June is Audiobook Month

A guest blog post by Beverly Gill, Collections Services Librarian

June is audiobook month, which means we can celebrate this delightful form of books. How did they get here? And, most importantly, how can you get them through the BPL?


Audiobooks have been around for a lot longer than you might realize, over 80 years. Audio recordings of books were first created as a way to give access to print materials to people who were blind and visually impaired. The American Foundation for the Blind and the Library of Congress were early innovators for audiobooks with the Talking Book program, which has provided audiobooks to millions of people (and it still exists today!). The first Talking Book audiobooks were made in 1932 on records, and each side contained about 15 minutes of recording. Audio did not become a popular format in the publishing industry until around the 1980s when cassettes were popular. Audiobooks changed as technology did, to cassettes, CDs, and now digital. According to a Pew research study from last year, about 1 in 5 Americans listen to audiobooks today.

At the BPL

The small department of embossed books for the blind, founded by Mr.Ticknor, now consists of ten volumes, and four persons have drawn upon it eighteen times during the year, - a use not large, but it is hoped it will increase as it becomes known that such books are in the Library. Lardner's "Outlines of Universal History" appeared most in request among them.
From 1869 Annual Report, Page 50

Long before audiobooks, the BPL acquired some unique items for accessibility, one of the first library collections of that kind. In 1868, eight “embossed books for the blind” (raised text, similar to braille) were donated to the library. According to the 1869 annual report, the collection had grown to ten books the following year.

Today, we have a vast collection of audiobooks that you can use to listen to your favorite titles. During COVID-19, our eAudiobook collection will be especially helpful because you can use them right from home.Overdrive is the main resource at the BPL for eAudiobooks. You can find our eAudiobook and eBook resources on our Stream & Download page. To find it, click “Books & More” at the top of the page and then “Stream & Download.”

With Overdrive, you get 10 checkouts at a time, and items can have waitlists because there are limited copies. To access them, log in with your library card or eCard number and 4-digit PIN. Overdrive has both eAudiobooks and eBooks.

You can listen to eAudiobooks on your computer or on many devices with the Libby app. Find out where to get the Libby app here, and watch a video tutorial here.

Need some inspiration for your next eAudiobook? Check out these lists:

Even Alone, Hear The Crowd: 14 eAudiobooks With A Full Cast

Bite-Sized Listening: 12 Short Story eAudiobooks For When You're In A Hurry