The Talking Books and Braille Library, or TBBL for short was created by an Act of Congress in 1932, intended to help recovering World War I veterans who had become blind. By 1934, they had recordings of books on phonographs and in 1971, made the switch to audiobooks on cassettes. Today, it operates as a service to all ages who cannot easily read standard print materials due to a visual impairment, physical disability (whether permanent or temporary, such as a broken arm) or reading disability. Funded by the state of Louisiana and the National Library Service for the Blind & Print Disabled, our TBBL is just one of 57 regional network libraries across the United States that share resources. They operate under special permissions from U.S. Copyright Laws to reproduce full length books and magazines in braille and audio cartridges.
Located on the 4th floor of the State Library building in Baton Rouge, participants are sent materials through the mail for free using the “Free Matter for the Blind” service, provided by the U.S. Post Office. The collection consists of more than 75,000 titles, available in various nontraditional formats such as braille, "Talking Book Players" (machines developed to play cartridges containing MP3 files of an audiobook narration), and even braille e-readers. These e-readers have plastic braille dots that pop up as the device translates the digital file of the book into braille. Other formats provided include Large Print books and an application for mobile devices, BARD, "Braille and Audio Reading Download" that works on Android, Apple, and even some Kindle devices that houses digital downloads of applicable materials. The advantage to BARD is the ability to download titles straight to your device without having to wait for new materials to come in the mail. There are never any fines or fees, no matter what and they even have an early literacy program that provides "Twin Vision" books containing pictures with words for the sighted parent and braille for the visually impaired child so they can read together. TBBL also offer Readers Advisory Services, so each person who uses the program will be assigned an advisor to help find materials they are interested in.
This service is used by more than 6,000 Louisiana Residents, however around 135,100 people living in Louisiana would qualify for this program just under the visual disability umbrella. Spread the word about this free service and for more information about whether you qualify, make sure to check out this link to an application for service, or call toll-free 1(800)543-4702 OR (225)342-0035 from 8 am- 4:30 pm Monday through Friday for more information. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org any time of day! If you would rather visit in person, the hours are 10 AM to 2 PM Monday - Thursday on the 4th floor of the State Library building.