Newsletter of the Nebraska Library Commission
Talking Book and Braille Service
August 1999

Software Upgrade Enhances Service to Borrowers

During May 1999, the Talking Book and Braille Service converted to READS II, the much enhanced Windows-based cousin of our previous system. Data conversion and training took approximately one week.

Talking Book and Braille Service staff use READS II to maintain borrower information, requests and reserves, and to catalog information about the collection. It is also used to circulate recorded and Braille books and maintain playback equipment inventory. One long-awaited enhancement included in READS II is the ability to control the mix of RC, NE, FD and Braille books sent to any one borrower at the same time. To take advantage of this new capacity, call and discuss your reading preferences with your Readers Advisor. One final note: in addition to taking advantage of current computer technology, READS II is Y2K compliant. Talking book service should sail into the next millenium without difficulty.

Plan Ahead for Holiday Closings

Nebraska state offices, including the Talking Book and Braille Service, are closed on all federal holidays. These are also the days there is no mail delivery. You may wish to order additional books prior to a holiday and allow extra time for your returns to be processed following a holiday. As always, our answering machine is ready to relay your messages as soon as the library reopens.

Upcoming Holiday Closures:

Newsline® Provides On-Demand Access to National Newspapers

An evening reception, June 17, at the Lincoln Station Great Hall marked the official start-up of Newsline®, a service by which blind individuals use phone lines to access newspapers through synthetic speech. Using various keys on a touch tone telephone, listeners can access different sections of the newspaper, change the synthetic voice, read faster or slower, repeat paragraphs, or hear the spelling of unfamiliar words. Newsline® in Nebraska provides access to The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and USA Today. Future plans include local access to the Lincoln Journal Star.

Newsline® is now available free of charge through a service site in Lincoln. Eligible individuals anywhere in Nebraska may use Newsline® however, individuals living outside of Lincoln would pay long distance rates for their Newsline® calls. Sponsors of Newsline® are seeking funding to provide more free access by adding service centers in other parts of the state. Local newspapers from new service centers might also be added to selections available at that site.

In order to introduce potential listeners to Newsline®, the Nebraska Library Commission awarded a $10,000 grant to be used for promotion and outreach services. Newsline® is a product of the National Federation of the Blind and administered in Nebraska by Nebraska Rehabilitation Services for the Visually Impaired.

Applications for Newsline® are available through the Talking Book and Braille Service or Nebraska Rehabilitation Services for the Visually Impaired.

To be eligible to use Newsline®, individuals must be blind or visually impaired.

C-1: The Talking Book Cassette Player Offers Versatility

The cassette player most commonly issued to talking book readers is called the "C-1" or "standard" player. Its built-in rechargeable battery-pack allows up to six hours of operation without being tethered to an electrical outlet. The C-1 also allows readers to control the playback speed of cassettes and be able to review or skip over material using rewind and fastforward functions.

The versatility of the C-1 requires the reader to use more switches and buttons than the E-1 player described in the last issue of Interchange.

Switches and Buttons

On the top face, near the left front edge of this player are five keys: stop, rewind, play, fastforward and eject. The red stop key is on the far left and has a raised X on its surface. The black rewind key is next; the raised arrow on its surface points to the left. In the center of the five keys is the play key; it is green with a raised circle on its surface. The black fastforward key is just to the right of the play key; the raised arrow on its surface points to the right. The black eject key is on the far right; it has a smooth surface, and is wider than the other four keys.

Directly behind the row of keys is the tape compartment. It is opened by pressing the eject key.

On the top face, near the right front edge of the player is the volume control, a knob that slides left and right. Sliding the control to the right increases the volume, sliding it to the left decreases volume. Just behind the volume control is the tone control, also a knob that slides left and right. Continuing back on the top face of player, you will find the side selector control, the speed control, and the variable speed control.

The side selector control is a toggle switch-when it is pressed down to the left you will hear the first two sides of a talking book cassette; when it is pressed down to the right you will hear the last two sides of a talking book cassette.

The speed control is also a toggle switch-when it is pressed down to the left you will be able to listen to the specially formatted talking books (15/16th inch per second); when it is pressed down on the right you will be able to listen to cassettes recorded in standard cassette format (1 and 7/8th inches per second).

The playback speed can be varied using the slide switch located behind the speed control. For normal playback the slide should be clicked into the far left position. Sliding the knob out of the far left position first decreases the playback speed, then increases it as the knob is moved to the right.

Ready: Slide the volume and tone controls to their center positions. Press the side selector and speed toggle switches down to the left. Click the variable speed control into the normal position at its far left.

Aim: Open the tape compartment by pressing the eject key. Hold the cassette with the braille side up and the thin end away from you. Insert the cassette by sliding it into the guides on the open compartment door. (Take care to avoid touching the exposed tape on the side of the cassette that is closest to you.) Press the door down to close.

Read: Press the play key, the center key in the panel directly in front of the cassette compartment. The narration will begin in 20 to 60 seconds.

Read It Your Way

At this point, the versatility of the C-1 can be brought into play. Rather than beginning by pressing the play key, you might press the fastforward key and hold it down. When you hear a chattering sound, quickly press the stop key. This is the beginning of the narration. Press the play key to begin reading.

Use this same fastforward technique to skip over material you don't wish to read. Most talking books and magazines are recorded with indexing tones at the beginnings of articles and chapters. This tone sounds like a beep in fastforward or rewind mode.

The technique to review material you've already listened to is quite similar. Press the rewind key and hold it down for a few seconds or until you hear a beep indicating the beginning of the article or chapter. Continue rewinding until you reach the article or chapter you wish to reread.

Beginning talking book readers and those reading technical material may wish to slow down the rate of narration. Veteran readers may wish to increase the rate. Use the variable speed control: click the knob out of its normal far left position and slide to the right until the rate of narration meets your needs. Varying the speed will also change the pitch of the narration: rates slower than normal will have a lower pitch, rates faster than normal will have a higher pitch. You may also adjust the sound of the narration using the tone control.

What Happens Next?

At the end of each side, the narration includes instructions such as "turn the cassette over," "change side selector switch," or "this title is continued on the next cassette." These are brief reminders of where to find the next portion of the text. Those steps are detailed below.

At the end of the narration on the first side, press the stop key. Then press the eject key and remove the cassette from the compartment. Turn the cassette over and reinsert it into the tape compartment. Press the door down to close. Press the play key. The narration on the next side should begin immediately.

The instructions at the end of side two, include "change side selector switch and turn the cassette over." Following this instruction, press the stop key. Then press the side selector toggle switch down to the right. Press the eject key and remove the cassette from the compartment. Turn the cassette over and reinsert it into the tape compartment. Press the door down to close. Press the play key. The narration on side three should begin immediately.

The side change from side three to side four is exactly like that between sides one and two. When the narration on side four is complete, remove the cassette, press the side selector toggle switch down to the left, insert the next cassette, and press the play key. Repeat the steps in this section to read each of the cassettes included with the talking book or magazine.

It All Depends

Each talking book or magazine contains one or more cassettes. Each cassette may contain up to four sides of narration. Some will contain less than one side of narration. Each side of a talking book cassette will play for approximately 90 minutes.

Nebraska Cassette Books Collection Features These New Titles

Nebraska Authors ...

NE 699 Moral-Spiritual-Religious Unity Through Reincarnation and the Universal Moral Law of Karma: A Dialogue
by Don Darnell
4 cassettes
RELIGION, REINCARNATION: The author, a former Lincoln high school administrator, presents evidence to support reincarnation and attempts to reconcile reincarnation with the teachings of the world's major religions. Narrated by Alice Timm.

NE 723 The Back-Up Girl
by Dale Janda
2 cassettes
WESTERN, FICTION: Danny Lindeen strapped on his two guns, aiming to rescue his sister and kill the white slavers who abducted her. He left town with a price on his head and set off into the wilds of America where a backup gun meant living or dying. Narrated by Mark Janda.

NE 730 What Was It Like, Grandma?
by Virginia Bish
1 cassette
PERSONAL MEMOIR: A grandmother answers her grandchildren's questions about growing up in Giltner, Nebraska in the 1930s and '40s. Narrated by Frances Buell.

NE 760 Soaring Eagle; A Novel
by Stephanie Grace Whitson
2 cassettes
PIONEER, FICTION: After the Battle of Little Big Horn, newly widowed LisBeth King Baird returns to Lincoln, only to discover that her mother is also gone. Grieving, she must pickup the threads of life and begin again. Second book in the "Prairie Winds" series. Narrated by Tami Works.

General Fiction ...

NE 781 By Our Beginnings
by Jean Stubbs
2 cassettes
In 18th century Lancashire, yeoman Ned Howarth proposes to orphaned Dorcas Wilde, a clergyman's daughter who lives with her cranky old Aunt Tib. Longing to have a life of her own, Dorcas accepts him, though Ned comes from a lower social status. To everyone's amazement the marriage succeeds. Narrated by Jean Stubbs. Produced by NLS.

NE 782 An Imperfect Joy
by Jean Stubbs
3 cassettes
The second novel of the Howarth family saga, set in Lancashire, England, 1785-1812. The Industrial Revolution brings struggles and triumphs to Ned Howarth's three children. Sequel to By Our Beginnings, NE 781. Narrated by Jean Stubbs. Produced by NLS.

NE 783 The Vivian Inheritance
by Jean Stubbs
3 cassettes
The third novel of the Howarth family saga, set between 1815 and 1830 focuses on William Howarth, now the undisputed king of Wyndendale Valley. Brother of wild Charlotte, devoted husband of gentle Quaker Zelah, and father of seven daughters, William meets his match in ability and stubborn pride in the Cornishman, young engineer Hal Vivian. Sequel to An Imperfect Joy, NE 782. Narrated by Jean Stubbs. Produced by NLS.

NE 784 The Northern Correspondent
by Jean Stubbs
3 cassettes
The fourth novel in the Howarth family saga. Life in Millbridge, Lancashire, continues as the northern England of the 1830s and 1840s undergoes rapid transformations-Ambrose Longe and Naomi Blum produce a newspaper which champions the rights of miners, the railroad replaces the stagecoach, and British doctors plead for funds to stem a cholera epidemic. Sequel to The Vivian Inheritance, NE 783. Narrated by Jean Stubbs. Produced by NLS.

Advisory Committee Meets

The Advisory Committee to the Talking Book and Braille Service met Thursday, July 1, 1999. Items on the agenda included Newsline®, Radio Talking Book, introductions, and election of officers.

Newsline® Coordinator Ms. Amy Rut, also an Advisory Committee member, reported on the status of the Newsline® Nebraska project. (See article, page 1.). Dave Oertli and Ms. Rut briefed the committee on the Radio Talking Book Network and the complementary role played by Newsline®. Differences in the services include the statewide nature of Radio Talking Book and its diversity of programming, while Newsline® is strictly a newspaper reading service.

Following introductions, each Advisory Committee member described his or her background as it related to possible promotion and outreach opportunities for the Talking Book and Braille Service. Connections noted include Goodwill Industries, National Federation of the Blind Student Division, Nebraska Parents As Teachers, Stroke Survivors Support Network, and Polio Survivors Network.

The committee members discussed their roles as spokespersons for the Talking Book and Braille Service and suggested topics to be included in further training for Advisory Committee members.

All Advisory Committee members attended the July meeting-Gladys Maxwell, Norfolk; Robert Howard, Greenwood; Robert Schneulle, Grand Island; Bill Carter, Donna Friedman, and Tony Jaynes, all of Omaha; and Jan Crouch, Carl Olson and Amy Rut, all of Lincoln.

Order Form and Mailing Instructions

Please mark the books you wish to order, then enclose this entire page in an envelope and mail to: Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book & Braille Service The Atrium, 1200 N Street, Suite #120 Lincoln, NE 68508-2023

To order the items described in this issue: email; call, 800-742-7691; or write, 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 in all correspondence.

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