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South Dakota State Library
MacKay Building
800 Governors Dr.
Pierre, SD 57501

1-605-773-6962 (FAX)
(SD Only)

Hours: Mon-Fri
8 am - 5 pm CT
7 am - 4 pm MT

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Braille & Talking Book Library | Newsletters | Summer 2017

Prairie Trails Newsletter: South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library

Volume 12, Issue 3 | Summer 2017
PDF download p d f file, MP3 download

Inside this issue:

Notes from the Assistant State Librarian, Steven Buras

Summer has begun!

That means so has our Summer Reading Program!! South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library has set a new record for the Summer Reading Program with 63 participants! That is a 37% increase from last summer. We are excited about this news and look forward to having everyone complete the program, which ends July 14th. Keep on Reading!

Our Adult Book Discussion had 22 participants with 15 of those attending the book discussion. It was a nice beginning to a program that has so much potential. The future for this is bright!

As we look ahead to Fall and Winter, I am very confident that our program will continue to reach new heights. There are so many ideas floating around, that in time, we will be able to generate the ideas into a reality.

Enjoy Summer and all the wonders it has to offer!


Steven Buras!

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PHOTO: phone with stack of books

Helpful information for Phone Communications

When placing book orders or leaving general messages by phone:

  1. Please speak as clearly as possible.
  2. Spell your last name.
    • If you are calling for a friend or relative we need their name included with the message. Use the extension for the patron's last name, not the caller.
    • Mary serves readers with last names beginning with A through H, Lynda with I through R, and Marcia S through Z.
  3. Include the town in which you live
  4. Tell us the phone number associated with the account. If you are a relative or friend and have a different number please leave the number we need to contact you.
  5. We encourage our readers who are calling with book numbers to leave the numbers with your message. When reading lists of numbers, we would appreciate your speaking slowly and clearly. We would only call you back if there is a question on the order.

Some of us know you by the sound of your voices or even your nick names, but most of us do not. We depend upon various staff members at times to transcribe messages clearly—especially when one of the "usual" Reader Advisors is out sick or on vacation.

Thanks for your efforts in aiding us to serve you as effectively as possible. We want to ensure you are receiving your audio book requests. Call us anytime at 1-800-423-6665, press 1 for Braille and Talking Book then 1 for Mary, 2 for Lynda, 3 for Marcia, and 4 for Josh.

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First book discussion was a success!

by Reader Advisor Lynda Lowin

Twenty-two patrons ordered the book, "One Room Country School: South Dakota Stories". Fifteen readers joined the discussion with twelve readers participating through a conference call and three were in the library.

The discussion leader, Dorothy Liegl, from the South Dakota Humanities Council read selections from the book and asked questions. Many shared their own or family members' experiences on such topics as school yard games, art projects, holiday programs and box suppers. Those who participated stated they would like to participate in the next book discussion. Details are included in a later article in this newsletter.

BOOK COVER: One Room Country School [photo of turn-of-the-century school room with student desks and teacher's desk before blackboard]
"One-Room Country School: South Dakota Stories"
By Charlie L. Woodard

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If you think BARD Express is just for computer users take a look at this:

Submitted by Marcia Kaup

Initially, the creation of BARD Express sprang from a desire to make downloading books and putting them on cartridges easier for patrons using Windows computers. Even though BARD Express does not run on iOS and Android devices, it can still help you if you download your books through BARD Mobile by making it easy to add books and magazines to your wish list. Here's how:

  1. Start "BARD Express" on your computer.
  2. Select books or magazines you want to download to your iOS or Android device. If you use Advanced mode, you can select multiple items at one time. (Press control-L to switch between Advanced and Standard mode while you're in a list of book titles.)
  3. Add the selected item or items to your wish list.
  4. Start BARD Mobile app.
  5. Activate the Get Books tab.
  6. Select Wish List.
  7. Select the book or magazine you want to download and follow the prompt.

Please call Marcia if you have questions on BARD Express.

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The Brains of Blind People Really Are Wired to Enhance Other Senses

It's often said that the loss of one sense improves the others. New research shows the dramatic extent to which this is true in blind people, and how their brains make new connections to boost hearing, smell, touch—and even cognitive functions such as memory and language.

A new study published in Public Library of Science (PLOS) One is the first to show structural, functional, and anatomical differences in the brains of blind people that aren't present in normally sighted people. These changes, which are associated with hearing, smell, touch, and cognition, are more widespread across the brain than previously thought, highlighting the dramatic extent to which our "plastic" brains can compensate in the absence of sensory information.

Using MRI scanners, researchers from the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear analyzed the brains of 12 people diagnosed with early profound blindness. All subjects were either blind at birth, or became blind prior to the age of three. This group was compared to 16 normally sighted people. Unlike previous studies that only considered changes to the occipital lobe (the part of the brain where vision is processed), the new study looked at the entire brain.

This article was published by The Carroll Center for the Blind and is part of the Consortium of the Human Connectome Project

GRAPHIC: brain shape bursting of rainbow colored fibers
Picture description: Wiring diagram of the human brain, also known as the connectome. (Image: NIH/Laboratory of Neuro Imaging and Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging

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Series Suggestions By Subject Interest

If you are a reader who enjoys reading books in series the following are a few suggestions. To order any of the following series please call your Reader Advisor.

The most prominent award given throughout the genre of romance fiction is the REW/RITA Award. One of the 2017 finalists includes a title by RaeAnne Thayne. We have several of her books in our collection including the series Hopes Crossing.

BOOK COVERS: Blackberry Summer by RaeAnne Thayne [scenic of village in valley with blackberry bush in foreground]; Woodrose Mountain [background]; Sweet Laurel Falls [background]

The Jane Ryland series features a Boston journalist who finds many twists and turns while reporting a story. Author Hank Phillippi Ryan has received the Agatha Award for books in this series.

BOOK COVERS: The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan [woman in red running across modern footbridge]; The Wrong Girl [background]; Truth Be Told [background]

Winfred Blevins Rendezvous Series is a winner of the 2004 Spur Award for Best Novel of the West. It includes both fictional characters and historical figures. The six books in the series include:

If you get books out of series order contact your Reader Advisor. She can get your books to go out in the order they should be read.

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Headphones available

If you do not want to disturb others while reading, the National Library Service (NLS) provides headphones free of charge to our readers. The stereo headphones are lightweight with on ear cups, foam ear cushions, and adjustable headband. To order a pair call your Reader Advisor at 1-800-423-6665.

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Upcoming Book Discussion

By Lynda Lowin

"Kitchens of the Great Midwest" by J. Ryan Stradal is the book chosen for the fall book discussion. This book is also a recipient of the South Dakota Humanities Council 2017 One Book South Dakota."

All Midwesterners will find something to relate to in this book, whether it's baking bars from old family recipes or hunting for game for the next meal," said Jennifer Widman, director of the South Dakota Festival of Books. "Author J. Ryan Stradal also provides some very timely and often humorous commentary on current food trends and the disconnect between rural and urban cultures. From Lutheran church bake-offs to chili-pepper eating contests, this book captures the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and the ways food creates community and influences identity."

If you would like to join our discussion on the phone or in person at the library, please contact your Reader Advisor to sign up. The book will be sent out 6 weeks prior to the discussion. The last day to order the book in time to get it in the mail and give you time to read it is Tuesday, September 5th. To identify the book for the discussion, it will be on a peach colored cartridge and sent in a white container.

The book discussion will be on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. Mountain Time and 6:30 p.m. Central Time zone. You will be able to participate through a call in number. If you have questions please call Lynda at 1-800-423-6665 press 1 2.

BOOK COVER: Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal [dusk scene with stars in constellation shapes of spoon, pot, and pepper]
"Kitchens of the Great Midwest"
By J. Ryan Stradal

Chef Eva Thorvald came by her love of food as the daughter of a chef and a sommelier. Her mother left and her father died, but cooking sustained her through an awkward childhood. She went on to become one of the hottest chefs in America. This is a Commercial Audio book. The length of the book is 10 hours and 9 minutes.

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Authors Who Died in 2016

Each year we lose well-known authors with the passage of time. In 2016, a few of the authors we lost include: Harper Lee; Pat Conroy; the award-winning children's author Natalie Babbitt; British author Richard Adams, Italian author Umberto Eco; African-American author Gloria Naylor; Nobel Peace Prize-winning author Elie Wiesel; and Carrie Fisher, well-known for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies, but also an author in her own right.

The National Library Service has produced books by each of these authors. Some titles include:

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Volunteer Highlight

The Braille and Talking Book Library is fortunate to have volunteers at our recording studios. You may hear them read one of your South Dakota books or a magazine. In this issue we are featuring Twila Merkwan who reads at our studio here in Pierre.

She was born on December 22, 1942. Her career included being a customer service representative, a newspaper writer, anda teacher.

Twila has been a volunteer for the past 12 years. She stated her reason for being a volunteer is to "give back." Macular degeneration did not allow my mother, and one uncle and an aunt to read. Her subject interests include historical fiction and self-help books. In her spare time she loves to watch her grandchildren, read, play bridge and do decorating.

PHOTO: woman reading in recording studio

Lastly, Twila commented that reading at the Braille and Talking Book Library has been an enjoyable experience. It has been an informative place to volunteer and Josh Easter is an excellent administrator of the recording studio. He is very knowledgeable and helpful.

Volunteer Coordinator Josh Easter states that Twila has been a constant presence as a volunteer narrator for all the years he has worked in the Braille & Talking Book Library. She used to do live readings of South Dakota newspapers on the radio talking book service. When that program was phased out she transitioned to recording books. Twila has been willing to take on some challenging materials that we needed recorded. From Young Adult Reading Program (YARP) books with tough content to South Dakota history books Twila has dedicated many hours to ensuring our patrons have equal access to materials that enrich their lives.

We are always in need of volunteer narrators and reviewers. If you know of someone who lives near Pierre or Sioux Falls and has an interest in volunteering in our recording studios contact Josh by calling him at 605-773-5082 or email Josh at

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Quick tips

GRAPHIC: speech bubble with light bulb and text 'quick tip'

How many times have you fallen asleep in the middle of a story and forgot to set the sleep timer?
After turning the machine back on it announces, "end of book" and you groan because of the length of time you need to hold the rewind button down. Well, there is a solution. Just press the "stop play button" twice and the machine will announce "beginning of book". If you remember the chapter you left off in the book? Just press the "fast forward" button down- do not let up on it. It will announce forwarding 5 seconds, forwarding 10 seconds, and eventually will announce it is forwarding by chapters. At this time you will hear a series of beeps. If you know you left off on chapter 13, as an example, just count thirteen "beeps" and the machine takes you to the beginning of chapter 13.

If you need to replace your machine while reading a book the replacement machine does not recognize where you left off in the story.
The new machine will start at the beginning of the book. It is highly recommended that you finish the book on the defective machine before using the replacement machine if at all possible.

When you call to order a book it does not go into the mail the same day.
The book is pulled the second day and goes into the mail on the third day. If you order a book on Thursday it will not go into the mail until Monday. If there is a holiday, it will take even longer for your books to reach you. If you continually run out of books you may want to call your Reader Advisor and increase the number we send you.

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LOGO: Ten Squared Club - National Library Service for Blind and Physically Handicapped - Library of Congress

10 Squared Club

The South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library recognizes the accomplishments of our active readers who have reached age 100 or older. Readers who reach age 100 are sent an invitation to join this elite club. They receive a certificate of merit, a letter, and a small gift. We have heard amazing stories from our 10² Club members.

PHOTO portrait of Alice Zell

Alice Zell

  • Birthday: May 5, 1917
    She started the Braille & Talking Book Program on the same day 100 years later
  • Lives in Huron, S.D.
  • Interesting tidbit: She attended a country school. Alice remembers reading "Pollyanna" over and over as there were not many books available in the small country school library. Alice enjoys visiting with her family and friends and attends as many church activities as she can in her spare time.

PHOTO portrait of Alvira Shear with birthday cake

Alvira Shear

  • Birthdate: May 1, 1917
  • Lives in Spearfish, S.D.
  • Interesting tidbits: Alvira said that she has had a good life. She remembered reading whenever she could find something to read. It was difficult finding anything to read as she lived in the country. Other activities Alvira enjoys are attending church functions, playing bridge and being a member of Eastern Star.

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South Dakota Collection

The following books have been added to the South Dakota Collection. They are written by a South Dakota author or have some connections to South Dakota. Please call your Reader Advisor if you would like to order any of the following titles.

BOOK COVER of Completing the Circle by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve [portait of Native American man and woman circa 1940-50s]
"Completing the Circle"
By Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve

Renowned author Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve here tells her own story and the story of her family. Also an expert quilter, she recalls her grandmother, Flora Driving Hawk, who taught her how storytelling enthralls and how a quilt can represent all that holds a family together.

BOOK COVER: South Dakota Curiosities by Bernie Hunhoff [photo of curiosity shelf with photos of statue, sunflowers, toy robot, toy car, and ticket with 'South Dakota Curiosities']
"South Dakota Curiosities"
By Bernie Hunhoff

Whether you're a born-and-raised South Dakotan, a recent transplant, or just passing through, South Dakota Curiosities will have you laughing out loud as Bernie Hunhoff takes you on a rollicking tour of the strangest sides of the Mount Rushmore State.

BOOK COVER: Adams House Revealed by Mary A. Kopco [photo of victorian house at dusk with dark blue sky behind and all lights on]
"Adams House Revealed: The Restoration of a Historic Home"
By Mary A. Kopco

In 1998 Deadwood's Adams Museum and the City of Deadwood's Historic Preservation Commission joined forces and pooled resources to restore the Victorian home of two founding families of Deadwood. This book tells the story of these two families, and the process of restoring the house.

BOOK COVER: Tales from the Little Missouri by Rex Burghduff [photo of saddled horses, trees]
"Tales of the Little Missouri"
By Rex Burghduff

This South Dakota author writes tales about Harding County, ranching, horses, cowboys, and the true western way of life. He writes stories with a compassion for this life style and its people and animals.

BOOK COVER: Black Hills Journals of Colonel Richard Irving Dodge by Wayne R. Kime [portrait of man in military uniform circa 1800s]
"Black Hills Journals of Colonel Richard Irving Dodge"
By Wayne R. Kime

Daily Journals of Lt. Col. Richard Irving Dodge recount a scientific expedition's five-month trek into the Black Hills of the Dakotas to determine if rumors of gold were true, which the author describes as "the most delightful summer of my life." He describes the natural landscape and its wildlife, eccentric characters, and politics dividing miners from Indians and the soldiers from the scientists on the expedition.

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Kids News

Summer Reading Program Begins

With the theme, Build a Better World, the 2017 program began June 5, 2017 with a record breaking 63 youth ages four to 20 participating. In their age divisions, the readers are documenting each day they read a minimum of 20 minutes on their weekly reading chart. The program concludes July 14th and at that time the documented reading charts will be returned to the library to be eligible to win prizes in one of the four age divisions as well as a grand prize when all divisions are combined. This year the prizes in the four age divisions include first place $50 Amazon gift card and t-shirt and a second place $25 gift card and t shirt. Allage divisions will be combined for the drawing of a12 inch American Printing House (APH) tactile globe.If a participant fills all six reading charts and they are returned, the reader will have six chances to win.

It's not too late to register for the program. Call Mary at 1-800-423-6665 press 1 1 or email her at

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Gifts and bequests that are donated to the Braille & Talking Book Library are used to enhance the services that we provide. We appreciate the generosity of those that give and we miss those patrons who have been honored with memorials. All donations are considered a charitable donation and therefore are tax-deductible. When making a donation, please include the address of those to be notified for memorials or donations in honor of a special occasion or person.

The donations that you make are used to help us better serve our patrons. Donations have been used to purchase descriptive DVDs, celebrate the work of our volunteers, honor our readers who are 100 years old or older, and support reading programs such as the summer reading program. You can designate a specific purpose for your gift. If you have any questions, call your reader advisor at 1-800-423-6665.

Donations can be sent to: SD Braille and Talking Book Library
800 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501-2294

Please make checks payable to the SD Braille and Talking Book Library. Thank you for helping to enhance and improve library services.

Recent donations

  • Memorial Donations
  • General Donations
  • Summer Reading Program:
    • $250: Downtown Lions Club of Rapid City
    • $250: Foundation for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Aberdeen

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Holiday Closings

The Library will be closed for the following holidays. Please plan to order your books accordingly.

  • July 3-4: Independence Day
  • September 4: Labor Day

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The Prairie Trails Newsletter is our means of communication with all patrons of the Braille and Talking Book Library. The Prairie Trails Newsletter is made available in digital audio, and also in large print format, or via email and is posted on our website.

If you have any questions or comments, or wish to request this newsletter in an alternative format, please contact the SD Braille and Talking Book Library.

South Dakota Braille & Talking Book Library
800 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501

Email: Email Link to BTB

Phone: 1-800-423-6665, press 1

The SD Braille & Talking Book Library does not endorse any service or product listed in this newsletter.

The South Dakota State Library provides leadership for innovation and excellence in libraries and services to state government.

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