NC Library For the Blind and Physically Handicapped

The North Carolina Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NCLBPH) is a special part of the State Library: it’s a statewide public library that freely circulates thousands of books and magazines (in audio, large print, or braille format) specially made for persons who cannot use regular printed material because of a visual or physical disability. The library is located in Raleigh, but mails materials to patrons throughout the state free of charge. The NCLBPH is a state agency operated by the State Library of North Carolina as a part of the Department of Cultural Resources. It is also a part of the network of regional libraries operated by the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS).

Who is eligible?
NCLBPH is not just for patrons who are legally blind: it serves a large spectrum of needs. Anyone who has issues seeing that cannot be corrected by reading glasses — be it from failing eyesight, old age, or even a temporary issue with sight — may apply and receive services. Additionally, people with a physical disability preventing them from turning pages or holding a book are also included, even if their eyesight is perfect. Facilities serving qualified persons, such as schools and nursing homes, are also eligible. See eligibility and apply here.

What does the NCLBPH offer?
The NCLBPH offers a wide range of books and magazines in large print, audio formats, or braille. The library also freely loans specially designed audio players to patrons alongside audio materials. Special accessories for the audio players, such as remote controls, breathe switches, and extension levers, are available to those who need them to use the players. The NCLBPH repairs, at no cost, the audio and digital machines loaned to patrons if they are damaged. You can search the catalog here.

A toll-free telephone line for use throughout North Carolina is also offered for Readers Advisory, book requests, quick service and to answer any questions you might have about the service (1-888-388-2460). The Friends of the NCLBPH’s library newsletter, Tar Heel Talk, is provided quarterly to patrons and is available in all formats (audio, braille, large print).

A Descriptive Video Service (DVS) is available to patrons for a fee as an added feature. DVS presents a descriptive audio track that describes the spoken detail of movies. This is available in both VHS tape and DVD. Check out the latest catalog for more details.

NOBLE (North Carolina BARD Local) is a North Carolina service similar to the national BARD service through which users can download locally produced digital braille and digital audio books and magazines. No application is necessary, these are available for download from the NOBLE webpage. Volumes will be added quarterly as they become available. Please note that all digital talking books available from NOBLE are produced in a format that can only be read on a National Library Services approved player (which patrons can get free of charge from NCLBPH by mail). Just like BARD, downloaded audio files are zipped and need to be unzipped onto a flash drive to play.

How does it work?
Once you have signed and mailed an application to the library’s address shown below and your application is approved, you will receive a direct call from a Reader Advisor who will go over your application with you and help you choose book categories that interest you. Shortly after speaking to the Reader Advisor, you will begin to receive materials from the library, normally in a week to ten days. Materials are mailed directly to you at your home. If you have chosen to circulate audio materials, you will receive a special audio device in the mail for playing materials. You may keep the device as long as you are using the library — you do not have to return the device along with every set of materials you check out. If your device breaks, the NCLBPH will repair it for free or send you a new one.

You pay nothing for these services! There are no postal charges for sending these library materials through the mail. Readers Advisory services are also free. North Carolina residents may call the library’s toll-free telephone number (1-888-388-2460).

How To Apply
Please check the eligibility and application page. NCLBPH will send you an application form if requested, or you can download the form. This form gives detailed information on who is eligible, what is available, and how to complete the application. You must have the application signed by a competent authority who is not a family member. In cases of blindness, visual disability, or physical limitations, “competent authority” is defined to include doctors of medicine; doctors of osteopathy; ophthalmologists; optometrists; registered nurses; therapists; professional staff of hospitals, institutions; public or welfare agencies, such as social workers, case workers, counselors, rehabilitation teachers, and superintendents of the agencies. In the absence of any of these, certification may be made by professional librarians or any persons whose competence under specific circumstances is acceptable to the Library of Congress. In the case of a reading disability, from organic dysfunction, competent authority is defined as doctors of medicine who may consult with colleagues in associated disciplines.

Contact Info
Department of Cultural Resources, State Library of North Carolina
Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
1841 Capital Boulevard
Raleigh, North Carolina 27635
VOICE: (919) 733-4376 (Raleigh area residents)
T0ll-Free: 1-888-388-2460 (Nationwide)
TDD: (919) 733-1462
FAX: (919) 733-6910
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    • Main Library
      1289 West Mills Street
      Columbus, NC 28722
      Tel. (828) 894-8721
      Fax (828) 894-2761
      Mon. 9am – 6pm
      Tue.-Thurs. 9am – 8pm
      Fri. 9am – 6pm
      Sat. 9am – 4pm

      Saluda Community Library
      44 W. Main Street
      Saluda, NC 28773
      Tel. (828) 749-2117
      Mon.-Fri. 9am – 6pm
      Sat. 9am – 1pm

      (828) 894-8721 ext. 225