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Foreign Language Materials

Introduction

The inclusion of foreign-language titles has long been recognized as a core component of great library collections, from the Library of Alexandria in antiquity, through the library of Thomas Jefferson, which became the foundation of the Library of Congress collections, to today.

This page describes audio and braille materials in languages other than English produced, acquired and offered by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) to eligible patrons. Instructions on how to search the NLS Voyager catalog and the Internet for these titles are also provided.

Special Foreign Language Collection

Talking Books

NLS acquires audio and braille titles in many foreign languages from various domestic and foreign producers, as well as from cooperating agencies serving people who cannot read standard print around the world.

New audio titles are converted into the NLS ANSI/NISO Z39.86 talking book format and made available via the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD). In addition, analog titles are converted into digital format. Using the Voyager Search interface (instructions below), the NLS collections may be searched to find talking books in other languages, including French, German, Russian and other languages. Though some languages are represented with only a few titles, the foreign-language collections are constantly growing.

Rows of shelves containing the foreign-language braille collection at the NLS Multistate Center East, in Cincinnati, Ohio
Foreign-language braille collection at the NLS Multistate Center East, in Cincinnati, Ohio

Braille

The NLS Multistate Center East (MSCE) in Cincinnati, Ohio, houses a unique foreign-language braille collection with more than two thousand braille books in languages other than English. These foreign-language titles can be browsed by following the Voyager searching instructions provided below and may be borrowed. For more information, contact your cooperating network library.

Foreign-language audio magazines offered by NLS

NLS provides foreign language audio magazines in Spanish, French, and German, as indicated below. These magazines are available through NLS cooperating libraries and issues may be downloaded directly from BARD by registered patrons.

(Note: you must be registered and logged into BARD to access the above links; if you are not logged in, you will be prompted to log in to the system before accessing recent issues.) To register for BARD, please contact your cooperating library.

Spanish audio and braille books produced by NLS

In the same way that NLS produces English-language audio and braille books, Spanish-language titles are produced and distributed through NLS cooperating libraries. Approximately 70–100 titles are produced each year. These books are announced in the NLS bimonthly magazines Talking Book Topics and Braille Book Review.

Searching the NLS Voyager Catalog for NLS foreign-language titles

All foreign-language titles in the NLS collections are listed in the NLS Voyager Catalog. To find foreign-language materials in the NLS Catalog, simply follow these steps:

  1. Select the Voyager Catalog Basic Search.
  2. Select the “Set Search Limits” button. This takes you to the “Set Search Limits” screen. On this screen, select the language you wish to search and any other limits. For example, if you wish to find French braille books in the NLS collections, select “French” from the language list, then select “Braille” and “NLS (all collections)” from the other lists.
  3. When this is complete, select the “Set Search Limits” button. This will return you to the “Voyager Basic Search” screen. (The limits will remain in effect until you click the “Clear Search Limits” button.)
  4. On the “Voyager Basic Search” screen, select “Keyword” as the type of search and type your search text in the search box and select the “Begin Search” button. To get all the possible titles, type the language in the search box.

Various Internet resources

The following web pages are sources of foreign materials and other resources:

  • LibriVox External. Collection of free public domain audiobooks read by volunteers; can be searched by language.
  • Bookshare.org External. Website offering numerous audio and ebooks for download in English and other languages; a free service for U.S. students via a grant from the Office of Special Education Program, U.S. Department of Education.
  • Learning Ally External. Audiobook subscription service, including foreign-language titles, for persons with blindness and dyslexia.
  • Internet Archive External. Nonprofit digital library offering free access to public domain books, movies, and music, as well as archived websites.
  • BBC World Service External. Foreign-language news and information in audio format.
  • Project Gutenberg External. Online source of ebooks available for free download in several languages. Audiobooks also available for download in English and a few other languages.
  • Accessible Book Consortium (ABC) External. Multi-stakeholder partnership administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) of publishers and agencies serving people with print disabilities around the world.
  • Daisy Consortium External. Global partnership of organizations committed to accessible publishing.
  • Duxbury resource page External. Braille translation tools and software. Includes contact information for braille producers outside the United States, by country.
  • International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities (LPD) Section External. International body representing libraries serving people with print disabilities.
  • Languages on the Web External. A website offering information and links to many other web sites about languages and language resources, including information on audio learning courses and online radio broadcast schedules.
  • Marrakesh Treaty External. Information about the World Intellectual Property (WIPO) treaty to allow the free exchange of accessible-format materials across national borders for the benefit of persons with visual impairments and print disabilities.
  • Omniglot External. Online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages; offers information on links to many websites about languages and language resources, including information on audio learning courses and online radio broadcast schedules.
  • World Blind Union External. Organization representing over 285 million people who are blind or have a visual impairment around the globe.