Materials and Equipment Illinois State Library
Through the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), the Talking Book and Braille Service has compiled a collection of over 100,000 titles. The collection includes a variety of popular interest writings such as bestsellers, classics, mysteries, romance, biographies, inspirational, children’s books, and foreign language materials. These books and magazines are provided in a range of formats including cassettes, braille, and descriptive video. If a particular item that has been requested is not available in Illinois, it may be obtained elsewhere through interlibrary loan.
Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD)
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. There are over 40,000 books, magazines, and music scores in audio and braille formats available for download from the site, with new selections added frequently.
Our collection of talking books includes over 84,000 titles. New titles are announced in Talking Book Topics, a bimonthly publication of the NLS.
More than 15,400 Braille books are currently available. Adult and juvenile titles are available through a the Utah State Library Program for the Blind and Disabled. Braille Book Review lists and describes the newest books in Braille from NLS.
Magazines are circulated by mail, but some are available to eligible readers for download in e-braille or audio format from the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service at https://nlsbard.loc.gov. Some titles may also be available in large print or press braille.
Descriptive videos are enhanced with narration that describes the actions, settings, gestures, and other key visual elements.
Old Time Radio Shows
Old-Time Radio Shows are available to all patrons of the Talking Book Centers in Illinois. These are commercial tapes and play at 1 7/8 speed on the C-1 machine or on a regular cassette player. They do not play on an E-1 machine. The catalog is organized by artist and the tape numbers are listed within that artist. Many of the radio shows are parts of sets or collections. Frequently certain shows are repeated within several collections so it is possible to receive duplicate episodes of many shows.
In order to play talking books, the National Library Service (NLS) provides free audio book players to active patrons. Upon registration, a playback machine will be assigned to you from the Illinois Sub-machine Lending Agency. For more information, you may call them at 800−455−2665. It may take up to 7−10 days to receive your player.
If you subscribe to magazines or read older titles, a cassette player will be issued to you. A cassette player is not necessary if you read current popular titles.
The C-1 cassette player plays recordings at commercial speed and half commercial speed. NLS distributes its talking books on standard audio cassettes designed to play at half commercial speed and using four tracks. The C-1 side- and speed-selector switches enable readers to play cassettes created with the standard, commercial configuration as well as the NLS talking-book configuration. The C-1 player is shipped with a fully charged, rechargeable nickel-cadmium battery that will operate the player for about six hours after being fully charged. Talking book cassette machines do NOT record.
Digital Talking Book Machine
Digital books are distributed on flash memory cartridges about the size of a cassette tape that slots into the front of the player. Digital books from NLS are also available for download from Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD). A digital talking book machine (DTBM) is required to play the flash memory cartridges, as well as audio downloads from BARD.
The digital talking book machine (DTBM) is smaller and lighter than the cassette player, weighing approximately two pounds. Each machine is powered by a rechargeable battery that will play for 35 hours on one charge. The machine can also tell you how much playing time remains.
NLS is producing two machines to take full advantage of digital technology: the standard player and the advanced player. The standard machine has eight controls for the basic operations for listening to a book, and is best suited for those who read mainly fiction. The advanced player has some additional features and controls, designed to be useful when reading nonfiction materials. Both players support digital audio files including MAR-WB+, MP3 and WAV.
Additional Information About Playback Equipment