Tuesday, January 4 is World Braille Day! Braille is an invaluable communication tool for those who are blind or visually impaired, and to celebrate this day, we’re spreading awareness about a local braille resource: Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library – located downtown at the Indiana State Library.

Laura Williams, the Regional Librarian for the Talking Book and Braille Library, answered some questions for us about this valuable resource for today’s blog:


What is the basic function and purpose of the Talking Book and Braille Library?

We provide free library service to residents of Indiana who cannot use standard printed materials due to a visual, physical, or reading disability. Our library has audio, braille, and large print books that we send to patrons all over the state; patrons can also download their audio and braille books if they prefer that option. Our library is part of the nation-wide National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled from the Library of Congress.


How does the Talking Book and Braille Library serve youth?

We have a lot of library materials for youth. We have audiobooks that we can send to to youth, or they can download them to play on a mobile device. We also have twin vision braille books for kids, which are children’s books that contain the print version of the book with a braille overlay. We also try to make sure schools are aware of what we do so that they can get books for any of their students who might need them. Finally, we have a summer reading program that our young patrons can participate in.


What unique programs or events does the Talking Book and Braille Library provide?

Every other year we hold the Indiana Vision Expo at the library. The Vision Expo provides an opportunity for people with vision loss, their friends and family, and service providers to learn about the resources available that help promote independent living. The next Vision Expo will be held in 2023. You can find info here.


What do you think is the most widely used service or type of material used at the Talking Book and Braille Library?

Audiobooks are by far the most popular material that we provide. Each month we send about 27,000 audiobooks to patrons throughout the state. The second most popular service we provide is probably BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download), which allows patrons the ability to download their own braille and audiobooks directly without having to wait for their books to come in the mail. Patrons download approximately 6000 books a month in Indiana through BARD.


Are there any fun facts you’d like to share about the Talking Book and Braille Library?

I don’t know about fun facts, but I always find it fascinating that the National Library Service and the Indiana State Library have been providing Talking Books through this program since 1934.

Also, a fun extra service that we provide to patrons through the Indiana State Library is Indiana Voices, our local recording program. Through Indiana Voices we record books by Indiana authors or books about Indiana that otherwise would not be available in an accessible program. We have recorded over 200 books through this program. You can learn more about Indiana Voices by visiting our website.


Finally, how can someone help to support the Talking Book and Braille Library?

There are a number of ways that people can support the Talking Book library.  Indiana State Library Foundation provides a great deal of support to the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library. You can support us by supporting them.

Most importantly, you can support the Talking Book library by telling your friends and family about the service. There are so many people around the state who could benefit from the program who do not know about it that any way we can get the word out is hugely helpful.