Talking Book News Bulletin
Fall 2015

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Celebrating Harper Lee

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Director's Report

Greetings! Here is the latest news:

Update on the new automation system: In the last issue of this column, we reported that the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) had signed a contract with Ambonare, Inc. to build a new automation system for the Talking Book Program (TBP). Ambonare staff and TBP staff have spent the last three months mapping the functions of the current system in joint application design sessions (known as JADs). The purpose of these sessions is to give the Ambonare staff a thorough understanding of current operations and how staff uses an automation system to deliver services. The Ambonare staff will take this information and use it to design the architectural plans for the new system. Those plans are to be delivered by the end of September 2015, after which Ambonare will begin building the new system. Construction of the new system will be done in phases, with TBP staff testing each phase before the next phase is built. This construction portion of the project will run through the early months of 2016. TBP staff also is working on preparing the data in the current system for migration to the new system, the many requirements for security are being hammered out, and the servers and other physical equipment will soon be purchased and set up in the state’s remote data center. The project, so far, is on schedule and on budget. We will continue to make progress reports in future issues of this column.

New app for Android devices is now available: If you own an Android device (or have been thinking about acquiring one), you now may download an app from the Google Play Store that will allow you to download books and magazines directly from BARD onto your device. Your Android device must be using OS 4.1 or later. The app is free, but you must have an active BARD account in order to use it. If you would like to learn more about the BARD Mobile app for Android devices, please call 1-800-252-9605 and ask to speak with a BARD technical support staffer; if you would like to sign up for a BARD account, please follow the BARD link from our website ( or go to to complete a very brief online application.

If you need to return a cassette player or a digital talking book machine (DTBM): We’ve recently been informed that some of our cassette players and DTBMs have been turning up in some odd places. These machines are being mailed by patrons to wrong addresses.  Please be sure that you are using the correct address when returning a machine. We’ve also been notified that DTBMs are showing up for sale on eBay, which is illegal. All machines that we send out are on loan to—not owned by-- the patrons who have been assigned these machines. Machines should never be sold or given to others. If you no longer want your machine, mail it back to the Talking Book Program here in Austin. The address is 4400B Shoal Creek Blvd., Austin, TX 78756. If you need help returning your machine to TBP, please call 1-800-252-9605 and ask a reader consultant for assistance.

TBP staff member does a reading at Barnes & Noble: Recently, TBP staffer Victor Hunter, who reads in Braille, participated in a public reading of Harper Lee’s classic book, To Kill a Mockingbird, as part of the national launch of her new book, Go Set a Watchman. Please read the full article in this newsletter.

Book Club news:  The next phone-in book club event will be a discussion of Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman on Thursday, November 19 at 7:00pm. To make a reservation, please call 1-800-252-9605 or send an email to by November 6, 2015. Book Synopsis:  Sussex, England. A man returns to his childhood home for a funeral. While there, he is drawn to the farm where his friend Lettie lived with her mother and grandmother. After he enters the property, he remembers the terrifying experiences he and Lettie shared. Some violence. Bestseller.  2013.    BR   20187; DB   77198.

Helpful contact information for the Talking Book Program:

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

Celebrating Harper Lee

Barnes and Noble held a nationwide read-a-thon of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD on July 13th in anticipation of the release of Harper Lee’s new book GO SET A WATCHMAN.  Victor, a Reader Consultant, represented The Talking Book Program by reading a chapter of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD in Braille for customers shopping in the bookstore.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is available for TBP patrons to borrow in Braille (BR 12850), Digital Cartridge (DB 77672; DX 36414) and to download from BARD (DB 77672; DB 36414).

GO SET A WATCHMAN is currently only available on BARD in Braille.  BRE 00097
The book is in process for audio download and digital cartridge.

If you loved TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, you may also be interested in:

MOCKINGBIRD NEXT DOOR: LIFE WITH HARPER LEE (DB 79569) NLS Annotation: Journalist describes becoming friends with author Harper Lee (born 1926), known to her family and friends as Nelle, and her sister Alice and eventually moving in next door to them.  Provides insights into Lee’s reclusiveness and reluctance about writing another novel after To Kill a Mockingbird (DB 36414/77672). Bestseller. 2014.


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 Disability News

The National Library Service has recently updated several of its in-house created reference guides. If you need information on assistive technology, magnifiers, mobile apps, Braille devices and literacy, sources for digital players, and reading materials in large print, contact the Texas Talking Book Program’s Disability Information & Referral Center for copies of these reference guides in large print.  You can also access the guides online at . In addition, the Disability Information and Referral Center has copies of the updated version of Magazines in Special Media, available in either large print or on cassette. Please call 1-800-252-9605, or e-mail for more information.


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


“NLS is now offering a fact sheet in Braille called Frequently Used UEB Symbols. You can download the Braille file at or request a Braille copy from the Talking Book Program.”


Texas Talking Books will be closed for these holidays

Wednesday, November 11- Veterans Day

Thursday and Friday, November 26 and 27 – Thanksgiving

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




The Talking Book Program has more than audio books for lending.  We also have a nice collection of Braille and large print books.  Below are some of the large print titles available for loan.




Someone has been trying to poison the 15th Earl of Lislelivet.  Since Lord Lislelivet has a gift for making enemies, no one - particularly his wife - finds this too surprising. What is surprising is that the poison was discovered in a fruitcake made and sold by the Handmaids of St. Lucy of Monkbury Abbey. Max Tudor, vicar of Nether Monkslip and former MI5 agent, is asked to investigate. But just as Max comes to believe the poisoning was accidental, a body is discovered in the cloister well. Unrated. 2014.


LB 07209 BURIED IN A BOOK by Lucy Arlington

First in a series.  After losing her job as a journalist at the age of 45, Lila Wilkins accepts an internship at A Novel Idea, a thriving literary agency in North Carolina. When a penniless aspiring author drops dead in the agency's waiting room - and Lila discovers a series of threatening letters - she's determined to find out who      wrote him off. 2012.                                                



 At first it seemed like a series of accidents plagued Vienna's Court Opera. But after a singer is killed during rehearsals of a new production, the evidence suggests something much more dangerous.  Someone is trying to murder famed conductor and composer Gustav Mahler. Worse, Mahler might not be the first musical genius to be dispatched by this unknown killer. Alma Schindler, one of Mahler's many would-be mistresses, asks lawyer and aspiring private        investigator Karl Werthen to identify the killer and help stop the attacks. Some strong language and some violence. 2010.                                                                              




Boston. Two women, Tessa and Valerie, describe events surrounding a infidelity. Stay-at-home mom Tessa is married to Nick, a renowned pediatric plastic surgeon. After a marshmallow-roasting accident, lawyer Valerie's young son Charlie becomes Nick's patient. Some strong language and some explicit descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 2010.                                                           


LB 0737    SEA GLASS SUMMER by Dorothy Cannell

Recovering from a painful divorce, Sarah Draycott has moved to the picturesque village of Sea Glass on the Maine coast to make a fresh start. As she finds herself increasingly caught up in the lives of the Sea Glass residents, Sarah finds her broken heart beginning to heal. Some violence and some descriptions of sex. 2012.                   




Former army captain recalls returning stateside with numerous physical injuries - including traumatic brain injury – and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after two tours in Iraq.  Describes acquiring a service dog named Tuesday and ways the canine   helped him recover. 2011.


LB   06610 UNLIKELY BLESSING by Judy Baer

A new pastor and lifelong city dweller accepts his first parish assignment in the wilds of North Dakota where he adjusts to local traditions. As a single pastor, he generates enormous excitement and competition among the unmarried women in the community. 2010.      



In "All There Is," Story Corps founder Dave Isay shares stories of love and marriage from the revolutionary oral history project, revealing the many and remarkable paths that relationships can take. From the excitement of courtship to the deep connection of lifelong commitment, we discover that love is found in the most unexpected of places. And we are reminded of the strength and resilience of the human spirit. 2012.                                                




LB   06308 HARD WINTER: A WESTERN STORY by Johnny D. Boggs

Jim Hawkins tells his grandson about the time he ran away to be a cowboy. He recalls joining Tommy O'Hallahan and mentor John Henry Kenton to learn the ropes and remembers the blizzards to 1886-1887 that killed the cattle and almost froze the teens to death on the range. Some violence and some strong language. 2009.   



When he was a boy, Edward Dawes saw his grandfather murdered. Now, after a chance meeting, Dawes knows the murderer is alive and nearby, and he won't rest until the killer pays for his crime.  Violence, strong language and some descriptions of sex. 2009.


 LB 07601 BORN TO TROUBLE by Nelson C. Nye

Trammell's first job as a Texas Ranger sounds routine - to find out who is looting a mine and bring him in. But the town is an armed camp, and within hours, Trammell has a bullet crease on his head and a knife wound in his back. 1951.




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: October 1, 2015