BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download)
Digital books and magazines from the National Library Service (NLS) in Washington, D.C. are available for download from the NLS BARD main page. There are more than 40,000 digital books and over 50 magazines available for download from this site, and new titles are constantly being added.
A BARD Mobile app for the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch is now available.
Application for BARD Service
In order to participate, you must first have a TBBL account. Then you can fill out an online application for BARD service. Please note that there are separate applications for individuals and institutions (schools, hospitals, libraries, etc.).
Once we have verified you as an eligible and active TBBL user, which usually takes about two business days, we will send you an e-mail with your username and a temporary password.
You can then search for and download the audio books from the NLS BARD website.
What you need to download books or magazines:
- a computer with high-speed internet access
- an active email address
- a digital player issued to you from an NLS regional library (or you can buy a third-party player)
- the ability to unzip the downloaded book and move it to either an empty cartridge (available for purchase) or to your USB flash drive (thumb drive) that has at least one gigabyte (1 GB) of storage. One can typically fit about thirty books on a four gigabyte (4 GB) cartridge or flash drive.
To play multiple books or magazines on your digital player in Bookshelf mode:
- Hold down the Play/Stop button until a beep sounds to put your digital player into bookshelf mode.
- Then use the FF (Fast Forward) and RW (Rewind) buttons, to the right and left of the Play/Stop button, to move from one book to another. The player will announce the title of each book.
Digital Players Available
The digital player has been pre-programmed to play the downloaded audio books and magazines. Due to digital rights management restrictions, BARD digital books will not play on your computer. However, in September 2013 NLS released a BARD Mobile app for the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. (NLS is also working on an app for Android devices.)
There are also some third-party players that are compatible with NLS downloadable books and magazines:
- APH Braille Plus Mobile Manager
- APH Book Port Plus
- APH Braille Plus Mobile Manager
- Apex BrailleNote/VoiceNote
- HIMS BookSense
- HIMS BookSense DS
- HIMS BookSense XT
- HIMS Sense Notetaker
- Victor Reader Stream by Humanware
- Victor Reader Stratus by Humanware
- LevelStar Icon
- Milestone 212
- Milestone 312
- PLEXTALK PTN2
- PLEXTALK Pocket PTP1
There are also digital player firmware updates that are periodically available from NLS. Digital players shipped to patrons will have current firmware upgrades installed. This site lists software version enhancements and changes such as the ability to use a "bookshelf" mode that allows users to navigate among multiple books saved on one USB flash drive.
Playing MP3 and WAV Files
The digital player will also play mp3 and WAV audio files. Create a folder on your USB flash drive named audio+podcasts. (Be sure to use the + sign between the words audio and podcasts). Put your mp3 or WAV files in this folder. The audio files will then play in sequence based on their file names.
- How to enroll in BARD
- BARD instructions from NLS
- BARD Frequently Asked Questions
- Audio Magazines on Digital Cartridge
- Purchasing digital cartridges and USB flash drives
- BARD Talk - This website is a very useful and informative resource for BARD users.
- About the Digital Books and Players
- Digital player firmware updates
Questions about BARD or your talking book library service? Call us at (800) 342-3688, Monday through Friday to speak to a library staff member or leave a message. Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org