BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download)
Digital books and magazines from the National Library Service (NLS) in Washington, D.C. are available for download from the NLS BARD main page. You can listen to your downloaded books on the digital player that TBBL provides, or, for even more flexibility, you can get the free BARD Mobile app, for either iOS/Apple or Android devices, and listen to your books via your smart phone or tablet. BARD Express, a program that makes downloading easier, is also available to all BARD members.
There are more than 80,000 digital books and over 60 magazines available for download from this site, and new titles are constantly being added. Digital braille books can also be downloaded via BARD.
Not sure if BARD is for you?
- Check out these seven reasons you might want to download your own books.
- Watch NLS BARD and BARD Mobile (YouTube), a two-minute NLS video where BARD users talk about why they like the service.
- Watch the BARD Express How-To Series (YouTube), a series of short videos that explain how to use this more simplified downloading program for newer computer users.
What you need to download books or magazines:
- a TBBL account
- a computer with high-speed internet access
- an active e-mail address
- a digital player issued to you from an NLS regional library (or you can buy a third-party player), or an iOS/Apple, Android or Kindle Fire mobile device
If using the digital player, you will also need either an empty cartridge (available for purchase) or a USB flash drive (thumb drive) that has at least one gigabyte (1 GB) of storage. If you expect to be downloading multiple books at once, a flash drive that is four gigabytes or larger is recommended. (You can typically fit about thirty books on a 4 GB flash drive.)
Application for BARD Service
If you have a TBBL account, you can fill out an online application for BARD service. Please note that there are separate applications for individuals and institutions (schools, hospitals, libraries, etc.).
You can then search for and download audio books from the NLS BARD website.
Downloading and Playing Books
Bookshelf Mode: When you have multiple books or magazines on your cartridge or flash drive, you need to use "bookshelf mode" to select the book you want to listen to:
- Hold down the Play/Stop button until a beep sounds to put your digital player into bookshelf mode.
- Then use the FF (Fast Forward) and RW (Rewind) buttons, to the right and left of the Play/Stop button, to move from one book to another. The player will announce the title of each book.
The digital player has been pre-programmed to play the downloaded audio books and magazines. Due to digital rights management restrictions, BARD digital books will not play on your computer. However, special BARD Mobile apps are available for iOS (Apple) and Android devices.
There are also some third-party players that are compatible with NLS downloadable books and magazines:
- APH Braille Plus Mobile Manager
- APH Book Port Plus
- APH Braille Plus Mobile Manager
- Apex BrailleNote/VoiceNote
- LevelStar Icon
- Victor Reader Stream by Humanware
- Victor Reader Stratus by Humanware
- PLEXTALK PTN2
- PLEXTALK Pocket PTP1
NLS also maintains a web page listing commercial players compatible with NLS Digital Talking Books.
There are also digital player firmware updates that are periodically available from NLS. Digital players shipped to patrons will have current firmware upgrades installed. The last firmware update was in 2011. Therefore most TBBL patrons will already have a digital player with the most recent firmware. This site lists software version enhancements and changes such as the ability to use a "bookshelf" mode that allows users to navigate among multiple books or magazines downloaded on one USB flash drive or blank cartridge or among multiple magazines received by subscription via US Mail on a digital cartridge.
Playing MP3 and WAV Files
The digital player can also play mp3 and WAV audio files. Create a folder on your USB flash drive named audio+podcasts. (Be sure to use the + sign between the words audio and podcasts). Put your mp3 or WAV files in this folder. The audio files will then play in sequence based on their file names.
For More Information About BARD
- How to enroll in BARD
- BARD instructions from NLS
- BARD Frequently Asked Questions
- Audio Magazines on Digital Cartridge
- Purchasing digital cartridges and USB flash drives
- BARD Talk - This website is a very useful and informative resource for BARD users.
- About the Digital Books and Players
- Digital player firmware updates
Questions about BARD or your talking book library service? Call us at (800) 342-3688, Monday through Friday to speak to a library staff member or leave a message. Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.