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Summer 2009 Newsletter
Talking Book and Braille News
Digital Talking Book Player
Digital Talking Book Player
Talking Book and Braille Services
Oregon State Library
250 Winter Street NE
Salem, OR 97301
(503) 378-5389  (800) 452-0292
Fax: (503) 588-7119
TBABS is looking forward to the first shipment of digital talking book machines later this year, and we would like to give you an up close and personal tour of this unique machine that will eventually  replace the standard C1 cassette model currently in use.
The player pictured is the basic digital model. The player is about 6 by 9 by 2 inches, in comparison with the cassette book machine, which is 9 by 11 by 3 inches. Weight of the digital talking book player is slightly over two pounds compared to the C1’s seven pounds. The body of the player is dark charcoal grey to create maximum visual contrast between the background of the case and the colors of the buttons.
The Rewind, Play and Fast Forward controls are centered and close to the front edge of the player: The square green Play button controls stopping and starting playback of the book. The white triangular Rewind and Fast Forward buttons to the left and right of the Play button move through the book more quickly the more times they are pressed. Each key press gives audible feedback about how far ahead or back the user is moving. Just behind the navigation buttons are the Power, Sleep and Volume buttons: the round red Power button turns the player on and off. It is close to the left edge of the player.
The white Sleep button, shaped like a crescent moon, will turn the player off fifteen minutes after it is pressed. It is centered just behind the Play button. The yellow Volume controls are shaped like arrowheads pointing up and down. They are close to the right edge of the player. Just behind these controls is a raised line running from one side of the player to the other. This line divides the six most frequently used controls located towards the front of the player from the Tone and Speed controls which are located behind the tactile raised line, and on either side of the round speaker.
Both Tone and Speed are shaped like the Volume buttons, up and down arrowheads, and are along its narrow axis. The Tone buttons are close to the left edge of the player; the Speed button is close to the right edge. The Volume, Tone, and Speed controls all announce each press of the button, e.g. "tone lower," "tone higher," "tone middle," with similar announcements for the other controls. The Speed control changes the speech from 50% to 300% of normal, with no change in pitch.
The white band along the front edge of the player is a pull-out handle, similar to the one on the C1. Above the handle is the opening for the digital talking book cartridge. On the right side of the player is the headphone jack, with a brightly-colored green surround for easy location. Next to the jack is a USB port for patron downloading and for repair personnel to use for diagnostic information.
On the back side of the machine, as on the back of the C1, is a compartment for storing the power cord. On the bottom of the player are four rubber feet, the door to the battery compartment, and two inset bars for attaching a carrying strap.
We hope this tour of the new digital talking book machine gives you a better understanding of the equipment that most of you will be using in the very near future. We think it is a great improvement over the standard C1 machine, and will be much less complicated to use.
Recently we sent a letter to each registered patron with an invitation to place your name on the waiting list for this machine. If you have NOT yet responded to this invitation, we encourage you to do so. To add your name to the list, call 503-378-5456, or send an email to digital.tbabs@state.or.us.
Veterans of the United States Armed Forces have priority in receiving one of the digital machines. If you are a Veteran and have NOT previously notified us of your interest in receiving a digital machine, please do so at your earliest convenience. If you have already notified us, you do not have to contact us again.
The new digital talking book players should begin arriving in September or October of this year.  Many patrons have had questions about how the digital players will affect their talking book service. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions that our patrons have brought to our attention. As always, if you have a question about Talking Books, please feel free to contact our friendly staff for advice.
  1. Do I need to return my old machine as soon as I receive the digital player?
    • No, definitely not. Hold on to your cassette machine until TBABS asks for it to be sent back. For the next few years, you may still want to request books that are only available on cassette.
  1. How long will I have the old machine?
    • After getting a digital player you may have the old cassette machine for 2-3 years. After putting your name on the request list for a digital player it could be up to one year before you receive a digital player. 
  1. When will I know when to return the old machine?
    • You will return your old machine when TBABS asks you to do so.
  1. Does the digital player have a battery?
    • Yes, the digital player has an internal battery, just like the cassette player. However, when fully charged, the digital player’s battery will last nearly 30 hours. It will take about 4-6 hours to fully charge the digital player’s battery once it runs down.
  1. How much does the new player weigh?
    • The digital player weighs about 2 lbs.
  1. How many titles will be available for the new digital player?
    • Initially, there will be about 20,000 titles available for the new digital player. This is compared to the 60,000+ titles currently available in cassette. In the coming years though, the digital collection will catch up as new titles are added on a regular schedule.
      7. How many digital books can be checked out?
  • Due to the limited number of titles, only two digital books will be checked out per person at a time for the foreseeable future. The loan period for each book will remain at six weeks.
8. When will the players arrive?
  • TBABS hopes to have players available to loan to INDIVIDUAL PATRONS only this fall (Sept-Oct 2009).
9. How will I know when I'm getting the digital player?
  • Once you have put your name on the request list, your only notification will be that one day a digital player will arrive in the mail. With nearly 5,000 individual patrons, it is impossible to send out pre-notifications to our patrons.
10. Why is it called a digital player?
  • The digital player is called a “digital player” because the books it plays are formatted and recorded using a digital process rather than an analog process as before with the cassettes. This allows for clearer playback sound, longer life of books, ease of play, freedom of navigation through the story, and faster duplication times for staff to satisfy patron requests.
11. What if I don't want to sign up for a digital player now?
  • If you choose not to sign up for a digital player at this time, you will not be a part of the initial shipments that will take place over the course of the first year. Until you request a digital player, you will not receive one.  TBABS will not automatically send digital players to any patron who has not expressed interest.
12. Will this work with my CDs?
  • The digital player is specifically designed to play only NLS cartridges,or any MP3 formatted file. 
13. If I am using BARD and/or  Unabridged, is it worth it to sign up for a digital player?
  • That is up to each individual patron. Having the digital player will mean that you can listen to NLS books regardless of whether or not you have access to a computer with high speed Internet.  However, if you are comfortably using BARD and your Victor Reader Stream and/or Unabridged and are not interested in borrowing a digital player, you will not be required to do so. 
14. Can you tell me how it works?
  • The player is very exciting because it “tells” you how it works. When there is no book inserted into the player, and the player is turned on, all buttons function as tutorial buttons: each telling exactly what it does and how to use it. Other than that, the player works like any other playback device. There are buttons for play, stop, fast forward, rewind, volume, tone, speed, and power. 
This year marks the 40th anniversary of providing service to patrons by the Oregon State
Library and Talking Book
and Braille Services. Following is the second in a four-part series which highlights events occurring nationally and at TBABS from the decade of the 1980s. (Highlights from the decade of the 1970s were featured in Volume 6, Issue 1, Spring, 2009 issue of Talking Book and Braille News).
The decade of the 80’s had its share of political turmoil, natural disasters, and social unrest, but there were some shining moments. In February,1980, Lake Placid, NY, hosted the XIII Winter Olympic Games, with the U. S. Hockey Team shocking the world by defeating the USSR for the gold medal! And in July, 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to join the Supreme Court of the United States.
Closer to home in Washington state, Mount St. Helens erupted in May, 1980, hurling a cascade of volcanic ash 15,000 feet into the air, setting off mudslides and avalanches.
In the area of technology, progress continued, with IBM introducing the first personal computer (PC) in 1981. In January, 1984, Apple Computer ran a television ad during the Super Bowl football game allowing millions of viewers to catch their first glimpse of the Macintosh computer. And the rest, as they say, is history!
At the National Library Service (NLS), the year 1981 ushered in production of the standard C1 cassette machine, which continues to be the primary source for talking books to this day. The C1 has generally been a reliable piece of equipment for readers of talking books, but we are all looking forward to the new digital talking book machine which will be arriving very soon!
The decade of the 80’s saw two significant happenings at Talking Book and Braille Services. In 1985, TBABS moved from its location at Marion & 13th St in Salem to the State Library building. At the same time, our services were computer automated, which allowed for more efficient delivery of materials to patrons. The introduction of this automated system enabled staff to devote more time to individual patron accounts, and also opened the door to future technologies.
Stay tuned for a snapshot of the decade of the 90’s as it relates to Talking Books in the next issue of Talking Book and Braille News, due out in September.
In our continuing partnership with
the New Mexico State Library to professionally narrate books for
us about Oregon, or by Oregon authors, we are happy to promote the latest entry in our collection.
Lost Lake, CBX1248, by Phillip Margolin, is a suspense-filled 2005 publication that will not disappoint fans of Margolin’s earlier works. The plot alternates between the present day and events involving a “secret unit” that took place in the 70s and 80s. One of the devious characters is General Morris Wingate, who operated an agency for intelligence data coordination, and who formed a black ops organization assigning the men to kill those he declared as enemy combatants of the United States.
Now he is running for president. When Wingate's daughter Vanessa finds out about the unit, she tries to expose her father as a traitor, but he instead has her committed to a mental institution. With the help of her ex-lover Carl Rice, Vanessa hopes to expose the retired general to the American people. This thriller by Portland author Phillip Margolin is complete with political intrigue and vivid descriptions of military cover-ups and murder. It also contains some violence, some strong language, and some descriptions of sex.
Call TBABS if you are interested in ordering Lost Lake. Like all of our professionally-narrated Oregon books, this title is made possible by the many generous donations from patrons and friends of Talking Books. We want to thank you for your continued support.
Oral Hull Foundation for the Blind announces their 27th annual camps for blind and low vision adults. This year there are three different camp programs: Adult Adventure Camp, August 1-7; Alumni & Friends, August 9-15; & Explore Oregon Camp, August 17-23. Fees range from $350-$375. For information about Oral Hull’s summer camp programs, weekend retreats and other special events, contact Jeff Lann, Executive Director, telephone 503-668-6195, or send an email to Oralhull@teleport.com
The Oregon School for the Blind presents their summer program schedule for 2009. Camps begin July 5 and are geared for children and young adults ages five through 20. They provide opportunities for sports and creative enrichment. For more information, contact Terri Nichols at the Oregon School for the Blind in Salem at 503-378-8090, or send an email to her at
In an effort to curb costs in these economically challenged times, TBABS would like to know if you receive this newsletter in more than one format. Perhaps you receive this newsletter in Braille or print, or in audio cassette, and also receive it via email. Anyone who has given us an email address automatically receives this newsletter via email. If this applies to you, please let us know if you would like your name removed from the print, audio, or Braille mailing list. If you have never given us your email address and would like to begin to receive the newsletter electronically, let us know this as well. This small step can be a cost effective way to help us control our expenses. Thank you for your cooperation.
TBABS will be closed on the following legal holiday: July 3, Independence Day observed.
Our automated voicemail system will accept your messages 24 hours a day, seven days a week,
so you may be confident to leave a message for us at any time.
This newsletter is available in large print, on audio cassette, in Braille, or on our website at www.tbabs.org. Call TBABS if you would like to change the format you currently receive
Any mention of products and services in Talking Book and Braille News is for information only and does not imply endorsement.