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Last edited by raybb
July 23, 2021 | History

DAISY/Print Disabled Books on Open Library

What do you mean by "print disabled" books?

"Print disabled" books are those that have been specially formatted in the DAISY format for users who can not read regular print books. These titles are only accessible on a specialized device to patrons having a key issued by the Library of Congress.


What is DAISY?

The Digital Accessible Information SYstem (DAISY) format is a means of creating digital talking books for people who wish to hear--and to navigate--written material presented in an audible format. DAISY helps those with "print disabilities," including blindness, impaired vision, and dyslexia, to read electronic texts that have been converted into its format. The DAISY consortium was formed in 1996 by talking book libraries around the world to lead the transition from analog talking books into digital format.

Here's a quick introduction to DAISY from OpenXML, hosted on YouTube, which also mentions an awesome Save As option in Microsoft Word that saves OpenXML documents as DAISY files. (That might be something publishers could get behind...):

Wikipedia also lists a useful entry on DAISY, with a ton of links to yet more resources.


How do I read a DAISY book using Open Library?

First, you'll need a device that can read DAISY files. There's a list of all the suitable devices on

There are two types of DAISYs on Open Library: open and protected. All of open DAISYs are also available in PDF, TXT, and ePub format. Anyone can access the open DAISYs by searching Open Library and checking the "Only show eBooks" checkbox. (Here's a sample search to try.) You can also browse all of these accessible books via the "accessible book" subject page.

Players which support DAISY 3 text-only books should play the open books available from the Internet Archive.

Examples of other software readers include AMIS and DDReader. AMIS is the open source software player from the DAISY Consortium - more information as well as the download can be found on the DAISY Consortium website.

DDReader, the Firefox add-on from the Dorina Nowill Foundation, is also available now.

Currently, our protected DAISY books can only be opened using a key issued by the Library of Congress NLS program. At present our protected DAISY books can be played on the Victor Reader Stream.

You might also be interested in the AnyDaisy Firefox extension that will read a DAISY file to you in your browser! Brought to you by Bookshare, you can download the extension and then download one of the "open" DAISYs, say, Moby Dick. Then, go to the FILE menu in Firefox where it will say "Open DAISY book". Find the book's directory in your download folder (or wherever it unzips to). You might like to skip to page 1 to avoid the OCR gunk at the start, then... listen! (Note: This won't work for "protected" DAISYs).


What are protected DAISYs?

Protected DAISYs are DAISY files for modern books. They're encrypted and can only be read through specialized devices with an appropriate decryption key installed. You can see all the works on Open Library that have protected DAISYs available on the "protected DAISY" subject page, or search within the protected DAISYs for something in particular.

We have successfully tested reading protected DAISYs on the Humanware Victor Stream Reader with Firmware 3.2 or greater and an NLS key installed. These three devices should also be able to read all of our open DAISYs.


Why are some DAISYs protected?

We are following the lead of the Library of Congress on how they distribute modern books.


How can I get a key for my device?

As our first step, the Internet Archive is supporting the Library of Congress National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Physically Handicapped library program to circulate Braille, audio or DAISY materials to eligible readers. This program is only available to residents of the United States or American citizens living abroad.

If you already have a key for the NLS BARD web site, that also works with DAISY books from Bookshare, that same key will work for the protected DAISYs available through Open Library.

Please visit the Library of Congress NLS website for more information about getting a key for your device, or to check your eligibility for the program. Note that the Internet Archive and Open Library are unable to assist you in with NLS-related questions.

We hope to extend this offering in support of our mission to provide universal access to all knowledge. If you know of ways we might be able to extend the program into other regions in the world, or would like to help out, please get in touch with us at


Why can't I get a key?

The Library of Congress NLS program is only open to residents of the United States or American citizens living overseas.

The Internet Archive is working to expand access to everyone, all over the world, and we're beginning to learn about international options. If you have information in this area, please email


Where else can I get DAISY books?

If you know of any great sites out there, please let us know!


What kind of DAISY does the Internet Archive produce?

We produce text-only DAISY 3 books (Z39.86-2005). Most of our books have page navigation but most of them do not yet have other structure, like chapters or tables of contents. This is in the works!

Our DAISYs are produced automatically within the workflow we currently use as we scan books. They rely on the OCR produced in the scanning process and are therefore susceptible to errors, which may include weird characters, non-words, and guesses at structure where we can't find any. We're thinking about ways to get community input into OCR and book structure error correction. (If you're interested in helping us, or know of good resources in these areas, please let us know.)


Will Internet Archive DAISY books work on the new NLS Digital Talking Book Player?

Not yet! Internet Archive books are text-only, and thus can only be listened to with software or devices that do their own text-to-speech conversion. The new NLS player plays only books with included audio and thus can't play our books. We are looking at producing DAISY books with included text-to-speech audio in the future.

(If you are with an organization that produces quality text-to-speech software, we'd like to hear from you!)


Is the Open Library website accessible to the blind and visually impaired?

Yes. Open Library has been coded according to existing website accessibility standards, as codified by the World Wide Web Consortium, using the XHTML Transitional guidelines. In May 2010, we tested virtually every page on the site using the W3C Markup Validation Service, and achieved 100% validation to make sure that everything works. As an open source site, there may be entries or member-edited pages that contain invalid code, but we strive to keep every page easily accessible. We are also working with the United States-based National Federation of the Blind to pass their accreditation.

If you run into problems, you may find that upgrading your browser of choice to the most recent version will help resolve errors. And if you have suggestions for improving Open Library accessibility, we're all ears!



July 23, 2021 Edited by raybb all links https
January 14, 2019 Edited by Mek updating print-disabled docs
August 17, 2018 Edited by Mek Edited without comment.
February 22, 2016 Edited by Jessamyn West updated some entries.
November 16, 2010 Created by bookfinch Edited without comment.