The Talking Book Program (TBP), a unit of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, brings library services to people who are unable to read standard print due to a visual, physical or reading disability. This service has been offered since 1931, when TBP joined the National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, a division of the Library of Congress.
Through this program, readers can download books and magazines online and play them on a special TBP players at no cost to them. They can also use the mobile app on their smartphone or tablet or have books in Braille, audio and/or large print mailed to them via USPS.
Materials made available through the Talking Book Program come from collections shared by the Library of Congress as well as titles that are produced here in Texas. The Talking Book Program augments reading choices for Texas patrons by producing content through our own recording studios.
Established in 1978, the studio is located in Austin. Dedicated volunteers produce books and magazines in audio format, including a cooperative relationship with the Recording Library of West Texas, a non-profit studio located in Midland.
Volunteers record Texas books and magazines, including materials in Spanish. They work as reviewers, session monitors, and narrators of recorded material.
Throughout these 40 years of service, staff and volunteers have produced have more than 7,000 books. That’s thousands upon thousands of hours of reading pleasure and fulfillment brought to people who rely on the Talking Book Program.
- TBP puts an average of 3,000 books in the mail every day and serves over 15,000 readers who live across the state of Texas.
- More than 50 volunteers contribute approximately 300-service hours to the Austin studio each month.
- Sixty percent of the active volunteers in the Austin Recording Studio have been volunteering for three years or longer. Some volunteers have been with the program for as long as 20 years.
- Materials are recorded in accordance with rigid standards provided by NLS and in accordance with copyright laws.
- TBP loans books and players at no cost to TBP readers.
1978 – Carloyn Randall officially opens the Volunteer Recording Studio in Austin.
1979 – 2,898 hours contributed to record 34 magazines and 40 books by 74 volunteers.
1985 – Pat Caporousso completes narration of Sironia, Texas by Madison Cooper, the longest book ever recorded in TBP’s studio: 1731 pages, 56 sides, 14 months.
1990 – Studio begins narrating the Hank the Cowdog series by John R. Erickson.
1991 – Studio begins production of the Stagecoach Station series by Hank Mitchum (57 titles).
1992 – 301 books are produced by Austin and Midland studios (a standing record).
1996 – First Lady of Texas Laura Bush visits studio.
1997- TBP circulates 5 millionth book since August 1989.
2003 – TBP begins digitally recording books and magazines.
2008 – A newly-built recording studio opens in the Lorenzo de Zavala Archives and Library Building opens after renovations.
2014 – TBP begins uploading its recordings to the national BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) system.
2017 – TBP uploads the 4000th book to BARD.
2018 – 7,000 books recorded … and counting!
“I would like you to know what great pleasure Jerry took in the Talking Books. He listened six to eight hours a day. They greatly improved his quality of life in his last year.” ~ Patron’s family member
“It’s huge to have access to the same books all of my friends are reading. To be able to talk about the same books others are reading, as a kid, is about being part of the community, being able to engage.” ~ Juan Carlos, student patron
“My vision may have changed but my love of reading sure didn’t. The Talking Book Program allows me to keep up with my favorite books and magazines and stay connected with my love of literature and the written word.” ~ Raymond, senior patron
“I go through about five books a week, I head about this project through the VA and I think it really helps a lot of folks in my position stay connected to the books and stories they love.” ~ Johnny, veteran patron