Talking Book News Bulletin
Winter 2016

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Director's Report

Holiday Closings
Update for BARD Mobile app for Android and Kindle Fire
Disability News

Books Worth Revisiting

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Loan Policy
Spotlight on Texas Books
Disability Information & Referral Center
Disability Information & Referral Center
National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped

Director's Report

Greetings! Here is the latest news:

Death of a narrator: Sadly, one of the great narrators of NLS books recently passed away. Roy Avers died at his home in Indiana on November 13, 2015 at the age of 83. Mr. Avers began his narration career with the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) in 1971 and eventually narrated over 1,750 books for the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). He became APH’s first winner of the Alexander Scourby Award in 1990. For a more complete write-up on Mr. Avers, including a list of some of the books he has narrated, see Laura Jean’s blog post at

Update on the new automation system: The project continues to move forward. User interface frames are being developed by the vendor; staff preview and give comments on how these frames will make the new system look and operate. Work is going forward on the new online catalog that patrons will use to search and order books. Staff is considering bid proposals for new printers that will produce the mailing cards for books and equipment. Work is going forward on setting up the servers in the state’s remote consolidated data center. Discussions have begun on the bibliographic data that will be moved from the old system to the new and how that data will be sorted and then indexed for use. The project is still on schedule to begin some staff testing as early as April 2016.

Spring cleaning: We periodically have to reconcile our inventory records. The time to do this with our machines is coming up in the spring. If you have an older machine—especially the yellow cassette player or one of the record players—that you are no longer using, please return it to us so that we can mark it off the inventory. These older machines are still federal property, and we are still held accountable for them on our inventories. Please be sure that you are using the correct address when returning a machine. The address is 4400B Shoal Creek Blvd., Austin, TX 78756; if you still have the original box that the machine was shipped in, this address is on that box. If you no longer have the original shipping box or otherwise need help returning your machine to TBP, please call
1-800-252-9605 and ask a reader consultant for assistance.

Book club news:  The next book club event will be a discussion of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr on March 24, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. To make a reservation, please call 1-800-252-9605 or send an email to

Helpful contact information for the Talking Book Program:

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

Texas Talking Books will be closed for these holidays

Monday, February 15, 2016 ~ Presidents’ Day
Monday, May 30, 2016 ~ Memorial Day

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

Update for BARD Mobile app for Android and Kindle Fire

BARD Mobile app, version 1.0.2 has arrived! The new updated version of BARD Mobile is now available from the Google Play store. This version of the BARD Mobile app has fixed bugs found in the initial version of the app. BARD Mobile enables NLS patrons to download and listen to audiobooks and magazines directly from their Android devices. Registered Texas Talking Book patrons will need a BARD account at  and devices running Android OS 4.1 or later to use this app.

Now you can also use the BARD Mobile app for Android to read BARD books on your Kindle Fire! BARD Mobile is now available in the Amazon Appstore. BARD Mobile enables NLS patrons to download and listen to audiobooks and magazines directly from their Kindle Fire in addition to Android devices. Registered Texas Talking Book patrons will need a BARD account and at least a second-generation Kindle or later in order to use this app.

 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 .

The new edition of Magazines in Special Media is now available. Please contact the Talking Book Program’s Disability Information & Referral Center and request a copy of the publication in large print. This directory includes magazines provided by the National Library Service for free as well as free and paid magazines from other sources.
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.

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Books Worth Revisiting: Good Girls Gone Bad

Throughout the history of literature, one of the most popular motifs is that of the “bad girl.” Some of the most enduring stories center on those women who from some misstep become a “fallen woman” and must endure society’s scorn and isolation. Writers are always fascinated not only by how women find themselves in these predicaments, but how they cope and--in some cases--rise above their calamities. Here are three classic stories of unfortunate women which show that public shaming is not just a social media phenomenon.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: There is not a more famous fallen woman in American literature than Hester Prynne. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) published his story in 1850, and it has been universally recognized as the first great American novel and worthy to be compared with the best of European fiction. The story opens in Puritan Boston in 1642, with Hester being forced to stand for three hours on the platform of the public gallows for the crime of adultery. The reader’s sympathy is quickly drawn to Hester because she’s beautiful, calm, and apparently something of a rebel—the onlookers (especially many of the townswomen) are taken aback both by her lack of fear and the highly decorated “A” that Hester’s prowess as a needlewoman has created for her gown. The reader’s sympathy also is won by the obvious biblical overtones of “the woman taken in adultery,” because Hester is alone on that platform—her partner in sin is not only absent from the platform, but his identity is unknown by the authorities. Among the onlookers, Hester recognizes her long-absent and presumed-dead husband, who accepts his part of the blame for the whole sorry business but wants Hester to stay silent about his identity until he finds and punishes the man who has been her lover. The reader will quickly identify who that lover is, although the townspeople never do until the very last moment seven years later. The novel is worth revisiting, however, for its simple storytelling with universal themes of sin and redemption, good versus evil, and the ultimate power of love. Hawthorne was particularly sensitive about the history of Puritanism in New England; one of his ancestors, John Hathorne, had been a judge at the Salem witch trials and was the only judge who never repented for his part in the proceedings.  Hawthorne was always ashamed of this fact and added a “w” to the family name in order to obscure any link with his ancestor. To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for DB 48457. Also available for download from the BARD site, in large print (LB 00022), and in Braille (BR 09407).

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton: In 1920, Edith Wharton (1862-1937) published her tale of rigid New York high society and became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction the following year. Writing about the New York circles in which she grew up, Wharton put the spotlight on a society every bit as repressive and rule-driven as any the Puritans oversaw. Newland Archer, a young gentleman lawyer on the brink of making a brilliant marriage, encounters his fiancée’s scandalous cousin, a woman he has not met since they were both children. Ellen Mingott Olenska has spent the intervening years in Europe, where she married a Polish count who turned out to be a monster of depravity; Ellen has left him and returned to New York to obtain a divorce and start over. While publicly rallying around her and giving her access back into New York society, the Mingott family privately thinks that Ellen should not only drop the divorce proceedings but return to her husband—no matter how beastly he is. Catherine Mingott, Ellen’s grandmother and matriarch of the family, taps her about-to-be grandson to handle the situation and talk Ellen into being sensible. Priggish, totally absorbed in every nuance of his enclosed world, and casting a supercilious masculine eye on the scandalous countess, Newland suddenly finds himself shaken to the core by his encounters with the quiet and gentle Ellen. She may be something like a fallen woman in the eyes of New York society, but Newland finds her to be more real and worth knowing than any other woman of his acquaintance. Will he follow honor and duty by marrying his fiancée, or will he forge a new life with Ellen? To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for DB 65343. Also available for download from the BARD site, in large print (LB 06067), and in Braille (BR 12711).

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe: Life in early 18th century England was hard but especially for women who did not have money of their own or someone to provide for them. Daniel Defoe (c.1659-1731) knew well the perils of not having enough to live on. This personal knowledge, plus his unusual sympathy for the plight of women, led him to create a novel in 1722 that centered on the adventures of a resourceful woman, her “fortunes and misfortunes,” and how she finally achieves lasting redemption and respectability. Our heroine begins life badly enough—born in Newgate Prison to a convicted thief who shortly thereafter is transported to America, leaving behind her baby daughter to the perils of being a poor orphan. Young, pretty, and vulnerable, our heroine falls prey to the elder son of the household in which she is living, and thus begins her very troubled history with men. Over the decades, she manages to marry five times, as well as have several lovers. While she has periods of peace and security, the men in her life die, are forced to abandon her, or in one instance, she discovers that she has unknowingly married her half-brother, forcing her to abandon him. Finally, after the death of her last husband, she has become too old to be “marriageable.” She now turns to a life of crime, becoming an accomplished and remarkably lucky thief. It is during this phase of her career that she becomes known as “Moll Flanders,” the “moll” part being as it is today a woman engaged in criminal activity, and the “Flanders” for Flanders lace, a valuable textile that was often the target of street thieves. Moll actually becomes wealthy from her crimes, but instead of leaving off when she is secure, she continues to steal until she is taken and sent to prison to await either hanging or transportation. Fortunately, Moll still has some luck, and being truly penitent for her past life, eventually finds lasting peace and happiness in America. Readers should be aware that this book is one long narrative with no chapter breaks, but the narrator is excellent. To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for DB 51146. Also available for download from the BARD site and in Braille (BR 03367).


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: March 8, 2016