Talking Book Machine Repair Program


The Talking Book Machine Repair Program has been functioning since 1988.  Volunteers have come and gone over the years and at this time, more volunteers are needed in each of the 4 groups


The Talking Book and Braille Library is sponsored by the Library of Congress National Library Service for the blind and physically challenged..  The New York State Library serves people in 55 counties in upstate New York – that is everywhere but NY City and Long Island.  There are nearly 41,000 eligible New Yorkers registered and getting books.  There are over 68,000 titles, fiction and non-fiction in Braille, or on cassette.  There are over 70 magazines available. Many textbooks are also available.  Machines and books are mailed to patrons free of charge and there is no charge for the return.  They are also mailed to local libraries, nursing homes and prisons.  In the fall of 2009, a new digital design of books and players was introduced.  These are being distributed to clients but they are encouraged to keep their tape players as the number of books available in digital format is currently limited.


TBBL could not continue to provide books and players to such a large group of patrons throughout NY State without the dedication and hard work of the volunteer repair groups including ours.  These groups have spent countless hours repairing the machines so that their patrons with print disabilities can continue to experience the pleasure of reading a good book.  TBBL is extremely grateful for the services we continue to provide


Volunteers meet four times each week – either Wednesday or Thursday, morning or afternoon.  The morning groups meet from 9 – 12 and the afternoon groups from 1 – 4.  All necessary parts are furnished by the National Library Service. Machines are delivered to the Center by the Albany Library and the repaired machines – packed and ready for shipment are picked up and returned to Albany.  The Elfuns furnish some money to the program for things such as cleaning and miscellaneous supplies.  While the program is year round, volunteers are not expected to be there every single time as we are all retirees and other things may come up. 


It is not necessary to be an engineer to repair these machines.  We have auditors, a former banker and others with little or no former experience in this type of activity.  One does not have to be a GE retiree.  Spouses and friends who are interested are also welcome.  There is always someone who will teach you the fundamentals and should you run into a problem, there will be someone to help.  The picture shows George and Estelle Coulter working on machines in our “shop”. George was an auditor and Estelle, a housewife.


It is estimated that $40 worth of labor and $20 worth of parts are used to repair each machine.  In 2009, there were nearly 99,000 machines repaired by our group and others around the country for a total savings of about $5,940,000.  It is important to note that these machines can be the only real communication that some people have with the outside world and they are very heavily used – sometimes for as much as 8 hours/day. 


Contact information:  If you are interested in helping with this important program or would like more information, please contact:


            Tony Orsino:  372-8172 or

Millie Gittinger:  377-0671 or