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The Talking Book Program was established by Congress in 1931 to provide free library services to people with disabilities. Specially mandated Talking Book Libraries operate at state and local levels nationwide in cooperation with the Library of Congress / National Library Service (NLS) to share the costs of the program.

Potential patrons must formally apply for services and must prove that they meet the Talking Book Program's eligibility requirements such as legal blindness, visual impairment, and/or a physical disability or reading disability which significantly impairs their ability to use conventional print materials. Institutions such as schools, nursing homes, hospitals and public libraries which serve people with qualifying disabilities are also eligible to receive this free service.

The network includes the National Library Services, Multi-State Centers, Regional Libraries, Subregional Libraries and Machine Lending Agencies which cooperate to meet the mission of the program. NLS and the Multi-State Centers distribute federally produced Braille and audio materials and playback equipment to the regional and subregional Talking Book Libraries and machine lending agencies. They in turn loan those materials to registered readers in their service jurisdictions.

Although the activities of each Talking Book Library is monitored by its own administrative/funding agency, NLS also regularly reviews each library's compliance with the services guidelines established by ALA's Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA). The cooperating libraries also submit annual, bi-annual, monthly and on-demand reports to NLS for statistical analysis and program review.

What do they do? Talking Book Libraries are the direct service provider for registered Talking Book Program patrons. All Talking Book Libraries maintain collections of NLS alternate format materials for free loan. Many also offer large type, descriptive video, and locally produced Braille and/or audio materials.

Each library encourages readers to place orders for specific titles from announcements or online searches. Most also offer reader advisory services and will select materials automatically, if desired, from the reader's subject preferences or favorite authors. Most also inventory, loan and repair the playback equipment required to read the audio books. Materials are delivered and returned via postage-free mail.

Staff also assist readers with obtaining special-format magazines from alternative-format producers and/or downloadable titles from the NLS website or elsewhere. Many Talking Book Libraries also offer programming for young readers, telephone reference services, book clubs for adult readers and other service enrichment programs.

KLAS for Talking Book Libraries

Over 35 regional and nearly 50 sub-regional member libraries in the Library of Congress / National Library Service (NLS) network use Keystone and KLAS to serve their patrons.

These libraries include those with the highest circulation levels and the most complex regional/sub-regional networks. Our hosting services are used by almost 70 organizations in over 20 states. No other provider of systems for Braille and Talking Book Libraries can match our breadth of experience.

KLAS conforms to NLS program requirements and facilitates the accomplishment of ASCLA standards while:

  • Allowing a wide diversity in local management styles, policies and procedures
  • Designing operational flexibility and Assistive Technology (AT) compatibility into every improvement
  • Striving to anticipate our customers' needs
  • Incorporating features in a timely manner
  • Staying abreast of technology so that our customers can exploit new opportunities

Keystone specifically supports Talking Book and Braille libraries by:

  • Managing their patron information, collection inventories, and transaction data to provide effective services
  • Providing on-onging technical support to help librarians and their staff maximize their resources and operational capacities
  • Developing new features and incorporating new technologies so each library can grow and adapt to new challenges brought by changes in technology, resources, user expectations and service opportunities

Keystone has attended every regional and national NLS conference since 1994. We know from direct experience as well that there are significant variations in local policies, procedures, operations, services and cultures represented among the member libraries.

KLAS has been and will continue to be designed to support this rich diversity while enabling libraries to meet or beat ASCLA standards, keep pace with NLS service changes, fully comply with NLS reporting requirements, and develop new services all their own.

Current KLAS Installations

NLS network libraries use KLAS to provide service in 34 states plus the Virginia Beach area. Of these, 16 libraries are self-hosted and 21 are Keystone-hosted (some states have multiple network libraries). Dark green indicates self-hosted installations, while states in light green are Keystone-hosted.

NLS network libraries use KLAS to provide service in 34 states plus the Virginia Beach area. Of these, 16 libraries are self-hosted and 21 are Keystone-hosted (some states have multiple network libraries). Dark green indicates self-hosted installations, while states in light green are Keystone-hosted.

Modules for Talking Book Libraries

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Keystone Systems, Inc.
8016 Glenwood Ave., Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27612
800-222-9711