Providing access to the written word: The 85th Anniversary of the Pratt-Smoot Act

For Immediate Release
March 2, 2016

For More Information Contact:

Kim Crawford, Communications Manager
Phone: (602) 926-3810
[email protected]

PHOENIX – President Herbert Hoover made the Arizona Talking Book Library possible by signing the Pratt-Smoot Act on March 3, 1931 “to provide books for the use of the adult blind in the United States.” The act created what is now known as the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). The service was expanded in 1952 to include children and in 1966 to include individuals with other physical disabilities.

“My librarian helps me pick out good books that I so enjoy listening to. I’d be lost without this amazing program,” said Connie Ray, a TBL program participant. “The Talking Book Library is a major contributor to my quality of life.”  

As a regional library of the 85-year-old NLS, TBL provides services statewide to Arizona residents who:

  • Have low vision, making it difficult to read standard print
  • Find it hard to hold or handle a print book
  • Have a reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction

TBL also works with organizations such as schools, libraries, nursing homes and hospitals that serve people with visual and physical disabilities.

“A person who develops visual impairments like macular degeneration or a physical impairment like arthritis is able to use Talking Book Library programs,” said Secretary of State Michele Regan whose office oversees the service in Arizona. “We have librarians on call to assist patrons in selecting books and help patrons explore their avenues of interest.”

Loa programs at TBL include:

  • Audio books and magazines; movies with audio descriptions; and Braille books and magazines by postage free mail
  • Special equipment to play audio books
  • Audio and braille book digital downloads
  • Access to NFB-NEWSLINE and more than 300 newspapers and magazines by phone and online

The Arizona Talking Book Library, created in 1969, has total holdings of 263,690 items and assisted 8,771 patrons and institutions in fiscal year 2015 (July 2014 to July 2015).

The Arizona Talking Book Library, a branch of the State Library, a division of the Arizona Secretary of State, is a Regional Library of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress. For a full range of services, visit online at or call 602-255-5578.