The Swedish Talking Book Model

In the Swedish Talking Book model, the Government is responsible for production, information and the central lending function.

The county libraries are responsible for regional service and information. Municipal and university and college libraries are responsible for lending to persons with reading impairments. Talking book are distributed free of charge. The libraries can purchase copies of talking books by the Swedish Agency for Accessible Media (MTM) from BTJ library service.

The model

MTM is a central government responsible for production and bibliographic description of talking books, as well as for providing information and advice to libraries in its area of operations. MTM is a leading center for talking books.

MTM’s digital library is a national resource for downloading talking books to libraries holding permits pursuant to Section 17 of the Copyright Act.

The county libraries and regional libraries are responsible for supporting the talking book activities of local libraries in their respective regions.

The municipal libraries are responsible for library services to persons with reading impairments.

The university and college libraries are responsible for arranging lending to students with reading impairments.

The libraries can purchase copies of MTM’s talking books through BTJ.


The Swedish talking book model was adopted as part of the 1979 culture policy decision, based on the commission report, Kultur åt alla (Culture for Everyone)(SOU 1976:20).

The Talking Book Commission report, Talböcker - Utgivning och spridning (Talking Books – Publishing and Distribution) (SOU 1982:7) proposed decentralized talking book operations.

The Public Library Commission report, Folkbibliotek i Sverige (Public Libraries in Sweden) (SOU 1984:23) discusses the role of government agencies as central lenders, and the responsibility of local libraries to talking books users. The Commission proposed a government subsidy to the county libraries.

”The application shall be based on an inventory of talking book needs in the various municipalities of the county, and should also include a plan of how the supply of talking books should take place, specifying a division of responsibility between individual municipalities and county libraries".

MTM’s referral comments on the report Boken i Tiden (The Book Today) (SOU 1997:141) include: "What is unique about the Swedish talking book model is the range of production. No request is too odd. Thanks to the ability to distrubute free of charge, the loan can often be sent the same day. The major disadvantage of the Swedish talking book model is that a reader with an impairment is dependent on the library system. Talking books can be borrowed only at the library".

Read more about the history of talking book operations

Library responsability regarding accessibility for persons with reading impairments.

All libraries are responsible for providing service to their borrowers. Borrowers with a reading impairment need additional attention from the library to ensure that their needs are met.

Most libraries can fairly easily satisfy the basic requirements as to how libraries should act in order to have accessible operations.

  • All personnel at the library must know what talking books are, who they are meant for, and where they can be borrowed.
  • Users need to know that they can borrow all sorts of talking books through their local library, but all the personnel must be aware that in addition to the talking books on their shelves, many more can be borrowed from the county library and downloaded from MTM. 
  • All libraries are required to post information about what talking books are and who they are meant for. 
  • All personnel must be aware that talking books are in Daisy format. 
  • All personnel should be able to search using A link to must be included in the online catalogue of the local library.
  • All personnel must know that there are talking book players and reading programs. 
  • All libraries must have talking book players for borrowing and/or demonstration. 
  • All personnel should know how to handle the reading book player at the local library, and be able to show a borrower how to use it. It can be a simple matter of "this is how you turn it on; and this is how you turn it off”. This should get a borrower started very nicely. 
  • The website of the local library should provide information that there are talking books for those with reading impairments, and should have a link to
  • All personnel should be aware that MTM has a website and an online library catalogue,
  • All libraries should have some form of adapted equipment. A magnifying glass is in a bare minimum requirement. A scanner, computer with synthesized speech, computer with an enlargement program, and a computer with Braille are desirable additions.
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