BARD Express: Now available from Talking Books

The National Library Service (NLS) has just released BARD Express for patrons of talking book libraries around the country. BARD Express is a free, Windows-based application designed to simplify searching for, downloading and transferring audio books and magazines from the BARD website to an external USB drive for use with the digital talking book players.

BARD Express is available to any talking book patron who has an active BARD account with the library. Talking Books patrons can apply for a BARD account online here; if patrons are unsure of their log in information for a current BARD account they can contact the library at or 1-800-622-4970.

BARD Express will be available to download from the BARD main page under the “Additional Links” heading. It will only work on Windows based PCs and will work with a variety of screen readers, including Window eyes, NVDA and Jaws.

For more information on BARD express, please vision the BARD Express Homepage page or watch the YouTube series “BARD Express How-To Series” from the Library of Congress.

This blog post was written by Maggie Ansty. For more information, contact the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library at 1-800-622-4970 or email

Reader Advisory Tools: What I Use

The Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library often gets calls from patrons who just want “something good” or more books like a certain author. While we are able to rely on our ILS for a lot of Reader Advisory assistance, sometimes something more is needed to satisfy patron requests. Here are some tools we use to help us satisfy those types of requests, please share any of your favorites!



The website has a great and fun feature called the blender, which is both helpful and fun to play with. The blender will let you pick your “ingredients” from a list, mix them together, and then display the results. You can blend genres such as romance and horror together or historical and science fiction. The results of the blender are displayed in an easy to read list with the book’s genres listed and links to amazon for more detailed reviews. This is a new discovery for me and I love playing with it.



Goodreads is one of my favorite websites to visit for my own personal reading habits. I love that I can keep track of what I’ve read and that I can usually find interesting lists that can help me find what I want to read next. While some of their lists are silly (I recently read H is for Hawk and was then directed to a list of books with birds on the covers) there are a lot of great ones that can help you to find similar authors or books to what you have just read. We also use Goodreads a lot to help up put proper subject headings on our books.

Literature Map


Literature Map is another Reader Advisory resource that I like playing with just to see what it will come up with. Literature Map allows you to type in the name of an author; it then creates a “map” with the most similar authors to the one you searched for displaying in the middle with results fanning out based on relevancy. This is a great resource to use for a patron who has read everything by their favorite author and is desperate to find a new but similar author to start reading.



Talking About Talking Books

tbblbrochDid you know that Talking Books provides free library service to any resident of Indiana who cannot use standard printed materials due to a physical or visual disability? No? Chances are thousands of eligible Hoosiers do not know about this free service either and you are often the best method of spreading the word.

What can you do?

If you work in a library, you can help by making sure patrons who read large print or listen to audio books know that there are additional materials they can receive from the Indiana State Library. It can be through something as simple as placing some talking book brochures by these collections, or assisting a patron in ordering a book we have that you might not have in your collection. We have over 20,000 large print books and 60,000 audio books (all audio books are also available to download) that we are eager to share.

Your library can also borrow materials to loan to your patrons or to use as demonstration to show what a “Talking Book” is. We are happy to loan your library a rotating collection of large print materials that can be loaned to your patrons. After a few months, return the books and we will send you a fresh supply of books to loan. Your library can also borrow a digital talking book player that can be used to show patrons who may find the idea of digital books a scary prospect, just how easy it is. Demonstration BARD (the website were all of our audio books can be downloaded from) accounts are also available for libraries to assist patrons in downloading their own books.

Our shelves are stocked with promotional materials that we are always happy share. We have applications, brochures, magnets, pens, braille book marks, informational “fact sheets”, posters, and other items that we can send you.

We want to be a resource to help you provide exceptional service to all people.


Here are some resources to help you spread the word about Talking Books and to help you provide the best service possible to your visually and physically disabled patrons.

For further information, please contact us at

The Difference Is You: Your Service Matters

There is a special conference out there just for support staff and it is called The Difference is You.  This year’s theme, Your Service Matters, was chosen by the DIY subcommittee lead by the Indiana State Library’s staff member, Kim Brown-Harden.  This is the second year for this event which caters specifically to Indiana library staff members who do not hold a master’s degree.  Held on August 10th, at the Indianapolis Public Library’s Central Branch, it is a deal at only 25.00 per registrant.  And that includes lunch!  Registration is available through the Indiana Library Federation, which is partnering with the Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Committee to produce this event.  

The Indiana State Library reached out to Paris Pegg, Director at the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library for her thoughts on the DIY event held in 2015.   

Why did you decide to send staff to the 2015 Difference is You Staff event?

“It’s always a challenge to find staff development activities that are new, fresh, different, etc.  News of the 2015 Difference is You conference came across my desk and it just seemed like a great alternative to some of the things we’ve done for staff development in the past (and the timing was right).  One highly successful staff development day involved sending teams of staff to different libraries within an hour’s drive of Richmond to see how library service works outside our own doors.  The Difference is You conference afforded us another opportunity to get out of our own space and see library service through others eyes.  MRL staff has been very insulated in this respect and I encourage them to get out and go to conferences and workshops in other locations, but because many aren’t comfortable driving long distances or in heavy traffic, we have limited opportunities.  Another consideration was the cost of the conference.  We couldn’t bring someone in to conduct the quality of workshops and the variety offered for $25 per employee!   Because of the low cost, we were able to charter a bus and get everyone to the conference without anyone having to worry about driving or traffic or parking.

Did you see a difference in your staff after they attended the event in 2015?

There was a renewed enthusiasm about library service; a renewed confidence in what we do at MRL; and a renewed interest in implementing new ideas.  Staff are still hesitant to go outside MRL if they have to drive, but they’re more willing to explore different options and get ideas from other libraries.

How often do you send support staff to off-site conferences?

We encourage them to attend at least once a year for the district conference.  Opportunities for support staff seem to be somewhat limited, but as with the district conference, we will encourage support staff to attend the Difference is You conference and do our best to make travel available.  I’m not aware of other off-site conferences that would be appropriate for support staff to attend.

Would you encourage other libraries to participate in the Difference is You staff event in 2016?

Absolutely!  I will say it is geared toward support staff in a way I’ve not seen with other conferences.  So many conferences offer “professional” development that tends to be geared more toward degreed librarians and administrators.  This conference is unique in that support staff are encouraged in their roles in the library, they are recognized for their service, and they come away with a better understanding of how “professional” applies to them, as well. 

If you have questions about Difference is You: Your Service  Matters, please reach out to Kim Brown-Harden, at the Indiana State Library:


Talking Books Wins Network Library of the Year Award

The Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library was recently honored by the National Library Service as the 2015 Network Library of the Year for providing outstanding service to its patrons. Innovative services provided by the library in 2015 include the introduction of duplication on demand for books only available on BARD, Vision Expo, the Summer Reading program for children and young adults, the technology grant that was introduced in 2015, as well as a number of things happening behind the scenes to help improve service to patrons.

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Representatives from the library attended an awards luncheon at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. to accept the honor.

You can read the full press release about the award here.


Never judge a book by its cover

But in honor of Valentine’s Day, at least let them entertain you.

Here is just a sampling of cover art that keeps the Talking Book staff entertained on a daily basis. There are hundreds more where these came from, all of which are available to borrow from the Indiana State Library!

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This blog post was written by Talking Books & Braille Supervisor Maggie Ansty. For more information about large print and talking books, please visit the TBBL website.


Explore the Large Print Collection of the Indiana State Library

The Indiana State Library has over 16,000 large print titles as a part of the Talking Book and Braille Library collection; these books can be borrowed both by individual residents of Indiana and libraries in Indiana. Our collection consists of classic titles, current bestsellers, young adult novels, books that are being made into movies, as well as books in many more genres.


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New Grant Opportunity from the Indiana State Library Foundation

The Indiana State Library Foundation in collaboration with the Indiana State Library’s Talking Book & Braille Library is seeking applicants for a new grant supporting talking book patrons with the purchase of assistive technology devices. The grants will provide monetary reimbursements in amounts ranging from $50 to $1,000 towards the purchase of an assistive technology device of the grant recipient’s choosing. These devices remove many barriers to education and employment for visually impaired individuals and may include: video magnifiers, optical character recognition systems, speech systems, etc.Assistive_Tech_Picture_web Continue reading

Best Books of the Year – Borrow them at the Indiana State Library

Come explore the Talking Book and Braille Library’s large print browsing collection at the Indiana State Library. Located on the second floor between the manuscript reading room and the Indiana Young Readers Center, books from the browsing collection can be checked out from anyone with an Indiana State Library card.

Some of the best and most popular books of the year can be found in this collection, including:

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
Erik Larsondead wake
On May 1‚ 1915‚ a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York‚ bound for Liverpool‚ carrying a record number of children and infants. The Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds” and her captain‚ William Thomas Turner‚ placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. He knew‚ moreover‚ that his ship — the fastest then in service — could outrun any threat. But as the Lusitania made its way toward Liverpool‚ an array of forces both grand and achingly small — hubris‚ a chance fog‚ a closely guarded secret‚ and more — all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history. Continue reading

Talking Books Patrons and their Families Say “Thank You!”

The Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library is a busy place to work. Each week we get hundreds of phone calls from patrons eagerly awaiting their next book while thousands of items move through the basement of the library on their way to or coming back from patrons. However, talking books is also an extremely rewarding place to work. Amongpatron comments image those hundreds of patron phone calls each week come many thanks for the service we provide; hidden in the occasional returned book is a note telling us just how much people love their talking books. Here is a collection of notes from patrons and their families telling us how much they appreciate what we do. Continue reading