In addition to loaning talking book cartridges through the mail, the Minnesota Braille and Talking Book Library (MBTBL) offers patrons access to the Minnesota Braille and Audio Reading Download (MN BARD) website. MN BARD is maintained by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) in Washington, D.C. MN BARD is often simply referred to as just “bard”.
MN BARD is an optional service that allows individuals and institutions with a fast Internet connection to download books and magazines directly from the NLS 24/7. The following are available on MN BARD:
NOTE: Not all titles exist in both braille and audio formats. Sometimes they exist in one format but not the other.
Playing downloaded talking books requires patrons to purchase either:
To apply for MN BARD, patrons must:
Check with the library regarding eligibility questions before applying.
Please note the following when completing the online application:
After applying, patrons will receive several email confirmations, which may take two business days to complete. The final email will include a username and a temporary password. This is a one-time use password. Users will be required to create a new password when they first log in. Passwords should be at least eight characters in length and contain at least one lower case letter and at least one number. Please complete the security question section so you can retrieve a lost password. If the security question section is not completed, users must contact the library to have their password reset.
BARD applicants registering NLS-authorized commercial players will receive an additional email from the player manufacturer with an authorization key to enable compatibility between their player and the MN BARD files.
MN BARD books and magazines are intended solely for the use of those who meet the eligibility criteria of the NLS. MN BARD patrons are required to agree to the NLS Download Agreement before they have access to MN BARD. This pledge states that “patrons may download materials from BARD solely for their personal use. Downloaded books and magazines may not be reproduced, transmitted, displayed, distributed, sold, or transferred under any circumstances.” User IDs and passwords may not be shared with anyone. An exception is made for NLS patrons who rely on a trusted personal assistant to access BARD. The NLS patron is responsible to ensure that the assistant complies with this pledge.
The free BARD Mobile app for Apple devices running iOS version 4.3 (or later) is available from iTunes. The app allows MN BARD patrons to download and play audio books and magazines and read braille books, magazines and music scores. NLS Director Karen Keninger describes BARD Mobile as “a library in your pocket.”
To download titles, patrons must first add each desired title to their wish list, or select a title from the "Get Books” tab. Braille readers need a Bluetooth-enabled, refreshable braille display that is compatible with their iOS device in order to read electronic braille titles.
Each MN BARD patron can register up to five iOS devices on their account. Although patrons can download the same titles on all devices, the app is unable to synchronize reading positions across multiple devices. Unlike NLS players, iOS devices do not need to be registered.
Prior to using the app, users should consider the following settings changes for their iOS devices:
Patrons should consider the following setting changes within the BARD Mobile app:
An app for Android devices is being developed. Information about it will be provided on this page when it becomes available.
In addition to the digital talking book players issued by the NLS, there are also several commercial players that individuals can purchase to play talking books and magazines downloaded from Minnesota Braille and Audio Reading Download (MN BARD). The following is a list of compatible players and links to their manufacturer’s websites:
Please remember that BARD files will not play on a computer. Patrons must have an NLS or NLS-authorized player.
The Minnesota Braille and Talking Book Library does not sell or loan blank talking book cartridges. The following is a list of companies and organizations that sell cartridges and cables which can be used with MN BARD downloads and NLS-produced talking book players:
Twin Ports Low Vision Center Duluth Lighthouse for the Blind
Mailing Address: 4505 W. Superior Street, Duluth, MN 55807
Telephone: 1-800-422-0833 or 1-218-624-4828, extension 119
Braille Institute’s Vistas Store
Mailing Address: 741 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029
Telephone: 1-323-663-1111, extension 1245
Independent Living Aids*
Mailing Address: 200 Robbins Lane, Jericho, NY 11753
*Independent Living Aids only sell the USB cables, not blank talking book cartridges.