Talking Book Center FAQs

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Talking Book Center FAQs

  • How do I register myself for Talking Book Center services?

    After checking the eligibility guidelines, qualified individuals can fill out the on-line application forms.  Print it out for certification with an original signature by an appropriate person, as identified on the application. You can obtain print copies by calling 1.800.995.6215 or 1.540.885.6215. In all cases, certification is necessary. You will receive confirmation of the registration within three to five business days.

  • Who can certify people as eligible?

    In cases of blindness, visual impairment, or physical limitations, eligibility can be certified by doctors of medicine; doctors of osteopathy; ophthalmologists; optometrists; registered nurses; therapists; and professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or private welfare agencies (e.g., social workers, caseworkers, counselors, rehabilitation teachers, and superintendents). In the absence of any of these, certification may be made by professional librarians or by any person whose competence under specific circumstances is acceptable to the Library of Congress. In the case of reading disability from organic dysfunction, eligibility must be certified by doctors of medicine or doctors of osteopathy, who may consult with colleagues in associated disciplines.

  • Are there any costs to the borrower associated with using the program?

    All equipment and services, including the mailing of materials, are free to eligible users, due to support from many sources.  The Federal Government's Library of Congress supplies materials and equipment.  The City of Staunton provides the location free of charge, and basic operation costs are provided by the localities served, as well as the United Way of Lexington/Rockbridge County, area Friends of the Libraries and other supporters.

  • I just sent in my application. Now what?

    The center processes applications as soon as they arrive. This involves verifying the certification, entering the patron information into the Library's database, and preparing the welcome packet for mailing. Three business days are usually needed to complete this process. The welcome packet contains two recent National Library Service (NLS) catalogs and a welcome letter.  The digital book player will be sent in a separate package with instructions for using the player. As soon as registration is complete, we will start sending digital books to patrons who opted to let the center staff choose books by subject when their requests are not available. You must borrow at least one book or magazine annually in order to keep the NLS-provided player.

  • How do I order books?

    You will be receiving Talking Book Topic catalogs in the mail.  Each has an order form. The large print version of Talking Book Topics has order pages in the back of the books, while the other catalogs have separate forms. When sending these in, make sure your name and address are on the forms. Some will have this information imprinted on them, but some will require you to write in the information. The catalogs are sent every two months. Catalogs are yours to keep or recycle; they do not need to be returned to the Talking Book Center. You may also request books by calling the center, faxing, e-mailing, or writing a separate letter to the center. Be sure to include your name, address, and telephone number with the order.

  • How do I know what books you have?

    The full National Library Service catalog can be viewed online. Local Reader Advisors are available Monday through Friday,  from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, to answer questions and provide patrons with assistance in locating titles that meet their reading needs.

  • How do I find out if you have a particular book?

    The best way is to call the center and speak to a Reader Advisor who can check on the availability of a particular book, or books by a particular author. People with access to the internet can check the NLS online catalog for an individual book. You may also write, call or email your request to our office. 

  • How often will I get books?

    At the start of service, patrons will either receive only the books requested or, if requested titles are not currently available, staff will send books from the list of subjects that you chose on the application. After that point, books will be mailed to you as your returned books come in. You may request as many books as you would like to read. The more titles you ask for, the easier it will be for us to find something available to send you when you need something to read. If you feel that you are getting too many (or too few) books, contact the center and we’ll make adjustments to the number of books sent each time and the maximum you receive. These adjustments can be made at any time. On occasion, it takes a few tries to get a satisfactory schedule arranged.

  • How long can I keep the books?

    You may keep the books for as long as you need to read them. The suggested time is four to six weeks. The center does not charge for overdue or lost books, but in fairness to other patrons, books should be returned in a reasonable length of time.

  • Should I return the books all at once or one at a time?

    Please return each title as you finish it to ensure a steady flow of books to you. If you wait until you’ve finished all the books, we won’t know that you need new books since it can take several days for the books to reach us through the mail.

  • I don’t like the books I’ve been getting. What should I do?

    Contact the center, and we’ll adjust the subjects or make other changes to your file as needed until you are happy with your service.

  • At what age can a child start using talking books?

    There is no set minimum age. Books for very young children usually contain more illustrations than text and are therefore not part of the program. Materials in the center’s collection begin at the preschool level, and NLS provides a parent’s guide circular that lists other sources of audio materials for preschool children. Children who are blind, visually impaired, and physically handicapped develop an interest in reading the same way non-disabled children do: that is, by being read to by an adult before they are old enough to read on their own. At the public library, parents can find many alternative format materials to explore with young blind or visually impaired children, e.g., large print; audiotapes of stories, nursery rhymes, and songs; and videos.

  • Can people use the program if they are in a residential care facility or retirement home?

    Yes, they may receive direct individual service in care of the facility, or if the establishment has a deposit collection, individuals may use these materials without going through the process of signing up to receive individual service. Direct service is always available, and this option can ensure that readers receive materials that they specifically want to read.

  • Is there a special device to help people who are hearing impaired?

    Yes, an amplifier/headphone combination that will produce sounds up to 130 decibels is available for adults with severe hearing loss. A special application form is necessary and must be signed by a physician or licensed audiologist. The application has details about the possible need for a doctor's permission and what special precautions are necessary to prevent injury. This device is not intended for people with mild or moderate hearing loss; the use of standard headphones may sometimes help these people. Contact the reader-advisors at 800.995.6215 for information about the application for the amplifier/headphone device.

  • Why are special playback machines needed for talking books?

    A specially formatted audio book player from the National Library service is needed because all NLS-produced books are encrypted due to a requirement under the U.S. copyright law that permits NLS the free use of copyrighted material for its print impaired patrons.

  • How does the digital machine work?

    The digital audio book player looks and works just like the older cassette players many of us used when we were younger, but provides clearer playback sound, ease of use (as only one cartridge is needed to hold an entire book), and freedom to navigate through the book. The player has a built-in audio instruction manual. When no book cartridge is inserted into the player and the player is turned on, all of the player buttons function as tutorial buttons. Each button tells what it does and how to use it. The buttons on the digital player include play, stop, fast-forward, rewind, volume, tone, speed, power and sleep.