Harold Washington Library Center
Talking Book Center
Services and Resources
Readers’ Advisory/Reference Service
Consultation with a readers’ advisor, to aid in the selection of material, answer questions about equipment and provide information about disability-related services and resources, is available. Please call with inquires about any subject, title or author.
Two bimonthly magazines announce newly released titles and provide information on related library services:
- Talking Book Topics (large print, audiocassette, computer disc and online)
- Braille Book Review (large print, Braille and online)
The Illinois Talking Book Center Online Catalog is available to all for browsing and also allows registered patrons to directly order and request titles to be mailed to their address via a user ID and password.
All Chicago residents registered with the Talking Book Center are welcome to come in to the library in person and check out talking books. A phone call beforehand is greatly appreciated to assist the patron in a timely manner. Tours of the Talking Book Center and demonstrations of services and equipment are available to the general public.
Talking Book Center Adult Book Discussion
The Talking Book Center book discussion group meets on the fourth Thursday of every month. Patrons are invited to participate in this lively group’s stimulating discussions of interesting, provocative selections ranging from contemporary, popular and classic literature.
From gardening to heritage, the Talking Book Center provides life-enriching and entertaining themed-based programs throughout the year. Programs include: Scentsational Scents of Spring gardening program, Poetic Expressions poetry program, Celebrating Diversity cultural programs and author talks. Resource fairs and adult- and children-focused reading programs are also held annually.
Assistive Technology Center
The Assistive Technology Center is specifically designed for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. ATC workstations are equipped with advanced technology that enables patrons to work independently searching the Internet, processing documents, reading printed material and much more.
Patrons may call the Talking Book Center to schedule an appointment to reserve a workstation and use the following equipment:
- Kurzweil-Personal Reader: An optical scanner that converts text from books and other printed materials to high-quality English or Spanish language. Headphones are available for user privacy.
- Telesensory Magnifier: A television terminal that magnifies reading, writing and other materials up to 45 times the original size. This device enables patrons to read their mail, newspapers, write checks or letters, and better enjoy photographs.
- A personal computer with Internet access equipped with screen-reading software (JAWS) and magnification software (ZoomText), text-to-speech software (Kurzweil 1000), Braille translation software (Duxbury) and a Thomas Braille embosser.
TBC staff is interested in sharing information about this program with community groups, schools, senior residences, libraries, institutions and organizations. Expert speakers are available to talk to large or small groups. In addition, promotional brochures and display materials are offered that can be used by organizations to promote the Talking Book Center. Please contact the Talking Book Center to schedule a presentation.
Furthermore, Talking Book Center staff are available to exhibit the library’s program and services for agencies conducting resource or health fairs.
TBC Focus is the Talking Book Center’s quarterly newsletter. The newsletter includes announcements of new materials and/or formats, featured articles, bibliographies, programs, resources, activities and more. This publication is available in large print, cassette, Braille and by email.
The Illinois State Library Talking Book and Braille Service, in cooperation with the National Federation of the Blind, sponsors NFB-NEWSLINE. This service provides subscribers toll-free access to audio versions of more than 200 newspapers, magazines and TV listings, including the Chicago Tribune, The New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal, from any touch-tone telephone anywhere in the United States. The user-friendly phone system allows for easy navigation through newspapers by sentence, paragraph or article. Content is available on demand, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information or to register, contact TBC.
Bookshare offers thousands of digital books, textbooks, teacher-recommended reading, periodicals and more for individuals with print disabilities. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress provides application verification to patrons for this program. Please contact TBC for more information.
Learning Ally provides textbook and literature titles for every grade level and most subjects for individuals with print disabilities. The Talking Book Center provides patron verification for qualifying individuals applying for this program. Please contact TBC for more information.
OPAL – Online Programming for All Libraries
Through OPAL, library patrons have the opportunity to participate in a rich array of public online programming and training developed by expert library personnel. These live events are held in online rooms where participants can interact by text chat or microphone. Examples of OPAL public online programs include book discussions, author interviews, special events, library training, memoir writing workshops and virtual tours of special digital library collections.
CRIS Radio: Chicagoland Radio Information Service
Funded in part by the Illinois State Library, the Chicagoland Radio Information Service provides daily readings of newspapers and periodicals including news stories, sales circulars and classified listings for registered listeners who have a wide range of disabilities. Patrons may access CRIS Radio through the free loan of a special sideband receiver radio or online. Through the use of volunteers, CRIS broadcasts verbatim readings of the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Defender and Daily Herald, as well as many more local newspapers and magazines, audio-described movies, and special programming for Chicago’s visually impaired and handicapped community. To obtain further information or learn how to apply for a receiver, contact the Talking Book Center.