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BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download)

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Recently, I’ve been dismayed to hear some patrons say, “I know you don’t have such and such in your collection because I already checked on BARD.” After receiving a few of these comments, I realized that some of our patrons mistakenly believe that our entire collection is available on BARD.  I would like to use this post to explain why the audio and braille books on BARD will always represent only a portion of our collection.

The majority of our audio collection is on BARD but some of our popular titles such as “Introduction to the Piano,” and “Introduction to the Guitar,” are not on BARD. As with some of the newer instructional recordings for the piano and guitar, we are unable to make these titles downloadable due to an agreement with the publisher. Similarly, a number of guitar instructional recordings that were not originally conceived for the blind and visually impaired are only available on cartridge.

As for our braille music collection, about 25 percent of it is currently available on BARD. Digitizing braille music is one of our routine tasks at Music Section. As soon as we complete scanning, editing and formatting a braille score, we upload the braille-ready format (brf) to BARD. We also create a link in our Voyager catalog so that the patron searching our online catalog can download it without having to duplicate the search on BARD.

It will be another few years before we can digitize all of the available braille music titles in our collection because of the sheer number. I write “available braille music” because as with some titles in our audio collection, we do not have permission from all publishers to put the digitized braille music on BARD. The good news is that the new braille music titles that NLS transcribes do not require digitization since the transcribers send us the brf which can be quickly processed and uploaded to BARD.

As you may have guessed, our large print music is available in hard copy only. BARD is only for braille and audio.

All of this is to say that if you don’t find what you are looking for on BARD, please don’t give up. You can look for it on the NLS online catalog at and contact us with the call number, or we can help you find it. For more information on how to search in BARD and NLS online catalog, please read Mary Dell Jenkins’ blog.


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