National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

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Name: National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped ("Talking Books")
Profit/Nonprofit: non-profit, government
Country based in: US
External Links: NLS Home, Archived version
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National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is a service for readers.

"Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS administers a free library program of braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail." [1]


The free library service was established by an Act of Congress in 1931 to provide blind adults with books in an embossed format. The Act was amended in 1934 to include sound recordings (talking books), and was expanded in 1952 to include children, in 1962 to provide music materials, and again in 1966 to include individuals with physical limitations that prevent the reading of regular print. [2]

A Science Fiction Push: 1981

From a letter, with an emphasis on Star Trek and science fiction, by the government printed in a fanzine in 1981:

Science fiction fans who are unable to read standard printed materials because of visual or physical limitations may receive a free service from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). Books In all subject areas are available in braille or recorded form (records and cassettes), and playback equipment is provided, too. Recognizing the popularity of science fiction and especially the current Interest in Star Trek, NLS offers a number of popular science-fiction titles. Please use the form at the bottom of the page to request more information about the talking-book program and an application for this free library service.

Remember, the talking-book service can be used only by persons who are unable to read ordinary print. If you have a physical handicap or knov someone vho has a physical handicap that prevents the reading of standard print, send for information today. If you vish to recommend Star Trek or" science fiction books, please give title, author, and publisher. [3]

A 1981 Fannish Push

Sime~Gen fans were encouraged to nominate Jacqueline Lichtenberg's books for this service. From A Companion in Zeor #7:
Talking Books are available only through REGIONAL LIBRARIES.

Certain criteria are used to decide which individuals are eligible to use this loan service. These qualifications are reprinted on the reverse of this page. If you, or someone whom you know, might be eligible, please fill out the coupon on the following page, and send it in to the Library of Congress to receive the application form for the program. This flyer is one given out at Conventions and may be duplicated for distribution. Removing of the flyer from the issue will not change the contents, as the back of it is blank.

Additional applications, and a list of Regional Libraries are available from the Reference Section of the Library of Congress.

VIC [4] also mentioned that since the original article was written, "Unto Zeor Forever" has been added to the Talking Books available to the public.


  1. NLS Home, Archived version, accessed July 2017
  2. Frequently Asked Questions, Archived version
  3. printed in A Companion in Zeor #7
  4. "VIC" is Victor Schmidt, a Maryland fan, who was spearheading a push for Lichtenberg's books (and probably others as well).