Talking Book News Bulletin, Winter 2009.........Español

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Director's Report
Holiday Closings
Digital Q & A
Books about Ranching in Texas
Braille Caravan
Magazines Available in Braille
Cassette Player Tips
NFB - Newsline
Related Links
Loan Policy
Spotlight on Texas Books
Disability Information & Referral Center
National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped

Director's Report

Greetings! Here is the latest news:

Requesting a Digital Talking Book Machine (DTBM): This is just a reminder that TBP is now taking requests for the new DTBM. You may put in your request by calling 1-800-252-9605, sending a fax to 1-512-936-0685, sending an email to, or mailing in your request to Talking Book Program, Reader Services Dept., P.O. Box 12927, Austin, TX 78711-2927.

Please remember that your account must be in good standing before you may be issued a DTBM. If you have too many overdue books or too many lost or damaged machines on your account, then you cannot be issued a DTBM. If you have questions about the distribution of DTBMs or what you have to do to keep your account in good standing, please call a reader consultant at 1-800-252-9605 for assistance.

Veterans receive preference for Digital Talking Book Machines:  Veterans of the United States military whose accounts are in good standing will be given priority in receiving DTBMs. If you have not already established your veteran status with TBP, you must provide proof that you are a veteran. The easiest way to do this is to provide a copy of your DD-214 form. You can go online and request a copy of this form at Applying online may speed up the process by several weeks. Until documentation is received and processed by TBP, veteran prioritization will not apply.

Please remember that veteran preference is only for those who have served in the United States armed forces, and this preference only applies to the veteran and not to family members. 

Upcoming legislative agenda for the Talking Book Program:  Besides its regular operating budget request, the Talking Book Program is requesting some additional monies when the Texas Legislature begins its 81st session on January 13, 2009. While preparing to offer the new digital books and machines, the program still has to maintain its current cassette machine operations for the foreseeable future. Maintaining these two services side-by-side will add a burden to TBP’s already-stretched budget. Therefore, the program is requesting an additional $275,000 for fiscal years 2010-2011. These additional monies will help the program purchase digital flash memory cartridges for the new digital books, equipment on which to create the digital books, and supplies and barcodes for the processing and identification of the new digital books. Without the additional monies, TBP will likely be forced to limit the number of books that it is able to produce, and that means that patrons may not have as many books to choose from. 

New policy for playback machines:  As always, you should call a reader consultant to report any problems with your playback equipment. We will help you determine if the problem requires that the machine be returned for repair. If the machine must be returned to us, the reader consultant will issue a recall. You should return the

machine to us as quickly as possible in its original box. Unfortunately, many of our patrons do not return machines to us promptly, and some do not return them at all. While a few might go astray in the mail, the postal service has an excellent record in returning machines, so we know the large number of machines that are not coming back are simply not being put into the mail in the first place. This is causing us to have a shortage of machines, and since cassette and disk machines are no longer being produced, this shortage will only get worse as time goes on. Because of this, we are now requiring that you return your machine before we will issue you another machine. As soon as the machine is returned to us and is cleared off your account, a replacement machine will be requested for you. While this requirement may be inconvenient for some, we must ensure that we have a sufficient supply of replacement machines, as well as machines for new patrons.

Remember, when you receive a machine from us, you should keep the box in order to have a box in which to return the machine to us. We do not have extra boxes to send to patrons who have thrown their box away, and postal regulations do not allow us to send empty boxes through the mail to patrons. Please help us resolve machine issues more quickly by keeping the box for when you have to return the machine.

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

Texas Talking Books will be closed for these holidays.

Thursday, January 1             New Year’s Day
Monday, January 19           Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Monday, February 16               Presidents’ Day

Of course, you can leave a message or send e-mail on a holiday.

Digital Q&A

TBP will answer some questions about the upcoming digital books and machines in the next several issues of this newsletter. Here’s the first one.        

Q: Will magazines also change to digital format?

A: The National Library Service (NLS) will continue to provide magazines on cassette as well as for BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download). Once there are enough digital talking book machines for all who request them, NLS will reconsider the magazine format.

Books About Ranching in Texas

These seven books by Texas authors feature stories of heroism, hardship, and humor. To order a book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for its number.

The Longhorns by J. Frank Dobie
RC 18815
The longhorns of the American Southwest are descendants of the cattle that Spanish explorers brought to this continent. Their history, tall tales, folklore, and verse are rounded up in this refreshing and amusing book.

Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the Vampire Vacuum Sweeper
by John R. Erickson
CT 6556
Hank the Cowdog, Head of Ranch Security, comes to the rescue when marauding trespassers threaten to stampede the cattle. Hank tracks down enemy agent Mysterious Esther, escapes the relentless Vampire Vacuum Sweeper, and confronts Buster and his gang. Will Hank prevail and save the ranch?

Charles Goodnight, Cowman and Plainsman by James Evetts Haley
CT 292
A biography of Charles Goodnight who helped define the cattle ranch and the Texas economy.

Hard Scrabble by John Graves
CT 221
Graves tells the story of his work on 400 acres of rough Texas hill country at the far edge of the old Cotton Kingdom. He became a part of the land in his struggle to tame it.

Rites and Witnesses by Rolando Hinojosa
CT 5588
A novel focusing on wealthy ranchers and their domination of the economic and political life of a small city on the Texas-Mexico border.

Horseman, Pass By by Larry McMurtry
BR 6710 or CT 3616
A realistic look at the modern cattle ranch on the Texas plains. Background for the movie Hud. Strong language and explicit descriptions of sex.

You Can Join the Braille Caravan!

The most sought after item at last summer’s American Council of the Blind and National Federation of the Blind national conventions was an educational toy. The Braille Caravan is a set of blocks, each with a Braille cell. Both kids and adults can learn first-hand how Braille cells feel, how to read them, and put them together to spell words. It’s a fun way to learn about Braille. The Creative Adaptations for Learning toy costs $30. Find out more at 1-800-548-7323 or

has a new course, “Intro to the Harmonica for the Visually Impaired.” This course is one of many that you can use in an all-audio format. You can learn to play 12 instruments such as guitar, piano, banjo, drums, flute, and saxophone. Bill Brown also teaches how to play 700 songs. To receive music services directly from the NLS Music Section click onto or call toll-free 1-800-424-8567.

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

Magazines Available in Braille

Call 1-800-252-9605 to subscribe to a magazine in Braille. Titles include:

Book World
Ladies’ Home Journal                
Popular Mechanics
Boy’s Life
Martha Stewart Living                        
Rolling Stone
Braille Book Review
Science News
Braille Chess Magazine
Musical Mainstream                        
Braille Music Magazine                         
National Geographic                 
Short Stories
New York Times Large                  
Spider: The Magazine for Children 
Cooking Light                                        
Type Weekly
ESPN: The Magazine                              
Stone Soup
PC World
Health Newsletters                           
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance               
Popular Communications

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.

Cassette Player Tips

With declining numbers of cassette players available and no new cassette machines being made, it is important to keep players in working condition as long as possible. Here are some tips that may help. Of course, if your machine still doesn’t work properly after you’ve tried these tips, let us know right away. You can send your player back for repair and we will send you a replacement machine as soon as it checks in.

Preventing problems and extending machine life:

  1. It is okay to leave your machine plugged in at all times.
  2. Avoid letting your battery run all the way down, as this will shorten battery life. Charging the battery on a regular basis is the best way to ensure longer machine and battery life. 
  3. Keep your machine clean to avoid damage from dust, liquids, or contaminants. Keep the cassette door closed at all times except when changing the tape; store the machine indoors and away from food, liquids, and pets. Clean the outside with a dry cloth.
  4. Never insert foreign objects, open the battery door or case, or attempt to repair the machine.
  5. Be sparing with the rewind function as it puts the most stress on moving parts.

If the machine or tape is giving you problems:

  1. Always try stopping and ejecting the tape, reinserting it and trying again to see if that fixes the problem.
  2. Always try a different tape to see if the problem is with the tape or the machine.
  3. Try a different electrical outlet in case the problem is with the outlet.
  4. Try plugging the machine in for a few hours to recharge it.
  5. Check the speed selector and side selector switches.
  6. Be sure the tape is fully rewound before playing the first side.
  7. Try rapping the back edge of the tape a time or two on a hard surface.
  8. Try tightening the tape in the cassette by inserting the end of a pencil or pen into the hub and turning it gently.
  9. Try lifting the front edge of the player just 2-3 inches off the table and dropping it. This fixes some problems.

Returning a machine:

  1. Contact us BEFORE sending your machine back. We may be able to suggest something else to try first; and if you do need to return it for repair you will get a new machine faster if we know why it is being returned. That keeps us from having to call you to ask if you need a replacement machine.
  2. You can return the machine in the box it came in. Just turn the card over so that our address is facing out. Or, you can return the machine in any box that you can find. Either put our address on the box, or call us and ask us to send you a mailing label. Stuff old paper or the like around the machine to keep it from moving around too much. Write “Free Matter for the Blind” in the corner where stamps would go; no postage is required. Note that we are not able to send out empty boxes to you, so be sure to always keep the box that your machine comes in.
  3. When your returned machine checks in, we will send another machine out to you right away. Note that we can no longer send a replacement machine before the original machine checks in. We must receive malfunctioning machines back right away so that they can be repaired and sent back out to other patrons.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation. With everyone working together, there should be enough cassette players for everyone who needs one.

Contact information:

Phone: 1-800-252-9605
Mail: 4400B Shoal Creek Blvd, Austin, TX  78756-3213

The National Federation of the Blind

Offers a Free Newspaper Service

You are already eligible for NFB-NEWSLINE, a service that will allow you to read the newspaper free-of charge via a touch-tone telephone. There are more than 260 newspapers and magazines on the service including Austin American-Statesman, Corpus Christi Caller Times, Dallas Morning News, El Paso Times, Fort Worth Star Telegram, Houston Chronicle, and Diario La Estrella, as well as other Spanish language newspapers in California and Florida. Plans are underway to add four additional local Texas newspapers by summer’s end.

            National papers such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal, are also available. There are magazines as well, such as: New Yorker, AARP the magazine, AARP Segundo Juventud, Diabetes Self-Management, The Economist, and Poets and Writers. NFB continues to work to add more information and continue to provide the ever popular personalized TV Listings. You can retrieve TV programming information up to two weeks in advance; readily navigate channels, dates, and times; and choose your favorites for easy access.

        Eligibility requirements are that you are legally blind or have a physical or a learning disability that prevents you form reading the paper independently. Remember, as a Talking Book Program patron, you are already eligible. It is as simple as ordering a Talking Book. You can sign up by calling the NFB of Texas office in Austin at 1-866-636-3289.

        Once registered, you will be given a unique user ID and password. After your first call into NFB-NEWSLINE, the system will remember your codes, but keep your codes handy so that you may call from any other phones, when traveling, etc. With this information, you can use any touch-tone telephone to call a local or toll-free number and listen to the newspaper or magazine of your choice. You may call any time of the day, any day of the week. You can use the telephone keypad to move between newspapers, sections, and articles at the press of a button. NFB is constantly working to improve the system and service to you. It is now possible to receive your newspapers via e-mail delivery; they can also be downloaded onto a portable device. 

        NFB-NEWSLINE is available to all print-disabled residents of Texas. Lifetime learning, including detailed awareness of current events, is part of what makes a good citizen, a successful employee or employer, and a valuable participant in community life. Without ready access to information, none of us can reach his or her full potential. Another benefit is that the local channel offers listings of local events.

        For those of you who are avid users of the wonderful service, congratulations! NFB knows that you are up to date with local and world events and community happenings. NFB asks that you share this news with your fellow Texans who could benefit from this service. Please give the following contact information to a potential subscriber after reading it yourself.

        Take the time today to sign up for this free service and improve your access to the world around you. To subscribe to the service, please call the NFB of Texas at 1-800-636-3289, or the Talking Book Program at 1-800-252-9605. Be sure to tell us how you would like to receive your NFB-NEWSLINE instruction. They are available in audiocassette, large print, and Braille.

For further information, please contact:

NFB of Texas Phone: 1-866-636-3289
NFB-Newsline Web site:
National Federation of the Blind
c/o Steve Tompkins
314 E. Highland Mall Blvd., Ste. 253
Austin, TX 78752

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 30, 2011