD logo

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


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


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
    PO Box 110571
    Juneau, AK 99811

Other Resources

Alaska Resources

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 Commission on Aging
The mission of the Alaska Commission on Aging is to ensure the dignity and independence of all older Alaskans, and to assist them to lead useful and meaningful lives through planning, advocacy, education, and interagency cooperation.

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.

Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education
The Council serves as the interdepartmental planning/coordinating agency of the Department of Health and Social Services, the Department of Education and Early Development, and other departments which deliver services to people with disabilities or provide special education and is Alaska's planning council for purposes of federal laws relating to disabilities and special education.

Alaska Digital Library
Check out free, downloadable audiobooks and e-books to your computer or supported devices — contact the Alaska Talking Book Center for your patron ID to start borrowing books.

Special Education Services Agency
We provide assistance to Alaskan school districts and early intervention programs serving students with low incidence disabilities. SESA is an educational service agency comprised of a core low incidence disability service inclusive of a statewide lending library. Low incidence disabilities include autism, hearing impairment, vision impairment, emotional disabilities and multiple disabilities.

State Vocational Rehabilitation Committee
The board promotes employment of people with disabilities by creating statewide interest in the rehabilitation/employment of people with disabilities.

Statewide Independent Living Council
The Council develops and submits the state plan required in Section 704 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Members monitor, review, and evaluate the implementation of the state plan and coordinate activities with the State Vocational Rehabilitation Committee and other councils that address the needs of specific disability populations.

National Resources

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.

Information and assistance on the Americans with Disability Act from the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.

American Council of the Blind

The American Council of the Blind strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and quality of life, for all blind and visually-impaired people.

Apple Accessibility

Apple products are simple, intuitive, and easy to use. And to help you do more in more ways, a variety of award-winning assistive technologies come standard. So every device not only has accessible features — but accessible principles – built right in.

Be My Eyes App

Be My Eyes makes life easier for people who are blind by connecting them with sighted helpers through a smartphone app. Through a direct video call, the app gives blind people the opportunity to ask a sighted volunteer for help with tasks that require normal vision. The sighted helper is able to see and describe what the blind person is showing the sighted helper by filming with the video camera in the smartphone. Hans Jørgen Wiberg, who is visually impaired himself, came up with the idea for the application. The app launched January 15, 2015.


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 Alaska Digital Library, 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 with your public library card to sign up for service.

Family Connect

On FamilyConnect, you'll find videos, personal stories, events, news, and an online community that can offer tips and support from other parents of children who are blind or visually impaired.

Learning Ally

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.

Microsoft Accessibility

Includes: Accessibility Features in Microsoft Products; Accessibility Tutorials; Accessibility Demonstrations; Assistive Technology Products for Windows; and Accessibility Guides for Businesses, Educators, Government Organizations, and Individuals with Disabilities

National Federation of the Blind

Resources for the blind: services, technology news, visual aids and research information.

Trace Center

Founded in 1971, Trace has been a pioneer in the field of technology and disability. Its mssion is: “To prevent the barriers and capitalize on the opportunities presented by current and emerging information and telecommunication technologies, in order to create a world that is as accessible and usable as possible for as many people as possible.”

US DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy

Promoting policies and coordinating with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities.

Vision Aware

If you have just begun to deal with vision loss, you probably have many questions, frustrations and even fears. VisionAware was created to help you answer those questions, and cope with those frustrations.

Vision Connect

VisionConnect is a new, free, accessible app for iPhones and iPads from the American Foundation for the Blind that gives support to people losing their vision. VisionConnect provides: a directory of services searchable by service, zip code, and distance; resources and tips for living independently with a visual impairment; links to useful information on VisionAware, FamilyConnect, and CareerConnect; information on products and technology; and personal stories and employment advice. Learn more about the AFB VisionConnect™ App or download:


We have web accessibility in mind. Our mission is to empower organizations to make their web content accessible to people with disabilities.

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:

Funding Support

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Alaska State Library under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.

Institute of Museum and Library Services