Upstate Update - Spring 2009
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In this issue:
- Don’t Forget our Machine Repair Volunteers
- Digital Update
- Are Your Books Overdue?
- When We Choose For You
- Print-Braille Books
- Useful Tip from KY
- Gimp on the Go
- Return Broken Machines
- Tell Us Who You Are
- Remember This Number
The times they are a’changin’ the famous folk song tells us, and it certainly rings true for all of us who are associated with the National Library Service’s talking book program. But while we all anticipate the positive changes that will be introduced by the new digital talking books (DBs) and machines (DTBMs), we should remember what a tremendous contribution has been made by our many volunteers—past and present—who have repaired the cassette players that have served us so well for four decades. The countless hours our volunteers have worked over these years ensured that all our readers across upstate New York would always have a working cassette player when needed.
The New York State Talking Book and Braille Library is extremely fortunate to have a network of volunteer repair groups across the state, including those in Albany, Schenectady, Utica, Syracuse, Buffalo, Glens Falls, and Geneva. Recently, The Schenectady GE Volunteers passed the 50,000 mark for the number of cassette machines repaired.
And of course our volunteers’ work is not done yet. The digital transition will unfold over a number of years and our volunteers will soon be involved with learning the techniques for the repair and maintenance of the new digital players. And even when the transition is complete, we expect many of our patrons will opt to keep their cassette players for those books and magazines that will remain on cassette-only format for the foreseeable future. In fact, with no cassette players being manufactured any more, the continuing repair of existing units becomes even more vital for our program.
We extend our thanks and deep appreciation to these wonderful volunteers who have walked the walk when it comes to keeping the promise "That All May Read."
As this newsletter goes to press we are still waiting for the first shipment of digital books and digital talking book machines (DTBMs). This much anticipated event has been delayed, and there is still no firm date that we can tell you, though we expect that the “digital revolution” will start later this year. We will not have enough machines for everyone for a long time, so unfortunately not everyone who wants a machine will be able to get it as quickly as they would like. We appreciate everyone’s patience during this transition. New cassette books will continue to be produced through the end of 2010.
Please note that by law first we must satisfy our borrowers who are veterans and those over 100 years of age. After these two groups are supplied with the new equipment, other borrowers in good standing will begin receiving the equipment. So if you are a veteran and want a DTBM and have not already told us of your interest, please do so now. If you have already notified us you needn’t call again.
We don’t charge fines but, just like any other public library, we need our books back! With the exception of books sent to institutions and for the occasional extended use by students, we ask that you keep the books we send you for no longer than one month. We have this policy for a couple of good reasons, and both are for the benefit of your service:
- We have a limited number of books that must be shared among many thousands of readers in 55 counties. Enjoy the books we send, but please think of the other borrowers who also want to read the books you have.
- Most of you have the kind of service where you get more books as replacements for those you return, so your own service will suffer if you don’t return them.
You know what you like to read so you’ll get the best service if you can choose your own books. If this is difficult for you for any reason we’ll gladly help. To do that we need to know the kinds of books you enjoy.
Library staff often make personal book selections for you, but the most efficient way of handling the needs of thousands of borrowers is to have our computer do the choosing. This is possible because we assign "subject codes" to all our titles, and when you tell us your reading interests we add the same codes to your file. Picking out books to send as replacements for returned books is achieved by automatically matching your reading interests with books in the same subject areas.
When you have available requests on file we will send these first. While some of you prefer to receive only the specific books you order, many borrowers have authorized us to choose for them when they have no requests or when all the books they want are out to other library users. If you would like this sort of help, please make sure that we know this, and that we know all your reading interests.
Print-braille books are picture books written primarily for very young children, incorporating braille within the picture book. To make print-braille, the original print book, complete with illustrations, is taken apart and rebound with translucent plastic brailled text pages inserted between the printed pages. The collection contains both fiction and nonfiction.
These books are excellent for sharing. A blind child can read the braille while a parent or teacher follows along and describes the illustrations. Alternatively, a blind parent can read the braille book to a child, who can read along and see the pictures. Because the print in these books is quite large they can be useful for children with low vision. Let us know if you would like to borrow some of our many hundreds of print-braille titles.
Here’s a useful tip to avoid mixing up the tapes of different cassette books; we heard it from a borrower of the Kentucky Regional Library. When you start a book, latch closed just one of the book container’s straps, leaving the other unfastened. That way you’ll know which container to return the tapes to, and no tapes will spill out if you drop it.
Describing itself as the Internet’s “premier disabilities travel publication,” Gimp on the Go is a website that offers a wealth of information on travel and tourism for people with a variety of disabilities. The site contains travel tips, reviews, resources, travel industry news, personal experiences (complete with recommendations and warnings), and links to other travel sites. The site’s editor, Adam Lloyd, has been a quadriplegic since a 1983 sports accident, and has maintained an extremely active life in the academic, business, and writing fields. Check out his site at: http://www.gimponthego.com.
When you receive a working machine as a replacement for one that’s malfunctioning, please remember to return the defective machine to us. We will have the machine repaired and ready to send to other library users. No new cassette machines are being manufactured, so every one is vital to the service. Remember that you can return the machine in the mail without paying postage.
It’s very troubling to us when we get book orders when we can’t identify the sender. It means that someone isn’t going to get the books they want. To avoid disappointment, be sure to write your name and address on all forms of correspondence and lists of book requests.
If you remember nothing else, make a note of this important telephone number: (800) 342-3688. Call us without charge whenever you have a question or a problem relating to your library service. If you call after hours you can leave a message and we’ll get back to you. Remember to leave your name and telephone number.
Mention of a product or service in this newsletter does not constitute endorsement by this library. Our intention is to increase an awareness of programs, services, and products that may be helpful to our patrons.