The New Mexico State Library has housed the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH) since 1967, but its resources are anything but old fashioned. The library allows patrons who are blind, visually impaired, physically handicapped or reading disabled to enjoy reading in an alternative format. What started as a repository for books in braille, or recorded on audio cartridges to be listened to on special playback equipment, has evolved to include a collection of digital downloads. This new technology allows LBPH patrons to enjoy the same convenient access to books that a typical reader has.
New Mexico’s LBPH is a member of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), established by an act of Congress in 1931 and placed under jurisdiction of the Library of Congress. The mission of NLS is to ensure “that all may read” regardless of age, economic circumstances or technical expertise. Books including bestsellers in all formats (Braille, audio books on digital cartridge and digital download) span a variety of genres including mysteries, romance, suspense, and Westerns.
Since 2013, patrons can now download audio and braille books to the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. The Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) Mobile app is available through the iTunes store. The free app allows readers to download audio and braille books from their NLS BARD accounts. BARD contains nearly 50,000 books, magazines and music scores in audio and braille formats, with new selections added daily.
A similar app for Android devices was recently released in June 2015. Patrons can download the BARD Mobile app for Android from the Google Play store. Users must have a Google account to download and be using devices running Android OS 4.1 or later.
NLS Director Karen Keninger said, “The BARD Mobile app allows searching, downloading and reading braille, and talking books and magazines on one fully accessible, mainstream device. It’s a library in your pocket.”
Interested applicants should visit www.nmstatelibrary.org/direct-and-rural-services/lbph to review eligibility requirements, an application form, and how to order and download books.