Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) Frequently Asked Questions Illinois State Library
BARD is a free Braille and Audio Reading Download service for active Talking Book Patrons with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. The BARD website offers over 15,000 books and over 40 magazine titles are available, and more books are added weekly.
How do I register for BARD?
To register for a BARD login, you must first review the criteria for participation by reading the BARD application instructions and, if you qualify, request an account.
How do I get to the books and magazines?
Visit the BARD website to browse and download BARD materials. You must have received your BARD login to access this site—or browse and link through the main BARD NLS catalog. You will need high-speed Internet access for downloading.
What machines will play BARD materials?
You cannot play downloaded BARD materials on your computer. You must use an authorized player, either one from NLS provided by the library (the Standard or Advanced Model) or a compatible, commercial machine you've purchased and registered with BARD.
We do not sell or loan commercial machines. Further information about commercial players that are compatible for use with NLS digital talking books is available at the following URL:
What do I use to store the book or magazine?
When using the NLS Digital Book Player you may store the book or magazine on a NLS-Flash blank cartridge or a USB flash drive. If using a commercial machine, check the documentation for what type of storage media is used.
Blank NLS Digital Cartridge
- 1G; holds approximately 92 hours of NLS books.
- Requires a USB cable to connect to your computer.
- Advantages: Designed for NLS player; fits in cartridge slot; easier to insert/remove from machine.
- The NLS-blank cartridges are available by the following commercial vendors:
- Also called jump drive, thumb drive or travel drive.
- Fits in USB port on the side of the NLS machine.
- Some brands work better than others; look for those without built-in U3 software. Brands we have found to work include: Dane Elec, Verbatim, Lexar, Sony, PNY, Kingston.
- Look for 1G to 8G of memory; those with more memory may not work.
- Advantage: Available locally at most discount, electronic, or department stores; can be found for $10-$15; available in larger sizes that hold more books.
Can I store more than one book on the same cartridge, or flash drive?
Yes, you can access the Bookshelf feature on your NLS Digital Book Player by pressing and holding the Play/Stop key until it says Bookshelf, then using the FF and RW keys to move forward and backward between titles. When you reach the title you want, press Play.
How do I download books or magazines from BARD?
Downloading from BARD does require some basic computer skills, including navigating the Web, filling out online forms, downloading, unzipping, and transferring files. If you have experience with these processes downloading from BARD is not difficult.
Since computer software and configuration vary widely, as well as any screen readers or other assistive technologies you may be using, TBBS staff can offer limited download support. You may also read Downloading BARD Audio Books with Windows 7 provided by the New York State Library. Additionally, you may find it helpful to use your usual local technical supports, such as friend or family member, or other knowledgeable sources.
Is there a BARD Mobile app?
Yes, The BARD Mobile app is available as a free download for iOS devices on iTunes, and for Android devices on Google Play. If your device is connected to a refreshable braille display through Bluetooth, you can also read the braille materials available on BARD.
Before you can use the BARD Mobile app, you must be registered with a braille and talking-book library in the NLS network of cooperating libraries. Learn more about BARD Mobile.
What is BARD Express?
BARD Express is a free downloadable Windows-based software application designed to simplify searching for, downloading, and transferring audio titles from the BARD website to a cartridge or external USB flash drive for playback in a digital player.
BARD Express is available for use by eligible NLS patrons. You must have an established BARD account, with a user name and password, to use BARD Express. Learn more about BARD Express.
Where can I get help?
- BARD-specific questions may be answered by the BARD online instructions and FAQs, or if not, you may contact NLS at NLSDownload@loc.gov.
- Specific questions about your commercial machine may be answered by your machine’s user guide or information provided on the manufacturer’s website.
- For specific questions about the NLS Digital Talking Book Machine call us at 800−665−5576, ext. 1, or contact your local Talking Book Center.