Newsletter of the Nebraska Library Commission
Talking Book and Braille Service
March 2004

Both Studios Now Digital

The Talking Book and Braille Service has just equipped its second audio recording studio with a computer and software in order to produce digital masters of books and magazines. Our first studio was converted to digital in October 2002. The computers, software, and other related items were purchased through donations to the library's memorial gift fund.

For the foreseeable future, the books and magazines recorded in our studios will continue to be distributed to our readers as audiocassette tapes. The Library of Congress plans to distribute the books and magazines which it produces in a digital format during 2008, and will distribute digital players at that time as well.

In the meantime, several of our catalogs can be accessed on our Web site as digital sound files, nlc.nebraska.gov/tbbs/tbbscatalogs.html. The same is true of our Interchange at nlc.nebraska.gov/tbbs/tbbs1.html.

The studios within the Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service are used to record primarily books and magazines of special interest to our readers, such as materials written by Nebraskans or about Nebraska. Approximately twenty volunteer narrators record some 143 issues of magazines and newsletters and twenty-five to thirty books per year.

Volunteer Profile-Wendy Hirsch

A volunteer narrator since August 2002, Wendy Hirsch has used her voice to record a variety of magazines within our studios. These include Capper's, Nebraska Farmer, Nebraskaland, Reminisce, and our newest addition: Great Plains Game & Fish Magazine. She volunteers because she enjoys drama and likes to read out loud, and because volunteering is a way to help others. She adds that being a volunteer narrator is a way "to satisfy the performer inside of me."

The mother of a young daughter, Wendy enjoys the lyricism and word usage of Dr. Seuss. The latest book she has read to her daughter is Dr. Seuss's ABC.

A special educator for Lincoln Public Schools, Wendy teaches students who are deaf at Irving Middle School. Her favorite foods are tacos and spaghetti. Her favorite movie is The Big Chill, for which she even has the original script, movie poster, and other memorabilia. She plays the flute and guitar and loves to quilt and make crafts.

Helpful Hint . . .

Question: It is more convenient for me to telephone the Talking Book and Braille Service during the evening or on weekends. Is it possible for me to do that?

Answer: Our library is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. However, you can always leave a message on our answering machine by calling 471-4038 (Lincoln) or toll-free 1-800-742-7691. Be sure to speak clearly, spell your name, and give your address. Leave your phone number in case we have questions concerning your request. We check our answering machine at the beginning of every work day.

You can also send an email message to your Readers Advisor.

Staff Profile-Robert Shafer

Having begun his duties in November, 2003, Robert Shafer, our newest employee, serves in our Book Circulation area. A native Nebraskan, Robert grew up on a farm seven miles north of Holbrook in Gosper County. He graduated from Holbrook Public School, and later from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with a degree in engineering.

A father of three, Robert has a grown son named John and two young sons, Quentin, age 8, and Alexander, age 6. Robert's wife is a project manager with a consulting firm currently working on a Medicare quality control project.

His house is home to a variety of pets, including a dog, a cat, two mice, and a gerbil. At times, his sons' collection of pets has also included snakes, caterpillars, and a praying mantis.

Robert reads a variety of authors, but especially enjoys the Rumpole stories by John Mortimer, all of James Herriot's books, and the Jeeves stories by P.G. Wodehouse. He also collects stamps.

New Nebraska Cassette Book


RC 811 Books For Young People
by the Nebraska Library Commission
1 cassette

Catalog of cassette books in the Nebraska collection for readers preschool through eighth grade. Narrated by Bonnie Quinn.


Cassette Magazines for Family Living

Here is an assortment of free cassette magazines to help us celebrate the end of winter and the arrival of spring. Humpty Dumpty's, produced by the Florida Regional Library, is a magazine full of stories, poems, puzzles, activities and more to engage children age 4 to 6. The magazine's philosophy is to help kids have fun through creative ways to exercise, eat right, and play safely.

An interfaith magazine, Guideposts offers inspirational stories of human interest. This magazine is recorded by American Printing House for the Blind.

NCompass, produced by the Talking Book and Braille Service, is a newsletter highlighting the activities of the Nebraska Library Commission and Nebraska libraries and media centers. This newsletter also provides information about national library and information service issues.

Providing an overview of proposed federal and state legislation, regulations, and policies, Report on Disability Programs contains articles of interest to individuals with disabilities. It is produced by the Talking Book and Braille Service.

The Saturday Evening Post, produced six times a year, is a general-interest magazine containing humor, fiction, and non-fiction articles. It is recorded by the Braille and Talking Book Division of the Arizona State Library, this magazine is now available free of charge to any Nebraska talking book reader.

To sign up for any of these free cassette magazines, please follow instructions on the order form below or call your Readers Advisor.

Where Did the Orange Dot Go?

You may have noticed that cassette magazines sent by the Talking Book and Braille Service come in plastic mailers with an orange dot on the top side. We have begun to phase out the use of orange dots on these mailers. You can always tell whether or not a plastic mailer contains a book or a magazine by looking or feeling for a side label, a front RC number, or a barcode label on the mailer itself. If none of these are present, the mailer contains a magazine. If these elements are present, the mailer contains a book.

A magazine that comes to you from CMLS in a paper or cardboard mailer is yours to keep or pitch and does not need to be returned. However, anything that arrives in a plastic mailer needs to be returned.

Cassette Books Celebrate the Emerald Isle

The color green is associated with the arrival of spring and with St. Patrick's Day, March 17. Many fine books have been written about Ireland and the Irish. Here are just a few of them:

RC 37853 Green Shadows, White Whale: A Novel, by Ray Bradbury

A fictionalized memoir of the seven months Bradbury spent in Ireland in 1953 while working with film director John Huston on the movie script for Moby Dick. Bradbury depicts himself as a hapless young screenwriter who is in awe of the legendary Huston and who, at the same time, falls in love with the Irish countryside and finds kindred spirits in the boisterous and talkative Irish folk.

RC 39279 House of Splendid Isolation, by Edna O'Brien

"A man will come in and a child will go out." A gypsy girl spoke those words to Josie shortly after Josie came to live in the remote Irish village with her husband. Now alone, Josie recalls her early days there, her troubled marriage, and her love affair. But her quiet world is shattered when McGreevy, an IRA terrorist, takes refuge in her house. They learn to co-exist amid the complexities of the Irish conflict in the 1990s. Strong language and some violence.

RC 39863 Irish Gold, by Andrew M. Greeley

Dermot Michael Coyne, twenty-five, has come to Dublin to find out why his grandparents, the O'Riadas, left in 1920 during the Troubles, saying they could never return. Dermot meets young Nuala Anne McGrail in a pub, and she agrees to translate Dermot's grandmother's diaries. As Nuala works on the translation, she uncovers information that puts both her and Dermot in danger. Some strong language and some violence.

RC 39883 The Glass Lake, by Maeve Binchy

When handsome Louis Gray abandons Mary Helena Healy to marry a rich woman, "Helen" settles for Martin McMahon, a pharmacist in an Irish village. But after two children and a decidedly dull life, "Lena" is reunited with Louis. They both enjoy successful careers and the faster pace of London. But Lena longs for a relationship with her daughter, Kit, so she concocts a scheme whereby she can contact Kit but protect her true identify. Bestseller.

RC 40600 Times to Remember, by Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

First published in 1974 and reissued shortly before the author's death in 1995. The matriarch of an extended Irish American family recounts the joys and sorrows of her full life, her role in aiding people with mental retardation, and her deep faith. Kennedy also depicts her role as daughter of a congressman who became mayor of Boston, the wife of an ambassador, and the mother and grandmother of other elected officials, including a president.

RC 41643 Over the Water, by Maude Casey

Fourteen-year-old Mary lives in England, where she was born. But all year long, her family prepares for the annual trip to Ireland, which they call "home." Mary feels bitter and wonders where she belongs. Then one summer, as she helps out on her granny's farm, Mary develops an understanding about her heritage. Contains a glossary of Irish expressions. For junior and senior high readers.

RC 41657 How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe, by Thomas Cahill

Cahill demonstrates how literary and classical learning survived through the efforts of "men so strange they lived in little huts on rocky outcrops and shaved half their heads and tortured themselves." The author chattily relates how these Irish monks began in the fifth century to handcopy literature crucial to the late growth of medieval culture.

RC 41726 A River Town, by Thomas Keneally

Irishman Tim Shea came to Australia hoping to make a new life for himself. He becomes a shop owner in the town of Kempsey in the Macleay Valley, marries, and has two children. But in the summer of 1898, a sequence of events almost destroys Tim. He is greatly affected by the death of a young woman, the orphaning of a little girl, and the threat of plague. Some strong language.

RC 42517 Falls Memories: A Belfast Life, by Gerry Adams

Personal reminiscences, Irish history, and local color are interwoven in this book of Belfast memories by the president of Sinn Fein. The author recounts events of his youth and tells tales of faeries and in-house wakes. He also makes observations on politics and the Irish labor movement.

RC 42805 Angela's Ashes: A Memoir, by Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt recollects his "miserable Irish Catholic childhood" in the squalor of Limerick. Absent any support from his glib, shiftless, alcoholic father, the family suffered hunger, cruelty, disease, and the deaths of children. McCourt recounts his story without rancor. Strong language.

RC 43536 Light a Penny Candle, by Maeve Binchy

From the time in 1940 when shy, ten-year-old Elizabeth White is evacuated from wartime London and plunged into a large and contentious family in the Irish village of Kilgarret, she and Aisling O'Connor are destined to be the best of friends. This novel follows their lives together and apart over the decades.

RC 44496 Voices in Ireland: A Traveller's Literary Companion, by P. J. Kavanagh

A literary tour of Ireland with a focus on its history and legends that reveals the unique language and culture that evolved on the uninvaded island, so alien to Romanized Europe. Along the way from the north down to Dublin, the author depicts the sound and character of a singular people.

RC 46664 Reading in the Dark, by Seamus Deane

An Irish boy recalls events in his life, from his childhood in the 1940s until his parents' death in 1971. The third child in a large Catholic family in Northern Ireland, he grew up hearing stories about the past and puzzling over family secrets. The most intriguing ones concerned the death of his Uncle Eddie in 1922. Some violence and some strong language.

RC 48491 The Desert Crop, by Catherine Cookson

1880s England. Young Daniel Stewart's life changes when his widowed father marries a distant Irish cousin, Moira Conelly. Over the years the cheerful Moira has many children while the father squanders their money. When his father dies, Daniel assumes the leadership of the family, falls in love with the wrong girl, and continues farming.

RC 48813 "Tis: A Memoir, by Frank McCourt

This sequel to Angelea's Ashes (RC 42805) continues McCourt's reminiscences from October 1949, when he arrives in New York City at age nineteen, until his father's funeral in 1985. Describes his adjustments to America-gaining an education, finding a career, marrying, and raising a family-interwoven with childhood memories. Some strong language. Bestseller.

RC 48928 A Song for Mary, by Dennis Smith

The author recalls his impoverished Irish Catholic childhood in New York City without a father. Although he had a strong support system, Smith was constantly in trouble. A court-ordered stint in the air force gave him a second chance, and he returned home to become a firefighter. Some strong language.

RC 50046 Cabbage and Bones: An Anthology of Irish American Women's Fiction, edited and with an introduction by Caledonia Kearns

A collection of twenty-four short stories and excerpts from novels by twentieth-century writers of Irish American heritage. Includes several new authors and some already well-known, such as Mary McCarthy, Maureen Howard, Tess Gallagher, Alice McDermott, Anna Quindlen, and Mary Gordon.

RC 53111 Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams, the Early Years 1903-1940, by Gary Giddins

The author chronicles the life and times of Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby-a Jesuit-educated Irish-American whose career coincided with the growth of the sound recording technology that fostered his extraordinary popularity. Examines Crosby's family history and work up to World War II. Includes discography and filmography. Some strong language.

RC 53577 Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs: The Story of the St. Patrick's Day Symbols, by Edna Barth

Explores the origin and meaning of the symbols and legends associated with St. Patrick's Day, celebrated annually on Mach 17. This 2001 edition includes several activities. For grades 4-7.

Order Form and Ordering Instructions

You may place your order by mailing or e-mailing it to the Talking Book and Braille Service, or by calling your Readers Advisor.

For mailing, please mark the magazines and books you wish to order and enclose this page in an envelope. Instead of using a stamp, you may put "Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped" on the corner of your envelope. Send your request to the Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service, 1200 N Street, Suite 120, Lincoln, NE 68508-2023. Be sure to include your name, address, city, state, zip code, and telephone number.

For e-mailing, send your order information to the Talking Book and Braille Service. Please include your name, address, city, state, zip code, and telephone number.

You may reach a Readers Advisor toll free by calling 1-800-742-7691. Be prepared to give your name, address, city, state, zip code, and telephone number.

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