Library Services

Browse the list of additional services below to learn about all the ways the Perkins Library works to make information accessible.


Audio Described Videos

The Library offers audio described videos (DVD and VHS) to loan to patrons. Described videos provide narration of a program’s key visual elements, such as characters' actions, costuming, gestures and facial expressions. These descriptions are heard during the natural pauses in dialogue. The result is a finished soundtrack that enables visually impaired viewers to fully understand the film through listening. Video selections include comedy, romance, adventure, musicals and children’s films.

A standard TV, DVD or VCR player are all one needs to enjoy these audio described videos.


Braille Awareness Kit

The Library is happy to loan a Braille Awareness Kit to anyone in New England who wishes to learn more about the braille system and how it makes a difference in the lives of people who are blind. The kit includes written materials, braille books and magazines, tools and games. If you have questions or would like more detailed information about the Braille Awareness Kit, please call Judi Cannon at the Library at 1-800-852-3133 or 617-972-7646 or email Judi.Cannon@Perkins.org.


Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD)

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, in collaboration with the Perkins Library, provides a website where users can download audio and braille titles and magazines as well as music scores and music theory books.

To download books from the BARD site, borrowers need:

  • High-speed Internet service such as DSL or cable
  • Ability and permission to download and unzip files
  • An active e-mail address
  • A player capable of playing NLS-produced digital talking books. Please contact the library for the most up-to-date list of players.

First-time visitors can apply for BARD directly from the BARD log-in page by selecting BARD Application Instructions. The Library will verify that the applicant is registered and in good standing. Readers then receive login information by e-mail.


Braille Books

The Library offers over 20,000 braille titles, which can be searched in our Online Catalog. The newest braille books are listed in the bimonthly Braille Book Review catalogue, which is also available in braille and in large print.


Perkins Brailler® Repair Program

The Library has set up a special program for Massachusetts residents registered with the Library to have their personal Perkins Brailler® repaired for free. Anyone wishing to utilize this service should contact the Library to make arrangements to send in your Perkins Brailler®, with a detailed note explaining the problem. Upon receipt, we will authorize it for repair at Perkins Products at no cost to you.You can even request a loaner Brailler while your unit is being repaired.


Jumbo Braille

The Library has a small Jumbo Braille collection which enables people from across the country who are blind with an impaired sense of touch, such as those with diabetes, to read braille books. Both contracted and uncontracted books are available in more than 20 adult title selections. Please contact Judi Cannon at 617-972-7646 or  Judi.Cannon@Perkins.org for a list of available titles.


Foreign Languages

The Library offers a selection of braille and talking books and magazines in more than 60 languages. To browse Spanish titles, select "Spanish" as the language option in the Online Catalog before entering your search terms. The Spanish Language Application and Spanish Information Sheet forms are available for download in PDF format. Read El Narrador, the Library's Spanish-language newsletter, and Frequently Asked Questions about the Library en español. Contact the Library about receiving a list of titles that are available in a foreign language.


Large Print Books

The Library has access to over 18,500 titles in its large print collection, including both fiction and non-fiction, biographies, romance, westerns, bestsellers, mysteries and children's books. Interested patrons may borrow two large print books at a time and the loan period is four weeks. 


Magazines

The Library provides free audio and braille magazine subscriptions to registered patrons. Most magazines are sent directly to patrons by the producers and must be returned after listening for reuse. The Library also loans locally produced shared magazine titles, and they should be returned to the Library when completed so they can be made available to other borrowers.

Registered patrons who would like to request a magazine can download the Magazine Order Form »


Museum Passes

The Library offers free or discount passes to seven area museums including the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Museum of Science, Mystic Seaport, New England Aquarium, USS Constitution Museum, Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo. Call 617-972-7240 or 800-852-3133 or email library@perkins.org for more information or to reserve a pass.


Music

Music materials in braille, large print and cassette formats are provided to interested Library patrons through the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). NLS has a special centralized library for musicians with disabilities featuring a collection of more than 30,000 books, musical scores and instructional recordings in braille and large print formats. Audio courses for beginning guitar, piano, organ, accordion, recorder and voice have also been specifically developed for the NLS program.

Registered patrons interested in receiving music materials can contact the Library at 617- 972-7240, 1-800-852-3133 or e-mail Library@Perkins.org.


NEWSLINE

NEWSLINE is an electronic system that allows users to listen to newspapers and magazines through synthetic voice output via any touch-tone telephone. It is free of charge to registered users and is accessed by calling either a local or toll-free telephone number. Several Massachusetts newspapers are included as a part of the program including The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, the Lowell Sun, the Springfield Republican and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Magazines currently available from NEWSLINE are The AARP Magazine, Diabetes Self-Management, The Economist, and The New Yorker. The Spanish newspapers El Nuevo Herald, La Opinión, La Prensa, and El Sentinel, and the Spanish magazine AARP Segunda Juventud are available on NEWSLINE. To get started using NEWSLINE, please contact the Library by phone at 617-972-7240 or 1-800-852-3133 or via e-mail at Library@Perkins.org


Talking Books

The Perkins Library offers over 75,000 audio book titles, which can be searched in the Online Catalog. The newest acquisitions are listed in the bimonthly Talking Book Topics catalog, which is also available in braille, on cartridge and in large print. Magazines on cartridge are also available for children, young adults and adults in five different languages. Most magazines are yours to keep, though some magazines are shared subscriptions and must be returned to the Library.

Talking books and playback machines are loaned to eligible Perkins Library patrons and mailed postage-free. Specialized playback equipment is required to use talking books and magazines. The Perkins Library does maintain a legacy collection of titles on 4-track cassette. Contact the Library for assistance with this collection or equipment needed to play books on cassette.

In addition to playback machines, the Library can also provide accessories to meet an individual's specialized needs, including:

  • Amplifiers for people with significant hearing loss
  • Breath switches used with a remote control unit for people with little or no use of their extremities
  • Extension levers which attach to the key controls of the cassette machine and are for persons who have difficulty using push buttons on a standard cassette player
  • Headphones for readers who reside in nursing homes, hospitals or other areas where they share spaces and speakers could be distracting to others
  • Pillow speakers which adapt to any playback machine to assist people restricted to bed
  • Remote control units for people restricted to bed or with difficulty in mobility (cassette player only)
  • USB thumb drive adapter (digital player only)
  • Cartridge adapter cable (digital player only)

Help With Research

The Library offers library patrons the expertise of a trained reference librarian to assist with questions and requests for specialized information. Most questions can be researched and answered within two to three business days; however, questions involving more in-depth research may require more time.

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 or email. For specific questions or assistance, contact the reference librarian at ReferenceLibrarian@Perkins.org or call 1-800-852-3133 or 617-972-7245.

In addition, you can connect to InfoEyes, a national "virtual reference" project. The virtual reference desk is staffed by talking book library reference librarians in a number of states cooperating to provide reference services via computer to all users of talking book libraries across the country.