Digital collection

The National Library Service (NLS) is in the process of converting the books and magazines it circulates from analog to digital format. The digital format has many advantages including:

  • Improved sound quality;
  • A lighter, easier to use player;
  • The ability to download books and magazines from a website if desired

During the conversion, books and magazines will be available in both analog and digital format for several years. Analog books will continue to be circulated on cassettes, and digital books will be circulated on cartridges, or by downloading them to be played on a compatible player.

Approximately 19,000 titles are currently available in digital format with approximately 2,000 titles to be added per year. Talking Book Service (TBS) users can register to search and download books from BARD, the digital database.

BARD information:
Application instructions
Privacy policy
Log-in page

Since portions of the NLS collection will not be available in digital format on a cartridge, users are encouraged to keep cassette players to play titles available only in cassette format, even after digital players are received. Magazines will only be circulated on cassettes, but are available for download from BARD.

Digital players will be distributed in quantities of 120 per month with all users receiving players sometime in 2011. To request a player, contact TBS at 1 (800) 458-3271 or email: and ask to be added to the player waiting list.

Player instructions are included with each player. For a detailed description of the player and more information about BARD, listen to a 60-minute podcast with Judith Dixon, Consumer Relations Officer at the NLS.

Player accessories:
Adaptors: Free headphone and flash drive adaptors are available; contact TBS to request them.
Carrying case: NLS does not distribute player carrying cases, but there is one available for purchase.

Commercial players:
Several commercial players compatible with the NLS digital format are available for purchase. Because each user's needs are different, the Talking Book Service does not recommend any specific player. Currently, the following players are available:

APH Braille Plus Mobile Manager

APH Book Port Plus

HIMS BookSense

Humanware Victor Reader Stream

LevelStar Icon

Milestone 212

Milestone 312



Player software:
Player software will be updated as improvements are made. The most current version is incorporated into new digital books as they are produced. The player software is then updated when the book is played. The most current software version can also be downloaded at: and then installed on the digital player.

Cartridge Purchase:
Cartridges for playing books downloaded from BARD are available for purchase from several commercial vendors. Due to the cartridge shape, a cable is also needed to connect the cartridge to the USB port on your computer. The following vendors currently have the cartridges and/or cables available for purchase. Please contact the vendors; the Talking Book Service does not plan to stock the cartridges for sale to users.

American Printing House For The Blind (APH) 2 GB Cartridges : Cartridges only

Perkins Product Store 1 and 2 GB Cartridges : Cartridges and cable

Independent Living Aids: Cable only