Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library. This guide is also available in large print, braille, on cassette, or via e-mail. For additional information, call the Library at 617-972-7240, 1-800-852-3133 or email Library@Perkins.org.
How do I contact the Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library?
You may contact the Library by:
Phone: 800-852-3133 or 617-972-7240
You may visit in person or send mail to:
175 North Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02472
A staff member will be available to assist you during regular library hours (8:30 am - 5:00 pm Monday - Friday except holidays). At other times, please leave a message and a staff member will follow up with you during regular business hours.
May I visit the Library?
Yes. You are invited to visit the Library during business hours. The browsing area contains a variety of new titles and old favorites in cassette, braille, or large print and a display of playback equipment. A public access computer equipped with assistive technology is also available.
The Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library is located on the campus of the Perkins School for the Blind, near the rear entrance to the campus. Please call or visit our website for detailed directions to get you as close to the Library as possible.
Now that I am signed up with the Library, what happens next?
Once your application is approved by the Library, we automatically send the materials that you requested. The talking books and playback machine may arrive in separate shipments. Please contact the Library if you have not received everything you requested, or if you have additional questions.
How much does library service cost?
Library service is free of charge to registered patrons. The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the Perkins School for the Blind provide funding, and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress provides materials and equipment. Funds are also appropriated by Congress for the U.S. Postal Service for "Free Matter for the Blind" mailings, allowing you and the Library to send library materials without paying for postage.
How often will books be sent to me?
Your initial shipment of materials will be sent automatically. You may continue to receive books automatically, or you may choose from a variety of service options, such as by request only or monthly scheduled service. Please contact the Library to customize your service plan to meet your needs.
What other materials and services does the library offer?
In addition to over 60,000 cassette titles, 17,000 braille books, 100 cassette and braille magazines, and 5,500 large print books, the Library offers nearly 1,000 audio-described videos, 2,000 downloadable audio books through the Unabridged program, a braille awareness kit, and museum passes. Some materials are also available in over 60 different languages.
The Library offers Newsline, a service that enables you to listen to newspapers and television listings over the telephone. We also offer instructional music resources. Our reference librarian is available to answer your research questions. Please contact the Library to access these materials and services.
How do I order books and other materials?
Two free bimonthly catalogs, Talking Book Topics and Braille Book Review, list the newest cassette and braille titles. Topical bibliographies and catalogs of our large print, audio-described video, and jumbo braille collections are also available. These catalogs are offered in large print, braille, on cassette, computer disk, and online.
You may order books from the catalogs; pick out books in person from the browsing area; or call, email, mail, or fax in your specific book requests. You can also order books by clicking the Library's Online Public Access Catalog link at www.perkinslibrary.org.
How do I order books online?
The Online Public Access Catalog, accessible from www.perkinslibrary.org, offers access to all of the library's holdings and can be searched by title, author, medium, keyword, or language. Books can be added to your request list, and up to five selections will be shipped immediately.
To order books, you must enter your user ID and your password. Your user ID is composed of six letters and two numbers and is printed on your mailing card. Your password is your birth year. For institutional accounts, call the Library for your password. Feel free to contact the Library with any questions you may have about ordering books online.
How long can I keep materials?
We urge patrons to read their books as quickly as possible so that others can read them as well. The Library's official loan policy is that you may borrow books for up to eight weeks. This allows us to promptly fill other requests for the same titles. Please return both books and shared subscription magazines as soon as you can because many others are waiting to read popular books and current magazines. In the case of described videos, one title may be borrowed at a time for a period of up to two weeks. For large print books, two books may be borrowed at a time for a two week loan period.
How do I return materials?
Please return materials in the same mailing containers in which they arrived. Remove the address label from the container and flip it over so the hole is in the upper right-hand corner and the Library's address is showing on the blue side of the mailing card. Slide the mailing card back into place in the container. Materials can then be returned through the U.S. mail postage-free.
Please rewind all tapes. If returning more than one book, check to be sure that materials are placed inside the correct containers. Identify any defective materials by placing a rubber band or piece of string around the damaged tape and place it in the container braille-side down.
May I lend my books and equipment to someone else?
We discourage lending of books and equipment to others. By law, Library service is available only to eligible individuals whose applications have been approved. Lending books to others will prevent the Library from filling requests for specific titles, and may also disrupt your own service.
If you have a friend or relative who is unable to read print books due to a disability, contact the library or visit the website for an application and information.
Why do I need special equipment to play the talking books?
Talking book tapes are recorded on four-track cassettes that play at a special speed. These cassettes can only be played on the cassette player provided by the Library.
Most commercial tapes contain 2 tracks, one per side. Talking book cassettes contain 4 tracks for 4 full recorded tracks per tape so more content fits on each tape. The cassette player provided by the Library enables listening to the tracks in the correct order. If you have used commercial tape players, you will find it easy to adapt to the Library's equipment. Read or listen carefully to the operating instructions supplied with your equipment, and contact the Library with any additional questions.
What do I do if my equipment or books are not working?
Contact the Library if your materials are not working or have been damaged, lost, or stolen so they can be replaced. We have volunteers who are trained to repair our specialized equipment. Please do not attempt to have the equipment repaired yourself.
After you have contacted the Library, please return defective materials in the same mailing container in which they arrived. If you no longer have the original mailing carton for your cassette machine, contact the Library and we can send a replacement box. The address label should be placed with the hole in the upper-right corner, with the Library's address showing. The machine box can be returned through the U.S. mail postage-free.
Does the Library offer special services for students, children, and young adults?
Yes. The Library's collection contains many classics, biographies, and popular fiction and nonfiction books often assigned by schools. We do not carry textbooks, but can refer you to other agencies that may have them. Our reference librarian can assist students with research questions.
The Library conducts a Summer Reading Program for children and young adult borrowers. The BTBL PerKIDS website and newsletter are available for all children and young adults, schools, teachers, and parents. Contact the children's services librarian at the Perkins Library for more information about services for students.
Does the Library have a reference librarian?
Yes. Our reference librarian can assist you with questions and requests for specialized information. The results of the librarian's research can be provided in the format most easily utilized by the borrower, including large print, braille, computer disk, and email. Please contact the reference librarian for more information at 617-972-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do I do if I live in Massachusetts only part of the year, or if I go on vacation?
Anyone who resides in Massachusetts at least six months of the year is eligible for service from our Library. We can either send books to your Massachusetts address only or alternate service between your two addresses. Please contact the Library to set up your various addresses.
You can also contact the Library if you would like us to place a temporary hold on your service while you are on vacation, or if you would prefer your books sent to a temporary address.
What do I do if I move?
If you move within Massachusetts, please contact the Library with your new address and telephone number. You may take your materials with you, and we will send books to your new address.
If moving out-of-state, please contact us with your new address information as soon as possible so we can transfer your service to the talking book library in that state. Please let us know if you would like to take your equipment with you as well.
U.S. citizens moving out of the country may also make arrangements to continue borrowing books no matter where they reside in the world.
Can I continue to receive Library service if I enter a hospital or nursing home?
Yes. Notify us as soon as possible of your change of circumstances and your Library service will continue uninterrupted. Also, ask to see if the facility where you will be staying has a deposit collection of our materials for its residents to use. If not, you can suggest that an administrator contact us to establish one.
May I borrow materials from my local public library?
Some public and private libraries have a deposit collection of our materials for eligible patrons to borrow. If your library does not have a deposit collection, ask a librarian to contact us to establish one.
How do I find out what is new at the Library?
Our newsletter, Dots & Decibels, contains Library news and other information of interest and is sent to all borrowers in their preferred format: large print, cassette, braille, via e-mail, or online. A children's newsletter, BTBL PerKIDS Newsletter, is sent to all juvenile patrons in large print for sharing with parents and teachers, and also in each student's preferred format: large print, cassette, braille, via email, or online. Our Spanish newsletter, El Narrador, is available in large print, cassette, and via email. Please contact the Library if you want to change the format you receive.
The Library website, http://www.perkinslibrary.org, and the website of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, http://www.loc.gov/nls, are other resources for Library news.
Please contact the Library if you have any more questions. Happy Reading!