Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired

Library Services

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a charge for the service?

All services are free of charge.

Who qualifies for library services?

Residents of Virginia who are visually impaired, blind, or have a physical disability or learning disability that prevents reading regular print qualify for this service. Applications must be certified by a professional who can verify the disability. In the case of a reading or learning disability, a medical doctor must certify the application. Institutions that serve individuals who qualify for the service may also register, so they can provide onsite services.

Is the service useful to people who have a hearing disability?

Individuals who have some useful hearing and one of the qualifying disabilities may apply for an amplifier or headphones, which work with some equipment.

Why isn’t the service open to all people with disabilities?

The National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress provides the audio and Braille books and the playback equipment to Library and Resource Center. The Agency is obligated to follow the rules and regulations of NLS, which was established and is federally funded to provide service to persons who have a print disability. The mission continues to be the same.

How do I register for service?

The process is relatively easy. You must complete the application for service (Spanish application), and have a qualifying professional certify your disability. NLS requires certification of blindness, visual handicap, or physical handicap, by doctors of medicine, osteopathy, ophthalmologists, optometrists, registered nurses, therapists, professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or welfare agencies (e.g., social workers, caseworkers, counselors, rehabilitation teachers, and superintendents). In the absence of any of these, certification may be made by professional librarians or by any person whose competence under specific circumstances is acceptable to the Library of Congress.

In cases of reading disability, competent authority is defined as: doctors of medicine and osteopathy, who may consult with colleagues in associated fields.

Administrators, librarians, and recreation staff at schools, retirement communities and assistive living centers may also apply for service. You may complete the application or call us for more information.

What types of materials does the Library loan?

The library has a collection of 58,000 audio tape titles, and 7700 audio digital cartridge titles available for loan. The collection of digital titles is growing weekly. In addition, there are more than 18,500 Braille book titles, 4200 large print books, and 560 descriptive videos and DVDs.

How long does it take to begin service?

Service can be established within two days after the LRC receives the application. Playback equipment will be sent once your application is reviewed for completion and type of service.

Can I select my own books?

You can select your own reading materials either by selecting from one of the monthly mailings you will receive (Talking Book Topics, Braille Book Review), from catalogs we sent to you, or by going on to the NLS website and search the catalog to select from everything to which we have access.

Can someone help me select books to read?

One of the Library’s Reader Advisors can assist you with selection of books. Call the LRC at 800-552-7015 for assistance.

How many books can I have at one time?

There isn’t a limit on the number of books you can have. Books are loaned for 45 days. We simply require that you return books when you are finished with them.

How will I get my books?

Books and equipment are mailed through the United States Postal Service, using the Free Matter for the Blind privilege. Books are returned to us the same way.

Can I come to the LRC?

We welcome visitors and walk-in patrons. We are located at 395 Azalea Avenue, Richmond, VA 23227. Our phone number is 800-552-7015 or 804-371-3661.

Register for Library Service


A woman reading a braille book

Complete the application for service or the Spanish application and return to the LRC.

If you need assistance, contact one of our Reader Advisors:

The BARD System

The BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) system is a service of NLS that allows individuals to download their own books. The system houses more than 20,000 titles and magazines.

BARD for Subregionals from Roanoke Public Libraries on Vimeo.

BARD Application Instructions

This application is intended for use only by patrons or institutions in good standing of The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Fill out this form if you are a registered user or have already contacted the library and were instructed to do so. If you are not currently receiving service from The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, please contact them at

Fill out this application completely. Library staff will check your information against their records. If you are approved to participate you will receive an e-mail message with sign-on information. If there is a problem you will receive a message explaining the problem.

If you are planning to use a purchased digital talking-book player, you must register it once you have access to the BARD site.

Please note that the information you provide will be shared with the National Library Service, Library of Congress, and with the manufacturer of your purchased digital talking-book player (if necessary). For more details, please read NLS's privacy policy.

BARD application for individuals.

If you are a representative of a institution in good standing of The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, then use the following application. BARD application for institutions.

For support, please e-mail

Library and Resource Center's Special Collections

Library Services Resources

Find other resources and websites for the Library Resource Center on the Resources page.

Contact Information

We welcome visitors and telephone inquiries.
Hours of Operation: 8:15 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., Monday through Friday
Address: 395 Azalea Avenue, Richmond VA 23227
Telephone: 804-371-3661
Telephone – Toll Free: 800-552-7015

This File Was Last Modified: Thursday September 24 2015