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

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Director's Report
Featured Author: Margaret Truman
Unabridged Update
Holiday Closings
Has it been a while since you read some great poems?
Digital Q & A

Biographies of Fascinating People
Books Worth Revisiting: In the Court of Charles II
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:

Policy for requesting a replacement machine:  In the last issue, we alerted you to our current policy on playback machines. To recap, 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. This causes us to have a shortage of machines. Because we do not want to run out of machines, we now require that you return your machine before we loan you another one. 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 boxes away. In the past, some patrons relied on getting a replacement machine first so that they could use that box to return the non-functioning machine. This is no longer feasible. If you have thrown your box away, you are responsible for finding another box. We will supply you with a return-mailing label so that you will not be charged any postage and the box will be delivered as free matter back to us. Keeping the original machine box will prevent delays in getting a replacement machine and help us resolve machine issues more quickly.

Update on the Digital Talking Book Machine (DTBM): Yes, Virginia, there is a DTBM. We are expecting the first shipment of the new digital players for regular distribution sometime after mid-July. The last extensive testing of the new player will be starting shortly. If the testing is successful, the manufacturer will begin full production of the players for shipping to all the talking book libraries around the country. 

If you would like to use a DTBM, you must put your name on the waiting list. Some of you have not done this, yet, thinking you will be able to call us and request a DTBM when we start distributing. We already have over 3,300 patrons on the waiting list, and we know that we will not be receiving that many DTBMs right away. While veterans receive preference in DTBM distribution, we will not automatically send all veterans a DTBM. If you are a veteran, you must put your name on the waiting list, too. 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 bor-row a DTBM. If you have too many overdue books or too many lost or damaged machines on your account, then you cannot borrow 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.

Be kind and rewind:  Every returned cassette book is given a basic inspection to ensure the book is ready for the next patron. One of the things the inspectors do is to rewind all the tapes. This is time-consuming and delays sending the book to the next patron. Please take a few moments to make certain that all your cassettes are rewound to the beginning of the tape. 

New studio operational:  TBP‘s new recording studio is open and operating in the newly renovated basement of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building. The studio and the adjoining audio production department have been funded entirely by donations to both TBP and to the Friends of Libraries and Archives of Texas.

The three new recording booths were manufactured by Eckel Industries of Canada, according to standards provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). The purchase of the booths was funded by two donations. Mr. Tom Sweazea of Round Rock, Texas, a longtime studio volunteer, donated $20,000 toward the purchase of the booths in memory of his mother, Lou Hill. The second donation of $24,000 was made by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Pickett of Liberty, Texas, in honor of their friend, Mrs. Dianna Dorman; Mrs. Dorman also is a longtime studio volunteer. We would like to thank all of the donors who have been so generous to us over the last few years. This new studio and audio department would not have been possible without you!

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

Featured Author: Margaret Truman

Margaret Truman is this issue’s featured author. Her parents were President Harry Truman and First Lady Bess Truman. TBP’s collection has more than 30 of her books. From the 1950s into the 2000s, she wrote both non-fiction and mysteries. Readers continue to enjoy books in the intricately plotted Capital Crime series. If you read the mystery described below, you will come to understand why Margaret Truman was a best-selling author for five decades.

Murder in the White House
by Margaret Truman
BR 04509, RC 15455, or LB 02755
When Secretary of State Blaine is murdered in the Lincoln Sitting Room of the White House, President Webster orders Special Counsel Fairchild to coordinate efforts to solve the case. Fairchild’s digging turns up alarming secrets, some kept by the President’s Chief of Staff, and more scandals are uncovered. To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for BR 04509, RC 15455, or LB 02755.

Unabridged Update

The Unabridged downloadable audio book service now includes a small but growing number of titles in MP3 format in addition to the larger collection of WMA-formatted titles. The titles in MP3 format may be downloaded to Macs and Apple devices as well as to other devices. You can get more information about this addition at the
Unabridged site: To sign up for the Unabridged download service, just call us at 1-800-252-9605 to let us know you are interested. A high-speed Internet connection is strongly recommended for use with this service.

Texas Talking Books will be closed for these holidays.

Texas Talking Books will be closed for Memorial Day on May 25, 2009.

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

Memorial Day has its roots in the U.S. Civil War. Professor David Blight of Yale University, says the first observance, in 1865, was in Charleston, South Carolina, as freed slaves took the bodies of fallen soldiers from a mass grave and re-buried them. They then decorated the graves with flowers. In the South, the holiday was often called Decoration Day. General John A. Logan first officially declared Memorial Day in 1868. In that same year, General James A. Garfield, later a president, led the ceremonial observance at Arlington National Cemetery. The national observance continues there each year when the President lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The federal holiday was designated in 1967. In 1971, the date moved from May 30 to the last Monday in May. The selling of red poppies to commemorate deceased soldiers began after the publication of “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, a former Canadian medical officer. Here is the first stanza.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

(“Memorial Day”, p.3 & 5. (n.d.) (RetrievedFebruary 20, 2009. <>). To read the entire poem and learn more about it, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for  In Flanders Fields: The 1917 Campaign by Leon Wolff, CT 1235.

Has it been a while since you read some great poems?

To read one of these Pulitzer Prize winning books of poetry, call 1-800-252-9605.

Different Hours: Poems           by Stephen Dunn RC 53212        
Dunn’s poems describe general events of daily life such as turning sixty, pretending to be happy when dining out with friends, and commenting on a perfect couple’s divorce. Some strong language.

Alive Together: New and Selected Poems                  by Lisel Mueller
BR 11458          Includes works published over almost four decades as well as newer works. The poems celebrate the human capacity for love and joy, and the experience of family, music, and language.

For information about disabilities and health conditions, please call the Talking Book Program’s Disability Information and Referral Center toll-free at 1-800-252-9605.

You may want to try out this Web site to purchase books in various accessible formats: large print, audio, e-book, DAISY, and Braille.

The National Federation of the Blind of Texas invites TBP’s patrons in the Dallas area to join them for fun, refreshments, a Braille demonstration, and displays of new technology at the Bachman Recreation Center, 2750 Bachman, Dallas, on Saturday, May 9 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. RSVP by May 2 to 214-747-3922 or

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:  I don’t want service until I can get a digital machine. Can I get in the queue without being active for any other service?
A:  No, you must be a current patron in order to be in the queue for a digital machine. You may keep your account active with any one or more of the services offered, including cassette, braille, magazines, Web-Braille, Unabridged, or NLS downloads.

Q:  I really need to have a digital machine sooner. Can you get me one sooner?
A:  We’re sorry, we can only add you to the machine request queue. We are not able to change your place in the queue.

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.

Biographies of Fascinating People

To read one of these books, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for its number.

John Adams by David G. McCullough
BR 13426 or RC 52275
The life and times of John Adams (1735-1826): revolutionary, diplomat, and president.

Kit Carson and His Three Wives: A Family History by Marc Simmons
DB 60102 or RC 60102
Carson (1809-1868) struggled to be a family man while also following his call to adventure and wanderlust.

Amelia Earhart: A Biography by Doris L. Rich
RC 32801
Earhart (1897?-1937) was a famous aviator and champion of women’s rights who disappeared in 1937 while flying around the world.

Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz by Stuart Nicholson
RC 40020
Fitzgerald (1917-1996) wowed audiences with her jazz singing as well as crossovers to pop and Broadway music.

Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi by Katherine Frank
DB 58613 or RC 58613
Gandhi (1917-1984), India’s first female prime minister, served four terms before her assassination in 1984.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
DB 58364 or RC 58364
Hamilton (1757-1804), was a Treasury Secretary and an author of The Federalist Papers.

Isabella of Castile: The First Renaissance Queen by Nancy Rubin
RC 33674
Isabella (1451-1504) helped unite Spain into a world power.

Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson by Jan Jarboe Russell
RC 49783
Lady Bird (1912-2007) was known for her marriage to President Lyndon Johnson and her roles as mother, businessperson, and conservationist.

Martin Luther King Day by Linda Lowery
BR 06943 or RC 26069
Dr. King (1929-1968) was a minister and political leader who won the Nobel Prize for Peace. Reading Level: 2 to 4.

Lenin: A Biography by Robert Service
RC 52071
Lenin (1870-1924) was a writer, revolutionary leader, and founder of the Soviet Union.

Mandela: The Authorized Biography by Anthony Sampson
RC 49243
Mandela (1918- ) led South Africa from apartheid to multicultural democracy and won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Pablo Neruda: A Passion for Life by Adam Feinstein
RC 63250
Neruda (1904-1973) was a poet, Chilean diplomat, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Some explicit descriptions of sex.

Sandra Day O’Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice         by Joan Biskupic
BR 16570
O’Connor (1930 -) took part in controversial decisions concerning abortion, affirmative action, and the death penalty.

Pocahontas by Joseph Bruchac
BR 15679, DB 59124, or RC 59124
Pocahontas (1595?-1647) was the daughter of a Powhatan chief who wed early English settler John Rolfe. Reading Level: 6 to 9 Young Adult.

Queen Anne by Edward Gregg
DB 57389 or RC 57389
Queen Anne (1665-1714), ruler of Great Britain, struggled abroad with France’s King Louis XIV.

Rasputin: The Saint Who Sinned by Brian Moynahan   
RC 46655 
Rasputin (1872?-1916) was a monk who advised Russia’s imperial family. Strong language and descriptions of sex.

George Sand: A Biographical Portrait by Ruth Jordan           
RC 13578   
Sand (1804-1876) was a novelist known for her work as well as her lovers.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta: Complete Authorized Biography by Kathryn Spink   
RC 47315
Mother Teresa (1910-1997), born Skopje, Macedonia, was a nun who worked with India’s poor and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865 by Brooks D. Simpson  
RC 51090
An account focused on the enigmatic Union general nicknamed the “American Sphinx.” Probes his personal and professional lives.

Rudolph Valentino by Alexander Walker         
BR 03825
Valentino (1895-1926) was known as the “great lover” of silent films and idol of the 1920s.

John Wayne’s America: The Politics of Celebrity by Garry Wills
RC 45616
Traces Wayne’s (1907-1979) film career and assesses his influence on society.

Yeats’s Ghosts: The Secret Life of W. B. Yeats by Brenda Maddox 
RC 50808
Yeats (1865-1939), a poet, won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Emiliano Zapata by Santiago García
CT 5175   Zapata (1879?-1919) was a Mexican revolutionary who led an agrarian revolt. Reading Level: 6 to 9 Young Adult.

Books Worth Revisiting: In the Court of Charles II

Of all the English kings and queens, Charles II (1660-1685) is one of the most fascinating. Known as the “Merry Monarch” because his court was given over to the pursuit of carefree fun, Charles was nevertheless a pivotal figure in English history and certainly one of its most astute rulers. Charles never forgot the harrowing events that overshadowed his life until he became king, and he never underestimated the lurking dangers of his glittering court. Here are three novels that delve into that volatile world of Restoration England.

Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor
RC 52434   Kathleen Winsor (1919-2003) published her most famous novel in 1944, and it immediately created a sensation. Deemed very scandalous at the time because of its heroine who stopped at nothing to get what she wanted in a society that seemingly blinked at nothing as long as it was amusing, the novel still remains a vibrant portrait of life in Restoration England. It is also the story of a passionate-albeit mostly one-sided--love affair. Amber St. Clare is a stunningly beautiful fifteen-year-old living in a small country village when she encounters the dashing Bruce, Lord Carlton, and she falls headlong and forever in love with him. Bruce has just returned to England after years of exile following the defeat and execution of King Charles I, and he is not averse to taking up a beautiful and willing companion. Amber, however, soon finds herself alone and pregnant in London, and thus begins her slow and steady climb through the ranks of English society, to her eventual triumph as a mistress of the King. Throughout her varied and amazing adventures, she continues to have frequent encounters with Bruce. Amber’s greatest ambition is to be Bruce’s wife, and she never understands that Bruce’s position in life precludes that ever happening. Amber’s adventures are interspersed with insights into the new king’s private life. Although restored to his throne and publicly enjoying all the perks thereof, Charles II has as much private drama to sort through as any of the many playhouses in his beloved capital. This is a very lengthy novel, but the reader is well rewarded with the picture of both the glory and the sordidness of the Restoration period. Some episodes of violence and many sexual references are scattered throughout the story. The book is suitable for adults and mature young adults. To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for RC 52434.

Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
RC 64180
Also available as a BARD download. This novel is a prequel to Karleen Koen’s bestselling 1986 novel, Through a Glass Darkly. In the chronology of Charles II’s reign, Dark Angels begins at about the same time as Forever Amber closes. Charles has been king for ten years and is welcoming to England his beloved sister, Minette, who is married to the French king’s brother. Among the accompanying French maids of honor is Alice Verney, a remarkable young Englishwoman who is more interested in court politics and intrigue than in finding a suitable husband. Having fled England in the wake of scandal, Alice has honed her survival skills in the treacherous French court. Soon, tragedy will force her to return home for good, where she finds herself attracted to the devastatingly handsome Richard Saylor. Saylor, in turn, is smitten with Alice’s friend Renée de Kéroualle, another refugee from the tragic events in France. Unfortunately for Richard, Louise has caught the fancy of the King, and in the ensuing competition, Richard can only lose. Despite their emotional turmoil, Alice and Richard must match wits with a ruthless assassin named Henri Ange, who has in his sights a prominent member of the Court. Ange, despite his name, is the very devil to cross and has no compunction in removing anyone in his path. The book’s period details are excellent and give an unusual look at the darker side of Charles’ court, including the pervasiveness of homosexuality in both English and French society. Fear and superstition also are strong undercurrents throughout the book, and scenes of gruesome death may be too intense for some readers. To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for RC 64180 or download it on BARD.

Restoration by Rose Tremain
RC 32365
Rose Tremain’s elegiac novel looks at not only the restoration of Charles II to his kingdom but also at the restoration of a wayward man’s spirit and sense of purpose. Robert Merivel is a mess-lazy, giddy, easily distracted, and obsessed with color. He also has a remarkable gift for medicine, which interests him not at all. Through a ridiculous quirk of fate, Robert becomes the King’s veterinarian, marries one of Charles’ mistresses in order to give her a suitable social cover, and then makes the mistake of falling in love with the disdainful young woman. In spite of his anger at Merivel for disobeying his orders, the King also cares enough about his servant to employ tough-love tactics. He banishes Merivel from Court, sending him away with a gift that Merivel thinks is a cruel joke: a set of surgical instruments inscribed with the verse, “Sleepers awake!” Left only with the profession he once despised, Merivel begins his slow return to a life of purpose and thence back to the King’s favor. Suitable for adult and mature young adult readers. To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for RC 32365.

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