Talking Book News Bulletin, Winter/Spring 2011.........Español

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80th Birthday, Talking Book Program!
Braille Revival League of Texas

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Disability Information & Referral Center
National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped

Director's Report

Greetings! Here is the latest news:
Combined newsletters:  This is a combined Winter/Spring newsletter.  Because lots of things are going on, we were not able to get the Winter newsletter out on time.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

Update on the budget:  The 82nd State Legislature came into session on January 11, 2011, and both the Texas House and Senate versions of the budget bills for FY2012 and FY2013 were filed shortly thereafter. In these proposed budgets, almost every state agency will be taking significant cuts to their budgets and staffing. The good news is that the Talking Book Program (TBP) suffered very little in the way of direct cuts, but the bad news is that the State Library is facing a 71% reduction in its general revenue (the money given to it by the State Legislature).  If these cuts are passed--which is likely--then the State Library also may lose most of its federal funding because it will not have the required matching funds.  Besides cuts in funding, the proposed budgets call for staffing reductions, and the State Library is facing a reduction of approximately 15% of its staff. Most of these budget and staffing reductions are targeted in specific programs within the agency, but TBP may be affected by such large cuts to the State Library.  TBP also is expected to use more donations to supplement its budget.   
It must be stressed that budgets for FY2012 and FY2013 have not been finalized.  Legislators are working to mold the proposed budgets into a single budget that will be voted on. Budget committees have had several hearings, and testimony about the State Library has been well received.  By law, the budget must be balanced and must be passed by the end of the session on May 30, 2011. As we know more about the budget situation, we will put this information in future newsletters. 

Big news from NLS:  After 38 years as director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Frank Kurt Cylke (pronounced “silky”) has retired.  His retirement was effective February 28, 2011.  Mr. Cylke spent his entire tenure at NLS as the director and recently capped off his career by overseeing the transition to digital services, including the introduction of the new digital talking book machine (DTBM) and the startup of Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD).  Ruth Scovill, director of the Technology Policy at the Library of Congress, has been appointed interim director until the position may be posted and filled.

New call center hours: The call center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  With the introduction of the new digital services and more people aware of those services, the number of incoming calls has increased dramatically.  In order to have the best coverage of all phones during the greatest number of hours during the day, we are now closing the call center between 12:00 p.m. (noon) and 1:00 p.m.  This allows the call center staff to provide better coverage over the middle part of the day, in that all staff take lunch at the same time instead of scattered over the 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. stretch. 
When you call in to the call center and all reader consultants are on a call, you will be put into a waiting group (queue), so stay on the line.  Reader consultants answer calls as quickly as possible.  Some calls take only a few minutes, but other calls will take longer.  The reader consultants try to give each caller as much time as is needed to transact the business request.  We enjoy talking with you, but please keep in mind that others are waiting their turns with the reader consultants and keep your conversations limited to your library services.  If you call and get a busy signal, this means that we have a lot of callers waiting in the queue.  Please hang up and call again in a few minutes—usually the queue will have cleared enough to allow you to get into it.  When the call center is not open, you may call and leave us a voicemail.  Staff are assigned to handle voicemail (and emails, too), so someone will contact you as soon as possible. 

Telephone information line update: Speaking of telephones, the Department of Information Resources (DIR), the state agency that oversees telephone services for all state agencies in the vicinity of the Capitol, recently switched over to a new telephone system.  The switchover knocked our information line off-kilter, causing a delay in making the latest edition of this newsletter available to callers.  The problem has been fixed, with the result that we are now able to digitally record the newsletter in our recording studio and make it available much faster and with better sound quality.

Upgrades to automation system:  As many of you have noticed, our automation system was down quite a bit over the last six months.  We had hoped that we would receive some of the exceptional item funding contained in our budget submission.  This funding would have allowed us to do some major upgrades to our automation system, as well as develop new features, such as an online public catalog that many of you have been asking for.  Fortunately, we had enough money in the current budget to migrate the system to a new server with new operating software and new database management software.  This allowed the system to be stabilized, and since we completed the migration in mid-January, we have had practically no down time due to problems.  Because the system has been brought up to current versions of its software, we expect to maintain operations at the current level for the next few years and hope for better funding luck in the next legislative session.

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

BARD News: Northstar is developing a blank cartridge with 4Gs. This larger size may be available later this year. TBP will provide more information when it is available.

Texas Talking Books will be closed for these holidays.

Monday, May 30 – Memorial Day                  Monday, July 4 – Independence Day

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

Interested in Joining a Book Club?  Please contact Shannon by calling TBP or emailing to share your opinion about reading interests, discussion format (such as phone call, online chat, online forum, in-person), and the best times for you. TBP looks forward to meeting you and discussing books.

Featured Author: Grace Livingston Hill (1865-1947)

Grace Livingston Hill grew up in New York. Her mother was a writer and her father a minister. She wrote hundreds of novels and short stories. The Talking Book Program has 58 of her books. Hill’s romances often have an inspirational theme, most frequently featuring young female characters. Few authors have captivated so many readers and continue to do so decades after she lived. The four books mentioned below represent the variety of characters and settings that Grace Livingston Hill offers her readers. ( Retrieved on 1 October 2010.)

Blue Ruin   DB 69180 and LB 04279  As Dana Whipple and Lynette Brooke plan their lives together, it becomes increasingly clear that overbearing Dana hopes to mold Lynette into a perfect, obedient preacher’s wife. When Dana becomes smitten with a sophisticated New Yorker, Lynette’s family sends her to Europe, where she, too, meets a captivating stranger. 1928.

Man of the Desert  RC 66774, and DB 66774 as download  Socialite Hazel Radcliffe falls in love with reservation missionary John Brownleigh after he rescues her in the Arizona desert. Following her father’s death, Hazel decides to become a nurse and earn John’s affections. 1914.

Marigold   RC 66517, DB 66517 as download, and LB 04721 Schoolteacher Marigold Brooke, the daughter of a deceased minister, is tempted by the worldly goods of a wealthy boyfriend. On a trip to visit her aunt, Marigold meets Ethan Bevan, a devout Christian. As they fall in love, she realizes that she needs to return to her faith. 1938.

Silver Wings      BR 09161, LB 04375, and RC 36000  Amory Lorrimer is thrilled to get a position as social secretary in the Whitney household. On the very day that she arrives, she watches a small plane landing nearby. Before another day passes, the pilot, Gareth, presents her with his silver wings. But soon Gareth makes a nonstop flight to Alaska and crashes short of his destination. Everyone believes him dead except Amory, who is sure that he will be saved. 1931.

To order one of these books mailed to you, please call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for the format you prefer.

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.

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

Here are four books you might enjoy.
Please call 1-800-252-9605 to order one of them.

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

Abigail Iris: The One and Only
BR 18306  by Lisa Glatt      Third-grader Abigail Iris wishes she were an only child like her three best friends Cynthia, Rebecca, and Genevieve. Instead, Abigail is one of four siblings in a family on a budget. But going on a hotel vacation with Genevieve turns out differently than Abigail expected. Grades 2-4.

Label It! Braille and Audio Strategies for Identifying Items at Home and Work
DB/ RC 67704
by Judith M. Dixon     Advocates investing time and energy to label items to organize one’s environment and make daily life more manageable. Offers tips on
methods, tools, and materials for creating labels for apparel, medications, food
containers, appliances, and miscellaneous items.

The White Tiger
DB/RC 68163 by Aravind Adiga     Bangalore, India. Over the course of seven days, Balram Halawai, a rickshaw-puller’s son, writes to visiting Chinese premier Jiabao about his transformation from chauffeur to entrepreneur, Balram – sought for police questioning about a brutal murder – embodies the tumultuousness of modern India. Some violence and some strong language. Man Booker Prize winner.

People of the Whale
DB/ RC 68273 by Linda Hogan      This novel takes place in the Pacific Northwest. Native American Thomas and his longtime sweetheart Ruth have just married when Thomas enlists and is wrenched from his community. Changed profoundly by the Vietnam War, Thomas stays away, only returning to participate in an ill-fated whale hunt years later. Some violence and some strong language.

Happy 80th Birthday, Talking Book Program!

Texas has a long history of providing library services to people who are blind. In 1918, the Texas Legislature appropriated $1,000 to purchase raised-lettering books for the blind. Texas was one of the first states to join the National Library Service (NLS) established by the Library of Congress on March 3, 1931.

The Talking Book Program (TBP) grew and changed during the last 80 years. From 1931 until 1961, materials were housed in the Capitol’s basement. By 1940, the TBP had 1,119 boxes of books on phonograph records and served 480 patrons.  The Texas Commission for the Blind lent phonograph players to TBP’s patrons. It took a lot of records to hold the longer books. For example, the 1930s best seller, Gone with the Wind, had 20 long-playing records.  

In 1952, NLS allowed children who were blind to become eligible. By 1954, TBP had 1,300 patrons.TBP began circulating books on reel-to-reel tapes in 1959. 

Many changes occurred in the 1960s. In 1961, TBP moved from the Capitol’s basement across the street to the new Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building. The Summer Reading Program began in 1963. In that same year, TBP added large print books to the collection. In 1966, NLS expanded its eligibility criteria to include people with physical disabilities. By 1968, TBP had 7,701 patrons and circulated 363,725 volumes.

In the 1970s, TBP started offering books on cassette tapes. A public awareness program began in 1970. More Spanish language titles were added to the collection. TBP initiated toll-free telephone service for patrons to interact with TBP staff.  In 1978, TBP began recording books and magazines of a Texas interest to supplement the national collection.
In the 1980s, TBP’s circulation operations moved to a new three-story facility on Shoal Creek Boulevard in central Austin. Three new, state-of-the-art recording booths were installed in 2009. 

TBP began offering books on digital flash cartridges in mid 2009. By mid 2010, every patron who requested a new player had one.

Downloading book and magazines is the latest innovation. TBP patrons use BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download a book or magazine to a patron’s computer, unzip the files, then transfer it to a blank cartridge or thumb drive and play with the TBP’s digital player. Instead of the 20 records needed for Gone with the Wind in the 1930s, the entire book will fit onto one cartridge.

TBP now serves 18,000 patrons and sends out an average of 4,500 items every weekday.  In the fiscal year ending August 31, 2010, TBP circulated 917,816 books and magazines.

Braille Revival League of Texas

The Braille Revival League of Texas (BRLT) is a membership organization whose purpose is to promote the teaching, production and the broader acceptance and use of Braille as the primary tool of literacy for people who are blind. Its membership is comprised of Braille users, teachers, transcribers, Braille producers, and other individuals who are proponents and supporters of Braille.

BRLT strives to foster a sense of pride among people who are blind that Braille is a method of reading and writing that can make them as knowledgeable, educated, and literate as people who are sighted.  

The League encourages all people who are blind to read and write Braille by emphasizing the practical uses and importance of Braille in their daily lives.

BRLT strongly supports the maximum availability of information in Braille for consumers by all businesses, agencies, government entities, and any other providers of goods and services.

The League advocates for a substantial increase in the output and availability of Braille materials, with the highest degree of excellence and accuracy, from printing houses, libraries, and all producers of Braille.

BRLT believes that Braille instruction should become mandatory in all schools and other educational facilities for students who are blind.

BRLT believes that the mastering of Braille should become a required and integral part of the curriculum for the training of prospective teachers of students who are blind.


BRLT members receive the Braille Revival League’s national publication, with articles about the innovative uses of Braille as well as personal views and opinions about the teaching, transcribing, and future code modifications of Braille.

Annual Meeting

BRLT members attend and participate in the American Council of the Blind, Texas annual state conference as well as in BRL’s national program and activities held during the ACB national convention. Highlights include election of officers, guest speakers, socialization, and information on the latest developments in Braille technology and proposed changes to the Braille code.


BRLT welcomes any person, blind or sighted, who believes in and is willing to work for the furtherance of Braille as the primary medium of literacy for blind people to become a member of this exciting state affiliate in Texas.

Membership Application

Name _______________________________

Address _____________________________

City  ____________________ State __________ Zip Code ________

Telephone ______________________

Email Address __________________________________

Send application information and a check for dues ($15.00) to:

BRLT Treasurer
Margarine G. Beaman
1406 Wilshire Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78722      

For more information, please contact:

BRLT Membership Committee Chair
Berniece Klepac


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 23, 2011