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NLS BARD: Frequently Asked Questions

The BARD website

How do I change my password?

Go to the change BARD user ID and password page.

On this page, you can enter a new password.  You will need to enter it twice to confirm it. If the two entries don't match exactly, the new password won't be accepted.

Your password must contain:

Once your new password is accepted, you will receive an e-mail message confirming that you have changed your password.

What do I do if I lose my password?

To recover a lost or forgotten password yourself, direct your web browser to the reset your lost password page and fill out the form.  You will be prompted to answer a question which you set during your initial log in. You will receive an e-mail message with a new, temporary password.  That temporary password will be valid until you successfully log in and change it. 

If you have not previously set a secret question and answer, you will need to send an e-mail to asking for your password to be reset.  You will receive an e-mail message with a temporary password.

Can I change my user ID?  Can I change my e-mail address?

Your user ID is your e-mail address. To change it, go to the change your BARD user ID and e-mail address page.

On this page you can enter a new e-mail address.  You will need to enter it twice to make sure you have entered it correctly.  If the two entries don't match exactly, the new address won't be accepted.

Your new e-mail address becomes your user ID.  A new temporary password will be sent to this address, so make sure you use an e-mail address to which you have immediate access.

The books, musical scores, magazines, and other materials

How many books are available for download?

As of March 2012, there are more than twenty-five thousand books available. This number increases weekly.

What books are being added?

NLS will add every new digital book (braille and audio) it produces once it has met the quality standards. NLS also continues to convert many older books to digital format.
Soon NLS will be adding digital books submitted by other agencies.

When are books added?

NLS-produced books are added to the downloadable collection soon after they have been approved to be added to the general collection. Books submitted by other agencies will be added soon after they are submitted.

Why are some books from a series missing?  Why are some magazine issues missing?

While NLS always makes an effort to offer the complete book series, some books in a series are not available in a digital form. NLS will convert these missing books from analog recordings when possible.

NLS-produced magazine issues must meet strict quality-control standards held by NLS. In some cases, individual issues can be held up by production problems that cause them not to meet these standards. NLS works with its magazine producers to solve problems as quickly as possible so the magazine issue can be posted to the website.

What do I do if I find a problem in a book or magazine?

Please report the problem—including the title, author, prefix, and five-digit number of the book—to In the case of digital talking books, your player can tell you the time elapsed as of your current reading position. If possible, please include this information in your message. Listing the five-digit book number and its prefix in your message’s subject line is also helpful.

What's available here that I can't get from my NLS library?

All NLS-produced materials are available at your library on another medium.

NLS will begin adding items to the downloadable collection that it did not produce. Many of these items may not be available at your NLS library. However, your library may be able to get a copy of some materials it does not have for you through interlibrary loan. Contact your library for more information.

Special collection materials, such as music and foreign-language books, also may not be available at your NLS library. Contact the NLS Music Section at to request special format music materials. Foreign-language materials can be obtained by your NLS library through interlibrary loan.

What's not available here that I can get from my NLS library?

Your library's collection is far more extensive than the downloadable collection. NLS continues to add materials to the downloadable collection, including all its newly produced titles. However, the absence of a title in the downloadable collection does not mean the item is not available at all. You should check your library's catalog or the NLS catalog.

Can you add a specific title, please?

All books currently selected by NLS are produced in digital format. Check the NLS catalog: if a book is listed as IN PROCESS, it will appear on the BARD site when production and quality checks have been completed.

Thousands of older audiobook titles have been selected for conversion from analog to digital format. This is a long-term project. Some older books are unsuitable for conversion and must be re-recorded or, in some cases, removed from the conversion list (books long out of print and prohibitively expensive, for example); these books will continue to be available on cassette, but may not ever become available as digital talking books.

It is useful to contact your network library if you think you have discovered a title missing from a series, a duplication, or some other kind of inconsistency. The information will be forwarded to appropriate NLS staff for action.

BARD is not a books-on-request service, but, following long-standing NLS policy, patrons are encouraged to bring their reading needs to the attention of NLS by contacting their regional or subregional library. The librarians will then query NLS and report back to the patron.

How long will magazine issues be kept on the site?

At this time, NLS plans to keep magazine issues available indefinitely.

Finding books

How do I find a book to read?

The easiest way to find a book is to use the "Search the collection" field on the BARD main page. Enter a word or two that relates to the title, author, or subject you are interested in. *You will receive more targeted results if you put an exact phrase from the title or the exact title in quotes. Or, you can browse the entire NLS catalog by author, title, or subject using the links provided. 

What's the quickest way to find a specific book?

Use the "Search the collection" field, entering as many words of the title as you can. All the words you enter must appear in the title, so do not use words unless you are certain they are part of the book's title.

You can also search for a specific author by putting the author's name in quotation marks. Include the author's last name, a comma, a space, and the first name such as: "Shakespeare, William."

How do I search by narrator?

Enter the narrator's name, first name first, into the "Search the collection" box. Or, enter the book's five-digit book number into the "Search the collection" box.

How do I search by book number?

Enter the book’s five-digit book number into the “Search the collection” box. When looking for a book in a particular format, i.e. braille or audio, enter the prefix and the five-digit book number into the “Search the collection” box. 

Why can't I search by a combination of factors?

This is a capability NLS hopes to add in the near future.

Downloading books

I just downloaded a book to my computer, but now I can't find it. Where did my download go?

There are two good places to check: the first is on your desktop and the second is in your documents folder.

Each web browser handles downloads slightly differently. In most cases unless you set a default location for downloads, you will be asked with each download where you would like to save it.

Many users choose to create a "My downloads" folder inside their documents folder and use that as the default destination for downloads.

Microsoft Internet Explorer will automatically default to the place you specified during your previous download.

To set your default location for downloads in Firefox, choose "Options" from the "Tools" menu. On the main tab, you can specify a default location by choosing the radio button called "Save files to" and entering a directory name in the entry field.

If you know how to search your computer for files and folders you can always search "DB-" (without quotes) to locate audiobooks and "BR-" (without quotes) to locate braille books.

I want to download a volume of a braille book. How?

Digital braille volumes are available by accessing the collection through the online catalog and through the HTML web version of Braille Book Review.

Accessing braille volumes through the online catalog

To access digital braille volumes through the online catalog, users should follow these steps:

  1. Go to the NLS website.
  2. Select the "Search the Catalog" link at the top of the page.
  3. Use the "quick search" facility. Type the words "web braille" (no quotes and a space between the two words) in the Keyword box. Note that the star or asterisk (*) may not be used as a wild card when using the keyword edit field to search the main catalog. Interactive links to available downloadable braille volumes are within each record.
  4. After activating a link to the desired downloadable volume (which will always start with "") users are automatically directed to BARD. When prompted, users should enter their BARD log-in ID and password to download their selection. Note that after users log in they may be prompted to change their password and/or review and agree to the pledge.

Accessing braille volumes through the online version of Braille Book Review

To access digital braille volumes through the online version of Braille Book Review, users should follow these steps:

  1. Go to the NLS website.
  2. Select the "Read Braille Book Review" link.
  3. From the body of the HTML version, activate the link of the desired volume.
  4. After activating a link to the desired downloadable volume users are automatically directed to BARD. When prompted, users should enter their BARD log-in ID and password to download their selection. Note that after users log in they may be prompted to change their password and/or review and agree to the pledge.

Can I put more than one audiobook on a cartridge? How?

This depends on how your player handles multiple books. If you are using a third-party player, please see your player's documentation for the answer to this question. 

If you are using the NLS player, the "bookshelf mode" of the player allows you to have multiple books on a cartridge. To make use of this mode, put each book in its own folder on your cartridge.

To enter bookshelf mode on your NLS player, hold down the "play" button until you hear the player go into bookshelf mode. Release the play button. Now you can use the arrows at each end of the play button to move to the books that are available. When you hear the title you wish to read, simply hit the play button.

If you have further questions about using your NLS player to play multiple books, please contact the library that loaned the player to you. Note: All files must be in the proper format (digital audio) to be read with the NLS players; the players will not recognize .brf (braille) files.

How do I know if the audiobook I want will fit on my cartridge?

The website lists books with their reading times. These translate to file size at a rate of approximately 11 megabytes per hour. A one gigabyte cartridge will hold just under 96 hours and a two gigabyte cartridge will hold about 192 hours.

How do I move an audiobook to my player?

Open the .zip file you downloaded to your computer. There are several popular software packages that handle this function. If you are using Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Mac OS X, this function is built-in.

When using a Windows-based computer, select all of the files by simultaneously pressing "control" and "A." Copy the files to the clipboard by pressing "control" and "C." Navigate to your thumb drive, cartridge, or 3rd party SD card and paste the files with "control" and "V" into the appropriate directory.

On a Macintosh, use the "command" key instead of the control key.


Reading books

My player says I am not authorized to read this book.  What does that mean?

This can be caused by three things:

  1. If you have purchased your own digital talking-book player, you have not completed the steps needed to enable your player to use NLS materials. Soon after receiving your user ID and password for the download site from NLS, you should have received an e-mail message from your player manufacturer that included one or more files needed to authorize your player along with instructions on how to do so. If you did not receive these, please contact your player's manufacturer.

    If this is your second or later device, or if you indicated a different device type than when you first applied for a download account, go to the BARD home page and simply follow the links called "update account settings" and "add a purchase player," starting at the home page.

  2. You have not completely transferred your digital talking book to your cartridge. This is usually the result of a copy operation that failed, or an incomplete download from BARD.

  3. You have not transferred your digital talking book into the necessary directory on your third party player memory card. Please refer to your player's user manual for information on where to place books on the memory card.

Can I listen to downloaded audiobooks on my computer?

Not at this time.

How do I read digital braille books?

There are a variety of devices that users can use to read digital braille materials. Web-Braille files may be read online or may be downloaded for offline reading or embossing with a braille display, braille-aware notetaker, or braille embosser. Zipped files must always be unzipped before being read.

The mailing list: BARD-Support

How do I subscribe to this mailing list?

Please send a message to stating you wish to subscribe to BARD-Support. Include your e-mail address and your first and last name.

What can I talk about on the list?

BARD-Support is a one-way, announcements-only list. Replies that are sent to the list will not reach us. If you have questions, please contact your local or regional NLS-cooperating library, or send a message to:

How do I unsubscribe from the mailing list?

Please send a message to stating you wish to unsubscribe. Please include your e-mail address and your first and last name.

Can you temporarily suspend my subscription to the mailing list?

Yes.  Please send a message to when you want your subscription suspended.  You will have to send another message to have your subscription turned back on.

BARD Mobile for iOS devices

Who can use the NLS BARD Mobile application?

The NLS BARD Mobile application is free to download from the online App Store, but only eligible NLS patrons can use it. You must have a previously established Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) account (user name and password) to download and read materials.

What books and magazines are available for download using the application?

Anything that is available on BARD is available for download, however materials must be downloaded from either your personal BARD wish list or the Recently Added Books and Magazines list.

What type of device do I need to use the application?

The BARD Mobile application for iOS can be used with any iOS device that runs a 4.3 or later operating system. Specifically that means a 3Gs or later iPhone, a 4th or 5th generation iPod touch, and/or any iPad.

How do I get the iOS application on my device?

From the device you wish to install BARD Mobile on, go to the App store app and enter the words “bard mobile” in the search text field. Once you find the app, select the Install button. The NLS BARD Mobile application will install on your device.

Do I need to register my device on BARD?

No. The device will register itself the first time you log in to BARD Mobile using your BARD user name and password.

I lost my device. What do I do?

1. Immediately change your BARD password

    If you lose your device, the first thing you should do is change your BARD password using a web browser. This will prevent anyone using the mobile app on the lost phone from logging in and downloading any further books using your account. You will need to re-log in using your new password from any other mobile device.

2. Report your lost device to your library

    Report your lost device to your library. Make sure to include your BARD login ID, the type of device it was, and the date you started using it (if you can remember). The library will use this information to delete the device from your account. You may also contact if you are unable to contact your library.

How do I apply for BARD using my device?

Open a web browser from your device and go to Select the link to the BARD application instructions. From the BARD application instructions page select Link to BARD application for individuals. You will be presented with a drop-down list of network libraries. Choose your library from the list and then select the Submit button.

Fill in all of the information in the application. Note that the field labeled “Please select the type of player you will be using” is for users of 3rd party talking-book players and/or braille notetakers. You do not need to select anything from this list. Submit your application.

Once your application is processed by your network library, you will be e-mailed a temporary password. You must login to BARD, using a web browser and change your password before logging into BARD Mobile.

I don’t know how to use my iOS device. Where can I get some help?

There are many resources available for using iOS devices. Here are a few free resources to get you started.

Webpage: 20 Quick Tips to Get You Started with Your First iPhone

Video Tutorial: Phone Capabilities Of The iPhone 5

Video Tutorial: Introduction To The iPhone 5

There are also several resources available for a fee.

Getting Started with the iPhone and iOS 5 for Blind Users, by Anna Dresner with
Dean Martineau, $22

iPhone: The Missing Manual, 6th Edition, by David Pogue, $11.99

How do I set the sleep timer?

The BARD Mobile application does not have a built in sleep timer. NLS is considering adding this function to a future release of the app but for now you can use the timer that comes standard on all iOS devices.

From the Home screen, select and activate the clock application. Select the timer tab. Select the “When timer ends” button just below the center of the screen on an iPhone and just above the tabs on an iPad. Then select Stop Playing from the “When timer ends” list. Note that Stop Playing is at the very bottom of the list. Select the Set button from the top right corner.

Set the timer for the desired time and then select the Start button. Close out of the clock application and continue reading your book. When the time has elapsed, BARD Mobile will stop playing your book.

Note that once you have the timer app set to Stop Playing, you can activate the timer using Siri.

Why does downloading stop when I leave the app?

Applications are limited by iOS in what they can do while in the background. BARD Mobile can continue playing an audiobook, but not download.

How do I return to a long list of items?

In some long lists of items, such as those in Recently Added Titles, there are More info buttons. If you select one of these buttons, a details screen will appear displaying more information about the book. If you then press the back button in the upper left corner of the screen, you will be returned to the long list. At this point, the VoiceOver focus is on the “get books, back” button. If you flick right, go past the heading, and enter the list from the top of the screen, the display will jump to the top and you will be on the first item of the list. If instead you don’t flick but touch the very center of the screen, the focus will go to the point (or very near the point) from which you left the list.

I need help using VoiceOver. Where can I find it?

Video Tutorial: VoiceOver Screen Navigation on the iPhone 4S iphone-4s/
Video Tutorial: Gestures With Voiceover On The iphone 4S

App Tutorial: LookTel VoiceOver Tutorial

Where can I get help using the BARD Mobile application?

The BARD Mobile user guide is available from the bookshelf in the app, under Help. It is also available in an HTML version online at

Contact your local braille and talking-book library for additional assistance.

last updated: 09/26/2013

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