Talking Book Program

Frequently Asked Questions


Related Links

Loan Policy
Spotlight on Texas Books
Disability Information & Referral Center
National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped


What is the Texas Talking Book Program?
The Talking Book Program is a free library service for people unable to read standard print because of a visual, physical, or reading disability. The Talking Book Program (TBP) is a division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Since 1931, TBP has participated as a regional library of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, a division of the Library of Congress.

Who is eligible?
Anyone with a valid Texas address who is unable to read standard print because of a visual, physical, or reading disability.

Eligible veterans receive priority service.

What does it cost?
Nothing. All TBP services and the use of playback equipment are free, including return postage.

What kind of people read talking books?

  • A man with macular degeneration reads magazines on cassettes.

  • A woman who injured her shoulder and can’t hold a book reads short stories on flash memory cartridges.

  • A lawyer who is blind uses Braille books to read fairy tales to his three-year old daughter, just as a sighted parent would do.

  • A high school student with low vision reads novels in large print for English class.

  • A fifth-grader who is blind reads adventure stories tales that she downloads to her computer, transfers them to a thumb drive and reads them on TBP’s player.

What formats are available?
Books and magazines come in various formats, including:

  • Downloads to a computer, transferable to a flash memory cartridge or thumb drive;

  • Books and magazines in Braille, audio, and large print format are also available by mail.

How many items does TBP circulate?
On an average weekday, TBP handles between 7,000 to 10,000 books. In the  fiscal year ending on August 31, 2011, TBP circulated 891,794 books and magazines.

How long can I keep books checked out?
You may borrow books for 45 days.

Where do the books and magazines come from?
The National Library Service provides books and magazines in Braille and as recordings done by professional narrators. The Talking Book Program also produces books locally. Volunteers record between 35 and 40 books every year. Most are done in English and some in Spanish.

Volunteers in Austin also record Texas Highways, and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Volunteers in Midland record Texas Monthly.

How do I get books?
Two ways. First, select from the 80,000 books and 50 magazines, complete an order form, and send it in. Second, talk with a Reader Consultant who can suggest other books as well as help order books and answer questions.

I speak and read Spanish better than English. Can I use Talking Books?
Yes. Some TBP staff members speak both Spanish and English. TBP’s Web site, applications, and newsletters are in both languages. Many books and some magazines are available in Spanish.

What kinds of books to do you have?
Many. TBP has both fiction and non-fiction books in many categories including: mystery, romance, western, science fiction, history, biography, cookbooks, how-to books, and nutrition.

Can you help with other issues related to my disability?
Yes. The reference librarian at the Disability Information and Referral Center can answer questions about health and disability issues. Call toll-free at 1-800-252-9605.

Do you have textbooks or newspapers?
No. However, TBP can refer you to organizations that provide them.

How do I get started?
Complete an application and send it in. TBP will call you to set up an account. To learn more, contact the Talking Book Program.



TBP’s Disability Information & Referral Center (DIRC) staff provides information to our patrons and to the general public, including teachers, counselors, family members of persons with disabilities, and other interested persons. Questions pertaining to adaptive equipment, games and toys, support groups, and other topics can be answered or referred by this department. In addition, the DIRC has a small circulating collection of materials pertaining to disabilities. These materials are not in the special formats available in TBP’s collection. Anyone may borrow materials from this collection (borrowers pay return postage).

    For information contact the DIRC at 1-800-252-9605 (toll-free in Texas) or 512-463-5458 (in Austin).

Talking Book Program
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
PO Box 12927
Austin TX 78711-2927
1-800-252-9605 (toll-free in Texas)
512-463-5458 (Austin area);
512-936-0685 (fax)

Page last modified: January 20, 2016