Braille & Audio Reading Download (BARD)
Library patrons with NLS Digital Talking Book Machines (DTBM) eager to read digital books not yet available on digital cartridge, or who have their own NLS-compatible commercial player, are encouraged to download books from BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download). Tens of thousands of books and dozens of magazines are available for download, with more added every week.
In order to download books from BARD you must first apply for a login and password. Only patrons actively registered for service through WLBPD, or through another library within the National Library Service network, are eligible to download from BARD.
Downloading from BARD requires an email address, a computer with a high-speed Internet connection, a USB drive, and an NLS-issued or NLS-compatible DTBM. Once the book is on your computer as a .zip file it can be unzipped and copied to a digital cartridge or flash drive.
BARD Frequently Asked Questions
- NLS Flash Cartridge
- 2G; holds approximately 180 hours of NLS books
- Requires a cable to connect to your computer
- Advantages: Designed for NLS player; fits in cartridge slot; easy to insert/remove from machine; larger than a standard USB flash drive
- Blank cartridges are available for purchase from the Ann Arbor District Library, American Printing House for the Blind, Inc., and Perkins Products.
- USB Flash Drive
- Also called: "jump drive," "thumb drive," or "USB drive"
- Fits in USB port (on the right side of the NLS DTBM)
- Advantage: available locally at most discount, electronic, or department stores; available with larger storage to hold more books
How do I get to the books and magazines?
Once your BARD application has been processed and your login and password are set, you may go to nlsbard.loc.gov to browse and download books and magazines.
What machines will play the downloaded books and magazines?
BARD materials can only be played on NLS authorized players; they will not play off of a computer.
BARD downloads can be played on either the advanced or standard model of the NLS Digital Talking Book Machine (DTBM).
In addition to the NLS DTBM there are several commercial digital talking book players that are NLS authorized to play BARD downloads. Click here for a list of NLS authorized players.
What do I use to store the book or magazine?
When using the NLS DTBM you may store the book or magazine on a blank NLS flash cartridge or a USB flash drive.
What kind of Flash drive do I use?
Can I store more than one book or magazine on the same cartridge or flash drive?
Yes, but in order to navigate from one book or magazine to another, you'll need to become familiar with the Bookshelf feature on your NLS DTBM. To access the Bookshelf feature on your DTBM, hold down the Play/Stop button. After approximately five seconds you should expect to hear the machine beep and then announce "Bookshelf." Once the machine has announced that it's in Bookshelf mode, you should expect it to announce the name of the first book or magazine on the cartridge, or the book or magazine that was most recently played. To move to the next book or magazine, tap the fast-forward button until the title of the book or magazine you want to read is announced. To begin listening, press the Play/Stop button. Navigation works the same way in reverse by simply tapping the Rewind button.
Digital Player "Bookshelf" Audio Instructions
How do I download books or magazines from BARD?
Downloading from BARD does require some basic computer skills including navigating the Web, filling out online forms, downloading, unzipping, and transferring files. If you have experience with these processes, downloading from BARD is not difficult.
Since computer software and configuration vary widely, as well as any screen readers or other assistive technologies you may be using, WLBPD staff can offer only limited download support. For further one-on-one assistance, you can visit our Assistive Technology lab at the Downtown AADL on a walk-in basis on Tuesdays 2-6pm, Wednesdays 9:30am-12:30pm, and Thursdays 2-5pm. You may also consider calling on your personal technical supports, such as friends, family members, or other knowledgeable people you may know who may also call or visit us for further instructions.
Additionally, you may watch this BARD tutorial video here.
Downloading & Listening to Audio Files on the DTBM
Frequently Asked Questions
Can books and audio files be stored together on a single digital cartridge or storage device?
Yes, but you need to create a folder entitled "audio+podcasts" (all one word, no spaces) on the digital cartridge or storage device. Save all of the audio files to this folder as it helps the DTBM offer the audio files on the bookshelf. You do not need to create a special folder for the audio files, but you may want to create a folder for each album so that the songs are organized.
Is there a difference between playing audio files on a standard versus an advanced DTBM?
Yes. Audio files will play on both standard and advanced machines, although forwarding to the next song is faster on the advanced machine, by using the bookmark forward button. On the standard machine, you will instead be required to press and hold the forward button and wait for several seconds while the song forwards 10 seconds, 20 seconds, and then beeps to the next song.
How do I access the Bookshelf on the DTBM?
To access the Bookshelf feature on your DTBM, hold down the Play/Stop button. After approximately five seconds you should expect to hear the machine beep and then announce "Bookshelf." Once the machine has announced that it's in Bookshelf mode, you should expect it to announce the name of the first book or magazine on the cartridge, or the book or magazine that was most recently played. To move to the next book or magazine, tap the fast-forward button until the title of the book or magazine you want to read is announced. To begin listening, press the Play/Stop button. Navigation works the same way in reverse by simply tapping the Rewind button.
Digital Player "Bookshelf" Audio Instructions
How can I download MP3's from Magnatune @ AADL?
Log in to your AADL online account. Don't have one? You will need to setup an online account before you will be able to download Magnatune albums and songs.
Follow the Magnatune Download instructions.
Download the songs into a folder labeled "audio+podcasts". If you download an album, you'll have to "unzip" it using the "Extract Files" link.
Tips for BARD Log-In Troubles
The password you select is case sensitive. If you capitalized it when you created it, you'll have to capitalize it when you log in from then on. This also applies to the answer you select as the answer to your security question. The same holds true for your email address. If you entered it with a capital letter when you applied for BARD and you type it in in all lower case, you won't be able to log in.
If you are running JAWS13, an update from Freedom Scientific had a bug that stopped the screen from refreshing after you logged in. The solution was to hit INSERT+ESCAPE to refresh the screen. A new update to JAWS has now fixed this problem. So type INSERT+J to open JAWS, and type CTRL+INSERT+V to find out what JAWS version you're running. If you're running a version earlier than JAWS 13.0.1006, update JAWS.
Where can I get help?
BARD-specific questions may be answered by the BARD online instructions and FAQs at nlsbard.loc.gov/support, or you may contact NLS at NLSDownload@loc.gov.
If you are following all of the instructions and the book or audio file you're trying to download still won't play, it's possible that your NLS DTBM needs updated software. You may download the latest update here
For specific questions about the NLS DTBM you can contact us at:
Phone: (734) 327-4224