Advisory Committee to the Nebraska Library Commission
Talking Book and Braille Service
Nebraska Library Commission
1200 N Street, Suite 120 Meadowlark Room
Thursday, June 12, 2008, 9:00 a.m.
The Advisory Committee to the Nebraska
Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service held its regular
meeting Tuesday, June 12, 2008, at the Nebraska Library Commission, Lincoln, NE.
Notice of the meeting was submitted to local newspapers (Lincoln Journal
Star, Omaha World Herald), and posted on the Nebraska Library Commission
Members present: Brenda
Elson, Marjorie Harrison, Ana Kalin, Robert Kalin, Nancy Larimer,
Shirley Schmidt, Mary Trenerry,
Joan Davis. Staff present: Annette Hall,
Dave Oertli and Scott Scholz.
The meeting was opened by Dave
and introductions of all of the members present were given, including each
individual 's interest in Talking Books.
Minutes from the October 16, 2007 meeting were read by Joan and
Dave asked for nominations for a
chairperson and vice chairperson to preside at meetings.
Mary volunteered to be the chairperson and Ana volunteered to be vice
There was discussion about the
new digital players. The first ones
should be available by mid-winter with first priority going to U.S. military
Scott demonstrated the new Victor
Reader. This allows for digital
conversion and is one of three players that can access direct download.
The Victor retails for $350; the second player is produced by American
Printing House has a PDA format that holds 40 gigabytes and retails for $1400;
and the third reader is a Level Star Icon PDA, which has a built in memory and
retails for between $1200-1500.
Right now access to Library of Congress digital books requires the use of
Scott explained about the Victor
and not only is it the most cost effective, but it is also very efficient as a
recording and reading device. He
went on to show the form that is needed by the user.
It can be found on the Library of Congress web site and needs to be
filled out to ensure the person downloading the books is a certifiable user in
order to protect copyright laws. The user is then given an authorization key
which encodes and gives the borrower an encrypted code.
The materials are updated five days a week and include best sellers and
classics. There are over 10,000
books currently available.
Discussion was held on how long it takes to listen to a book (average=18 hours).
Once again the topic came up on the importance of visually impaired
people learning Braille. Ana pointed
out that it is sometimes difficult listening to an artificial voice.
Natural readers are much more interesting.
She was pleased to listen to the voice on the Victor, as it was very
With the Victor machine, books
can be downloaded to a person 's computer, and then downloaded on a type of zip
drive, that Scott said is smaller than a postage stamp.
The zip drive can hold up to 30 books and once the books are on the zip
drive, they are there for as long as a person cares to store them.
Although the Victor is currently retailing for $350, digital players from
the Library of Congress will eventually
be available free for people who need them.
Scott downloaded an issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED to show how one can
download from the site. Ana and
Robert both commented on the clear and pleasant reading voice.
Joan asked if there is any
government program where money might be available to help people defray the
expense of the Victor before it is available for free.
Dave said, unfortunately, no.
Ana and Robert remembered that
during the 1970 's the four track was such a welcomed improvement over vinyl
records, and continual improvement is always welcomed.
It was acknowledged that some will adjust better to the new technology
than others, but that is always the case.
Dave commented that young people seem to have no problem with new
technology. Nancy wondered if Public
Library Support might be able to help people download onto their computers, but
Scott said that many public libraries have policies about downloading onto their
Scott did point out that for the
past five years many books (10,000+) have been digitally mastered, which means
damaged copies of book can be replaced more easily.
Mary expressed concern over the workload of the staff at Talking Books.
She pointed out that with the number of people who will be converting to
the new system, they will need help with downloading a book.
In Nebraska about 500 books have been downloaded so far.
Currently there are hundreds of thousands of books circulated through the
mail on a regular basis.
The topic was then brought up
about public schools. Dave referred
to students as 'digital natives. '
Students use MP3 players, etc. and don 't give the technology a second thought.
The Victor Reader is something that ESUs around the state should know
about. The teachers in the group
strongly felt that the Special Education budget could easily afford to order a
Victor for its visually impaired students.
Mary mentioned that right or wrong, for some students using the large
print books, especially the ones that are extremely cumbersome, are sometimes
hard for students to use for social reasons.
Downloading onto a small device, such as a Victor, might alleviate some
of this. While Ana understood she
very much believes a blind person needs to learn Braille in order to live a full
life. She gave the example of an
eight year old girl she met in Arizona who was so excited about reading her
books on tape, but didn 't know any Braille.
Ana pointed out that this girl, and many like her in the technology age,
are not learning Braille, and therefore not learning how to spell and the other
rules of the language. Robert also
pointed out that one might not want to listen to a tape for hours on end, but
that same person might be very content to read a book in Braille for many hours.
Both Robert and Ana gave good reasons and expert points of view on why
it 's important to use all of the opportunities available to educate the visually
Nancy suggested that Staff
Development days for teachers might be a good place for education and
demonstration of the Victor. Nancy
volunteered to try to find contact people who are in charge of staff development
at the various ESUs around the state.
Brenda will be attending the Learning Disability Conference in October,
and as a board member, she will bring up the possibility of a demonstration of
Dave reported that with the
Federal Budget, it is hoped that there might be a shorter transition time than
the six years originally given for new players.
Scott pointed out that it is frustrating to advertise the new player when
it is not available to many for six more years.
2010 will be the last year for cassettes to be made.
Dave shared a postcard from the
Nebraska Library C omission that was designed for Talking Books.
All agreed it is a good thing to show people and it might be beneficial
to send to care facilities. Ana
suggested that newsletters might be a good place for the ad for Talking Books,
too. Nancy commented that it is a
strong picture on the card with minimum print and necessary information.
How to get word out to the people
who need the services, but might be unaware of them came up.
Dave and Annette said that a mailing was done earlier with an endorsement
by an optometrist. Talking books had
asked for an endorsement by two different ophthalmologists, but no response was
given by either.
Shirley will be presenting to the
Health Department in Columbus on June 19 and would like ten postcards to share.
Margie suggested taking the postcards to care facilities and visiting with an
administrator before leaving the postcards might be helpful.
Shirley said she lives in a care facility for people
ages 59 and up and said she thinks care facilities would be a good place
to advertise. It was mentioned that
groups like Rotary, Lions, Sertoma, etc. are always looking for speakers, and
Talking Books would be a good topic for a presentation.
Robert and Ana would be glad to make presentations as borrowers to
different organizations. We were
reminded that there are a variety of reasons people can be print impaired
including dyslexia, stroke, even a broken arms can make a person temporarily in
need of the services offered.
Shirley asked if Talking Books has a place for referral
on the 211 helpline.
Some other suggestions for advertising this valuable service were:
Interview on Lincoln Live to talk about this service, KFOR radio, one
minute PSA for Talking Books or something on public access.
A Public Service Announcement
might only have to be done once, and then sent around the state.
It was mentioned that Time Warner allows use of its studio.
It was brought up that a video of any kind will take a lot of planning
and organizing and perhaps this should be a long terms goal.
Ana asked if it would be possible
for the Library Commission Appreciation reception be moved to the fall, when the
weather is generally more cooperative.
Plans for the next meeting were
discussed and Dave will send some dates in September.
Brenda moved the meeting be
adjourned and Mary seconded.
For more information contact Dave Oertli, Director, Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service.