NLS BARD: Frequently Asked Questions

The BARD web site

How do I change my password?

Go to the change BARD user ID and password page.

On this page, you can enter a new password.  You will need to enter it twice to confirm it. If the two entries don't match exactly, the new password won't be accepted.

Your password must contain:

Your new password cannot:

Once your new password is accepted, you will receive an e-mail message confirming that you have changed your password.

What do I do if I lost my password?

To recover a lost or forgotten password yourself, direct your web browser to the reset your lost password page and fill out the form.  You will be prompted to answer a question which you set during your initial log in. You will receive an e-mail message with a new, temporary password.  That password will be a one-time-use password.  You will need to create a new password the next time you log in.

If you have not previously set a secret question and answer, you will need to send an e-mail to asking for your password to be reset.  You will receive an e-mail message with a temporary password.

Can I change my user ID?  Can I change my e-mail address?

Your user ID is your e-mail address.  To change it, go to the change your BARD user ID and e-mail address page.

On this page you can enter a new e-mail address.  You will need to enter it twice to make sure you have entered it correctly.  If the two entries don't match exactly, the new address won't be accepted.

Your new e-mail address becomes your user ID.  A new temporary password will be sent to this address, so make sure you use an e-mail address to which you have immediate access.

The books and magazines

How many books are available for download?

As of June, 2010 there are more than eighteen thousand books available. This number increases weekly.

What books are being added?

NLS will add every new digital talking book that has met its quality standards. NLS also continues to convert many older books are still being converted into digital talking books.

When are books added?

Books are added to the downloadable collection soon after they have been approved to be added to the general collection. If you don't see books on the site right away, please check back later.

Why are some books from a series missing?  Why are some magazine issues missing?

While NLS always makes an effort to offer the complete book series, some books in a series are not available in a digital form. NLS will convert these missing books from analog recordings when possible.

Magazine issues, like books, must meet strict quality-control standards held by NLS. In some cases, individual issues can be held up by production problems that cause them not to meet these standards. NLS works with its magazine producers to solve problems as quickly as possible so the magazine issue can be posted to the web site.

What do I do if I find a problem in a book or magazine?

Please report the problem -- including the title, author, and "DB" five-digit number of the book -- to Your digital talking-book player can tell you the time elapsed as of your current reading position.If possible, please include this information in your message as well.  Listing the five-digit book number in your message's subject line is also very helpful.

What's available here that I can't get from my NLS library?

Nothing.  There are no materials available for download that are not also available from your library on another medium.

What's not available here that I can get from my NLS library?

Your library's collection is far more extensive than the downloadable collection. NLS continues to add materials to the downloadable collection, including all newly-produced titles. However, the absence of a title in the downloadable collection does not mean the item is not available at all. You should check your library's catalog or the NLS catalog.

Can you add a specific title, please?

All books currently selected for recording by NLS are produced in digital format. Check the NLS catalog: if a book is listed as IN PROCESS, it will appear on the BARD site when production and quality checks have been completed.

Thousands of older titles have been selected for conversion from analog to digital format. This is a long-term project. Some older books are unsuitable for conversion and must be re-recorded or, in some cases, removed from the conversion list (books long out of print and prohibitively expensive, for example); these books will continue to be available on cassette, but may not ever become available as digital books.

It is useful to contact if you think you have discovered a title missing from a series, a duplication, or some other kind of inconsistency. The information will be forwarded to appropriate NLS staff for action.

BARD is not a books-on-request service, but, following long-standing NLS policy, patrons are encouraged to bring their reading needs to the attention of NLS by contacting their regional or subregional library. The librarians will then query NLS and report back to the patron.

How long will magazine issues be kept on the site?

At this time, NLS plans to keep magazine issues available indefinitely.

Finding books

How do I find a book to read?

The easiest way to find a book is to use the "Search the collection" field on the download service home page. Enter a word or two that relates to the title, author, or subject you are interested in. Or, you can browse the entire catalog by author, title, or subject using the links provided. 

What's the quickest way to find a specific book?

Use the "Search the collection" field, entering as many words of the title as you can. All the words you enter must appear in the title, so do not use words unless you are certain they are part of the book's title.

You can also search for a specific author by putting the author's name in quotation marks. Include the author's last name, a comma, a space, and the first name such as: "Shakespeare, William".

How do I search by narrator/book number?

Enter the narrator's name, first name first, into the "Search the collection" box. Or, enter the book's five-digit book number into the "Search the collection" box.

Why can't I search by a combination of factors?

This is a capability NLS hopes to add in the near future.

Downloading books

I just downloaded a book, but now I can't find it. Where did my download go?

There are two good places to check: the first is on your desktop and the second is in your documents folder.

Each web browser handles downloads slightly differently. Unless you set a default location for downloads, you are asked with each download where you would like to save it.

Many users choose to create a "My downloads" folder inside their documents folder and use that as the default destination for downloads.

Microsoft Internet Explorer will automatically default to the place you specified during your previous download.

To set your default location for downloads in Firefox, choose "Options" from the "Tools" menu. On the main tab, you can specify a default location by choosing the radio button called "Save files to" and entering a directory name in the entry field.

Can I put more than one book on a cartridge? How?

This depends on how your player handles multiple books. If you are using a third-party player, please see your player's documentation for the answer to this question. 

If you are using the NLS player, the "bookshelf mode" of the player allows to you have multiple books on a cartridge. To make use of this mode, put each book in its own folder on your cartridge.

To enter bookshelf mode on your NLS player, hold down the "play" button until you hear the player go into bookshelf mode. Release the play button. Now you can use the arrows at each end of the play button to move to the books that are available. When you hear the title you wish to read, simply hit the play button.

If you have further questions about using your NLS player to play multiple books, please contact the library that loaned the player to you.

How do I know if the book I want will fit on my cartridge?

The web site lists books with their reading times. These translate to file size at a rate of approximately 11 megabytes per hour. A one gigabyte cartridge will hold just under 96 hours and a two gigabyte cartridge will hold about 192 hours.

How do I move a book to my player?

Open the .zip file you downloaded to your computer. There are several popular software packages that handle this function. If you are using Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Mac OS X, this function is built-in.

When using a Windows-based computer, select all of the files by simultaneously pressing "control" and "A". Copy the files to the clipboard by pressing "control" and "C". Navigate to your memory card and paste the files with "control" and "V" into the appropriate directory.

On a Macintosh, use the "command" key instead of the control key.


Reading books

My player says I am not authorized to read this book.  What does that mean?

This can be caused by three things:

  1. If you have purchased your own digital talking-book player, you have not completed the steps needed to enable your player to use NLS materials. Soon after receiving your user ID and password for the download site from NLS, you should have received an e-mail message from your player manufacturer that included one or more files needed to authorize your player along with instructions on how to do so. If you did not receive these, please contact your player's manufacturer.

    If this is your second or later device, or if you indicated a different device type than when you first applied for a download account, go to the BARD home page and simply follow the links called "update account settings" and "add a purchase player," starting at the home page.

  2. You have not completely transferred your digital talking-book to your cartridge. This is usually the result of a copy operation that failed, or an incomplete download from BARD.

  3. You have not transferred your digital talking-book into the necessary directory on your third party player memory card. Please refer to your player's user manual for information on where to place books on the memory card.

Can I listen to downloaded books on my computer?

Not at this time.

The mailing list: BARD-Support

How do I subscribe to this mailing list?

Please send a message to stating you wish to subscribe to BARD-Support.

What can I talk about on the list?

BARD-Support is intended for support discussions only. Use it to post questions about the BARD service, its content, and its use. NLS will monitor this list closely in order to provide timely support, but subscribers are welcome to provide their answers to support questions.

How do I unsubscribe from the mailing list?

Please send a message to stating you wish to unsubscribe.

There are too many messages! What can I do?

If you find the messages from the mailing list are cluttering up your in-box, use your e-mail program's "filters" or "rules" option to direct messages into a folder.

Another option is to set your subscription to "digest mode". This will deliver all the day's messages compiled in a single, long message. Please send a message to if you'd like your subscription set to this mode.

Can you temporarily suspend my subscription to the mailing list?

Yes.  Please send a message to when you want your subscription suspended.  You will have to send another message to have your subscription turned back on.

This document was last updated on June 8, 2010.

For support, please e-mail

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