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History of the Library

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Library services for blind patrons began in the late nineteenth century. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped website has a fascinating history of the evolution of the program including a timeline. Here are some of the topics covered:

  • Service Prior to 1931
  • National Library Services Established
  • Service Extended to Physically Handicapped Readers
  • Development of Talking Books (Disc)
  • Talking-Book Machines
  • Cassette Books and Machines
  • Combination Machine
  • Machine Repair
  • Multistate Centers
  • Cataloging
  • Suggested Further Reading
  • Chronology of Developments in the National Program
  • Regional Libraries for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Talking Book Equipment Gallery

Thomas A. Edison invented the tinfoil phonograph in 1877. In June of 1878 he published a list of uses for his new invention in the North American Review. Among the top ten uses listed was talking books for the blind. He was a visionary in his time. Fifty-five years would pass before the first talking books on record were published in 1932. Congress funded the program in 1933 and the rest is our shared history.

Display table containing five talking book record players and various records.

The Braille and Talking Book Library in Daytona Beach Florida has a nice display of old talking books and reproducers. Some are difficult to date but will be easily recognized as part of our talking book history. Enjoy our photographic (or phonographic) stroll down memory lane! We understand many of you or your family may have stories or photos you may like to share. If so, we would love to hear them! Email Maureen the librarian at reading@dbs.fldoe.org.

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