Talking Book News Bulletin, Winter 2010.........Español

Internal Links
Director's Report
Holiday Closings
Taping for the Blind in Houston
Digital Q & A
Elmer Kelton
Due Date
Readers' Favorites

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:

Update on renovations at the State Library Building:  The renovation work on the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building is nearing completion. The Talking Book Program’s (TBP’s) administrative operations and the Reader Services call center relocated to temporary quarters in July 2008 while these renovations have been ongoing. The time for TBP to move back to the state library building is fast approaching. The projected move-back is slated for late February or early March 2010. As when we moved to the temporary quarters, we will be closed for three days when this move takes place. Please check our web page at or call our toll-free information line at 1-866-388-6397 for information about the move. As soon as we have firm dates for the move, we will be posting that information to these sites.

Sign up for the Digital Talking Book Machine (DTBM):  The Talking Book Program (TBP) continues to distribute the new digital talking book machines (DTBMs) and digital talking books (DTBs). We are receiving about 750 machines each month, and at this rate, the wait will be several months for those on the lower end of the waiting list. We currently have over 4,000 persons on the list. If you have not put your name on the waiting list, it is not too late to do so. Please call a reader consultant at 1-800-252-9605 and ask to be put on the list. You also may send a request via e-mail to   

Please remember that your account must be in good standing before you may borrow a DTBM. If you have too many overdue books or too many lost or damaged machines on your account, then your ability to borrow a DTBM will be delayed. 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.

Update on availability of digital talking books (DTBs):  Most of the production problems reported in the last newsletter have been resolved, and we now are receiving a steady supply of the new digital talking books (DTBs). TBP now hasmore than 1,000 titles available in the DTB format. Keep in mind, however, that we essentially are replacing one format of books (cassettes) with a new format of books (cartridges). This means thousands of copies must be produced and shipped to all the talking book libraries around the country. This will take some time, so many more months will pass before we have adequate numbers of digital books on hand to meet all your reading needs. We will continue to limit all patrons to a quota of only five (5) DTBs at a time. We must do this to guarantee that some DTBs are always available. Remember that overdue DTBs will be counted against your quota, so return your books promptly when you finish them. Mismatched DTBs also will count against your quota, so be certain that you put the right cartridges in the right containers before mailing back your DTBs. 

Purchasing your own digital cartridge:  Independent Living Aids, LLC (ILA) has stopped selling digital cartridges to individuals and currently has no plans to do so in the future. According to NLS sources, American Printing House for the Blind (APH) in Louisville, Kentucky has plans to sell cartridges in the near future, but at this time, we do not have any further details to share with you. When we have that information, we will publish it in the next newsletter (summer edition) and place an announcement on our toll-free information line at 1-866-388-6397. In addition, the Disability Information Referral Center (DIRC) can give you the latest contact information for vendors. You may call the DIRC toll-free at 1-800-252-9605.

Latest news on the cassette players:  Remember, you do not have to give up your cassette player unless you want to. Many TBP patrons, however, are experiencing problems with their cassette players. The machines are breaking down and have to be replaced. We will replace any cassette player that is malfunctioning, but we do have a shortage of cassette machines. If your cassette player is malfunctioning, please call a reader consultant immediately at 1-800-252-9605 and report problems. You must return your machine to us before we may issue a replacement machine, so the sooner this process is begun, the sooner we can replace the machine. 

If you are not using your cassette machine, please return it to us. These machines can be made ready for other patrons who are waiting for a cassette machine. Remember that production of cassette machines ceased in early 2007, so the only machines available now are machines that come back to us and are made ready for reissue by our Machine Services staff. If you are interested in purchasing a commercial cassette machine, the Disability Information Referral Center (DIRC) can give you the contact information for vendors. You may call the DIRC at 1-800-252-9605.

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 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.

  • Presidents’ Day on February 15, 2010.

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

Taping for the Blind in Houston can help with custom recordings of books and other materials that have not been previously recorded. All services are free to people with visual impairments. Live streaming of reading radio service is also available. For more information, call 713-622-2767or click onto the Web site

Digital Q&A

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

Q. I’ve heard about a “software upgrade” or “firmware upgrade” for the Digital Talking Book Machine (DTBM). Do I need this? How do I get it?
A. Occasionally NLS issues an upgrade for the new machine to improve its performance. Often these are relatively minor enhancements. If you are not using the BARD download service, then the upgrade is optional and you do not need to do anything. However, you will definitely want the latest upgrade for your DTBM (1) If you received your DTBM prior to mid-September AND you are using the BARD download service; OR, (2) You received your DTBM prior to mid-December AND you are using the BARD download service with a Mac computer. The upgrades add the important Bookshelf feature that allows you to store multiple downloaded books on the same cartridge or flash drive, and solve a Mac incompatibility problem.

How do I get the upgrade? There are 2 ways to get the latest upgrade (which includes all previous upgrades): (1) You may download it from the NLS website at ; OR, (2) Starting in a few months, new digital book cartridges that are sent out from the Talking Book Program library will automatically upgrade your DTBM if you don’t have the latest version. Either way, it takes only a few seconds for your player to be updated. Note that all players that we send out contain the latest upgrade available at the time they are sent out.

Please contact a Reader Consultant at 1-800-252-9605 if you have any questions.

Featured Author: Elmer Kelton

Elmer Kelton (1926-2009) wrote more than 60 books set in the West Texas that he loved. In addition to writing so many popular books, he wrote livestock and farm news for the San Angelo Standard-Times and edited two magazines, Sheep and Goat Raiser and Livestock Weekly.

Kelton is greatly admired and was once voted “the greatest western writer of all time.” In 1986, Kelton said in an interview, “If I really had been a good cowboy like I wished I could have been, I’d probably be still working on some ranch out on the Pecos River.” (Bruce Weber, “Elmer Kelton, Novelist of the Changing West, Dies at 83,” Retrieved September 8, 2009.)

TBP has 42 of Elmer Kelton’s books. To learn about the people and times Mr. Kelton wrote about, you may want to read his memoir, Sandhills Boy: The Winding Trail of a Texas Writer  RC 66495. In this medium length book with two cassettes, Kelton describes growing up in west Texas and choosing not to follow in the footsteps of his ranch-foreman father. He recalls his time as a WW II soldier, meeting his wife in Austria, and his writing career.

Another favorite book of Kelton’s fans is Shotgun LB 05303. In this medium length book, Two Forks, Texas, rancher Blair Bishop must contend with a mean customer named Macy Modock, whom Bishop sent to prison ten years past. Now Modock is out of the hoosegow and has returned to Two Forks determined to get even with the man who sent him up the river.

Elmer Kelton's books are very popular so you may have a wait when you request one of his books. To order one of these books, please call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for its number.

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

A Due Date is shown on the bottom of the address label in each mailing container you received. Check this Due Date to remind you when to return your item. Returning books and magazines on time helps other readers get them more quickly.

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.


Here are two books that many of our readers have enjoyed.

You may also like to read them. To order one of these books, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for its number.

Murder on the Rocks: A Gray Whale Inn Mysteryby Karen MacInerney CT 06924 Narrated by Sue Bilich. This medium length book has two cassettes. Trading Texas heat for Maine's tangy salt air, Natalie Barnes has risked it all to buy the Gray Whale Inn, a quaint bed and breakfast on Cranberry Island. She adores whipping up wicked blueberry coffee cake and to-die-for fudgy frosted brownies for her visitors. But when one of her guests turns up dead, the police - and most of the islanders - think Natalie has added murder to the mix.

Migrations and Other Stories             by Lisa Hernandez    CT  06963   Narrated by Dianna Dorman. This short book has one cassette. Past and present are interwoven in this award-winning collection of eleven stories dealing with migration across geographical and cultural boundaries. Set in California and Mexico, the characters in these stories struggle with all that life throws their way, including abusive boyfriends, separation from loved ones, and unfaithful spouses, all in an uneasy search for a balance between a Mexican past and a Mexican-American future. This book contains some descriptions of sex, strong language, and some violence.

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