National Library Service, Library of Congress, is a free braille and talking book library service for people with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that prevents them from reading or holding the printed page. Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS offers books the way you want them: in braille or audio formats, mailed to your door for free, or instantly downloadable.
Easy of Use
With simple features and clear instructions, NLS makes it easy to read your way, no matter which format you choose.
NLS talking-book players feature large buttons, braille letters beside the controls, a sleep timer, and built-in audio instructions.
The BARD Mobile app allows users to quickly and easily download audiobooks directly to their iOS and Android devices. Watch our series of instructional videos for BARD Mobile.
Variety of Formats
- Talking books and magazines – Audiobooks and audio magazines on digital cartridges are mailed to your door. You return them the same way, through postage-free mail. Digital talking-book players are also provided for free to patrons.
- Braille – Braille books and magazines are delivered directly to your door at no cost.
- Music — NLS provides music appreciation materials, music scores, and music instruction in braille, audio, and large print.
- Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) – BARD is a web-based service that provides access to thousands of ebraille and encrypted talking books, magazines, and music materials. The same material that is offered on digital cartridges are available for download in braille and audio formats.
- BARD Mobile – With the BARD Mobile app, you can download braille and audio materials on your iOS or Android device. Many of the materials available in hard-copy braille on digital cartridges are also available for download in braille and audio formats.
NLS offers a wide variety of the most current reading material, including bestsellers, biographies, fictional works, how-to books, magazines, and music scores. Check out new book releases from NLS in braille (Braille Book Review) and audio (Talking Book Topics). Explore the catalog.
NLS has a long history of using the latest technology to provide accessible reading materials to patrons. Audiobooks and audio magazines are available on digital cartridges or by download through BARD. And now, the free BARD Mobile app is available for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch or Android mobile device or tablet so you don’t need special equipment to read.
Here’s what our patrons have to say…
NLS helps hundreds of thousands of readers enjoy the freedom to read their way.
- Do you have difficulty holding the printed page because of a physical disability?
“For someone who may not be able to physically hold a book in their hands, there are special devices that allow them to access the same content that anybody else would. It’s basically like being able to live in the same world that everybody else is living in.”
– Bill B., NLS patron since 1980
- As we age, our vision often declines. Be independent. Be inspired.
“The talking books program has been one of the best things that’s happened to me recently. I had been developing macular degeneration over the past seven years. And I knew that, eventually, it was going to get to the point where I didn’t recognize people and could no longer drive nor read. So I was preparing myself for being in that condition and getting ready for it while I could still do my own walking and driving. It’s a big load off my mind to be able to have all that lined up as my vision gets worse.”
– Jack C., NLS patron since 2008
- NLS offers books the way you want them — in braille or audio; shipped to your door for free or downloaded in minutes.
“It’s huge to be able to have access to the same books all your friends are reading. To be able to talk about the same books as others are reading, as a kid and as an adult, is about being part of the community, being able to engage. Imagination, adventure, reading! It’s all about that but also to make connections with others about what you’re reading, and even make friends through what you are reading. It is one of those things that brings us all together and it is hugely important.”
– Brian M., NLS patron since 1985
- The BARD Mobile app is available on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. No need for special equipment to read.
“Being able to download titles and manage my reading list independently has made an outstanding service so much better. The BARD Mobile app for the iPhone has also been so wonderful since it makes it so easy to take books with you anywhere. I truly cannot imagine my life without the NLS program.”
– Peggy C., NLS patron since 1962
- NLS offers talking books free for veterans who have difficulty reading standard print. You protected our freedom. Now enjoy the freedom to read your way.
“When I run across [other] veterans that are curious about what I’m doing, I usually take the time to open the [BARD Mobile] app, show them around, give them an idea of what’s available in the audiobook library, show them the different features. Most veterans haven’t been exposed to [having a] disability [for very long], so they’re very curious. And the app allows me to be able to talk over something that’s very near and dear to my heart and gives them an opportunity to be able to enjoy books, to access the content that they may be missing.”
– Dan S., NLS patron since 2004
- The gift of reading is still available to those you care for. Find out eligibility requirements for free braille or audiobooks through NLS.
“I’ve been in the blindness rehabilitation field for over 20 years, and usually once people have the opportunity to see the different services that NLS provides, they jump right into it, especially if it’s somebody who’s been a reader in the past and who’s really enjoyed reading. It helps them start right where they left off with an activity that they really enjoy.”
– Bill B., NLS patron since 1980
You can join them. Apply today!