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The Talking Book Library (TBL), located inside of the Worcester Public Library, loans accessible reading materials to Massachusetts residents who are unable to read standard print due to a disability. We provide library services primarily by mail. Services include the mailing of: digital audio books, large print books, braille materials, descriptive videos, and assistive equipment. Patrons can also choose to download talking books onto their smartphone or tablet. The library, which has been serving patrons since 1973, is affiliated with the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC).

The Talking Book Library is available to anyone who falls into one or more of the following categories:

  • Is blind
  • Has a visual impairment or perceptual or reading disability that cannot be improved to give visual function substantially equivalent to that of a person who has no such impairment or disability and so is unable to read printed works to substantially the same degree as a person without an impairment or disability

  • Is otherwise unable, through physical disability, to hold or manipulate a book or to focus or move the eyes to the extent that would be normally acceptable for reading.

Individuals receiving service must reside in Massachusetts for at least six months out of the year.

TBL also provides books for institutions such as hospitals, public and private libraries, nursing homes, daycare centers, schools, and other agencies serving individuals who meet the criteria above.

TBL provides access to an extensive collection of materials in audio, large type, and braille formats. This includes books for readers of all ages and interests, as well as materials in several world languages. In addition to books, our patrons can also access described DVDs, magazines, NEWSLINE news service, and instructional music materials. 

All services, including mailings, are provided at no cost to the user. We are able to provide this free program thanks to support from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, Worcester Public Library, and National Library Service for the Blind and Print-Disabled.

To apply for service, download an Application for Service or request one from us by calling 1-800-762-0085. Be sure to include the appropriate signature on the last page, then mail or fax the form to the Talking Book Library.

Membership includes an easy-to-use audio player for books on cartridge with simple instructions. Alternatively, patrons may download books to their tablet or phone using the BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) app.


  • Headphones are available to all patrons upon request. 
  • USB Breath Switch - The USB breath switch allows control the Digital Player using the breath
  • A Remote Control is available upon request. 
  • Right Angle Adapter. USB flash-drive AT-port adapter allows you to connect your USB flash drive to the USB adapter at a 90 degree right angle
  • Amplifier for patrons who are hearing impaired. 

Listening to talking books is as simple as plugging in and pressing play! Please be sure to read or listen carefully to our operating instructions, which come with the equipment. Library staff are available to answer additional questions at 508-799-1730 or by email at

Digital Books may be borrowed for eight weeks. Large Print books may be borrowed for four weeks. 

Patrons should return all materials in the same containers in which they were sent.  The address labels will have the patron's address on one side, and the library's on the other. When returning, the container should display the library's address.  Materials are free to mail and therefore do not require postage.

Patrons can also visit us and return items to our location in the Worcester Public Library's main branch.

Yes, the Talking Book Library offers institutional accounts to educators, and students are encouraged to open accounts for personal use as well. TBL’s collection includes many unabridged classics, biographies, popular fiction, and non-fiction often assigned by schools. We advise educators to provide TBL staff with any specific books that their class is reading in advance in order to give staff time to duplicate or order copies as needed. Although there are no textbooks in the collection, TBL staff can assist with referrals to other agencies that may carry them. Additionally, students with information requests can contact a readers’ advisor at 508-799-1730, 1-800-762-0085, or

By law, the Talking Book Library service is available only to eligible individuals whose applications have been approved.

Yes. Please contact us for a replacement. Once it arrives, send the old machine back in the box the new one shipped in. Please do not attempt to repair the broken equipment.

Patrons can request that materials be sent to vacation or out of state residences as well as places such as long term care or rehabilitation facilities. If you move out of state, we can transfer your account to a library closer to your new residence. We can put your account on hold if you are traveling or moving and reactivate it once you are settled.

Yes. Notify the Talking Book Library as soon as possible of address changes so library service will continue uninterrupted. Customers should also ask if the hospital or nursing home has a "Deposit Collection" of Talking Book Library materials on the premises for residents to use. If not, suggest that an administrator contact the Talking Book Library to establish one.

Patrons with internet access can search the Talking Book Library's database by title, author, media format, or keyword search. The catalog allows users to order and reserve titles. Staff can provide patrons with the necessary information to create a login account.

Books-on-tape are very expensive and have often been abridged. Books available through the Talking Book Library are free of charge to people who qualify and include the entire book.

Yes. TBL patrons have access to a large collection of magazine subscriptions in digital talking book format. Patrons can also access audio news through NFB Newsline, which provides access to over 500 national and local news publications.

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