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Library of Congress Launches New Software to Simplify Download of Braille and Audio Reading Material

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress, today released BARD Express, a Windows-based software program that will aid in the use of the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service.

The free software is available for download from a link on the BARD main page.  If you are a patron of the NLS program and a current BARD user, log in at nlsbard.loc.gov.

“BARD Express will make browsing BARD audio materials, downloading titles and transferring them to a cartridge or USB drive much easier for patrons using a PC.” said Karen Keninger, NLS director. “We hope it will make the thousands of books available on BARD readily accessible to more patrons.”

BARD Express manages audio materials that users download to their computers and categorizes the materials as books, magazines, read items and unread items for easy sorting. The program also simplifies downloading and transferring talking books to a cartridge or USB drive by providing a button that unzips and transfers the files to an external storage device. It also provides device-management options from the main menu. 

Don Olson, BARD operations manager at NLS, said “BARD Express enables NLS patrons to more easily unzip the books they download from BARD. Gone are the days of having to carry out multiple file-management steps in order to place a book or magazine on an NLS cartridge or a USB drive.” 

The BARD Express software provides step-by-step menus to more easily move books from a PC to a patron’s device of choice. The program also simplifies searching for titles on BARD by presenting a range of search-and-browse options from the main menu, such as search by series, search by keyword, browse the recently added and most popular lists, and browse the magazine collection.

NLS will release the software, along with support resources—such as a BARD Express “how-to” video series, frequently-asked-questions about BARD Express and a getting-started guide for supporting library staff in the network of cooperating libraries.

BARD Express was the brainchild of Kirk Saathoff, a software developer whose wife and son are patrons of the NLS braille and talking-book program and frequent users of BARD.

Saathoff, who donated the software, said, “For years, I watched my wife sometimes become a bit annoyed with her computer, and I know [most] software is designed without regard for people with disabilities.  My hope in developing this software was that it would allow more people to enjoy books while minimizing the time and frustration involved in accessing them.”

NLS administers the braille and talking-book program, a free library service available to U.S. residents and American citizens living abroad whose low vision, blindness or disability makes reading a regular printed page difficult. Through its national network of libraries, NLS mails books and magazines in audio and braille formats, as well as digital audio equipment, directly to enrollees at no cost. Music instructional materials are available in large print, e-braille, braille, and recorded formats. Selected materials are also available online for download, and are accessible through smartphones. For more information, visit loc.gov/ThatAllMayRead/ or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.


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