Library program delivers audio books to blind

Posted at 8:07 PM, Apr 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-29 23:39:08-04

Roughly 3,500 Idaho citizens facing physical or visual impairments receive free audio books on a regular basis, thanks to the Talking Books Program with the Commission of Libraries.

The program relies mainly on the hard work and dedication of roughly 60 volunteers, some who have been dedicating their time for more than 20 years.

"I just can't imagine a life without reading, or being able to hear someone read to me," volunteer Ruby Weaver said. "It's incomprehensible to me."

Weaver has dedicated eight hours a week to the program for 17 years.

"How would you like to spend your time having someone read to you? I mean, what better volunteer work could you ask for?" Weaver said.

The National Library Service records well-known novels, fiction and sci-fi reads, so the Talking Books Program focuses on Idaho authors and local literature.

The audio books and magazines are mailed for free to people around the state who are unable to physically or visually read a book on their own.

"These conditions can be very isolating," library consultant Sue Walker said. "People often can't drive or get out of their homes and reading is such a great way to keep your mind vibrant."

Program leaders call it one of Idaho's best kept secrets. Roughly 3,500 people utilize their services, but they estimate 30,000 could benefit from the services.

After signing up, the individual will receive the audio player with reading materials and free postage for return.

Volunteer coordinator Sheila Winther says volunteers circulate around 700 books per day.

It's tedious work for both the readers and the monitors, but they say their thousands of hours are all worth it when they receive feedback from those using the program. 

"One of them said, the doctors keep us living, you keep us alive," Winther said.

"They will literally say things like, 'this program saved my mothers life,'" Walker said.

"The idea that you're doing something that you're not being paid for, and the satisfaction comes within you, not with a paycheck," Weaver said. "You just go home with the feeling you've really done something."

If you want to learn more about the program's services or volunteer opportunities click here.

They are looking for male readers to volunteer, along with individuals who can edit audio recordings.