Library’s ‘talking book’ program continues to grow

Published 5:40 am Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A UNIQUE SYSTEM: Only the special cartridges will fit into the “talking book” player.

A UNIQUE SYSTEM: Only the special cartridges will fit into the “talking book” player.

Do you know someone who cannot hold a book, due to a physical handicap?

Do you know someone who has a limited sight problem, or someone who is blind, causing them to miss out from the world of books?

The world of books is now at their fingertips.

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Press the green “start” button and enter the world of the free talking book library.

The sound and voice, which comes from the new digital talking-book player for the visually handicapped, is truly remarkable. Hearing is believing. For anyone who cannot read, because of some visual or physical disability, the sound and speech heard from this player should be music to their ears.

A VAST LIBRARY: Subscribers to the program have more than 20,000 different books that they can play, as well as more than 40 magazines.

A VAST LIBRARY: Subscribers to the program have more than 20,000 different books that they can play, as well as more than 40 magazines.

Everyone who has heard a demonstration of this new digital-talking-book player has been astounded at its quality and sound from books now on long-playing digital cartridges, recorded by professional readers. The cartridges only work on the talking book digital player.

The digital player and books are free to those who qualify with visual or physical disabilities. It is designed for readers who cannot hold, handle or see well enough to read conventional print, due to a temporary or permanent visual or physical handicap.

An outreach program began last fall in 22 southwest Georgia counties, to bring talking books to more and more people. The outreach program resulted in reaching more than 60 new subscribers.

In addition to free books for individual readers, free books and players, called “deposit collections,” are available for hospitals, nursing and alternative care homes, senior centers, schools, all public and university libraries — wherever the visually handicapped gather.

Here’s the best part: All 20,000 digital books are free. Every one of them.

Yes, the books are free. The digital player is free. The postage to send books to and from the user and institutions is free. Have problems with the digital player? Pack it in its original box, give it to the postman. Return shipping and handling is free. The postman returns with a new free replacement player, and its postal charges to your house or institution are free.

Funding for the talking books program comes from the Library of Congress and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. In the 22 counties of southwest Georgia, this program is administered by the Southwest Georgia Library for Accessible Services in Bainbridge. There are eight other regional libraries in Georgia which administer the program in their designated counties.

Eligible readers may also download digital talking books and magazines through the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service by logging on to —

Web-Braille is a service that provides electronic files for Braille books, magazines and music materials to individuals registered with cooperating regional libraries. After registering with the library, eligible Braille readers may download the electronic files or use them online with Braille output devices. It’s also free.

By enrolling in the talking-book program, you may enjoy professionally recorded versions of books found in most local libraries. Choose from bestsellers, classics, mysteries, westerns, romance, poetry, histories, biographies, instructional music materials, children’s books, and foreign-language works. You may also select from more than 40 popular magazines, such as Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic, New York Times Book Review, and Sports Illustrated for Kids.

How can you get started? Call Kathy Hutchins at the Southwest Georgia Library for Accessible Services at (229) 248-2680 or 1-800-795-2680. You may email the library at, check out the home page at or visit the library in Bainbridge at 301 S. Monroe St. You may also visit the online catalog at

This story was contributed by Jim Smith, outreach marketing consultant for the Southwest Georgia Library for Accessible Services.