Technology can help all Missourians experience the joy of books

By Robin Carnahan

Photo by Andrew Cutraro

By Robin Carnahan

You may know someone who has trouble reading books, newspapers or magazines because of vision loss or a physical difficulty.

But with the help of technology, everyone can have access to the knowledge and entertainment we get from books. The Wolfner Library, a division of my office, can deliver audio versions of standard print materials right to your door — free.

More than 11,000 Missourians already use this service and have access to more than 360,000 volumes of fiction and nonfiction books. These books, in addition to more than 70 magazine subscriptions, are available in braille and on cassette. If you qualify for Wolfner’s services, the library will loan you an audio player so you can enjoy the materials that you check out.

This year, Wolfner led the nation in distributing state-of-the-art digital audio players. Easier to use than the cassette player, digital players have high-quality sound and advanced playback features that allow a user to control the speed or navigate through chapters.

Within four years, all current Wolfner patrons will have access to the easy-to-use digital players.

The digital players use cartridges that my office delivers to our patrons throughout the state, but they provide access to an even wider world of materials. More than 15,000 digital books and 40 magazines are available for download from your home computer.

Wolfner can even provide a blank cartridge so you can begin downloading and listening to your favorites without having to wait for the mail.

Several patrons contacted my office with praise for the digital players. One patron said, “We find the new machine and books so much simpler to use, and much clearer in tone.”

Another Missourian told my office, “I like the new player very much. The sound is excellent, and it is more convenient. Reading is extremely easy, and I can read as easily as a person who can just pick up a book and read a few pages.”

Wolfner has been enriching the lives of Missourians for more than 75 years, and their services have touched thousands. In the past year alone, we circulated more than 500,000 items to Missourians who otherwise may not be able to enjoy their favorite books.

If you or a loved one have difficulty using standard print materials, I encourage you visit

or contact my office at (800) 392-2614 to learn more.

Robin Carnahan serves as Missouri secretary of state.