Talking Book News Bulletin, Winter 2008.........Español

Internal Links
Director's Column
Holiday Closings
A Mystery at the Rodeo
Free Download of Books in Print and Audio Formats
The Talking Book Program has Two Requirements
Here Are Two Recently Acquired Books in Braille
ReadThisToMe is a free reading service for the blind

You, Us, and the Post Office
Tips and Reminders for Better Service
Related Links
Loan Policy
Spotlight on Texas Books
Disability Information & Referral Center
National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped

Director's Column

Greetings! Here is the latest news:

State Library building renovations about to begin: Renovations of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building are slated to get underway in late February. These renovations are expected to take approximately two years to complete. The state library building was opened in 1961 and has never had any major renovation work done to it. The state legislature has appropriated $15.5 million for this project. Most of these funds will be used to renovate the building’s infrastructure—replacing plumbing and electrical wiring; refurbishing the elevators, overhauling the heating and air conditioning, and repairing the roof. The Friends of Libraries & Archives of Texas, a non-profit group that supports the state library and its activities, plans to raise $10 million to supplement the original legislative appropriation. Among the items the Friends hope to fund are a new conservation lab for the archives and a new recording studio for the Talking Book Program. If you would like to make a donation to the renovation fund, please make your check payable to the Friends of Libraries & Archives of Texas. If you want your donation reserved for TBP’s portion of the renovations, please note that either on the check or in an accompanying letter. Mail checks to: Friends of Libraries & Archives of Texas, P.O. Box 12983, Austin, TX 78711. You may also make a donation online through the Austin Community Foundation at; select “Friends of Libraries & Archives Fund” on the drop-down menu. All donations are tax deductible and an acknowledgment letter will be sent. Because the renovations to the building will not start before late February, TBP staff will not be moving to temporary quarters until later in the spring. Updated information about this move will be posted on our Web page at and on the toll-free telephone information line at 1-866-388-6397.

Update on NLS appropriations request: The U.S. Congress finally passed an omnibus-spending bill in mid-December that essentially puts the new federal budget into place. All federal agencies, including NLS, are now operating under the 2008 federal budget. This means that NLS will receive the $12.5 million that it was appropriated for the digital conversion.

Supporters of NLS can make a difference for the upcoming budget years. Interested constituents may contact their congressional representatives and senators at any time to express their concerns and support for NLS.

Attention Veterans: By law, we give priority service to patrons with accounts in good standing who are honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces (including the Coast Guard and National Guards). Because of this prioritization, we now are requiring all our veteran patrons to provide documentation that confirms their military service. We recently sent out letters to our veteran patrons informing them of this new requirement, and many of you have already responded and had your accounts updated. The best document to send us is a copy of your DD-214 form. We also accept official documents from the Veterans Administration that confirms a veteran’s status. These documents, however, must clearly state that the person named is a veteran or that the person’s military service has been verified. This is because a veteran’s family member(s) also may be eligible to receive services from the Veterans Administration but would not be eligible for priority service under the Talking Book Program. If you have not received a letter about this, or you did not claim veteran status when your account was opened, please contact 1-800-252-9605 for further information.

NLS BARD service available on a limited basis: The National Library Service has opened its pilot project of downloadable books to a limited number of users. In order to participate in the pilot, you must meet three requirements: 1) your account must be in good standing with NLS and the Talking Book Program; 2) you must have access to email and high-speed Internet service; and 3) you must have use of a Victor Reader Stream (VRS) Digital Talking Book Player from HumanWare. TBP does not have any VRS players for loan, so you must purchase a player in order to participate in the pilot project. To apply for admission to the pilot project, fill out the application at To purchase a player, go to HumanWare’s web site at The VRS currently sells for $329.00.

Newsletter by email: Do you want to receive our newsletter by email instead of on paper? If so, please call a reader consultant at 1-800-252-9605 or send an email to Tell us that you want to change your newsletter preference to email and give us your email address. The newsletter also is available on our web page at and on the new toll-free information line at 1-866-388-6397.

Until next time,
Ava Smith, Director, Talking Book Program

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Texas Talking Books will be closed on the following holidays:

  • Monday, February 18, Presidents’ Day.

Of course, you can always leave a message if you call after hours or on a holiday or email us at

A Mystery at the Rodeo

Texas Rodeo Murder by George Wilhite   Narrated by Jeanne Guichard
CT 06805
A murder at Texas Rodeo magazine throws college professor, rodeo clown, and former magazine editor Ira Carter into the middle of a mystery when he finds the only clue clutched in the dying victim's hand. While fighting bulls and saving cowboys, Carter has an even tougher job finding the murderer. Along the way, he must survive two killers, solve two murders, and make a decision between two loves. This book contains some profanity and violence. To read this book, call 1-800-252-9605, and ask for CT 06805.

Free Download of Books in Print and Audio Formats

Project Gutenberg offers free downloads of books in print and audio. A wide variety of books are available because they are in the public domain, and they are no longer copyrighted. The Web site offers westerns, romances, mysteries, and non-fiction. Authors like Zane Grey, Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Niccolo Machiavelli are waiting for you to download their books. The Web site is

The Talking Book Program has Two Requirements

  • Patrons need to return borrowed items within 45 days.
  • Patrons need to do at least one of the following to remain active.

    1. Borrow at least one book every year
    2. Read at least one magazine every year. The magazine may come to you from either the TBP or the national center.
    3. Participate in WebBraille or the Unabridged Project.

Call the Disability Information and Referral Center (DIRC) toll-free at
1-800-252-9605 for information about disabilities and health conditions.

Here Are Two Recently Acquired Books in Braille

Sandra Day O’Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice (5 vols.)   by Joan Biskupic    BR 16570
Traces Sandra Day O’Connor’s rise to power culminating in her appointment by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to be the first female Supreme Court justice. Analyzes O’Connor’s position on controversial issues such as abortion, affirmative action, and the death penalty. Discusses her role as a pivotal voter. To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for BR 16570.

Terrorist         (3 volumes)        by John Updike        BR 16697
Fatherless eighteen-year old Ahmad – half Irish, half Egyptian – has been under the influence of Shaikh Rashid since he was eleven. Ahmad’s Jewish guidance counselor in his inner-city New Jersey high school offers help, but Ahmad agrees to commit violence for his religious beliefs. Strong language and some descriptions of sex. To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for BR 16697.

ReadThisToMe is a free reading service for the blind. Blind and low-vision people may ask to have printed documents read to them over the phone. Documents can be handwritten letters, food labels, or even a multi-page magazine article. To use this service, you will need a telephone line and access to a fax machine.

The service is easy to use. First, use the toll-free number, 1-877-333-8848, to fax what you need to be read. The fax must include a cover sheet containing your name and a telephone number where you can be reached. It is recommended that you do not send documents with confidential information such as social security or credit card numbers, etc. Later, one of the volunteer readers at ReadThisToMe will call you and read the document.

ReadThisToMe is completely free and available throughout the United States. However, the company is accepting donations and welcomes business sponsorships. For more information, call 1-877-333-8847 or click on the Web site at

Mention of a product or service in this news bulletin does not constitute endorsement by this library. Our intention is to increase an awareness of programs and items that may be helpful to our patrons.

You, Us, and the Post Office

As all of you know, you receive your mail from us (machines, books, magazines, catalogs, and other correspondence) as “free matter.” Likewise, you are able to mail your machines, books, etc., back to us

as “free matter.” The Library of Congress pays these postal charges through an appropriation granted by the U.S. Congress. This appropriation amounts to millions of dollars for the NLS network.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is obligated to deliver all free matter

to your homes. For the most part, this arrangement works very well,

but we must all remember a few pertinent facts about the process.

  • While the USPS is obligated to deliver your TBP mail to your door or to your mailbox (whichever is the normal way of delivering your mail), your letter-carrier is not obligated to pick up your TBP mail.
  • You, as a patron of TBP, are responsible for arranging the return of your books and machines to TBP. You must arrange with your letter-carrier to have your TBP mail picked up or arrange for someone to take your TBP mail to the nearest post office. TBP staff cannot make these arrangements for you.
  • From time to time, there are problems with the mail delivery, either on your end or our end. TBP mail is processed through bulk mailing centers in Dallas, Houston,

    and San Antonio. Delivery of items either way may take up to two weeks or longer. Mail delivery also is affected by other events, such as holidays when post offices are closed or when the amount of mail is particularly heavy, such as at tax time or

    Christmas. Once items are put in the mail and the USPS picks them up, we have no control over the items until they are delivered back to us.
  • Items do get lost in the mail, and we do take this into consideration when talking to you about overdue items. We do monitor reports of lost items and check to see if

    others in the same area are reporting items lost in the mail. We also look for patterns in patron records regarding claims of items lost in the mail. Do not fall into the pattern of constantly claiming that your overdue items must be lost in the mail. If you are the only one in your area who seems to have the problem, then it looks very suspicious.
  • We cannot referee disagreements between you and your letter-carrier or between you and staff at the local post office. Again, if we see widespread problems in a particular area, we may contact the postal authorities. Otherwise, you must work out any differences yourself. If you think the problem is serious, then you may file a formal complaint with your post office, and postal officials will investigate.

Tips and Reminders for Better Service

Equipment. Talking Book cassette players are just like any mechanical device-they break down from time to time. You'll get the best service from your equipment if you:

  • always use the battery to play your tapes and allow the battery run down completely before recharging it;

  • keep food and beverages away from the player;

  • clean the heads from time to time using a head-cleaning tape (available at stores that carry stereo equipment);

  • don't try to fix a broken player-just return it.

Before returning a piece of equipment, please call or write to let us know you are returning it and to request a replacement. It's a good idea to keep the box your player comes in so you can use it to return equipment if it breaks down.

Loan Period. The normal loan period for braille, large print, or cassette books is 45 days. Please call or write if you need to keep the book longer. Returning books promptly and keeping a list of book requests on file with us will keep a steady flow of reading material in your mailbox.

Broken Books. To let us know you have had a problem with a book, please mark a large "X" on the return label on the left side of our address.

Services. Our staff is dedicated to making the Talking Book Service work for you. Please let us know how we can help by contacting us at:

Talking Book Program
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
PO Box 12927
Austin TX 78711-2927
1-800-252-9605 (in Texas)
512-463-5458 (in Austin)
512-936-0685 (fax)

Page last modified: August 29, 2011