Talking Book and Braille News
Talking Book and Braille Services

Oregon State Library
250 Winter St NE
Salem, OR 97301-3950
(503) 378-5389 or (800) 452-0292
Fax: (503) 588-7119
           Issue  58  ·  Spring  2014  ·  Editor:  Joel Henderson
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If you regularly use our online catalog, chances are you’ve come across a book with a status of Download Only.  This status means the book is available in the digital format, but we don’t have a physical copy here in our library.  Instead, it is currently only available for download from BARD.  Most of the time you’ll see this status on older books with a DB number below 65,000.  A lot of people ask the question, “Can I still request a download only book be mailed to me?”  The answer is yes.


When you request a book that is download only, you’ll want to mark it as a rush.  Our catalog will allow you to mark three books as rushes each day.  If you choose to rush a book it is added to your list as a reserve, which is like telling us you really want this book ahead of the other books you’ve requested.  We regularly review the list of books with reserves on them and select titles to add to our collection.  These titles will then start circulating to the people who have it reserved.


You also always have the option of signing up to use BARD and downloading the title yourself.  With BARD there is no waiting for copies to be available, since every title is available every day for every user.  We have detailed step-by-step instructions on our website, as well as several video and audio tutorials.  And the BARD Mobile app for iOS devices now makes downloading books even easier and more portable.  But if you cannot use BARD, rest assured there is still a way to get those download only books.



In August 2013, the Salem mail processing center officially closed.  All of our mail, including outgoing and incoming books, now travels all the way to the processing center in Portland before it is distributed across the state.  This change has led to an increase in the turnaround time for our books, especially for our users in Southern and Eastern Oregon.  Many of our users are experiencing an extra 1-2 days transit time both ways, meaning it can be sometimes more than a week from when you put books back in the mail to when you get new ones.


Now is an excellent opportunity for the reminder that we strongly recommend putting books in the mail as soon as you are finished with them.  You are more than welcome to send books back one at a time, which helps keep a steady cycle of books coming in and going out.  Holding onto a large stack of books before returning them increases your wait time for new books, and at times you may have nothing to read for several days.  Our system is set up to only send out new books when old books have been returned.  Calling in to say your books are in the mail does not bypass the system.


We appreciate your patience as we continue to adjust to the changing realities of public organizations we all rely on.  We are actively working on ways to maximize efficiency to ensure our turnaround times are as low as possible.  Here’s to hoping someone invents teleportation soon!


Please remember to always double check and make sure the book cartridge is in its container before mailing the container back.  We have had an 8-fold increase in the number of empty containers coming back to us over the last six months.  If you find a book cartridge all on its own, double it up inside the container with another book and mail it back.  Thanks!


Talking Book and Braille Services is a FREE library that loans books and magazines in accessible formats to people who cannot see standard print, cannot hold a book, or have a physically-based reading disability.


But what does that really mean?  Here is a handy guide to help you talk about Talking Books!

  • Talking Books are not JUST for blind people. The library is available to people who experience physical disabilities or illnesses that prevent them from holding a book, sitting up for periods of time, or turning the pages of a book.
  • Our library serves people of ALL ages. Our youngest user is 3 years old and our oldest is 104…and we have books for all tastes and interest levels!
  • Talking Books are completely FREE. There is no charge for the books, the talking book player, or the postage to mail the books back to the library.
  • What kind of books does the library have? All kinds! Our library has the same books that are found in your public library.
  • What happens if the books get lost in the mail? If the books are lost or damaged just call the library—there is no charge for lost or damaged materials.
  • How does a person get signed up for Talking Books? The process is very easy. Just fill out an application for service and have the last page signed by nurse, doctor, librarian, therapist, activity director, social worker, or teacher.
  • All of the audio books (and most of the Braille books) provided by our library are available for on-demand download.
  • This library has existed in Oregon since 1932; one year after the NLS began creating regional libraries across the country.

Anyone can help us extend the joy of reading to people who are eligible by sharing your experiences with people you meet.  You never know when sharing your story might inspire a friend or family member to reach out to us on behalf of someone else.  Word of mouth is our best method of outreach.



We would like to take this opportunity to thank our two outgoing Advisory Council members for their many years of service: Marcia Mee, the representative for Reading Disabled users, and Bob Disher, the representative for the Vision Working Group.  Marcia served for two full terms, a total of eight years, and Bob served one full term and was elected chair of the Advisory Council his last year.  We sincerely appreciate their contributions, their insights, and their advocacy for our library.


Their vacant positions have been filled by Mike Tobias and Scott McCullam.  Each began their four-year term this past January.  Mike is a stay-at-home dad, and Scott comes to us from the Northwest Regional Education Service District (NWRESD).  Both are just as enthusiastic about Talking Books as their predecessors, and we are grateful for their willingness to serve.  In 2014 we are planning to develop a new long-range plan, and their perspectives will be valuable throughout this process.



Talking Books has developed a partnership agreement with Oregon Textbook and Media Center (OTMC) to help provide accessible books to Oregon students.  OTMC handles literature and textbook requests from students who need their books in Braille or audio.  Now, whenever OTMC receives a request they check with our library first to see if we can provide the book to the student for free.  This partnership will save OTMC thousands of dollars by reducing their need to purchase Braille-embossed books, and it will increase awareness of Talking Books among students and teachers.  It’s a win-win for both agencies!  Thanks to Elke Bruton, Talking Books Librarian, and Bob Disher, OTMC Manager, for working out the details of this beneficial and efficient agreement.



With 2014 already in full swing, we here at Talking Books would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of our generous supporters for your donations throughout 2013.  Your donations go straight to keeping our library well staffed and well supplied.  State budget tightening means we are increasingly dependent on donations, and you have genuinely warmed our hearts with a constant, steady flow of financial support.  Every donation is sincerely appreciated, and remember that your donations are also tax deductible.



In the early 1990’s, Thomas Price of Grants Pass left a large portion of his estate to Talking Book and Braille Services in memory of his wife Irene who had enjoyed our audio books throughout her lifetime. His bequest made it possible to establish the Talking Books Endowment Fund and the Irene Price Society.


Today, we’re excited to announce our Endowment Fund has risen to $1.4 million, with almost $600,000 coming in the last 3 years, thanks to many individuals who include Talking Books in their estate planning. The Endowment Fund ensures that future generations will continue to enjoy Talking Books and other special services for Oregonians with print-related disabilities.


If you have plans to name Talking Books in your will, let us know and we will add you to our Irene Price Society membership. We will honor you with a gift for becoming a member. This gift is our way of saying “thanks” to you on behalf of future generations who will benefit from this great program.


Our planned giving contact person is Robin Speer. You can reach her at 503-378-5014 or email her at



Over time, most rechargeable batteries lose their ability to charge back up to their original maximum level.  Cell phone batteries go from lasting a full day to only half a day on a full charge.  Camera batteries can only handle taking 100 pictures instead of 200.  It is the same with our digital players.  After faithfully reading countless books their ability to recharge to their original 29+ hour level slowly dwindles down to 20 hours, then 15 hours, and on until finally they cannot charge up at all.  This behavior is normal and expected.

To help increase the life of your player’s battery, here are some tips from our equipment coordinator.

  • If you use you player mostly on battery, try to recharge the player after it announces that the battery is low and has less than 1 hour of charge left. Ideally, you should let the battery drain completely and then recharge it, but we understand why some users would not want to do that. Waiting till the player announces the battery has less than 1 hour left is the second best thing.
  • When recharging, let the player recharge for at least 8 hours. You are still able to listen to books when the player is recharging.
  • If you are able to, leave the player plugged in at all times or as often as possible.

If your player works when you need it to and you’re happy to keep using it as is, we’re happy too.  But if your player gets to the point where it only reports having 12 hours or less of battery life on a full charge, and that amount is not adequate for your reading routine, then we’d be happy to replace it for you.  All you need to do is contact us with your name, phone number, and a brief message letting us know how low your battery charges up to and we’ll get a replacement out as soon as possible.



We make a regular practice of mailing out overdue letters as a way to remind people their accounts show books checked out beyond the six-week loan period.  These letters really are just meant to be reminders; they are not invoices, and you will never be charged a late fee, replacement fee, or any fee of any kind.  Instead, we want to make sure your account is not cluttered with books you don’t actually have.


Oftentimes a book goes overdue because it gets lost in the mail, either before it gets to you or on its way back to us.  There are times when the mailing card will fall out and the post office doesn’t know where to deliver or return the book.  In these instances we recognize the lost book is overdue by no fault of your own.


If you get an overdue notice for a book, double-check to make sure you don’t still have it.  If you find the book, mail it back and all will be well.  If you cannot find it, give us a call and let us know you don’t have the book and we’ll remove the record from your account.  We really appreciate your conscious efforts to be good stewards of the books you get, and we understand sometimes things happen beyond your control.


Magazine users may also receive overdue notices if their cartridges are not returned.  These overdue notices are printed on bright green card stock, and will list which weeks are overdue on the label.  Because of the much higher cost of cartridges over cassettes, it is very important for magazine users to return their cartridges promptly.  Overdue and lost cartridges could potentially cause the NLS magazine program to fail, and are one of the main reasons several publishers are hesitant to switch over to the digital format.


If you receive an overdue notice for a magazine cartridge you cannot find or you’ve already returned, call and tell us so we can mark the cartridge as lost.  Otherwise your magazines and Talking Books account may wind up blocked.  You will never be charged for lost magazines, so you can feel safe keeping us in the know.


It’s tax season again, and Talking Books is here to help connect you to the plethora of accessible forms and publications made available by the IRS.  They have forms and publications on their website in Large Print, Braille, and accessible PDF.  You can find them directly at


The IRS also offers customer service assistance for persons who are deaf or who have hearing disabilities. People with TTY equipment may call 800-829-4059, which is a toll-free number, for assistance.   
People who are unable to complete their tax return because of a physical disability may get assistance from an IRS office, or through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) sponsored by the IRS. Taxpayers can find a nearby location by calling 1-800-906-9887.
Publication 907, Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities, explains the tax implications of certain disability benefits and other issues, and is available on the IRS website.


As a reminder to our users, it is against the federal Free Matter postal regulations to send us notes inside the mailing containers of talking books you are returning.  To send us requests, please call, email, or mail them in a separate envelope.  You may write “Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped” on the envelope so it is still free to mail.  To report a defective book, just mark the box in the upper-left corner of the return mailing card.  Continuing to send notes in talking book containers could result in the loss of Free Matter mailing privileges.



TBABS will be closed on the following legal holidays:

  • May 26, Memorial Day
  • July 4, Independence Day