“That All May Read” – Endowment Supports National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled; Library of Congress Mobile Apps

The official flag of the United States Library of Congress, which was founded in 1800.

“Digitization of Library’s Braille Music Scores and Instructional Materials Is the First Initiative the Gift Will Fund.” U.S. Library of Congress



The Library of Congress (LOC) announced a major endowment in support of the work of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS). Established by Susan D. Diskin in honor of her late mother, The Tiby Diskin Memorial Fund will provide resources for the Library to expand its services to individuals with visual impairments and other print disabilities.

The first initiative made possible by this gift is the digitization of the Library’s braille music scores and instructional materials – the largest collection of its kind in the world. Many of the scores in the collection are rare and fragile. Some date back to the late Nineteen Century. NLS will use the funds to develop a braille digitization tool that uses 3D laser technology.

“We are so excited to receive this generous gift from Dr. Diskin and honored by her recognition of our work,” NLS Director Karen Keninger said. “It will allow us to advance our efforts to digitize NLS’s world-class braille music collection much faster and more accurately than we had ever anticipated, a real benefit to the students, teachers, performers and music lovers who use our braille materials.”

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden added, “We are grateful to Dr. Diskin for choosing the nation’s library to honor her mother’s memory. This fund will help NLS fulfill its vision ‘That All May Read.’ “

In a letter to Hayden, Diskin, a clinical psychologist practicing in Los Angeles, wrote of her mother’s reverence for knowledge, reading and education. Because of this, Diskin selected the world’s largest repository of knowledge, the United States Library of Congress, as a fitting institution to honor her mother.

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 regular printed material difficult. Through its national network of libraries, NLS provides books and magazines in talking-book and braille formats and playback equipment directly to patrons at no cost. Materials are also available online for download and are accessible on smart devices through the BARD mobile app *. Music instructional materials are available in large-print, ebraille, braille and recorded formats. For more information, visit loc.gov/ThatAllMayRead or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

*Other US LOC mobile apps are:

Main reading room at the Library of Congress / Public Domain Photograph via  Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID highsm.11604.

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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The U.S. Library of Congress Launches New Software to Simplify the Downloading of Braille and Audio Reading Material

Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building
Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building

41drgudqojl-_sx365_bo1204203200_I the Library of Congress. For those of us who are writers, readers and researchers, there is nothing that quite compares to the depth and breadth of services and materials that are available and becoming increasingly accessible from the U.S. Library of Congress. Of recent note is a new software system – launched on January 4th –  to enhance the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD). The enhanced service uses the BARD Express, software donated to the library by a developer whose wife and son use the National Library Service (NLS, part of the Library of Congress) BARD service.

NLS is a freely available to U.S. residents and citizens living abroad whose low vision, blindness, or physical disability makes it difficult to read regular print. Local cooperating libraries throughout the United States mail NLS talking books, magazines, and playback equipment directly to enrollees at no cost. Braille books and magazines are also available at no cost. Braille and talking books and magazines also may be downloaded from the Internet through the BARD Express.

 photograph of the Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson building The Great Hall interior
photograph of the Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson building
The Great Hall interior

The BARD Express, a Windows-based software program, aids 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. You must register and the application instructions are HERE. The application is intended for use by partrons or institutions in good standing with the NLS.

“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.

The 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 to supporting library staff in the network of cooperating libraries.

Kirk Saathoff, the software developer who donated the software, said, “For years, I watched my wife sometimes become a bit annoyed with her computer, and I know 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.”

U.S. Library of Congress, Packard Campus (Culpeper, Virginia)
U.S. Library of Congress, Packard Campus (Culpeper, Virginia) for audio-visual conservation

For more information, visit loc.gov/ThatAllMayRead/ or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

The Library of Congress: The Art and Architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building
The Library of Congress: The Art and Architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building

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 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,. Register your creative works at copyright.gov.

Photo credits ~ Thomas Jefferson Building, Carol M. Highsmith under CC BY SA 3.0 license; the great hall interior Carol M. Highsmith and generously released into the public domain; the Packard Campus, Federal Government, public domain.


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