Talking Book News Bulletin
Summer 2018

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2nd Annual Poetry Contest
Books Worth Revisiting: Read Across America - Part 1


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Director's Report

Greetings! Here is the latest news:

Updates on the new automation system: The Talking Book Program (TBP) made its final switchover in late June to the WebREADS circulation system. WebREADS is a system originally designed by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) and is in use by many libraries in the NLS network of cooperating libraries. Our previous circulation system was over 30 years old, could no longer be supported, and had been deemed a “legacy” system by the state Department of Information Resources and had to be replaced. The initial switchover went smoothly, and staff are slowly getting a handle on how the system works, especially in how it goes about selecting books for patrons. Several bugs in the system have been fixed, with some still being worked on. In the meantime, if you are having service problems (too many books, not enough books, no books at all), please call 1-800-252-9605 or 512-463-5458 and speak with a reader consultant. More serious service problems may be the result of bugs in the system, so the sooner we know about them, the sooner the vendor can be working to fix them.

Automatic call-back from your cell phone: If you use AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon for your cell phone, you now should be able to use the “call back” feature to call us back. When TBP Reader Services calls you, the caller I.D. will show “TBP Reader Services” on AT&T phones or “512-463-5458” on Sprint and Verizon phones. For best results, add 512-463-5458 to your cell phone contacts list.

Sunset Commission review has been published: The Sunset Commission staff has published their review of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC). There were no findings or recommendations concerning TBP, and TSLAC is recommended to be reauthorized for another 12 years. You may read the report and other documents here: (If you need a copy in alternate format, please call 1-800-252-9605 and request a Braille or large print copy. The document is also available in audio on the toll-free information line at 1-866-388-6397.) A public hearing for several agencies, including TSLAC, is tentatively scheduled on August 29-30, 2018. If you would like to attend the hearing and make any comments, you are welcome to do so. If you cannot attend the hearing but wish to submit a comment, you may use the online form at this link:

TBP’s Administrative Rules Review: All state agencies and their programs have administrative rules, which are reviewed every four years, amended as needed, and then readopted. The notice of the review of TBP’s 18 rules has been published in the July 27, 2018 edition of the Texas Register ( You may read the rules here: Comments about the rules review may be made by postal mail, email, or phone to Ava Smith, Director, Talking Book Program, at P.O. Box 12927, Austin, TX, 78711-2927,, or 512-463-5428. Comments must be received by August 27, 2018.

The Marrakesh VIP Treaty update: Both the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously in late May to approve sending The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities to the full U.S. Senate for a final vote. The Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (S.2559) was easily approved on June 28. The implementation act still has to be approved in the U.S. House of Representatives and then signed by President Trump. If all approve, the treaty could be implemented by mid-October.

If you would like to discuss the treaty with your representative and need contact information, just call 1-800-252-9605 and ask a reader consultant for that contact information.

Until next time,
Ava Smith
Director, Talking Book Program

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Texas Talking Books will be closed for these holidays

Monday, September 3 ~ Labor Day

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


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Disability News

The Texas Technology Access Program (TTAP) provides demonstration centers in several cities in Texas to learn about assistive technology. The program also offers a “try before you buy” option where certain equipment may be borrowed for up to six weeks. Contact TTAP at 800-828-7839 or visit For assistive technology funding resources, contact the Talking Book Program’s Disability Information & Referral Center: 1-800-252-9605 or 512-463-5458,

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

2nd Annual Poetry Contest

The Talking Book Program is proud to announce 2nd annual poetry writing contest.  The contest will run from now until October 31, 2018. There are three category levels: TBPL #1: Ages 0-10; TBPL #2: Ages 11-18; and TBPL #3: 19 and above. Winners will be announced in the TBP Winter Newsletter, in early 2019. All poem submissions must be received by October 31, 2018.

The winners will be featured in the TBP Newsletter, have their poem recorded in the TBP Volunteer Recording Studio, uploaded TBP website, and put on the TSLAC Facebook page. One winner will be selected from each category level. Poems will be judged on originality, creativity, and artistic and style quality. Good luck and happy writing.

TBP Poetry Contest Rules

  • Must be a current/active TBP patron
  • Must sign and submit a release form (Find it on under TBP News or if you want a release form mailed to you call, 512-463-5452)
  • Limit one submission per patron
  • Poem must be the original work of the participant
  • Can be on any subject or topic
  • Poem does not have to rhyme
  • Poem must not contain any of the following: violence, strong language, sexual content

Submit typed, hand written or Brailled poem and release form to:

Talking Book Program
c/o Public Awareness Coordinator
PO Box 12927
Austin, TX 78711-2927

Or email to:
Subject Line: 2018 TBP Poetry Contest

Deadline is October 31, 2018

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Books Worth Revisiting: Read Across America—Part I

Melia Robinson is a senior reporter for Business Insider, an Internet business and financial magazine. Ms. Robinson reports on a wide range of topics, including culture. One of her more recent articles (March 9, 2017) is entitled, “The Most Famous Author From Every State.” To be considered for any particular state, the author had to be born in the state, although living in the state was not necessary. Other factors considered were being widely read, receiving critical acclaim, and having financial success. Setting one’s stories in the state was also helpful. These criteria have produced an eclectic list of authors with some real surprises. One would think, for example, that Margaret Mitchell would win hands-down for Georgia, but Robinson’s research team chose Flannery O’Conner, instead. Nor were all states easy in author selection; an editorial comment notes that native-born authors for Vermont were difficult to find. Here are three titles from across America, starting with our own state of Texas. All are available for BARD download or on digital cartridge by mail.

The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter (DB 41186): Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980) was born at Indian Creek in west central Texas, but spent her formative years in Kyle, south of Austin. Her birth name was Callie Russell Porter, but at the time she divorced her abusive first husband, she asked the judge to legally change her name to “Katherine Anne,” which had been her grandmother’s name. While Porter is best known for her novel, Ship of Fools (DB 21086), her literary reputation rests on her short stories, which she first began publishing in the 1920s. Porter spent time in Mexico, observing revolutionary culture which translated into a number of memorable stories. There are also stories about rural life and how people struggle to find a place in the world. Several stories feature a young girl named Miranda and her eccentric family members; Miranda is often viewed as Porter’s alter ego. Her first and most enduring collection was Flowering Judas, and Other Stories, published in 1935. In 1965, all of her short stories and short novels were collected into a single published volume and received both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1966. Flowering Judas, and Other Stories and Pale Horse, Pale Rider also are available in Braille, BR 01060 and BR 17498, respectively.

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (DB 13972 and DB 50921; BR 04442 and BR 11322; and BT 03285): Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) was born in rural Wisconsin, the second of four daughters. From Wisconsin, the Ingalls family moved around the Midwest, living at various times in Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota. Her experiences and memories during these years formed the basis for her series of historical children’s novels, The Little House books, of which Little House in the Big Woods is the first in the series. In 1885 at the age of eighteen, Laura married Almanzo Wilder, whose story is featured in the second book in the series, Farmer Boy (DB 21019; BR 04262 and BR 09408; LB 04819). The early years of their marriage were beset by hardships and tragedy, but the couple eventually became more prosperous and settled into a quiet life in Missouri. Encouraged to write by her daughter, Laura started with life in the Wisconsin woods in the late 1860s and early 1870s and eventually published eight Little House books between 1932 and 1943. The series of books also were the basis for the popular television series, Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983), starring Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (DB 37294, BR 09400, and LB 00335): Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) was born in West Virginia, but she spent almost half of her life in China, first as the daughter of missionary parents and then as a missionary and teacher. Fluent in both vernacular and classical Chinese, she became acquainted with well-known Chinese literary figures, who encouraged her to begin writing. The Good Earth is the story of a poor Chinese peasant, Wang Lung, and his quest to acquire land as the path out of poverty. He acquires and marries a slave girl named O-Lan, and together after years of toil and hardship, they eventually have a prosperous farm. Published in 1931, the novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1932, was made into an Academy Award-winning motion picture, and has remained a popular read for over 70 years, including being selected for Oprah Winfrey’s book club in 2004.

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Helpful contacts information for the Talking Book Program

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End of Texas Talking Book News
Summer 2018

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 14, 2018