Reading is a proven way to keep the mind active, especially in the summer months; however, it can become more difficult with diminishing eyesight, stiffness in the hands, dyslexia and other inhibitors. As a result, the Madison Library District in Rexburg enables book lovers of varying capacities to enjoy reading by offering its Talking Books Service (TBS).  

According to the library website, “Nearly 45,000 Idahoans are unable to read standard print … many times, [disabilities become] another unfortunate reason for people to disengage from what’s happening in their families and the world around them … that’s why the Idaho Commission for Libraries sponsors the Talking Book Service: to help caregivers and family members to connect loved ones and friends with reading through audio materials.” 

TBS offers over 25,000 braille titles, 80,000 professionally recorded audio books, and audio magazines in a selection of genres including romance, western, mystery and non-fiction. 

Catherine Stanton, the adult services librarian at the Madison Library District, has observed how this program impacts the lives of disabled readers.  

“There are people who cry,” she said. “It may be that they have loved reading all their life and the eyesight has failed, or the hands are gone, and they just feel like that’s something they’ve had to leave behind. And now, this whole world of possibilities opens up.” 

Individuals who are legally blind, have trouble focusing, require corrective glasses, and/or have difficulty holding a book are likely eligible. If you know someone who could benefit from this service, fill out an application for the program online or at the library. Applicants who are admitted into the program will receive an audio device via mail along with a USB insert that holds up to 10 books of their choice.  

A demonstration on how to use the talking books equipment will be held Thursday, July 21, from 6 – 7 p.m. Stanton encourages the public to attend in small groups dispersed throughout the hour, so librarians can be attentive to all guest questions and needs. Cookies will be provided.