For more than a decade, the Talking Book and Braille Library has partnered with the League of Women Voters of Oregon
to produce an accessible voters’ guide for statewide primary and general elections. Thanks to our joint efforts, over 700 Oregonians with print impairments are able to learn about candidates and initiatives and be ready to vote independently!
That last word, independently, is really the crux of the issue. Needing the help of a family member, friend, or care provider to access voting information may find a person swayed by their helper’s conscious or even unconscious biases. Having access to impartial information when voting so each person can make their own decision without being unduly influenced is a vital aspect of a healthy democracy. This partnership aims to give people with print impairments that access.
The partnership plays to both organization’s strengths. League members use their experience to collect and organize voting information, ballot measure research, and responses to a standard set of questions asked to each candidate running for a particular office into a cohesive guide. The guide is then provided to the Talking Book and Braille Library in both text and audio so they can create large print, Braille, and audio versions of the guide to distribute to subscribed users.
“The League of Women Voters of Oregon are thoughtful and inclusive partners,” says our Admin Specialist Joel Henderson. “I have worked with them for years to provide state-wide voters’ guides for our print impaired users and am consistently impressed by their commitment to making sure everyone has access to genuinely impartial candidate and ballot measure information. The League’s process has the needs of our users in mind from the start, so their guide can be easily adapted into various formats like audio and Braille. The folks there are responsive, knowledgeable, and caring. The Talking Book and Braille Library is proud to partner with the League of Women Voters of Oregon!”
One of the best indicators of the League’s commitment to providing transparent and unbiased information is their policy towards editing candidate responses to the questions they ask. Candidate responses are intentionally unedited, so any spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes make it into the final guide. It is a small but meaningful way both to give voters a more accurate picture of each candidate and to maintain impartiality.
If you are interested in receiving a copy of the League’s non-partisan voters’ guide in either large print, Braille, or in audio, please let us know. You can call us at 800-452-0292 or email us at email@example.com
BOOK PLOTS EXPLAINED POORLY
Can you name the book if we explain the plot as “lonely rich guy stalks careless rich girl who likes his shirts…then he dies”? How about from the description “an old woman seriously cannot deal with her breakup, so she refuses to put her cake in the refrigerator…for years”? Props to you if you guessed The Great Gatsby and Great Expectations.
Crafting a brief, concise description of a book can be tough (just ask any cataloger). When it’s done well, it’s a work of art. When it’s done, well, not that well, the results are often unintentionally hilarious.
Take, for example, the National Library Service’s Talking Book Topics annotations from 2012. In an effort to reduce the length of their publication that listed what new books had been added to their collection, NLS shorted all annotations to one line. Several were just one word. Some of our favorite gems mined from this experiment include:
- “Teen hunts killer unicorns” (Rampant, by Diana Peterfreund)
- “Assassin finds love” (Shameless, by Karen Robards)
- Everyone deserves love, right?
- “Assassin recognizes orphan (Intrigues, by Mercedes Lackey)
- Raises soooooo many questions.
- “Henry returns to France” (A Troubled Peace, by L.M. Elliott)
- Which Henry? When Henry? Why Henry?
- “Kidnapped” (Wolf Captured, by Jane Lindskold)
- “Kidnapping” (Bound by Sin, by Jenna Maclaine)
- “Grace, now a wolf, is in danger” (Forever, by Maggie Stiefvater)
- Dang, hate it when that happens.
Lots of assassins and kidnappings, apparently. We’re not sure these annotations are what Polonius had in mind when he said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”
Alternatively, a well-meaning user will, on occasion, try requesting a book by describing the plot. But their description will be “girl meets guy with secret, they fall in love, then something bad happens.” Yes, OK, that could be Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey or anything by Danielle Steel or a million other titles. We may need a little more to go on than that. “Oh yeah, the guy has dark hair.” Of course he does.
Sometimes trying to identify a book by a poorly explained plot can feel like playing Pictionary. Like when another NLS network library staff person will reach out to our network listserv with a plot description, and suddenly in our minds we’re right back on a game night couch yelling out wrong guesses like that’s somehow the goal. But there’s always that one person who can look at three barely connected lines, or three barely coherent sentences, and BOOM they know the answer. It’s amazing how many of those people choose to work in libraries, isn’t it?
What’s your favorite #explainabookplotbadly example or moment?
We here at the Talking Book and Braille Library are pleased to welcome Mailyn Salazar Jimenez, our new Circulation Technician and Fund Development Assistant! Mailyn started at the beginning of August and has done a great job settling into her various duties. She is responsible for checking in and checking out your books and equipment, as well as keeping donation information current and clean in our fund development database.
Mailyn comes to us from the library at Portland State University, where she was a student worker helping to digitize and create copies of the university’s DVD collection and update their film database to make it more usable for faculty. She is very interested in film, and in her free time she is working on translating her own feature-length screenplay. The screenplay was originally submitted as part of her undergraduate thesis, and after completing the translation Mailyn plans to begin the pre-production process into order to film her movie in 2023 and then submit it into various film festivals.
In addition to her film interests, Mailyn spends her leisure time reading books, watching movies, and has started practicing calligraphy again. Although she doesn’t have any favorite authors, she especially enjoys reading crime and mystery novels as well as horror. She tends to lean towards fiction, but also enjoys academic works especially if they are related to film.
Please join us in welcoming Mailyn Salazar Jimenez to our library!
DESCRIPTIVE DVDs: A YEAR IN REVIEW
Thanks to your donations, our descriptive DVD collection continues to grow. In fact, we have been able to expand our collection so much we don’t have room to list all the new titles here in the newsletter. Instead, you can find the full list of DVDs through our online catalog
All of the titles we add to our collection are selected from a list maintained by the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and their Audio Description Project
. ACB reviews each new release to determine if it has the DVS 2.0 audio description track, which makes it a lot easier for us when it comes time to purchase more.
While descriptive audio has been around for a long time, most DVDs with a descriptive audio track were released after 2007. There are maybe a handful of older titles from the mid-twentieth century that have a descriptive audio track added, but the vast majority are much more recent.
In total, we added 127 descriptive DVDs to our collection in 2022, bringing the collection’s overall total to 653 titles! Thank you again for your donations that enable us to provide this extra benefit for our users!
THE NATIONAL LIBRARY SERVICE INTRODUCES THE MANY FACES OF BARD
Here’s something cool for both BARD beginners and BARD experts. In August, the National Library Service (the folks who run BARD, our download-on-demand service) started hosting a monthly program called The Many Faces of BARD. Each month features a brief presentation covering one aspect of BARD followed by some question-and-answer time related to the presentation or general BARD usage. The next month’s topic is announced at the end of each session.
These sessions are open to everyone and occur on the second Thursday of every month from 4-5 PM Pacific Time. You can join each session by going to https://loc.zoomgov.com/j/1611161911?pwd=bVh5ejFsWFBlL21KY0VqaHlRMUlSQT09
, or by calling 1-669-245-5252. To call into a session, you must use the telephone numbers provided here for Zoom.gov rather than the regular Zoom telephone numbers.
Upon connecting, participants are placed in a virtual waiting room until the presentation begins. Please stay on mute unless the host calls upon you to speak. At that time, you may unmute by using Alt-A from a computer or star 6 if dialing in by phone. Each of The Many Faces of BARD sessions are recorded. If you do not want to be on the recording, you should refrain from speaking.
Users interested in receiving an email notification about each upcoming The Many Faces of BARD session should send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
so we can add you to this specific list. Full meeting information along with previous recordings are posted to the following web page: https://www.loc.gov/nls/about/services/many-faces-of-bard/
YOUR DONATIONS GO A LONG WAY
It’s almost the end of 2022. If you still plan on making a tax-deductible donation before the new year, now is the time! Gifts to the Oregon Talking Book and Braille Library help broaden the choices available to our users by allowing us to provide additional services, free of charge.
Your gifts, be they large or small, make a huge difference in the lives of many people. There are three easy ways to donate to the Talking Book and Braille Library: cash, check, and credit card (online).
With all our plans for 2023 ahead of us, we do look back to the road we travelled down to ground us. Donors like you have paved this path, and we cannot thank you enough for that. We know that you’ll continue to travel with us along this path, and your continued dedication to our library is highly appreciated.
For more information about how you can support the Talking Book and Braille Library, please visit our website or refer to the appeal letter you received. As 2022 winds down, we look forward to the future and what’s in store for our library. We’d love your support to close out the calendar year on a high note, in whatever form that takes.
NLS ANNOUNCES AN INFORMATIONAL LISTSERV FOR USERS
The National Library Service (NLS) has recently launched an informational email listserv for users. This listserv is their way of sharing the latest news and updates related to NLS programs and services directly with users all across the country. Email content will include things like Zoom links for online events, reminders about the release of the latest Talking Book Topics, or BARD updates and new features. New announcements will be posted to the listserv a few times a week. This listserv is a one-way method of communication, so subscribers will not be able to post to the listserv. If you are interested in signing up for this listserv, please send your first and last name and email address to the NLS’s Patron Engagement Section at NLSPES@loc.gov
. You can unsubscribe yourself from the list at any time.
TALKING BOOK AND BRAILLE LIBRARY CLOSURES
The Talking Book and Braille Library will be closed on the following holidays:
- December 26, Christmas Day (observed)
- January 2, New Year’s Day (observed)
- January 16, Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- February 20, President’s Day
Remember that holidays create mail delays for both incoming and outgoing books. Be sure to get any book requests in several days ahead of these dates to improve the chance of receiving those books before holidays.
This newsletter is available in large print, audio, Braille, or on our website. Contact the Talking Book and Braille Library if you would like to change the format you currently receive.
Any mention of products and services in Staying Connected is for information only and does not imply endorsement.