Free Listening: Options for Library Patrons with Print Disabilities

by: Mark Lee

As many of you know, CLP-LBPH has been closed over the last few weeks while we adhere to Governor Wolf’s order for nonessential workers to Stay at Home. This order is of course designed to lower the rate of transmission of COVID-19 throughout Pennsylvania. I would like to thank all of our patrons who called to let us know that you feel we are essential (We think so, too!). While we have been unable to deliver digital cartridges or other materials to you, we have been returning calls, answering emails and trying to give folks options for listening outside of our traditional service. We understand that people are more isolated than ever from friends, families and neighbors by this COVID-19 epidemic and are in need of some mode of entertainment and escape.


First, we always try to encourage our members to sign up for Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD). You do not need to read braille to enjoy this service. BARD is the key to downloading and listening to all of the titles available through the NLS service with a computer, iPad or smartphone. You can also download and read these titles on your refreshable braille display if you prefer. You can apply for BARD and BARD mobile here. Even if you don’t have access to the Internet or a smartphone, a friend or family member can help you download books, save them to a flash drive and play them on your digital player. We’re happy to help you set up a BARD account and get started.

CLP Library Card/eResources

Another resource available to all Pennsylvania residents is the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Library Card. You can register for a library card online, through the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh website. The online card is temporary for 30 days, but can be renewed over the phone. It provides access to thousands of ebooks, audio books and other resources. See what is available by clicking right here. We really love Hoopla and Overdrive for the audiobook selections and other resources they provide.


We LOVE listening to podcasts and think you might too! If you haven’t yet been acquainted with podcasts there may never be a better time to get started. There are thousands and thousands to choose from and download directly to your iPhone, Android, Kindle or PC. Podcasts are generally available free from places like iTunes, Spotify and GooglePlay and you can easily search to find topics of interest to you.

Some of the LBPH staff’s favorite Podcasts are:


  • “Since 2002, Radiolab has been devoted to investigating a strange world. Created by Jad Abumrad and hosted by Jad and Robert Krulwich, Radiolab has an archive of hundreds of episodes and has toured in sold out shows nationwide.”

This is Criminal

  • “Criminal is a podcast about crime. It’s a show that tells stories about people who’ve done wrong, been wronged or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.”


  • “Mo Rocca’s long love of obituaries has led him to create Mobituaries, an irreverent but deeply researched appreciation of the people (and things) of the past who have long intrigued him—from an unsung Founding Father to the first Chinese-American superstar, from Neanderthals to the station wagon.”


  • “Humorist Jonathan Goldstein helps people try to resolve a moment from their past that they wish they could change.”

Reply All

  • “A podcast about the Internet that is actually an unfailingly original exploration of modern life and how to survive it.”

We have many, many other Podcast recommendations from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Librarians right here too!

Also, please check out this blog post from our friends at New York Public Library. It contains many links to other free online listening opportunities like classic old time radio shows.

We are acutely aware that many patrons of the LBPH service in the state of Pennsylvania do not have any access to the Internet. This COVID-19 crisis has exposed both the digital divide and the outsized role that public libraries in Pennsylvania play in helping to ameliorate these technological gaps. We understand that people need books and technological assistance more than ever. While we can’t send talking books at the moment we can talk you through some options over the phone. Please call us at 1-800-242-0586 to leave a message or email us at We return every call and every email!

On behalf of the entire staff at LBPH, I want you to know that we really look forward to serving you again in the very near future.