California NLS Libraries Offer Free Subscription to is only available to persons with certified print disabilities. Initially an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant-funded project as a five-year pilot, Bookshare seat licenses for qualifying patrons have since been incorporated into the California State Library’s operating budget. California NLS network libraries in SacramentoCalifornia NLS network libraries Los AngelesCalifornia NLS network libraries Fresno, and California NLS network libraries San Francisco will continue offering opportunities for their patrons to access, a nonprofit service of downloadable electronic braille and text-to-speech (synthetic voice) audio books with a current archive of over 1 million plus titles in all genres. Although some titles overlap with the NLS collection of roughly 150,000 titles, Bookshare exponentially increases the number of books for people with print disabilities, including fiction and nonfiction of all types, and scholarly works. The California State Library maintains 500 total seats/licenses for NLS patrons in California, and we are offering seats to new, eligible users. Existing participants may continue their subscription uninterrupted, but anyone who wishes to stop using the library-provided membership should contact us ASAP so your seat can be given to another patron.

If you are an enrolled student in primary, secondary, or post-secondary (college or graduate) school, you are eligible for a free Bookshare membership under a U.S. Department of Education grant and can indicate your school when applying for an account directly via

Because Bookshare is an online, download service, patrons who are comfortable and experienced with computers and file management, including BARD subscribers or current Bookshare subscribers with limited resources when their accounts are about to expire, are most encouraged to partake of this ordinarily fee-based service. The books are available in electronic braille files that can be read on refreshable braille displays (including the NLS eReader), text-to-speech (TTS) DAISY files, and TTS MP3 audio files that can be played on the NLS Digital Talking Book Machine in addition to several third party commercial players. Visit the Library’s Assistive Technology Lending program page for information about the Humanware Victor Reader Stream portable audio player available for patrons to borrow from BTBL.  There is a free online DAISY player software to listen to DAISY TTS files on one’s computer as well. Please visit to read more about this great service.

If you would like to receive a renewable, one year free Bookshare subscription, please call 800-952-5666 or send an email to The seats will be divided with approximately 225 seat licenses available for BTBL (Northern California Regional Library) patrons.

Patrons should contact the library to obtain a license/subscription code to begin Bookshare service. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Bookshare Support

Archived recording of free Bookshare Webinar
Bookshare Online Help Center

A young African-American man listening to an audio book.