Skip to main content


Text Size

Catalog Search

1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323)

BARD Access

BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) is a free library service of downloadable braille and audio reading material for residents of the United States and U.S. citizens living abroad who are unable to read or use standard printed material because of visual or physical disabilities. BARD provides access to thousands of special-format books, magazines, and music scores. The site is password-protected. All files are downloadable as compressed audio or formatted ebraille files. BARD is a partnership between NLS and its network of cooperating libraries. NLS maintains the website, uploads titles, and supplies libraries with circulation statistics.  Already registered with BARD?  Find books and magazines in BARD now.

Three steps to begin using BARD

1) Become an NLS patron

2) Register for BARD

3) Get a Device

You can get a free talking-book player on long-term loan from your network library, buy a commercial model on your own if there are features you prefer, or download the free app to your smart device. BARD Mobile is available at the App Store External for iOS or the Play Store External or Amazon Appstore External for Android.

Four steps to getting books on BARD Mobile

1) Sign In

Sign In to BARD on your mobile device. You will be asked for your user ID and password. Your user ID is your email address. Your user ID and password are case-sensitive.

For help with BARD Mobile, access the BARD Mobile User Manual for iOS (or BARD Mobile User Manual for iOS in ebraille [.brf file]) or the BARD Mobile User Manual for Android (or BARD Mobile User Manual for Android in ebraille [.brf file]). You can also access videos on How to Use BARD Mobile or send an email to [email protected]

2) Find Books

You can search through recently added audio books, audio magazines, braille books and braille magazines. Or you may browse BARD by selecting author, title, or subject. You can also search through special collections of music books and scores, foreign-language materials, and magazines. Each magazine in the drop-down list is followed by whether it is braille or audio.  Recent upgrades in 2018 include “My previous downloads” and “Most popular books” to Get Books menu.

3) Add to Wish List

You can add items to your wish list by selecting “Add to wish list.” The wish list stores items you have selected for future download . Once an item is downloaded it will no longer appear on the wish list.

4) Download

You can use the download link to download an item on BARD Mobile. You may be charged for data depending on your carrier’s plan.

Four steps to getting books on the digital talking-book player

1) Sign In

Sign In to BARD on a computer

You will be asked for your user ID and password. Your user ID is your email address. Your user ID and password are case-sensitive. To create a new password, it must 1) be at least eight characters, 2) contain at least one letter and one number, and 3) have no immediately repeated characters. Once your new password is accepted, you will receive an e-mail message confirming that you have changed your password.

2) Finding books and magazines on BARD

The easiest way to find a book is to use the “Search the collection” field on the BARD main page. Enter a word or two that relates to the title, author, or subject. You will receive more targeted results if you put an exact phrase from the title or the exact title in quotes. You can browse the entire NLS online catalog by author, title, or subject and the links provided.

You can automatically subscribe to magazines or favorite book series, and there is a tool on the BARD main page to manage your subscriptions.  In your account settings, you can tell BARD to only search for audio or braille formats.  Other helpful choices in account settings include the ability to change the BARD interface to display text in Spanish or to control the magnification of display themes.

3) Download

Once you download a book to your computer, two places to check for it are your Downloads and Documents folders. If you know how to search your computer for files and folders, you can search DB- to locate audiobooks or BR- to locate braille books.

Each web browser handles downloads slightly differently. In most cases unless you set a default location for downloads, you will be asked where you would like to save it each time. Many users choose to create a “My downloads” folder inside their documents folder and use that as the default destination for downloads.

4) Unzip to cartridge or flash drive and play

Open the .zip file you downloaded to your computer. There are several popular software packages that handle this function. If you are using Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Mac OS X, this function is built in. Windows 8 and Windows 10 are also operating systems that offer the built-in unzipping software. Once you have copied the files to their destination, insert the cartridge into your player and press the play button.

What is BARD Express?

BARD Express provides NLS patrons with an easy way to access BARD. Use BARD Express to browse thousands of audio books and magazines, download them to your Windows-based computer, and transfer them to an NLS cartridge. BARD Express simplifies the process by providing a menu-driven interface, reducing the need to memorize a complex set of keyboard commands. What does this mean? BARD Express can be used with as few as four keys, while providing advanced functionality for the more adventurous user.

Learn more about BARD Express by checking out the Frequently Asked Questions about BARD Express or by browsing the BARD Express User Guide.

Download BARD Express. After saving it to your computer, locate the file and open it. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation process. If you have questions, contact your regional library or access videos on How to Use BARD Express.

Need Help?

The Welcome to BARD page answers most questions for those who are new to BARD.  Also visit NLS BARD Frequently Asked Questions. For specific questions, email [email protected] for help.  More support for BARD can be found on the Help with BARD and NLS Equipment page.