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Nebraska BARD Information and Instructions

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Table of Contents

Introduction aka What is BARD?

BARD, or Braille and Audio Reading Download, is a program introduced by a section of the Library of Congress, National Library Service (NLS), in conjunction with various Talking Book Libraries around the country. BARD is a website that lets patrons of the Talking Book Libraries download Braille and Audio books.

Using BARD allows patrons to access the books they want without waiting for a copy to be available from their local library, and to avoid the time it takes for a book to be delivered via USPS. It also has a slightly higher number of titles than are in a physical library collection, as well as both recent and past issues of magazines.

Eligibility Self-Assessment aka Do I have what it takes to use BARD?

You must be an active patron of the Nebraska Talking Book Library to sign up for this service.
To use BARD you must also have, or have access to, the following:

  • an NLS approved talking book player (see below list of talking book player devices)
  • access to a computer with high speed internet service
  • a valid email account
  • access to a data storage device (see below list of external drives)
  • technical skills adequate to download and manage computer files

Note: If you do not meet these qualifications, you will not be eligible to receive BARD service at this time, but we will be happy to continue serving you through the mail.

Talking Book Player Devices

NLS Players: Purchased Players:

Note: The approved list of purchased players is subject to change at any point based on availability of a model and additional approvals made by NLS, and therefore this list may not be complete or accurate at the time you are applying. Please contact your Readers Advisor for the current list before attempting to purchase a player to use with BARD downloads.

*Note: The iOS and Andriod OS Mobile Devices can only be used to play BARD materials with the BARD Mobile app. They are also the only purchased players that do not require a data storage device to transfer downloaded files.  See BARD Mobile App for more information.

Data Storage Devices (aka External Drives)

  • NLS Cartridge and USB Cable
  • USB Flash Drive (aka Thumb Drive)
    Note: Try to choose a flash drive without file management/backup software, such as U3. If you have a flash drive you plan to use that does have this pre-installed software, delete it if possible before using it for BARD downloads.

BARD Application and Login Process aka How do I set-up BARD?
Note: These instructions are primarily based on computers, not mobile devices, and may not be applicable to your situation. If necessary, please contact your Readers Advisor for further instructions or visit the Help section below.

To apply for BARD service you must complete a brief online form. If the account will be for an individual patron and will be used just for that person, then fill out the individual application form. If the account is intended for an active institution and will be serving multiple patrons under the facility name, then you must complete the institutional application form.

Note: If you are a family member or friend signing up for BARD on behalf of an active talking book patron, you must include their name and address in the application form. Also if you are the primary contact person for a facility and are filling out an institutional application, do not put your name on the application, just the name and address of the facility. In either case, this does not mean that you cannot use your own email address to sign them up, only that the patron information must match that which is already in their patron account. Once, however, you have used your email address for an account in BARD, you will not be able to use the same email address on another account.

After completing the online form, you will receive a confirmation email in your inbox to alert you that the application was received by our system. Following this initial email, you will receive a second email when our team has reviewed the application submitted. This second email will include a temporary password for you to access the BARD website.

Shortly after you receive your temporary password, you must go into the BARD website to login for the first time. Use your email address as your username, and the temporary password to access BARD. Be sure that you check that there are no blank spaces or extra characters in either form field when signing in. After you have successfully logged in, the system will ask you to choose a permanent password and a personalized question-answer combo to verify your account if you should forget your permanent password in the future.

Note: If you do forget your password, you will need to click on the link below the login fields on the login screen entitled Reset your BARD password here. The system will then request that you fill in your email address and the answer to your personalized question. You will receive a temporary password in your email account shortly thereafter, and can then login to BARD. (Please be aware that if you do not login within a day of receiving this email, you will not be able to use the temporary password provided and will need to request another. Also please be very careful when entering the temporary password into the login field, if typed incorrectly the password will not work for a second try.) After you've logged in, you will again need to choose a permanent password.

Note: If you didn't set-up a security question when you first set-up, you will need to click on the link below the the header Additional Links on the BARD Main Page entitled Update account settings. Follow the Password Instructions to provide a secret question and its secret answer.

Downloading Instructions aka How do I download?
Note: These instructions are primarily based on Windows OS computers and may not be applicable to your situation. If necessary, please contact your Readers Advisor for further instructions or visit the Help section below.

Standard Download Instructions:
  1. Login to the Nebraska BARD website with your email address and password.
  2. In some cases you may be asked to read a short message from the BARD maintenance team and then to verify that you agree to any and all conditions of use. Click the button at the end of the statement.
  3. You should now be on the BARD main page. Beneath the title are several options for searching and for browsing for downloads. Choose the search option you prefer and browse for materials until you find one you wish to download.
  4. Beneath the item that you would like to download will be a link with the call number and title of the book. When you select the link you will be prompted to either open or save or save as. Choose save as. Then you will prompted to select a destination for your download. Either click save, or select another destination and then click save.
  5. Your download should show up at the bottom of your browser with the percentage of the file that has downloaded. Leave this window alone until it says the download is complete. At which time you can logout or close your browser window, or if you would like to continue downloading you can simply close the download window on your browser.
  6. Go to the destination folder for your download and find the downloaded file. It should have the same file name as the link you clicked to start the download from BARD. The download should be in the form of a zip file. Zipped files are compressed files, and must be uncompressed before you can play the book. To unzip, or extract the files you must right-hand click your mouse on the file. If you are not using a mouse, or do not have a right-hand click button on your mouse, then you can click or otherwise select the file then simultaneously press the Shift key and F10 key on your keyboard. Doing either will bring up a pop-up menu. You will need to click the option that says Extract All.
  7. You will need to verify the location where the files are being extracted. If desired this location can be altered or you may create a new folder for the files. Then click Extract.
  8. Once the files have been extracted you will need to either copy and paste them, or otherwise move them, onto your external drive.
  9. And voila you are ready to try playing your downloads!
Alternative Downloading Option:

NLS has developed BARD Express, a Windows-based application that simplifies the process of searching for, downloading, and transferring audio materials to a cartridge or USB flash drive. BARD Express is designed for use on personal computers running Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and 10. It does not run on Macintosh computers. The BARD Express application for personal computers is now available for download from a link on the BARD Main Page under the heading Additional Links.
The user guide, as well as the BARD Express How-To Series, is available from a link in the BARD FAQs. Help screens are also available from inside the app.

How to Play Downloads aka How do I access downloaded materials?
Note: These instructions are primarily based on the NLS Digital Players and may not be applicable to your situation. If necessary, please contact your Readers Advisor for further instructions or visit the Help section below.

If you are using a NLS cartridge, you will want to insert the cartridge into the opening at the front of your NLS Digital player. Push it forward until it clicks into place. If your player is on, it will automatically wake up and begin playing your downloaded book.

If you are using a flash drive, you will want to check the right-hand side of the player for a USB data port. It may have a small piece of plastic in it to keep dust out of the port, but you may pull that plastic out and insert the USB stick into the port. As with the NLS cartridge, your player should automatically start up and begin playing the downloaded book.

If you have multiple books on your external drive, you will need to use a special feature on your NLS Digital Player to listen to all the downloads. The feature is known as the Bookshelf feature.

To access the Bookshelf on your player, hold down the square, green, play/stop button at the top lower edge of your player for a few seconds. You may let go when the voice announcement says "bookshelf". Then use the fast-forward and rewind arrow shaped keys on either side of the play/stop button to move between titles. When a title that you would like to hear is announced, press the play/stop key again to listen to that book.

BARD Mobile App aka How can I use my mobile device?
Note: You do not need to use the BARD Mobile app to use BARD, it is simply another way to download and play books from the BARD website. Also, this section is not intended to instruct you on how to use the app, only to inform you of the purpose of the app and how to get it. If you need more assistance on how to use the app, please visit our Help section directly below. Links to several "How-To" Videos on BARD and the BARD Mobile App can be found there.

Before you can use the BARD Mobile app, you must be registered with the Nebraska Talking Book and Braille Service; then you need to be signed up for BARD so that you have a working BARD user name and a permanent password. Also, the app will not work until you agree to the BARD pledge as prompted.

BARD Mobile and iOS Devices:

The BARD Mobile app for iOS devices provides access to talking books and Braille directly from the BARD website without having to download through your computer. With BARD Mobile, you can play audio books and magazines on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. If your device is connected to a refreshable Braille display through Bluetooth, you can also read Braille materials available on BARD.

Download the free app and sign in with your user name and password. You will only need to do this the first time you use the app, found at the iTunes store here, or search "bardmobile" or "nls bard."

The app contains a user manual accessed through the Help feature and online in HTML format. Books and magazines are either accessed through My Wishlist or from the Recently Added list. BARD Mobile must be open while the books are downloading. If you switch to a different app, downloading will stop. Also, the screen must be unlocked throughout the download process. BARD Mobile will automatically unzip files for you. Because downloading can take many minutes, it is generally recommended that borrowers use available Wifi access rather than more limited and costly data plans.

As of 10/20/15 The BARD Mobile app for iOS devices, version 1.1, is now available at the App Store; an updated user guide is available in the Help section of the app and online in HTML format here. This updated version of the app includes the following features:

  • Built-in sleep timer
  • New setting that keeps device from sleeping while download is in progress
  • Add to wish list directly from details screen
  • Enhanced braille search function
  • Improved VoiceOver hints and labels
  • New braille shortcut key
  • Improved Magic Tap response
  • Works with iOS 9

BARD Mobile and Andriod OS Devices:

The BARD Mobile application for Android devices, version 1.0.2, is now available at the Google Play store. Download the free app and sign in with your user name and password. You will only need to do this the first time you use the app, found at the Google Play store here, or search "bardmobile" or "nls bard".

The BARD Mobile app enables NLS patrons to download audiobooks and audio magazines directly to their Android devices, provided they have BARD accounts and are using devices running Android OS 4.1 or later. The user guide is available from the bookshelf of the app and online in HTML format. Help screens are also available from inside the app and may be accessed by activating the Context menu or the More Options button and selecting Help.

As of 6/10/15 NLS is working on how-to videos, FAQs, and other resources for network library staff who are supporting the application. We will provide links to these resources as soon as they are available.

As of 6/26/15 NLS has produced several how-to videos, which are available online here.

As of 10/9/15 The BARD Mobile application for Android devices, version 1.0.2, is now available at the Amazon App Store for patrons who wish to install the app on a Kindle Fire device. As version 1.0.2 contains several bug fixes, we encourage any patrons who are experiencing issues with version 1.0 to upgrade to the new version. Note that only second-generation Kindle Fire devices are equipped to run the BARD Mobile application. A list of acceptable Kindle devices is below, however, not all of these devices include accessibility features:

  • Fire (2015)
  • Fire HD 10 (2015)
  • Fire HD 6 (2014)
  • Fire HD 7 (2014)
  • Fire HD 8 (2015)
  • Fire HDX 8.9 (2014)
  • Fire HDX 8.9 WAN (2014)
  • Fire Phone
  • Kindle Fire HD (2013)
  • Kindle Fire HDX (2013)
  • Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (2013)
  • Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 WAN (2013)
  • Kindle Fire HDX WAN (2013)

Help aka Can you show me what to do?
Note: The Nebraska Talking Book and Braille Service staff is always happy to try to answer technical questions or assist you in getting set up with BARD. You can reach our staff via email and phone at 1-800-742-7691 and 1-402-471-4038. Additionally, listed below are several external sources have excellent resources for BARD patrons.

BARD Help:

  • For additional written download instructions you might visit the Arizona Braille and Talking Book Library's BARD information and instruction webpage.
  • Missouri's Wolfner Library helpfully put together a BARD Download Video to demonstrate the download process.
  • One of the best resources for all questions and technical assistance is the BARD Talk website. Their FAQ page is especially enlightening for new patrons. They also have tutorials, and they discuss playing BARD downloads on purchased players.
  • You might also want to sign up to receive messages via the BARD-Support listserv. To join e-mail: NLS BARD Technical Support or read the BARD FAQ at: NLS BARD FAQ.
  • Once you are set up with BARD, and have been successful with downloading books, further concerns about the BARD website (such as the website being down, or your account malfunctioning) should be addressed directly to the NLS BARD Technical Support Team via email.

BARD Mobile Help:

  • For patrons attempting to set up, download, and access BARD materials on their mobile devices, please read through the BARD Mobile Application User Guides.
    • To read the user guide for iOS devices go here, and for Andriod OS devices go here.
  • Oregon State Library has developed a great BARD Mobile Tutorial Video on the iOS app that's very concise and only 10 minutes in length.
  • And finally, NLS has produced multiple videos, both promotional and tutorial, feathering the BARD Mobile application. Watch the BARD Mobile How-To Series videos on the Library of Congress YouTube channel.
    • For videos pertaining to iOS devices go here, and to Andriod OS devices go here.

Technical Issues:

Note: The Nebraska Talking Book and Braille Service staff is always happy to try to answer technical questions about BARD. You can reach our staff via email and phone at 1-800-742-7691 and 1-402-471-4038. Additionally, listed below are known issues that you might experience and temporary or permanent solutions. (In other words, NLS is well aware of these issues and will try to fix what they can in the next app update; and in the meantime here's what you can do.)

  • iOS 8.3 update bug:
    “Attention BARD Mobile users: Updating to iOS 8.3 may cause the "sliders" (for location, speed, and tone) in the BARD Mobile app to visually disappear. NLS is aware of the problem, and a vendor is working to update the BARD Mobile app to run properly with iOS 8.3. Users may wish to hold off on upgrading to iOS 8.3 until BARD Mobile is able to be updated. For those users who have already upgraded to iOS 8.3, the "invisible sliders" are still accessible when using VoiceOver and we are hearing reports that you can still use the sliders as if they are not invisible (they will still function if you touch where they should be). [...] For those users who have accidentally moved the invisible sliders, and can’t get them back to normal, resetting the iOS app should return the sliders to the default settings.” - BTBL Sacramento, CA staff
  • Troubleshooting BARD Mobile: (the following instructions were taken from the NLS BARD Support listserv)

    "We know that occasionally you may have trouble using the BARD Mobile app. If you do, you may be tempted to uninstall and reinstall it. This is almost never necessary. Uninstalling the app will cause you to lose all your books, your reading position in each one, and any bookmarks you may have set. Instead, try the following steps.

    If the problem is with a particular book, delete the book from your device and download it again. For other problems, try:

    Restarting your device.

    Completely close BARD Mobile and then restart it. To completely close BARD Mobile on an Android device, choose Overview, and then choose Close BARD Mobile. To do it on an iOS device, double-tap the Home button to bring up the app switcher. Swipe left or right until you find BARD Mobile, and then flick up with three fingers if you use VoiceOver, or swipe up if you don't.

    If you use BARD Mobile for iOS, re-initialize BARD Mobile. Note that it's possible to re-initialize BARD Mobile on an Android device as well, but doing so erases all your books, so you might as well reinstall the app. Here's how to re-initialize BARD Mobile for iOS.

    1. Close BARD Mobile.
    2. Choose the Settings option on your home screen.
    3. Choose BARD Mobile in Settings.
    4. Turn Setting Initialization on.
    5. Close Settings.
    6. Reopen BARD Mobile. You will need to agree to the terms of service and log in, as you did the first time you used the app.

    If these steps don't help, feel free to contact us at

    Please tell us what sort of device you are using, and describe in detail what you are trying to do and what is going wrong. Also, tell us anything you have done to try to solve the problem, and what happened as a result. The more specific you can be, the easier it will be for us to help. We hope this information is helpful.


    The BARD Support Team"
  • "Shortly after the release of iOS 10, NLS staff discovered a bug in BARD Mobile for iOS that affects how we delete books and magazines.

    Prior to iOS 10, to delete a title we pressed the Edit button while in the bookshelf tab. From there a delete symbol appeared next to each line that, when activated, reveals a delete button for that line. Pressing the delete button would delete the book or magazine. If you’re using iOS 10, this function continues to work when VoiceOver is not being used.

    If you are using VoiceOver and have updated the Apple operating system to iOS 10 you will need to use a new set of actions to delete titles. Choose the Edit button, locate the book, and then flick up to invoke the delete function. Finally, double-tap to confirm the deletion of the title.

    The BARD technical support team"