Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Library of the Month: Talking Book and Braille Library

Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library logoThe Library of the Month is a celebration of Wisconsin libraries compiled by the BadgerLink team.

If you’re serving a library patron who has vision impairment, reading disability, or physical difficulty holding a book, make sure they know about the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library!

Image shows entrance to Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library located in the Milwaukee Public Library building.
Image from WTBBL
The Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL) provides audio and braille of books, magazines, and newspapers, as well as audio-described DVDs and videos to people living in Wisconsin who cannot see regular print or handle print materials. The Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library is funded through the National Library Service, the Department of Public Instruction and the Milwaukee Public Library.

Image shows an example of a playback machine and audio cartridge.
Image from WTBBL
Located in Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library serves adults, young adults, and children throughout the entire state. WTBBL provides users with playback machines, accessories including headphones, and braille or audio cartridges. All books, equipment, and services (including the mailing of materials) are free to WTBBL patrons.

Image shows piles of playback machines ready to be checked in and out.
Image from WTBBL
WTBBL currently serves nearly 7,000 registered patrons and over 580 institutions like libraries, schools, nursing homes, and veterans centers. A staff of 14.5 people handle phone calls, emails, and circulation. About 1300 digital cartridges are checked in each day and about 1300 digital cartridges checked out each day. This small library makes a huge impact.

You are eligible for WTBBL if you have vision impairment, reading disability, or if you have physical difficulty holding a book. To become a patron of WTBBL, you must complete an application. The application is free and requires certification by a medical professional, professional librarian, or by any person whose competence under specific circumstances is acceptable to the Library of Congress (see the application for details).

Image shows playback machine and audio cartridge on coffee table.
Image from WTBBL
In addition to physical materials, WTBBL also provides users with digital services through BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download), a web-based, password-protected service that provides access to thousands of special-format books, magazines, and music materials. With the BARD Mobile app, readers may download and play talking books on their smartphones and tablets. Braille readers also may download and read materials using a refreshable braille display with a Bluetooth connection.

Working with a local non-profit, ABLE (Audio and Braille Literacy Enhancement), that transcribes print materials into alternative formats for people with disabilities, WTBBL selects books by Wisconsin authors to be recorded and accessible on digital cartridge or via BARD. In 2016, 23 books added so that Talking Book patrons from other state programs all over the country have easy access to the Wisconsin recordings.

Get more information and fill out an application at https://dpi.wi.gov/talkingbooks.