Patron Services

Please visit the Illinois State Library's Talking Book and Braille Service website at:

Check here for information on available materials, BARD, monthly book lists, reading programs, equipment instructions, and newsletters. When in doubt, friendly Reader Advisors are available to answer your questions Monday through Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm, at 1-800-426-0709.


Our extensive collection is housed in Springfield at the Illinois State Library Talking Book and Braille Service (TBBS). Through the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), the Illinois collection contains over 130,000 titles. Digital audio books are available in all genres covering a wide range of interests, including bestsellers, biographies, classics, non-fiction, mysteries, and children's books. If we don't have a particular item in our collection, it may be obtained from other talking book libraries through interlibrary loan.

Talking Books

Our collection contains over 84,000 professionally narrated digital audio books recorded by NLS. The books are stored on sturdy cartridges that are sent through the mail to and from our patron's homes and are compatible for listening on the digital talking book players. Patrons can access the entire collection through our online catalog. New additions are featured in Talking Book Topics, a large-print, bimonthly NLS publication that is mailed to all patrons. The loan period for each book is 6 weeks.  

TBBS Online Catalog

NLS Online Catalog

Talking Book Topics

Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD)

BARD is a free downloading service for active talking book patrons. Maintained by NLS, the collection contains more than 70,000 books, magazines, and music scores in audio and braille format, with new selections added weekly. BARD Mobile apps allow patrons to download and listen materials through their iOS and Android devices. Please visit our BARD page for more information.

BARD and BARD Mobile

Braille Books

Patrons who read braille can access more that 15,000 braille books for adults and children. These books are available through the Utah State Library Program for the Blind and Disabled. The Braille Book Review from NLS contains information on the latest braille books available. Please contact a reader advisor if you're interested in ordering braille materials.

Braille Book Review


There are currently over 100 magazines available in digital, braille, and download formats. Popular magazines inclued National Geographic, Time, Rolling Stone, and Martha Stuart Living. Children's magazines are also available. The loan period for magazines mailed to the home is 3 weeks.

NLS Audio and Braille Magazines 2016.docx

Choice Magazine Listening

Foreign Language Materials

Digital talking books and magazines are available through NLS in many languages including Spanish, French, German, Arabic, and Korean. Please contact a reader advisor for assistance in ordering foreign language materials.

Foreign Language Materials

Descriptive Videos

Movies in DVD and VHS format are available with added narration that describes action, settings, and other visual elements in between dialogue.

Available Descriptive Videos

Old Time Radio Shows

Old Time Radio Shows from radio's golden era are available on cassette tapes that are compatible with regular cassette players. Talking book cassette machines will no longer be distributed due to deterioration of the materials. Patrons may still request tapes to use on your own cassette players, OR you may check out our new collection of old time radio shows available with the Axis 360 app. We recently added over 130 recordings, including comedies, westerns, detective shows, and classic hits from radio’s golden era. Try the Axis 360 app for Android, iOS, or Kindle Fire devices and hear your favorite radio friends in a whole new way!

Catalog of Old Time Radio Shows

Old Time Radio Shows Axis 360.docx

The Bible

Several versions of The Bible are available for loan through talking books. Patrons who wish to have their own personal digital audio copy to keep may order one for free from Braille Bible International in Missouri. Please contact a reader advisor or use the order form below if you're interested in obtaining a copy.

Application for an Accessible Bible.pdf



Digital Players

Each talking book patron receives a free digital talking book player that is compatible with the digital book cartridges. These machines are federal property and must be returned when no longer in use by the assigned patron. The players are portable, sturdy, and easy to use, with built-in audio instructions. The rechargeable battery lasts 29+ hours, and other features include a headphone jack, USB port, tone and speed controls, and more. There are two models available, the standard and advanced. The advanced model features an extra row of buttons for navigating bookmarks and the structured levels within the books. Special accessories are available to increase accessibility if needed. Please contact a reader advisor for assistance if you experience technical difficulties with a machine.

Please see Equipment Instructions for more information.

Patrons may also purchase their own commercial players that are compatible with NLS talking books.

High-Volume Player and Headphones

NLS has developed a high-volume player (HVP) for use by patrons who are hearing impaired. The HVP is available as a standard or advanced model that has been programmed to have an amplified volume up to 120 dB. It can be issued only by NLS and bears a warning label. The high-volume feature only works with the set of stereo headphones that NLS provides.

To receive a high-volume player and headset, a patron must provide certification of hearing impairment by a physician or audiologist by completing the HVP Application 2016.pdf.

We ask that patrons return their current player upon receipt of a high-volume player and headset. A return label will be included with the high-volume player.

Cassette Machines

Please note that the older model cassette players (C-1) are being phased out and are no longer assigned to patrons. If you have an old one to return, please contact a reader advisor for a box and mailing label.

C-1 Operating Instructions

Returns and Repairs

All machines are serviced and stored at the Illinois State Library Talking Book and Braille Service (TBBS) in Springfield. Please keep the box that the machine arrives in and flip the mailing card over to return (free postage) to TBBS when needed. Contact a reader advisor to receive a new box, mailing label, or machine. All machines should be mailed to:

Illinois State Library

Talking Book and Braille Service

300 South Second Street

Springfield, IL 62701