Talking Book News Bulletin
Fall 2016

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College Age Book Reads

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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:

Cassette newsletters no longer available: We have discontinued sending out this newsletter on cassette tape. For those who were receiving the newsletter on cassette tape, we have arranged for you to receive the newsletter in another format. If we have an email address on file, we have added you to the email subscription list for this newsletter. If we do not have an email address on file, the cassette format has been changed to large print. If any patrons currently receiving the large print format would prefer to begin receiving the newsletter via email, please call 1-800-252-9605 or 1-512-463-5458 and request your newsletters to be sent via email. Newsletters are posted to our web site in text and audio at You also may listen to an audio version of the newsletter by calling the toll-free information line at 1-866-388-6397.

In case you haven’t heard…: The Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), which included the Division of Blind Services, was abolished by legislative mandate as of September 1, 2016. Various services have been transferred to the Texas Workforce Commission and the Health & Human Services Commission. Some updated information is available at the DARS website at, including some information on which services have been transferred to which agency. Our Disability and Information Referral Center (DIRC) here in the Talking Book Program also may be able to help with information about services and where to find assistance. To make inquiries, please call 1-800-252-9605 (toll-free in Texas) or 512-463-5458 and ask for the DIRC librarian.

85th Texas Legislature starts soon: The 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature begins on January 10, 2017 and will meet through May 29, 2017. Like many state agencies, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (Talking Book Program’s home agency) was asked to submit a legislative appropriations request with a 4% cut in state revenue funds for budget years 2018 and 2019. (Besides this revenue, TBP also uses federal funds and gift funds in its budget.) In order to give up state revenue for the 4% cut, TBP will take one staffing position that is normally paid with state revenue funds and move it to federal funds. Agencies were asked to also prepare reductions for an additional 10% reduction in state revenue funds in budget years 2018 and 2019. These additional reductions are requested every legislative session in case the legislators need to make additional cuts in order to balance the budget they are crafting.

And speaking of budgets, what about NLS’ budget? For much of the last decade, the federal government has operated under a series of temporary stop-gap funding measures. The U.S. Congress did not pass a regular federal budget for six years until the most recent budget was approved in late 2015. Instead, those temporary stop-gap spending resolutions—also known as “continuing resolutions”—have been passed to keep the government functioning. The latest continuing resolution was passed in late September 2016 and will keep the government open through December 9, 2016. Operating under a continuing resolution means that a federal agency operates under the last budget passed, so for now, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) operates under what it was appropriated in the Library of Congress’ budget passed in 2015 and will continue to operate under that last passed budget until Congress passes a new one.

The return of Spotlight: We are bringing back Spotlight on Texas Books, our annotated listing of books recorded here in our volunteer recording studio in Austin and in the studios of Recording Library of West Texas, our partner studio in Midland. Spotlight, which is published twice a year in an audio version on digital cartridge, features selected books that we have recorded and provides brief annotations for each book. Books featured in Spotlight are available on digital cartridge but may also be on BARD, in Braille, or in large print. Spotlight is treated just like a magazine subscription, so if you would like to receive Spotlight when it becomes available, please call 1-800-252-9605 or 1-512-463-5458 and subscribe to the next issue. If you previously subscribed to Spotlight, you will receive an issue automatically and may cancel if you are no longer interested in receiving it.

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


Texas Talking Books will be closed for these holidays

Friday, November 11 ~ Veterans Day

Thursday-Friday, November 24-25, 2016 ~ Thanksgiving Day
Friday-Monday, December 23-26, 2016 ~ Christmas

Friday, December 30, 2016 ~ for New Year’s

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

Helpful contact information for the Talking Book Program


Disability News

The Department of Assistive & Rehabilitative Services (DARS) housed the Offices of Blind Services, Deaf Services, Rehab Services, and Early Childhood Intervention. Here are the links to the new offices:

Blind Services have been split into two sections:

Blind Individuals seeking employment: (then search for local offices).
Housed within this section are Criss Cole Rehab Services: and the Business Enterprise of Texas: 
Older Individuals who are blind (not seeking employment):

Deaf Services:

Early Childhood Intervention:

Rehab Services:

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


College Age Book Reads

It’s no secret college consists of a lot of reading. From general education to required reading for their major, students end up reading books on what seems like every subject imaginable. But once in a while, you come across one that actually has an effect on you. Maybe it was a book that made you question everything. Or a book written by the best teacher you’ve ever had. It could’ve even been a book that introduced you to your new favorite author.

These are some of the books that you might find of interest and might be worth your attention. Here are our top picks from the 2016 University of Texas at Austin’s reading round up book list.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
DB 82201; BR 21183; LB 08280
This book is an honest and contemporary look at the history of US race relations, written by a young Black man to his son. The writer has the heart of a poet and the soul of someone who has witnessed it all. A must-read for anyone who wants some insight into why there is still much anger in the world.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
DB 77138; BR 21495; LB 08692
During the height of the Great Depression, nine working-class college students set off to do the impossible: defeat the German rowing team in the 1936 Berlin Olympics."The Boys in the Boat" is a compelling account of how these all-American underdogs beat the odds and found hope in the most desperate of times.

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
DB 70422

This book deals with how we live in a world of great and increasing complexity, where even the most expert professionals struggle to master the tasks they face. Longer training, ever more advanced technologies‚ neither seems to prevent grievous errors. But in a hopeful turn, acclaimed surgeon and writer Atul Gawande finds a remedy in the humblest and simplest of techniques: the checklist.

Emma by Jane Austen
DB 23490; LB 03442; LB 04698

Published in 1816, this is a classic romantic comedy about a small English village where a local matchmaker, Emma Woodhouse, keeps getting things wrong as she plays cupid to her reluctant single friends. Simultaneously charming and sharp-witted, this may be Jane Austen's most perfect novel.

Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Conno
DB 32752

This collection is an exquisite legacy from a genius of the American short story, in which she scrutinizes territory familiar to her readers: race, faith, and morality. The stories encompass the comic and the tragic, the beautiful and the grotesque; each carries her highly individual stamp and could have been written by no one else.

Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot
DB 19566

This book opens a rich composition that expands spiritual vision. In the four linked poems spiritual, philosophical, and personal themes emerge through symbolic allusions and literary and religious references from both Eastern and Western thought. It is the culminating achievement by a man considered the greatest poet of the twentieth century and one of the seminal figures in the evolution of modernism.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein
DB 80555

This is a timely book about the most important issue of our time: climate change. Klein, a prominent investigative journalist who visited UT last year, focuses in particular on the impact of climate change on indigenous and other vulnerable populations. The book presents climate change as a global problem that can only be solved by concerted social action.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
DB 78463; BR 20478

This book draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines–geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, and marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
DB 72129; LB 07524

This non-fiction book details the life of Louis Zamperini whose journey defines resilience and the triumph of the human spirit against all odds. I hope it will serve as a motivating, inspirational example to our incoming freshmen that they can succeed at anything as long as they have the will to keep trying.

*All books are available for BARD download.

End of Texas Talking Book News
Fall 2016

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: December 1, 2016