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About the Talking Book Program

The Talking Book Program (TBP) provides free library services for Texans of any age who are blind or have a visual, physical, or reading disability.  

  • An individual who is blind.  
  • An individual who has a visual impairment that makes them unable to comfortably read standard print books.  
  • An individual who has a physical disability that makes it hard to hold or manipulate a book or to focus or move the eyes as needed to read a print book.  
  • An individual who has a perceptual or reading disability.

Registered TBP patrons may borrow books and magazines in digital audio, Braille, and large print.

Materials and playback machines are mailed to your door, completely free of charge—you do not have to pay for postage when you return them. Eligible Texas residents who cannot read standard print material in the usual manner can complete an application and return it by mail. TBP will call you to set up an account after the application is approved. Contact us for any questions or comments you may have.


Since 1931, TBP has been a regional library of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) in Washington, DC, a program administered by the Library of Congress. NLS and other libraries throughout the country, including TBP, are authorized through federal law and the international Marrakesh Treaty to reproduce or distribute copies of works in accessible formats exclusively for use by blind or other persons with print disabilities.


A photograph of a woman sitting in a green leather chair with the text of My other Library is the Talking Book Program

The Talking Book Program was born in 1918, when the Texas Legislature appropriated $1,000 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 residents unable to read standard print.

Today, the Talking Book Program provides library books and magazines in special media to more than 16,000 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 (Pratt-Smoot Act).
  • In 1952, library service for children who were blind was added.
  • In 1966, Texans with physical disabilities, 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, a Volunteer Recording Studio is founded to record Texas materials for the network.
  • In 2006, Talking Book Program celebrated 75 years of service with a ceremony at the Capitol and a reception at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building.
  • In 2009, the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) website launched for patrons to download books from a computer.
  • In 2011, TBP was selected as the National Library Service Library of the Year.
  • In 2013, the BARD Mobile app for iOS devices was released, followed by Android in 2015.
  • In 2018, the Volunteer Recording Studio celebrated its 40th anniversary
  • In 2021, NLS and TBP will celebrate 90 years of helping people with a print disability read throughout the country.

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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."


Page last modified: May 10, 2023