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Cassette Talking Books and Talking Book MachinesThe Braille and Talking Book Library provides talking books and talking book playback equipment through the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress. Talking books are currently available in both digital and audiocassette formats. Although books on audiocassette have been the primary media for decades, the NLS began distribution of digital media in 2009. Talking book machines such as the Digital Talking Book Machine (DTBM) and, its predecessor, the Standard Cassette Book Machine (CBM) are also available. Talking books and machines are shipped as "Free Matter for the Blind" at no cost to our patrons.
Books on audiocassette will be available for several years, but NLS discontinued production of audiocassettes at the end of 2010. Audiocassette books are recorded at a speed of 15/16 (standard tape speed is 1 7/8), on FOUR sides. This allows six hours of recorded speech on each cassette. At the end of each side, the narrator provides instructions on how to continue with the book (e.g., "Turn the cassette over" or "Flip the side selector switch and turn the cassette over"). Cassettes are labeled according to the first SIDE of the tape (1, 5, 9, etc.). The speed, tone and volume may be adjusted according to your need.
Standard Audiocassette Book Machines
Standard cassette book machines, or cassette players, are available for playing books on audiocassette. Due to the popularity of digital materials, cassette players and books on audiocassette will be phased out over the next few years. To get the best performance from your player, keep it in a cool, dry area, recharge the batteries regularly by plugging the machine in overnight, and clean the heads with isopropyl alcohol (not rubbing alcohol) after every twenty hours of use. If your machine appears to be inoperative, the following steps may remedy the problem:
Headphones are also available for loan. If you prefer to purchase a pair, we encourage you to take your machine with you to ensure proper fit and the correct adaptor (if needed). Remote Control Units, that turn the players on and off only, are also available through the National Library Service for the severely physically disabled. NLS also provides Amplifier Headphones for patrons with severe hearing loss. To obtain an application for these materials, please contact us at 1-800-992-9012.
Talking Book Machines remain the property of the Federal government and are loaned only to eligible, active library patrons. Machines may not be:
Defective machines may be returned to us by reinserting them into the original packaging, affixing the postage-free label contained in the box, and taping the box shut. Please enclose a note detailing the nature of the malfunction, if known. To order a replacement, please contact the Braille and Talking Book Library at 1-800-992-9012. Please do not repair equipment yourself or take equipment to a local repair shop.
One full-time staff member, along with volunteers, repairs all machines
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