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Summer Newsletter

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Newsletter of the Oregon Talking Book
and Braille Library
State Library of Oregon
250 Winter St NE
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: (503) 378-5389
Toll Free: (800) 452-0292
Fax: (503) 373-7439

Issue 86  ·  Summer 2023

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As longtime library users are aware, one of the most exciting features of our Talking Book and Braille Library is the in-house recording studio that is used to professionally record local interest titles. These include books by Oregon authors, local histories, and stories set in the Pacific Northwest. This August marks the completion of one such title – rough house by Tina Ontiveros, a 2022 finalist for the Oregon Book Award.

rough house book cover featuring a camper in a foggy PNW fieldProduction of rough house started back in February of this year with volunteer narrator Jennifer M. Imai, who has logged over 50 hours recording the book. Jennifer is a longtime volunteer with the State Library, having recorded hundreds of hours of books for us outside of her other work with Audible and Learning Ally. During the pandemic, when production in our own studio came to a halt, Jennifer graciously offered her professional skills to record and edit titles for our library in her in-home studio, which she continues to do to this date.

The final run time for rough house is approximately 7 hours and 28 minutes, which comes out to just over 10% of the actual work time Jennifer spent on recording, editing, and mixing. “I really enjoyed narrating rough house – not because it was a happy story; it was actually quite sad at times,” says Jennifer. “Ontiveros structured it so well that I was glad I read it. She had a very clear throughline that conveyed so well her father's love for her and hers for him, even though he was a difficult man to love. I recommend it, especially to folks who grew up in the Pacific Northwest in the 70s & 80s.”

The work itself has a special place in the hearts of many State Library staff. Last summer, rough house was selected as one of the first titles for our internal equity, diversity, and inclusion book club. Selected for its portrayal of poverty in logging communities around the Pacific Northwest, the memoir deepened our understanding of the history of rural Oregon life. Ontiveros attended the discussion of the book and shared about her life since the end of the memoir. She is currently a professor of writing and literature at Columbia Gorge Community College and has written for other publications.

Finishing rough house for our Talking Book users is an exciting chapter in the recording studio’s story. Max H. Robinson, the founder of the book club mentioned above, recently took over as the Recording Studio manager and is working to expand the studio’s overall operations. With a background in radio and audio production, Max is using that experience to recruit and train new recording studio volunteers. As new books are recorded and added to the catalog, we will be sharing more book announcements in a series we are calling, “New to the Catalog.” In the meantime, here is an excerpt from rough house (DBC08804 coming to the catalog soon!):

“Layers of fallen pine needles made the path soft under my feet and the sun passing through the canopy created a green glow that colored my brother’s face beautiful. We climbed gently through old-growth western red cedar and Doug fir. Dogwood, salmonberry, and Oregon grape grew close to the path. The air was rich in animal chatter and the sweet smell of warm cedar. The whole forest sang and twinkled.” (Ontiveros, 2022, p. 100)

Readers should be advised: Content includes explicit language, graphic depictions of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and animal cruelty.


We here at the Talking Book and Braille Library would like to say thank you to everyone who provided feedback for our annual Customer Satisfaction Survey. This year, we received a grand total of 353 responses. Each year we carefully review your responses to determine what matters most to our users and how best meet and exceed user expectations.

One essential performance measure captured by the survey is whether and how Talking Books add value to your lives. We learned that many of our users especially appreciate the ability to read again. Users also emphasized the overall value of our library including notes on entertainment, education, comfort, and making an overall difference in daily life. We also learned of the importance of meeting specific requests for new materials, improving our online catalog, and getting more books added in a timely manner.

Thank you greatly for your feedback and for being a user of Talking Books!


I can Connect logo
 iCanConnect is a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) funded program, also referred to as the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP). iCanConnect provides free modern equipment and training for distance communication purposes to people with both significant vision and hearing loss, who meet disability and income guidelines.  

iCanConnect is a nationwide program with local contacts to help people stay connected with friends, family, their community, and the world. Each U.S. state and territory has a certified organization that is responsible for the program, including the Perkins School for the Blind, which administers services in twenty-three states and territories.

People eligible for iCanConnect services receive a personalized assessment to identify solutions to support their distance communication needs. Then, participants are provided with equipment and training that meets their specific situation. Examples of equipment might include smartphones, tablets, computers or laptops, large print screen magnification software, and refreshable Braille devices.
ATI, Access Technologies, Inc logo
In Oregon, Access Technologies, Inc. is responsible for the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program services.

Contact Laurie Brooks with any questions on applying for the program. Applications are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, regular print, large print, or Braille.

For other inquiries about the program, you may also contact:
The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (iCanConnect):
Toll-Free: (800) 825-4595 or visit


What is your favorite way to enjoy the summer season? If your idea of the perfect summer day includes lounging on a blanket in the park with a crisp new library copy of the latest beach read, we completely agree!

Summer Reading 2023 with Oregon Talking Books has been a great way for users to enhance good reading habits with great learning incentives, prizes, and access to a unique set of summer programs from the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS). These programs included a set of great events for all users to attend, including story times, music, and special author talks.

Oregon communities have benefitted from these summer reading activities in many ways, including maintaining young and burgeoning literacy skills, promoting a lifelong love of reading, and connecting families with enriching learning activities and games. Summer reading programs also help children and families to fend off the so-called, “summer slide”, where students are at risk of setbacks of months or even potentially years in their education when school is not in session.

girl dancing with microphone surrounded by colorful music notesThis summer, registered Talking Books users, ages 5-18, were challenged to read at least six books to keep their minds active. This year’s participants were also able to enter weekly raffles and submit a reading log to be entered in the grand prize drawing for a choice of either an Apple iPad or Musical Night Out Package!

boy riding sea turtle with "find your voice" flagThe summer of 2023 has clearly been the best yet for Oregon Talking Books users. With great books, prizes, and awesome learning activities, we ensured that each and every one of our student users could have a chance to “Find Your Voice”!


JBI International logo, Est. in 1931 as The Jewish Braille Institute 
For over 90 years JBI (The Jewish Braille Institute) has provided people of all ages who are blind or print disabled with free materials in Braille, audio, and large print specific to Jewish interest.

JBI offers:
• 13,000 circulating audiobooks, Braille titles and large print materials, including popular fiction, history, poetry, Jewish studies, memoirs, cookbooks, and more, and is always adding to the collection
• Free customized accessible materials on demand to help patrons participate fully in Jewish life and learning   
• Accessible liturgical material, prayer books and Jewish calendars for all denominations  
• Periodicals: a bi-monthly compilation of articles of broad Jewish interest from widespread news sources, offered in English or Russian audio, or braille
• The JBI Audio Cultural Series offering concerts and lectures    
• Jewish-themed twin-view children's books and kits of a print copy with large print or audio accompaniment  
• Delivery of all materials by mail all over the world - available in English, Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Romanian, Polish, and Spanish!
Ahead of the upcoming Jewish High Holidays, we are making accessible Jewish calendars, prayer books and other materials available so that everyone who wants to can participate. Anyone can order free calendars and other High Holiday materials at the following link: (   
Want to sign up for JBI? Register here!


Please enjoy the following Summer 2023 Word Search! If you are unable to access it, here is an alternative word speaking vocal crossword puzzle app for your phone, available for download at:

Summer 2023 Word Search, use alt link about for vocal crossword app


The Talking Book and Braille Library will be closed on the following holidays:

•    September 4, Labor Day
•    November 10, Veterans’ Day
•    November 24-25, Thanksgiving
•    December 25, Christmas
•    January 1, New Year’s Day

Remember that holidays create mail delays for both incoming and outgoing cartridges. Be sure to get in any requests 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.