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  57  ·  Fall  2013  ·  Editor:  Joel Henderson
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It’s official!  The BARD Mobile app for iOS devices (iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches) is now available for free download from the Apple App Store.  Just search for “BARD Mobile” and find the app by the Library of Congress (it should be one of the top results).  The app is available for devices running iOS 4.3.3 or higher (the most current version is iOS 7).  You do need an active BARD account in order to use this app.


The current BARD Mobile app is very, very similar to the beta version we reported about in our last newsletter; in fact, we couldn’t really find any differences between the versions.  There are four main tabs in the app for Bookshelf, Get Books, Settings, and Now Playing.  The Bookshelf tab organizes the items on your device by audio and Braille, then by books and magazines.  You can download items from the Get Books tab, either from your My Wishlist, which enables you to download any available item on BARD you’ve added to your wishlist through the app or on your computer, or from the Recently Added pages.  The Settings tab is where you can change the default settings of the app, and also where you can choose to use cellular data to download items instead of using wi-fi only.  Lastly, the Now Playing tab will show what book or magazine you are currently listening to.  It looks and functions almost exactly like an advanced digital player.


Initial reviews of the BARD Mobile app have been very positive.  Almost everyone we’ve heard from says the app is intuitive, easy to use, and efficient.  Some of our favorite features of the app include:

-      Automatic extraction: the BARD Mobile app automatically downloads, extracts, and authorizes the books and magazines you download.  Just click the download button for an item and it does the rest.  Hurray!

-      One login: once you log into the BARD Mobile app, it remembers your username and password, so you don’t need to log in every time you open the app.

-      Multiple devices: you can have up to five iOS devices using the BARD Mobile app connected to your BARD account.  However, your progress through each item will not sync with other devices like it does with Kindle.

-      Wi-Fi only default: BARD Mobile defaults to downloading items only using a wi-fi connection, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally using up all your cellular data allowance for the month just by downloading books.


BARD Mobile takes advantage of a variety of VoiceOver features and gestures, and also responds to several shortcut commands from a blue-tooth connected Braille display.  For users familiar with VoiceOver, swipe and double-tap gestures work as they normally would.  You can find a complete list of features in the Help Guide, which comes pre-loaded with the app.


We’ve created a special section on our BARD information page just for the BARD Mobile app, and if you have any further questions you can contact us at 800-452-0292 or  Happy downloading!



From 1976 to 2009 our talking books were on analog cassettes that required a special 4-track player to be read.  As some of our longer-standing users will remember, these cassette players had a tendency to require repair quite often, and with 5,000 users across the state, there were a lot of players to repair.  Enter the Telephone Pioneers, a group of volunteers who over the decades helped us repair thousands of cassette players, totaling 19,294 of donated time and effort and saving us approximately $464,000.


In honor of their generosity and to preserve their memory for future generations of Talking Books staff and volunteers, on August 27 we held a ceremony dedicating the newly renovated room in which they had worked as the Pioneer Room.  A special plaque bearing the control keys from an old cassette player has been mounted to the wall, and reads, “They hold the keys to the hearts of library staff and the thousands of Talking Book patrons who have benefitted from their work repairing Talking Book machines.”  Three retired Pioneers and the wife of one who has passed away were present, and each received certificates from the National Library Service thanking them for their exemplary service.


It is safe to say we could not be where we are today without the great contributions of the Telephone Pioneer volunteers, as well as all the other fantastic and dedicated volunteers that help us serve our users.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!



Starting in January, the Oregon Library Association (OLA) will be kicking-off their Oregon Reads 2014 program, which will be celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of William Stafford.  Stafford was named the National Poet Laureate in 1970, and was Oregon’s fourth and longest standing Poet Laureate from 1975 to 1990.  Over seventy libraries all over the state of Oregon, including the State Library, will have public events highlighting Stafford’s life and work.  Check with your local library about their schedule of events, since some things will be happening as soon as February.


Talking Books will be participating in Oregon Reads 2014 as well.  Four books of Stafford’s poetry previously unavailable on digital cartridge will be offered starting in January, including an Oregon-exclusive book of poems created especially for Oregon Reads.

·       A Glass Face in the Rain (DBX 782)

·       Even in Quiet Places (DBX 1266, BR 11313)

·       Stories that Could be True (DBX 757)

·       William Stafford Centennial Celebration Collection: Poems by William Stafford (DBX 1265)


This last book will feature 51 recordings provided by the generous permission of the William Stafford Archives at Lewis & Clark College in Portland.  You can also access these recordings and other information about one of Oregon’s most beloved Poet Laureates online at


If you are interested in placing an advanced request for any or all of these books, please call us at 800-452-0292 or email us at



One of the most important features of your digital player to be familiar with if you get digital magazines is the bookshelf feature.  The bookshelf feature is the way you to move from one magazine to another if there are multiple issues on the same cartridge.  You can usually tell if there are multiple magazines on a cartridge when you plug the cartridge in.  Your player will announce how many magazines it recognizes on the cartridge and default to playing the first one according to alphabetical order.


In order to access the other magazines on the cartridge using the bookshelf feature, press down the square green Play/Pause button until you hear your player beep and say “bookshelf.”  Once you’re in the bookshelf use the Fast Forward and Rewind buttons to toggle through the magazine issues.  When you find the one you want press the Play button again.  Your player will automatically remember your progress through each magazine, so don’t worry about losing your place in one issue if you switch to reading another.


In order to keep costs at a reasonable level, digital magazine producers are not making the option available to have only one magazine issue per cartridge.  And just as a reminder, you can always download current and back issues of digital magazines from BARD or through the BARD Mobile app on your compatible iOS device.



On August 26 – 27, we had the joy of welcoming our National Library Service Network Consultant Pamela Davenport to our library.  Every two years our library is visited by our Network Consultant to see how we’re doing, to talk with staff, our program manager, and our State Librarian, to share best practices from other libraries and to gather our suggestions for improvement.  Pam is a wonderful advocate for the Talking Books program, and even tried to help sign someone up to get books while she was here (but it turned out he was already a user).  She was also able to attend our Pioneer Room dedication mentioned earlier in this newsletter.


Pam will be summarizing her observations and her recommendations in a report that will be submitted to the Oregon State Library, then shared with our Talking Books Advisory Council.  Her report will be a valuable and helpful tool as we continue through our library-wide transformation.



We here at Talking Books have a lot of partners across the state; groups, organizations, and individuals who help us reach people who would benefit from our library.  Our staff is small and our office is in Salem, and we are very thankful for these allies in places like Ashland, Medford, Bend, Eugene, and Roseburg where we usually cannot get to with regularity.  To show our appreciation, we’d like to start a regular newsletter column highlighting a different partner each issue, someone who makes a big difference pointing qualified people in our direction.


Our first partner spotlight is on Dr. Phil Stockstad, an optometrist practicing at E 10th St in Eugene.  Dr. Stockstad has been referring people to our library for years, and recently we have seen a significant increase in applications certified by his office.  He regularly sends in a few applications a week, and sometimes as many as three in one day.  And he does a great job prepping people for our service by going over who we are and what we do.  His patients are constantly impressed, and so are we.  Thanks Dr. Stockstad!


And like Dr. Stockstad, if you believe our library can benefit someone you know, maybe a family member, friend, neighbor, or even a stranger you meet, tell them about Talking Books.  You can call us and ask for an application, or give them our phone number: 800-452-0292.  We need your help, and you really can make a difference.



We’ve had a growing number of digital book mailing containers returned to us without the corresponding cartridge inside, and we’re hoping that many of these cartridges can be found and returned to our library so they can be matched back up with their container.  Our circulation team will do its best to contact you if we receive a container back without a cartridge, but we’d also like to ask each of you to do a careful sweep of your home or apartment to see if you have any loose or misplaced cartridges.


Many of our patrons find it easy to keep track of their books if they always put them in the same place (i.e. a specific shelf or table) that is reserved for books only.  This way books don’t get covered up by other things.


If you’re having a hard time keep track of all your books and you feel like you’re getting too many, please let us know and we can adjust your book limit accordingly.  Thank you for helping us be good stewards of our materials.



Over the past month we’ve seen a spike in overdue digital magazines, most notably for the Talking Book Topics catalog on cartridge.  Just as a reminder, all digital magazines, including Talking Book Topics, need to be returned just like books.  The loan period for monthly magazines like Talking Book Topics is four (4) weeks, and the loan period for weekly magazines is one (1) week.  In order for the digital magazine program to be sustainable, the publisher reuses the cartridges, and each cartridge is barcoded and checked out to your specific account.  Having overdue cartridges out will cause all your magazines to be blocked, so be sure to read and return your magazines in a timely fashion.  Magazine cartridges are light blue and arrive in bright red containers, and are returned the same way you return books by flipping the return mailing card over so the publisher’s address and the Free Matter pre-paid postage are showing.  Please contact us at 800-452-0292 or if you would like to change or cancel your magazine subscriptions.



It’s Fall cleaning time, and this year we have a special project for everyone: now is the time to return your old cassette machines.  Just so we are clear, we are asking you return the big, bulky, old yellow machines from the 80’s with the sliders for volume and speed and the side selector switch, the ones that play the old 4-track cassette books in the green boxes.  We are NOT asking anyone to return their dark blue digital cartridge players.  If you are one of our newer users or you only have a digital player, then there is nothing you need to do.


If you still have the original box for your cassette machine, package it up in the box and drop it off at the post office.  The Free Matter postage designation will already be marked on the box.  If you do not have the original box for your cassette machine, just package it up in any appropriately sized box and write “Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped” in the top-right corner where you would usually put postage.  This way it’s free to ship the machine back to us.  Our return address is on the bottom of the machine, on the front page of this newsletter, or on any of the return cards for the books you get.


This recall is in compliance with the National Library Service’s directive to all Talking Book libraries across the country.  The cassette machines and their accessories are federal property, and must be returned when requested.



As the holidays approach, we wanted to give everyone a heads up that our staffing levels may be a bit low during Christmas week.  Be sure to get any requests you may have in early, preferably a week or two ahead of time.  One good way to remember might be to mail your presents and/or Christmas cards and make your requests on the same day.  We appreciate everyone’s understanding, and hope you all enjoy yourselves.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.



Our front desk hours are 9AM – 12noon and 1PM – 4PM, Monday through Friday.  You can call anytime 24/7, but these hours are when we return messages, answer calls, and reply to emails.  Calls are handled in the order they are received, and we regularly have voicemails to respond to before we can answer incoming calls directly (especially in the mornings and after weekends).  However, rest assured we’re committed to helping you as quickly as we can.



TBABS will be closed on the following legal holidays:

  • November 11, Veterans Day
  • November 28, Thanksgiving
  • December 25, Christmas
  • January 1, New Years Day
  • January 20, MLK Jr. Day
  • February 17, Presidents Day