Talking Book News Bulletin, Winter 2013

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Internal Links
Director's Report
Holiday Closings

Biographies/Autobiographies in BARD
Improved BARD Features

Spotlight on Texas Books
Book Club Sessions for 2013

 (TXT), (PDF), (MP3)


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:

Budget update:  The 83rd Texas Legislature opened on January 8, 2013 and will be in session until May 27, 2013.  So far, the outlook appears to be very positive for the Talking Book Program (TBP) and its parent agency, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC).  Proposed budgets filed in House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 1 both show TBP’s budget to be what the agency submitted in its request of last summer.  Hearings on these proposed budgets began in February and will continue until a version of the final budget begins to emerge in May.  TBP has no special requests for additional funding.  If no further changes are made to the proposed budgets, TBP’s level of funding for the 2014-15 biennium should be what TSLAC requested.  Another budget update will be in this column for the Spring issue of this newsletter.

Please be careful:  We are losing a lot of books, and you can help stop this. 

1) When you send back a book, make certain that the cartridge is in the case before you put it in the mail.  We get a lot of empty cases back in the mail. 

2) Make certain that the cartridge you put in a case matches that case.  We get a lot of mismatched books in the mail, and without the other piece, these books are off the shelf, sometimes for good.  3) Don’t put two cartridges in one mailing case.  The cases are made to hold only one cartridge.  If you force a second cartridge into the case, the case likely will come open in the mail, and two books are lost.  Call us at 1-800-252-9605 and asked for a padded envelope and label to mail back the extra cartridge.  Please take a few minutes to double-check your books before putting them back in the mail, and you can help us keep books on the shelf for everybody.

New magazine available:  Cowboys and Indians, a new shared magazine, is now available for subscription.  The magazine has articles about western photography, travel, art, food, history, music, ranch life and much more. The magazine has been published since 1992, has eight issues a year, and is produced in the volunteer recording studio at the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.  To subscribe, please call 1-800-252-9605 and ask a reader consultant to sign you up.

Join our book club:  If you would like to read a book and discuss it with other patrons, please consider joining TBP’s telephone book club.  Participants call a toll-free number and meet with other patrons and TBP staff.  Sometimes, if we’re lucky, the author of the chosen book is able to dial in and join the discussion.  For more information and to see the 2013 schedule of books, check out the insert in this newsletter, or visit our web page at  You also can call 1-800-252-9605 for more information.

Blog:  TBP now has a blog about books, reading, TBP activities, and disability topics.  Our staff are posting about books, literary and disability-related events, and outreach activities that we think will be of interest to you, our readers.  You can see the blog at this link:  We welcome comments to any blog posting; comments are moderated by staff before posting.  You may also send email to to make suggestions to the Librarians about future blog postings.

Your donations are appreciated:  We would like to thank all of you who send in monetary donations in memory of a loved one, to honor a friend, or just because you appreciate the service.  All donations are used to support TBP in some way, whether purchasing books for our collections, buying equipment for the audio department, or paying for operations not covered by our budget.  All donations are acknowledged by a thank-you letter.  If you would like to make a donation, send your check to Talking Book Program, P.O. Box 12516, Austin, TX 78711-2516.  Make your check out to the Texas State Library and indicate either on the check or in an accompanying note that the donation is for the Talking Book Program.  All donations are tax deductible.

 Helpful ways to contact the Talking Book Program staff:
• To order books or report a problem with your machine: 1-800-252-9605
• To request an application or ask about enrollment: 1-800-252-9605
• To access the toll-free information line: 1-866-388-6397
• To contact the Disability Information and Referral Center: 1-800-252-9605
• To contact the Public Awareness Office: 1-512-463-5452 or 1-800-252-9605
• To send email to anyone in the Talking Book Program: 
• To ask for assistance using BARD: 1-800-252-9605 or
• To ask a librarian for reading advice or reference assistance: 1-800-252-9605 or

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


Texas Talking Books will be closed for these holidays.

Monday, May 27 – Memorial Day

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

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Download These Biographies and Autobiographies from BARD

These titles are also available on digital cartridge.

33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners (DB 73380) by Jonathan Franklin.  Franklin, an American reporter stationed in South America for fifteen years, investigates the August 5, 2010, copper-mine explosion in northern Chile that trapped thirty-three men underground for ten weeks.  He describes the miners' ordeal and highlights the rescue attempt that brought them to the surface.

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History (DB 74166) by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice.  A Texas ranchhand-turned-Navy SEAL recalls his career as the sniper with the most kills in U.S. military history.  He describes his training, his four tours of duty in Iraq, and the strains of deployment on his family life.  Violence and strong language.  Bestseller.

An Actor and a Gentleman (DB 71356) by Louis Gossett Jr., Christopher Kennedy Lawford, and Phyllis Karas.  Autobiography of African American stage, television, and movie actor Louis Gossett Jr. chronicles his life, beginning with his Coney Island childhood and teenage career on Broadway.  Discusses dealing with racism and working alongside stars including Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, and Steve McQueen.  Some strong language.


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


Improved BARD Has New Materials and Features

BARD underwent an upgrade recently. Now, Web Braille users can access materials through BARD, and there are new features. You should be aware that the default search and browse setting will list both audio and Braille titles, but you can set your preference to display audio only or Braille only.  Select the link “Update account settings” from the BARD main page, and choose your preference from the drop-down box labeled “Display results.”

New to BARD is a “My Wish List” feature.  After you search for a title, you can add it to your own list of books and magazines to download later.  Click on the title, then click on the “Add to my wish list” link, and the item is added to your list.  Your wish list may be accessed from the BARD main page.   Once you download a title from your list, it is removed.  If you decide not to download a title, you can delete it from your list by clicking “Remove from my wish list.”

Every book and magazine title now links to a details page with more information and links.  The links lead to lists of more titles that are by the same author, audiobooks read by the same narrator, and/or in the same subject categories.  Also available on the details page are links to additional books in the same series (if applicable), a link to download the title, and a link to add the title to your wish list.

Another new feature is “My Previous Downloads.”  This is a list of all titles you have downloaded from BARD.  You can check this list to see if and when you downloaded a certain book or magazine.

Special collection materials, music books and scores, and foreign-language books produced abroad are now available on BARD.  You may access these materials from links on the BARD main page.  If you have any questions about BARD’s new features, call TBP at 1-800-252-9605.


You can always contact TBP by email at:  Also, visit our new blog at for up-to-date information.


Texas Talking Book News Audio Version Available on TBP Website

You can listen to Texas Talking Book News on your computer.  Each issue is recorded as an MP3 file and put on the TBP website.  Just click on the current newsletter link in the right-hand column on the main TBP web page, and choose the MP3 file to listen. You can also download the MP3 file to your computer.

You can always contact TBP by email at: Also, visit our new blog at for up-to-date information.


Winter 2013 Spotlight on Texas Books – Digital cartridge only

Ballad of Rocky Ruiz: A Luis Montez Mystery #1 (DT 6987) by Manuel Ramos.  This mystery introduces Luis Montez, an aging Chicano activist and attorney whose practice and personal life are on the rocks.  Twenty years ago, a gang attacked Montez’s former compatriots in the Chicano student movement and shot down their leader, Rocky Ruiz.  Now the survivors are in danger.  Some sex, profanity, heavy violence.

Fit to Die (DT 7005) by Karen Hanson Stuyck.   Lauren Prescott is fifty, fat (according to her husband) and flat broke after he empties their bank account, closes his dental practice, and leaves town without a word of explanation.  To land a magazine job, Lauren is writing a profile of a fitness guru who died while jogging, a death that looks increasingly suspicious the more she probes.  Now Lauren must penetrate the brutal reality behind these two men’s public facades, unaware that a killer is also working with a deadline – to murder her.  Heavy profanity, some violence.

Ghost of a Chance: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery (DT 7031) by Bill Crider.  Sheriff Dan Rhodes of Blacklin County, Texas, knows that times may change, but people are still people, some good, some bad, and most things can be explained with a little common sense – even the ghost haunting his jail.  Could it be the same ghostly culprit looting the local cemetery?  When Ty Berry, the president of one of two feuding historical societies, is found shot dead in a freshly dug grave, Rhodes decides the crime is of a more earthly nature.

How Perfect Is That (DT 7041) by Sarah Bird.  Blythe Young’s recent divorce from Trey Dix has left her outside the protective bubble of Austin’s high society.  As her catering business goes broke and the IRS starts to chase her down, Blythe seeks a haven at Seneca House, the housing co-op where she lived 10 years ago during college.  Some profanity.

Twelve Mighty Orphans (DT 7025) by Jim Dent.  The Masonic Home, an orphanage outside Fort Worth, became a high-school football dynasty in Depression-era Texas.  Despite having virtually no equipment or uniforms, and despite their linemen often being outweighed by 50 pounds, the Mighty Mites, as they came to be known, reached the Texas state semifinals three times and the championship game once.  Dent produces a riveting narrative from the saga of the Mites and their innovative coach, Rusty Russell, who compensated for his team’s physical shortcomings with imaginative formations and trick plays.  Violence and some profanity.

Unlikely Lavender Queen: A Memoir of Unexpected Blossoming (DT 7029) by Jeannie Ralston.  In 1990, Jeannie Ralston was a successful magazine writer and bona fide city girl from New York City.  By 1994, she had called off an engagement, married Robb, a National Geographic photographer, and was living in Blanco, Texas, population 1,600 on a 200-acre farm.  Ralston and her husband started the now-thriving lavender industry in the Texas Hill Country.

Talking Book Program English Book Club Titles for 2013

The Talking Book Program English Book Club will have six bi-monthly discussions in 2013.  The Book Club is in a phone-in format; all you need to participate is a telephone.  Please contact Shannon at 1-800-252-9605 or by email at to RSVP.  Dates are subject to change.

English Book Club Titles and Discussion Dates for 2013:

March 19, 2013 (Tuesday), 7:00-8:00 p.m. Central

Outlaw Tales of Texas by Charles L. Convis.  Narrated by Ev Lunning.  (Subtitle: "True Stories of the Lone Star State's Most Infamous Crooks, Culprits, and Cutthroats") The frontier towns of Texas were populated by some of the toughest and most dangerous characters in the West. Jim Miller went to church, left early to shoot his brother-in-law in the head, and returned before the service was over.  Violence. 2008. (This title was recorded in TBP’s Austin studio.)

May 7, 2013 (Tuesday), 7:00-8:00 p.m. Central

Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.  Enzo, a mixed-breed dog, believes he will be reincarnated as a human.  He stands by his master Denny Swift's side through Denny's race-car driving career, the birth of his daughter Zo, the death of his wife Eve, and a bitter custody battle with Eve's parents.  Some strong language.  Bestseller. 2008.

July 16, 2013 (Tuesday), 7:00-8:00 p.m. Central

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  At the Circus of Dreams magicians Celia and Marco are pitted against each other in an epic magical battle.  Their mentors plan for it to have only one survivor, not foreseeing that Celia and Marco will fall in love.  Some strong language and some descriptions of sex.  Bestseller.  2011.

September 17, 2013 (Tuesday), 7:00-8:00 p.m. Central

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  Science journalist chronicles the life of African-American Henrietta Lacks, who in 1951 had cervical tissue removed and grown in culture—without her permission—producing the first continuously replicating human-cell samples for research.  The book discusses subsequent medical breakthroughs, including the polio vaccine and AIDS treatment.  Bestseller.  2010.

November 14, 2013 (Thursday), 7:00-8:00 p.m. Central

Blind Contessa’s New Machine by Carey Wallace.  It is early nineteenth-century Italy.  Contessa Carolina tells her parents and fiancé she is going blind, but they won't listen.  Only local eccentric Turri believes her.  He invents a machine—a typewriter—for her, and the two fall in love.  Based on a true story.  2010.


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: April 3, 2013