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Services Provided

What Services are Provided?


Reading Material:

The Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL) provides books and magazines in two formats: braille and audio recorded books. The collection numbers about 200,000 items and over 40,000 different titles. Bestsellers, romances, mysteries, classics, sports and travel are just a few of the many subject areas to choose from. Materials are available for adults, young adults and children. WTBBL also lends audio-described DVDs.

Equipment and Accessories:

The library provides playback machines as well as accessories for the machines to include lightweight headphones, a pillow speaker, adapters for commercial USB flash drives, and a breath switch.


Catalogs and announcements of new books are mailed to readers in two formats (audio and braille). "Talking Book Topics" and "Braille Book Review" are bimonthly publications that inform patrons of new acquisitions and related library services. The majority of patrons choose to have the library "autoselect" their reading materials, based on a profile they set up. Many patrons use a mixture of autoselect and requests. 

Reaching Out:

Patrons of the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library receive a quarterly newsletter, "The Bulletin Board," which provides features, announcements, resources and updates. 

If you would like a WTBBL representative to make a presentation about the Talking Books program or to exhibit at a low vision, adaptive technology or other related fair or show, please call the Outreach Librarian at (414) 286-6918 (Milwaukee area) or (800) 242-8822 (toll-free within Wisconsin), or send an email to

What is the Cost of the Service?

All books, equipment and services, including the mailing of materials, are free to people who cannot see or handle printed materials. Telephone service in the state of Wisconsin is also free, using the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library's toll-free number (800) 242-8822. Reading materials, machines and accessories are all sent via United States Postal System at no cost to people in the program.

Library Service Is Local

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), Library of Congress, works with a network of regional and subregional libraries to provide a free library service to individuals who are unable to read or use regular printed material because of a visual or physical disability. Braille and talking books and magazines are circulated to eligible readers by postage-free mail and are returned the same way.

Building on the basic collection of audio and braille titles that NLS provides, WTBBL and other cooperating libraries, frequently add books and magazines of local interest. The titles are available by looking at the WTBBL WebOPAC or the NLS Voyager catalog or by reading the WTBBL Bulletin Board newsletter

Throughout the year, a telephone book discussion group for adults in held. During the summer, WTBBL offers reading programs for all ages.

Book Collection

Books are selected for the NLS collection on the basis of their appeal across a wide range of interests. Best sellers, biographies, fiction works, and how-to books are in great demand. The collection includes books in Spanish and titles in other languages.

Books for youths — from preschool to young adult — are available in audio, braille, and print/braille formats.

Registered borrowers learn of new books added to the collection through two bimonthly publications, Braille Book Review and Talking Book Topicsand the International Language Quarterly. The NLS book collection and other resources from cooperating agencies are listed in the NLS Union Catalog, which is searchable at


Magazines are selected for the program based on demonstrated reader interest. NLS produces more than 45 audio and more than 30 braille magazine titles. Readers may subscribe to such titles as People, National Geographic, and Consumer Reports in audio and ESPN The Magazine and the New York Times Large Print Weekly in braille. Magazines for children are also available.

Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) and BARD Mobile App

BARD is a web-based, password-protected service that provides access to thousands of special-format books, magazines, and music materials. The same materials offered on digital cartridge are also available for download in compressed audio or braille formats. With the BARD Mobile app, readers may download and play talking books on their smartphones and tablets. Braille readers also may download and read materials using a refreshable braille display with a Bluetooth connection. For application and more information, visit the BARD Instructions or NLS BARD pages. PC (Windows-based) users may also want to utilize BARD Express to make searching and downloading easier. 

Music Scores and Books

Individuals who are interested in music materials may receive them directly from the NLS Music Section. The music collection consists of scores, textbooks, and books in braille and large print. Music appreciation materials on a wide variety of topics, along with self-instruction for voice, piano, organ, keyboard, guitar, recorder, accordion, banjo, harmonica, and other instruments, are available on cartridges. All audio titles and braille scores and books are available online through BARD. NLS compiles and produces three music publications in accessible formats: Musical Mainstream; Contemporary Sound Track: A Review of Pop, Jazz, Rock, and Country; and Popular Music Lead Sheets. E-mail the Music Section at or call (800) 424-8567 for more information.

Equipment and Accessories

Patrons borrow playback equipment free of charge to use for talking books and magazines on cartridges or downloaded through BARD. Digital talking-book machines come in two models, standard and advanced. Both models provide high-quality sound, offer variable speed controls, and have built-in audio instructions. The advanced player also enables bookmarking and navigation, allowing readers to skip to different parts of a book.

Accessories for the digital talking-book machines include lightweight headphones, a pillow speaker, adapters for commercial USB flash drives, and a breath switch. Readers with significant hearing loss may request amplifier headphones.

NLS Direct Services

NLS also offers ​training and certification in braille transcribing and proofreading through the National Federation of the Blind