Overview of CT Library for Accessible Books Services

The Connecticut Library for Accessible Books (CT LAB) is a network library of the Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS).  CT LAB lends books and magazines in audio and braille formats, for free, to any Connecticut resident who is unable to read regular print due to a visual, reading, or physical disability.

Application Process

Interested individuals and institutions must complete an application for service in order to access CT LAB resources and services. Completed applications may be mailed, faxed, emailed or hand-delivered to CT LAB.  For more information and digital copies of applications, please see the application page of the CT LAB website. 

Using CT LAB Services

Once approved by the CT LAB, new patrons will receive a welcome packet and are assigned a Reader’s Advisor.  Patrons who registered for Talking Books via cartridges, will be sent a Digital Talking Book Machine and their first talking book cartridges at the same time as the welcome packet.  

Reader’s Advisors

Reader’s Advisors are the primary point of contact for patrons.  Reader’s Advisors can assist patrons with:

  • placing book orders
  • setting up reading preferences
  • subscribing to Talking Book or braille magazines offered through the NLS. 
  • changes to patron accounts.

Patrons whose last names begin with the letters A through K are served by Paula McLean.  Patrons whose last names begin with the letters L through Z are served by Laura DeFrancesco.  Reader’s Advisors can be reached at 860-704-2220 or 800-842-4516.

Discovering Reading Materials

Patrons can discover which books are available to borrow using the following resources:

  • The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) online catalog. The catalog can be used to search for books by title, author, or topic. 
  • Talking Books Topics is published every two months by the NLS and includes the titles, book numbers, and summaries of books recently added to the NLS talking book collection.  
  • Braille Book Review features recently added braille titles to the NLS collection and is published every two months. 
  • Foreign Language Quarterly is published every two months by the NLS and lists titles in world languages that have been recently added to the NLS collection.

Please note that Reader’s Advisors can assist patrons with accessing all of the above resources via the telephone.  

Ordering Books

To order books, patrons can use the following options:

  • Call CT LAB at 860-704-2220 or 800-842-4516 and ask to speak to your Reader’s Advisor.  If Reader’s Advisors are unable to answer your call during business hours, please leave your name, street address, phone number, and the titles or book numbers that you would like to order in a message. 
  • Email CT LAB at csl.AccessibleBooks@ct.gov.  Please be sure to include your name and the titles or book numbers of the books that you would like to order.
  • Each issue of Talking Books Topics includes a printable order form that can be downloaded, printed, filled out and mailed to CT LAB.   Mail order forms to CT Library for Accessible Books, Middletown Library Service Center, 786 South Main St., Middletown, CT 06457.  Pre-printed Talking Books order forms are available upon request.  Contact your Reader’s Advisor to request a Talking Books order form. 
Book Formats

Patrons have access to materials in the following formats:

  • Talking Books & Magazines (audio)
  • Braille (print and digital formats)
    • Now Available! Print Braille-on-Demand.  Patrons registered with CT LAB can request one hard copy braille title per month.  At this time, only braille titles available from BARD, the National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Print Disabled, Braille and Audio Reading Download service. 
    • Patrons may complete the Print Braille-on-Demand Request form themselves or contact CT LAB for assistance.  CT LAB staff can be reached by phone at (860) 704-2220 or (800) 842-4516, or by email at csl.AccessibleBooks@ct.gov. Patrons may also contact NLS Reference at nlsref@loc.gov for assistance with completing the order form. 
Delivery of Materials

When completing their application, patrons select which services and book formats that they would like to receive from CT LAB.  Depending on the services, selected CT LAB materials are delivered either by U.S. Mail or downloaded by patrons.  

Materials Delivered via U.S. Mail
  • Digital Talking Book Players and Talking Book & magazine cartridges
  • All print braille materials

All reading materials and equipment are mailed postage-free through the U.S. Postal System.  Patrons returning items to CT LAB mail their material free of charge via the USPS.

Materials Downloaded Directly by Patrons
Touchscreen Tablet showing the BARD App
  • BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) – BARD is a web-based service that provides access to more than a hundred thousand books, magazines, and music materials in audio or braille formats.  Patrons to download titles to their personal computer and then play it using Digital Talking Book Player or a braille reader.
  • BARD Mobile –  Patrons install the BARD mobile app onto their smartphone or tablet.  Titles are downloaded and played directly through the BARD mobile app on patrons’ personal devices.  For braille titles, patrons must pair their own refreshable braille reader with their device.  The BARD mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices. 

Visit the BARD page of the CT LAB website for more information about BARD and BARD mobile.

How to Return Digital Talking Book Machines to the Library

Digital Talking Book Player with Cassette About Washington, the Making of the Capital

To return a Digital Talking Book Machine (DTBM) to CT LAB, please follow the instructions outlined below.

  1. Place the Talking Book machine in its original shipping box.  If you do not have the original shipping box, you may use any cardboard box that fits the size of the DTBM.  You may also call CT LAB at (860) 704-2220 or (800) 842-4516 to request a DTBM shipping box.  
  2. Provide the reason why you are returning the DTBM.  You can include a note in the box or call CT LAB and provide the reason over the telephone.
  3. Address the box.  Please address the shipping box to: CT Library for Accessible Books, 786 S. Main St., Middletown, CT 06457.  A ready-made CT LAB mailing address label is available to download and print.   Printed mailing address cards, with the CT LAB mailing address, are also available upon request from CT LAB. 
  4. If you are providing our own cardboard box for shipping, please write FREE MATTER FOR THE BLIND in the top right corner of the box where postage is typically placed on mail parcels.  Patrons who are using the original shipping box to mail their DTBM, do not need to write free matter for the blind on their box as it is pre-printed on the box.  
  5. Give your DTBM box to your United States Postal Service mail carrier or drop your box off at any United States Post Office.