Texas Talking Book Program

The Talking Book Program was born in 1918, when the Texas Legislature appropriated $1000 for the State Library to purchase raised-lettering books for visually-impaired Texans. Over the years, the program has expanded into complete library service for all citizens unable to read standard print.

Today, the Talking Book Program provides library books in special media to more than 18,000 Texans of all ages and backgrounds across the state.

A Historical Look

  • In 1918, service began when the Texas Legislature appropriated $1,000 for the State Library to purchase raised-lettering books.
  • In 1931, the Library of Congress selected the State Library to participate in a regional system established to provide service nationwide to adults who were blind. The State Library was one of the original 18 libraries chosen.
  • In 1952, library service for children who were blind was added.
  • In 1966, Texans with physical handicaps, preventing them from holding a book or turning pages, were included.
  • In 1974, service was expanded to include individuals with learning disabilities of an organic nature.
  • In 1978 -- Volunteer Recording Studio is founded to record Texas materials for the network.
  • In 2006 -- Talking Book Program celebrates 75 years of service with a ceremony at the Capitol and a reception at the State Library.

Our Service at a Glance

The Talking Book Program provides library services to more than 18,000 qualified patrons across the state. Patrons select books from more than 80,000 titles in categories ranging from mysteries to classics and from westerns to bestsellers. In addition, more than 70 magazines are available, including Reader's Digest, Newsweek, Guideposts, and Texas Monthly.

The Talking Book Program's collection is provided in alternative media formats: cassette, braille, and large print. To receive assistance, patrons contact reader consultants via a toll-free telephone number, mail, fax, or the Internet. Items are sent through the mail free of charge, and patrons are provided special playback equipment (on loan for as long as they use the service) to listen to recorded material.

Measuring our Progress

In FY 2006, the Talking Book Program:

  • Circulated 599,126 books
  • Maintained active accounts for 18,794 individuals and 751 institutions, such as schools, nursing homes, and hospitals.
  • Answered 53,296 administrative questions and reference questions.
  • Produced 82 books and magazines, including 7 in Spanish, in its Volunteer Recording Studios.

A Word from our Patrons

  • "From time to time you need to be reminded how important you are to those of us who are unable to read normally. . . . When my vision deteriorated, much of the fun of life also disappeared. The Talking Book Program restored much of the zest of living."
  • "My son is learning disabled . . . but at least now he can read thanks to your materials."
  • "Happiness is going to my mailbox and finding 2 or 3 more great stories! Love my talking books!"
  • "Being unable to read and understand effectively appeared to be a barrier that could not be overcome . . . however, through your program our son has had the opportunity to experience the ideas and thoughts of a normal individual."

NOTE: See our Web Policies & Disclaimers page for more information about linking to Web sites other than our own.

Talking Book Program
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
PO Box 12927
Austin TX 78711-2927
1-800-252-9605 (in Texas)
512-463-5458 (in Austin)
512-936-0685 (fax)
Email tbp.services@tsl.texas.gov

Page last modified: August 23, 2011