Skip to main content

B&TB Pages


Ask for...

Catalogs or Collections

Children Programs



Featured Books



Reader Advisors

Related Links




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

Follow Me on Pinterest

Braille & Talking Book Library | Newsletters | Winter 2017

Prairie Trails Newsletter: South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library

Volume 12, Issue 1 | Winter 2017
Large Print PDF p d f file, Audio Newsletter

Inside this issue:

Notes from the Assistant State Librarian, Steven Buras

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to everyone across the State of South Dakota! As I sit here two days before Christmas, I reflect on all the progress that has been made over the past year for the Braille and Talking Book Library Program. Our library is stronger than ever and the future is bright! With 2016 closing in on us, I see everyone benefiting in some way from what's to come in the New Year. Starting with the kickoff of our Winter Reading Program in February and our Adult Book Discussion coming in the Spring, I am certain these two programs will be a huge success.

My ultimate goal the coming year is to increase our patron base as there are so many who still are not aware of our library. We're looking forward to a wonderful and successful 2017.


Back to Top

A Short History of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)

Did you ever wonder how the Talking Book Library got started? Here is a brief history. NLS was established in an Act of Congress in 1931 to serve blind adults. After World War I many U.S. veterans returned home with injuries that made it difficult to read standard print. U.S. Representative Ruth Baker Pratt of New York and U.S. Senator Reed Smoot of Utah, introduced a bill authorizing the Library of Congress to appropriate funds to establish a collection of embossed books to circulate among adult blind U.S. residents. Known as the Pratt-Smoot Act, it was amended in 1933 to include audio books on recorded discs. The act was expanded to include children in 1952, and again in 1966 to include individuals with physical disabilities that prevent reading standard print. Materials are distributed to a cooperating network of libraries, from which they are circulated to eligible borrowers.

Back to Top

A Short History of the South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library

South Dakota joined the NLS Program in 1969. The following excerpt was taken from the January 28, 1969 South Dakota Library Bulletin.

"The nation's 41st regional library of reading materials for the blind and physically handicapped was dedicated in Pierre on January 28, 1969.

The library, which is administered by the State Library Commission, was stocked literally with more than 2,000 books in braille, on recorded discs and recorded tape from the library of the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C."

This was the beginning of many exciting things for our readers in South Dakota. NLS has developed several different formats of talking books and machines since this time. The division name has changed through the years as well. The article mentioned that 2,000 books were in the collection. Today we have over 52,000 digital audio books and 40 magazines now available to our readers.

In 1984 the library began working with the SD Penitentiary in Sioux Falls in the development of a braille production site. In 1985 the first inmate received NLS certification and the first braille textbook was produced. The braille unit continues today and is part of Pheasantland Industries. This unit has also gone through many changes as technology changed such as the type of covers and binding of books. This unit also has the capabilities of producing tactile graphics. This means that students with limited vision or who are blind can feel the mountain ranges, rivers, and other shapes tactilely that the sighted child can see in their textbooks.

In 1990 we began working with the Federal Prison Camp in Yankton to establish a braille transcribing unit. In 1991 three recording studios were also established.

South Dakota is also fortunate to have three recording sites. Volunteers dedicate many hours reading at the studios in Pierre, and at the Sioux Falls Public Library Siouxland main branch as well as the inmates at the Federal Prison in Yankton. These narrators may read a book that is added to our South Dakota Collection. The books are written by South Dakota authors or about South Dakota. They may also read children's books so the youth in our program can participate in such programs as the Prairie Bud, Prairie Bloom, Prairie Pasque, and YARP programs. Some of the magazines that we distribute are also read by volunteers in one of these recording studios.

The Braille and Talking Book Library staff has experienced many changes through the years as well. New computer programs enable staff to better serve our patrons. Through NLS we have also followed technology through the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) program. It gives the patrons the opportunity to download books on approved electronic devices.

Throughout the past 47 years many staff have come and gone but the Braille and Talking Book team is dedicated to providing you, our readers the best service possible.

Back to Top

In the Spotlight: Connie Sullivan, Program Assistant

Connie is a Program Assistant II with the Braille and Talking Book Library at the South Dakota State Library. She has been a part of the program for 34 years. Over these years, Connie served in many roles of the Talking Book Library and has seen the progress of this library program.

Early in her career, she served as a Reader Advisor, Machine agent and Volunteer Coordinator. During her time in Children Services, she started the Governors Summer Reading Program in 1989 and was the Assistant to the Director of Braille and Talking Book Library. Most recently she is the manager of the KLAS system database that assists staff in serving our patrons.

Connie has been a crusader for Braille and Talking Book her entire career. She has used her expertise by sitting on numerous local, state and national committees.

If we need to know past history of the program, Connie is the person to ask.

Back to Top

Be a Part of History

By Lynda Lowin, Adult Programs Coordinator

Join us in the first book discussion at the South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library.

I am excited to announce that we will have our first Book Discussion in April! The book I have chosen is "One-Room Country Schools." When you request a copy, be sure to remind your Reader Advisor to put you on the discussion group list. The discussion will be led by South Dakota Humanities Council scholar, Dorothy Liegl. To participate in the discussion, you will call a special number. The date and time will be finalized in March.

book cover of One Room Country School
"One-Room Country School: South Dakota Stories"
By Charlie L. Woodard

The story delivers precisely what its title promises, that is, a collection of short narratives by former teachers and students who taught and studied in one-room, multi-grade schools in mostly eastern and mid-South Dakota, generally in the 1930s and 1940s. A few of the stories pre- and postdate these two decades, a very few being as recent as the 1990s.

This book takes less than 3 ½ hours to read!

Back to Top

10 Squared Club

The South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library recognize 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. Be watching in the next issue of the newsletter for the remaining club members in 2016.

Back to Top

More books now being added

As of January 2016, the National Library Service (NLS) entered into agreement with 5 major book publishers. What does this partnership mean to our readers? More books—a lot more books. In fiscal year 2016 which ended September 30, 2016, there will be 3,750 digital books produced for Talking Books patrons. That is an 87.5 percent increase in production from previous years.

What does this mean to you, our readers?

  • It's faster. Commercial audio books have reduced the production time by ten-fold. It takes 3 to 4 months to produce an average 10-hour digital book from print, but commercial audio books can be converted in 2 to 3 weeks.
  • It reduces costs. There is still some cost to converting commercial audiobooks but it is much less expensive than narrating a print book from scratch.
  • It helps patrons stay current. New titles are now available on the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) site much closer to the publication date.

Since titles are produced quickly, books are unrated for content. There is no way of knowing how much violence, strong language, or sex are in these books. Patrons can always have unrated books excluded from their reading preferences. Call your Reader Advisor at 1-800-423-6665 if you do not want to read unrated books.

Back to Top

Talking Book Topics on Digital Audio

For those who receive the “Talking Book Topics” in the digital audio format, you previously received the order blank in one mailing and the cartridge in a separate mailing. As of the September/October issue the National Library Service (NLS) began shipping them together in a box. You must return the cartridge in order to receive your next issue. Please note that there is no mailing card to reverse. The return label is affixed to the container. Just drop it in the mail. The order form is addressed to the South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library. Do not return it to NLS. If you have questions please call your Reader Advisor at 1-800-423-6665.

Back to Top

Tips for Better Service

Now that the holidays are over and family has gone home it's time to sit in your favorite chair and pick out a good book to listen to. Due to postal closures which delayed receiving books on a regular basis the past month you may have experienced your books not coming in a timely manner. You should now begin receiving them on a regular basis. Have you considered increasing your books during the winter months when you stay indoors more?

This may also be a time when you would like to try new authors or subjects. For example, if you are a Christian fiction reader we have cozy mysteries or gentle romances that have little sex, violence, or strong language. You may want to try these authors:

  • Donald Bain writes about Jessica Fletcher. You may remember the "Murder She Wrote" television series
  • Debbie Macomber is a gentle romance author and centers many of her stories around Blossom Street
  • Perry Mason mysteries by Earle Stanley Gardner brings back the character in an old television series as well

Back to Top

Guideposts Magazine

cover of Guideposts magazine
"Guideposts" is a monthly magazine that is non-denominational and contains articles for self-improvement and daily devotions.

The library is now making the magazine available to our readers. If you would like to subscribe to the magazine please call your Reader Advisor at 1-800-423-6665.

Back to Top

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 County Capitols: The Courthouses of South Dakota
"County Capitols: The Courthouses of South Dakota"
By Arthur L. Rusch

By The histories of many South Dakota towns revolve around two prizes that each community hoped to acquire: a railroad and the county seat. If either of these important attributes could be brought to a town, the likelihood for growth increased. As a result, the building of South Dakota's sixty-four courthouses was a matter of functionality, style and survival.

book cover of Land of the Burnt Thigh
"Land of the Burnt Thigh"
By Edith Eudora Kohl

Among the hordes of homesteaders who settled the American West was thousands of single women who hoped to gain for themselves a piece of land and the money and satisfaction that came with it. The memoirs for many of these self-described "girl homesteaders, long ignored by historians, show the significant impact these women had on their communities.

book cover of There Will Be Bears
"There Will Be Bears"
By Ryan Gebhart

Tyson is determined to hunt an elk even if it means sneaking his grandpa out of a nursing home in a debut novel sparked with dry wit and wilderness adventure. Thirteen-year-old Tyson loves hanging out with his roughneck Grandpa Gene, who is a lot more fun than Tyson's friend, Brighton.

Back to Top

Kids News:

Voting Open for the SD Teen Choice Awards

South Dakota Children's Book Awards logo

For the middle and high school students, you can vote for the South Dakota Teen Choice Award books from now until April 1st. To view the list go to the South Dakota State Library's website at: . There is a separate site for each division.

The winners will be announced during National Library Week in April. Please note that not all titles may be in the talking book collection.

Back to Top

Newly Added Products Now Available

The following items may be of interest to children and done as a family activity or a child may want to explore building a structure using nuts and bolts. These items may be checked out by calling your Reader Advisor.

photo of wooden construction set
"Junior Wooden Construction Set"

It helps children to develop creativity, problem solving skills, muscular coordination, manual dexterity, and construction concepts. Construct all types of structures using various lengths of hardwood which have been drilled with holes. Lengths are linked together with color-coded nuts and bolts. Age range, 5 and up. This is a choking hazard for younger children.

photo of web chase game
"Web Chase"

This board game was originally designed by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) that is intended to develop important tactile skills within a fun, recreational context. As players navigate their hungry spiders through an insect-laden web, they learn to trace various raised lines, identify point symbols, and discriminate textures and shapes. The game combines visual and tactile presentation making it accessible to all players regardless of visual ability. This product is not intended for children ages 5 and under without adult supervision.

Back to Top

Celebrating February …Read!

The library is offering a winter reading program for children ages 0 to 20.The duration of the program is the 28 days in February. There are no age divisions. Reading time is based on the 20/24/7 program where the participants will read a minimum of 20 minutes each day, seven days a week. At the conclusion of the contest the reading chart which documents the days the participant has read is returned. All charts will be eligible for a grand prize drawing of a tablet. If you have not received a letter with the registration form and would like to sign up for the program you may print the one in this newsletter or call Mary Sjerven at 1-800-423-6665, extension 11 or email

  • February 15 - Presidents Day
  • March 25 - Good Friday, closing at noon

Back to Top

Gifts and Donations

Gifts and bequests that are donated to the Braille and 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: $60 in the name of Marianna Englet from friends and family
  • Winter Reading Program: $250 Wal-Mart

Back to Top

Holiday Closings

Please note the library will be closed on the following days. If you need assistance please leave a phone message and we will contact you the next business day. It is helpful to plan your book requests accordingly.

  • January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 20: President's Day

Back to Top

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 on audio and also in braille, in large print, or on a diskette upon request and is posted on our website.

If you have any questions or comments you would like to address, 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

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.

South Dakota State Library | South Dakota State Historical Society | South Dakota Department of Education | State of South Dakota

Accessibility Policy | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy