Inside this Issue

Notes from the Editor

By Josh Easter

Happy New Year 2024! 2023 was quite a year with many changes and welcoming new faces at the library. We still are providing the same great library services to South Dakota citizens who have difficulty reading standard print materials. Meet Kathleen and Jack in this newsletter.

In the first month of the year, we are celebrating World Braille Day and National Braille Literacy Month. Here in 2024, we are also celebrating the 55th anniversary of South Dakota providing Braille and talking books to people across our state with standard print reading disabilities. South Dakota was the 41st state to join the network of libraries in partnership with the Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled. Our library was officially dedicated on January 28, 1969, and became fully operational February 1, 1969. Watch our Facebook page for more as we celebrate 55 years of serving our state!

Link to 50th Anniversary executive proclamation.

Our core service has always been to provide talking books and Braille to library patrons. Like all libraries we do so much more. There is a lot of information in this newsletter about not only our accessible library services but also other resources that could be useful to you or others. Please let us know what you enjoy or find helpful, so we know better what to include in future editions.

National Braille Literacy Month

January is also National Braille Literacy Month and January 4th each year is celebrated as World Braille Day in celebration of Louis Braille's birthday on January 4th. This year was his 215th birthday. To celebrate this year, we used donut holes to spell out a couple of words in Braille. We invited staff in the building including South Dakota Department of Education staff and the rest of the State Library.

three women look over handouts and table with donut holes arranged in braille
Ginny Kaus visits with Department of Education Staff
Department of Education staff with Ginny Kaus at Braille donut hole display.

State Library staff look over braille donut hole display
Josh Easter shows Secretary Joseph Graves the braille letters made from donut holes
Braille donut hole display with State Library Staff; Josh Easter and Department Secretary Dr. Graves

Louis Braille invented the tactile reading and writing system used by many people who are blind or visually impaired. Following is a short history of the origins of Braille in an excerpt from NLS Factsheet: About Braille.

Louis Braille: A Remarkable Inventor - Excerpt from NLS Factsheet: About Braille

In 1821 a blind twelve-year-old boy took a secret code devised for the military and recognized in it the basis for written communication for blind individuals. Louis Braille, enrolled at the National Institute of the Blind in Paris, spent many years developing, and refining the system of raised dots that has come to be known by his name.

The original military code was called night writing and was used by soldiers to communicate after dark. It was based on a twelve-dot cell, two-dots wide by six-dots high. Each dot or combination of dots within the cell stood for a phonetic sound. The problem with the military code was that a single fingertip could not feel all the dots with one touch.

Braille created a reading method based on a cell of six dots. This crucial improvement meant that a fingertip could encompass the entire cell unit with one impression and move rapidly from one cell to the next.

Braille himself was blind from the age of three. He was born in the village of Coupvray near Paris on January 4, 1809. One day he was playing with a sharp tool belonging to his father, a harness maker. The child accidently injured one eye with the tool and developed an infection that later caused total blindness.

Until 1819, Braille attended the local village school, where his superior mental abilities put him at the head of his class. He received a scholarship to the National Institute of the Blind, where he was the youngest student. Soon afterward, he began the development of the embossed code.

In 1829 he published the code in Procédé pour Ecrire les Paroles, la Musique et le Plain-Chant au Moyen de Points, which also contained a braille music code based on the same six-dot cell.

After he developed his system for reading and writing, Braille remained at the institute as an instructor. Eventually an incessant cough made it impossible for him to lecture. He died at the age of forty-three and was buried in the family plot in the village cemetery in Coupvray.

In 1952, on the centennial of his death, his body was ceremoniously transferred to the Pantheon in Paris. A monument to Louis Braille stands in the main square of Coupvray.

Staff Introductions

south dakota accessible library services staff, january 2024
Accessible Library Services Staff: Kathleen Slocum, ALS Manager; Lynette Thum, Reader Advisor; Ginny Kaus, Educational Materials Coordinator and Reader Advisor; Josh Easter, Equipment and Audio Production Manager; Jack Mortenson, Library Technician; Abby Wright, Special Populations Reader Advisor

ALS Manager Kathleen Slocum

Hello, I'm Kathleen Slocum I'm the Accessible Library Services Manager. I'm originally from Fort Pierre but left for 20 plus years. In 2004 moved back with my husband Jeff, sons Josh and Sam, and our family mutt Millie. Now in 2024 we have a Chesapeake Retriever named Red.

I have been with the state for 18 years. Most of the time I was as the Continuing Education Coordinator working in outreach at the state library. As the coordinator I had the opportunity to work with public libraries, directors, and trustees in South Dakota.

Kathleen Slocom professional woman
Kathleen Slocom with family

In late June I was asked to be the interim manager of Accessible Library Services. Then in September I was named the full-time manager. I'm so excited to work with the staff and also all of our current and future patrons.

Kathleen Slocom with family presented with award at library conference
Kathleen Slocom with husband and motorcycle

In my free time I love to cook, bake, read and travel with friends and family. On many of our travels I ride on the back of my husband's Harley Davidson. It is a fun way to see the country.

Library Technician Jack Mortenson

Hello, everybody! My name is Jack Russell Mortenson, and I am the new Library Technician and Circulation Manager for the Accessible Library Services at the South Dakota State Library!

Jack Mortenson professional young man
Jack Mortenson with family

I was raised on a ranch between Eagle Butte and Hayes and went to a small country school until the Spring of 2005. From there, I moved to Pierre to attend school. I graduated High School in 2013 at 17 years old.

I then attended USD on and off from 2013 to 2020. I finally officially graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies. Magna Cum Laude I might add! I worked as a counselor, a salesman, and a janitor before finally landing this sweet job with the State Library!

Jack Mortenson with father
Jack Mortenson with mother

In my spare time, I like to play board games, spend time with friends and family, play video games, read, and go to Bar Trivia at the local bar. I push myself to do one good deed and learn one new thing every day. My favorite song is No Rain by Blind Melon, and my favorite meal is Medium-Rare Steak and Potatoes with an ice-cold drink.

I look forward to serving as your beloved Circulation Specialist! To reach me, email me at

Adult Winter Reading Challenge 2024

south dakota accessible library services presents 2024 winter reading youth program and adult challenge

Register now for the 2024 Adult Winter Reading Challenge.

Join the challenge by calling or emailing a reader advisor or register online.

This year we've asked our new staff members to suggest books for the challenge. You will receive a customized 2024 reading challenge cartridge with six books from various genres. It's a chance to try something new and maybe discover an author or genre that you'd like to read more of.

In addition to a cartridge with multiple books on it you will receive a short questionnaire — answer one short question after reading each book, and when all questions are answered, you have successfully completed the challenge! You can also call and give us your answers or fill out the questionnaire form online.

An Early Bird drawing will be held for those who have registered by Feb. 14, 2024, and a drawing at the end of the Challenge for those who return the questionnaire postmarked by April 2, 2024.

Senior High School students looking for more of a reading challenge can also participate at this level.

So, register today and cozy up with a new book!

If you have any questions or are unable to use our online registration form, please contact your Reader Advisor. Information on the Youth Winter reading program is in the kid's news section.

December Social Club

social club event The Cat Who Came for Christmas

The December Social Club met Mon., Dec. 11 to discuss the book The Cat who came for Christmas by Cleveland Amory.

Cleveland Amory was an American author, reporter, TV critic, commentator and satirist, an Army intelligence officer during WWII, and a devoted animal rights activist. He founded the Fund for Animals in 1967, still in existence today, to defend wildlife, and has been described as "the founding father of the modern animal protection movement." On Christmas Eve 1977, Amory met and rescued a starving cat, who would later become known as Polar Bear, in a New York City alley. Though Amory identified more with dogs at the time, he and Polar Bear became roommates and family.

10 patrons and the staff of the Accessible Library Services joined the book discussion, led by Reader Advisor Abby Wright. When the discussion concluded, there was a drawing for two Christmas baskets which included a copy of the book, a Christmas towel, a Christmas decoration, a candle holder and two candles, an Accessible Library Services coaster, and a cartridge with five Christmas stories.

The winners were Larry K. from Parker and Kelsey W. from Westport.

On a side note, Cleveland Amory wrote two more books about Polar Bear, "The Cat and the Curmudgeon" and "The Best Cat Ever". If you would like to read those books, please call your reader advisor.

The next social club will be Monday, April 8, 2024, at 2pm CT/1pm MT. We will visit and discuss the books from the adult winter reading challenge.

Music is for everyone

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) offers over 25,000 audio, braille, and large-print music scores, texts and other instructional materials for aspiring musicians and music enthusiasts who have a standard-print or reading disability. A collection of recorded concerts is also available from the NLS Music Section, and many audio and ebraille materials about music and musicians are available for direct download from BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) as well.

Audio recordings from NLS Music include subjects in music theory and appreciation; interviews and master classes; opera lectures; history; and biographical sketches of pop, jazz, and classical musicians with examples of their art. Browse by subject via BARD or via the NLS catalog /

Any South Dakota Accessible Library Services (ALS) / Braille and Talking Book Library patron may borrow materials from the NLS. Music materials are circulated directly to patrons from the NLS headquarters in Washington, D.C., rather than from the South Dakota State Library. To find out more about this service or to request materials, you may call the NLS Music Section at 800-424-8567, Ext. 2; email or visit NLS: Music Service and Materials .

Through ALS, patrons may choose from more than 780 books about music and many more books on the arts in general. Talking book subjects related to music that are available for patrons include musical fiction; music and musicians; biographies of musicians, singers, and composers; and specific musical interests: Broadway, Classical, Country and Western, General principles and forms, Instruments and ensembles, Jazz, Keyboard and Piano, Opera, Rap and Hip-Hop, Rhythm and Blues (R&B), Rock, single voices, stringed instruments, Vocal music, and Wind Instruments. Ask your reader advisor to add any of these subjects to your book preferences.

Several music magazines are available on audio cartridge, in braille, and in large print — and may be subscribed to through NLS or by reaching out to an ALS reader advisor. These periodicals include Muse; Musical Mainstream; Rolling Stone; Piano Technicians Journal; Contemporary Sound Track: A Review of Pop, Jazz, Rock, and Country; Quarterly Music Magazine; and Sound and Vision. Popular Music Lead Sheets is a quarterly publication by NLS and available by contacting NLS directly.

Because music for recreational listening is a commercial industry and not specifically for people with print or reading disabilities, the NLS and ALS cannot offer free musical recordings to patrons, but your public library probably does.

Whether you are considering playing an instrument, growing your knowledge of music or you simply take an interest in it, check out the NLS: Music Service and Materials , or call 1-800-424-8567 .

Ten Squared Club

ten squared club logo

This month we have two patrons who joined the Ten Squared Club.

They are Viola Wangberg from Flandreau, and Bernice Torberson from Mitchell. Viola turned 100 in November 2023 and Bernice in December 2023. Both ladies returned the 10 Squared questionnaire, and here are their stories.

Viola said the talking book program has made a difference in her life, since she can't read herself, she gets to listen to a book every day. She became a reader in high school and has not stopped since. Her favorite books are mysteries, and she likes to read in her recliner. Another activity Viola enjoys is church. When asked if there is anything she would like to say about her experiences of living for a century, she said, "I have enjoyed it and feel blessed."

Bernice said the talking book program has made a difference in her life, as it helps pass the time. Since her eyesight is poor, she enjoys listening to the talking library while sitting in her recliner. She doesn't remember anyone reading to her as a child; she learned to read in first grade. She enjoys pioneer stories by Lauraine Snelling and Janette Oke books. She attends church on Sunday and Wednesday and helps assemble scriptures there. She lives in an assisted living facility and enjoys going on various field trips. When asked about her experiences of living for a century, Bernice said, "I have just been blessed to have lived so long."

The 10 Squared Club salutes patrons who, at 100 or more years of age, remain actively engaged in reading. It provides the opportunity to acknowledge their achievements and the rewards of a life of reading and intellectual curiosity. As a member of the 10 Squared Club, patrons receive a membership certificate and a small gift.

We congratulate and celebrate our 10 Squared patrons!

BARD Download Limit Increased

Beginning February 6, 2024, NLS patrons will be allowed to download no more than 250 books and magazines from BARD in any rolling thirty-day period. This includes both audio and braille titles. It does not matter which platform or combination of platforms are used to download the books and magazines. You may download no more than 250 books and magazines in any rolling thirty-day period regardless of the format or the BARD interface used.

The authorization limit is calculated by adding up the number of "unique titles" downloaded. This means you can download the same title on additional devices in the same thirty-day period without that download counting against the authorization limit.

Federal programs increase Internet accessibility

During the holiday season, many of us tend to set a healthy focus on gratitude. As we venture into the New Year, let us acknowledge how the internet aids us in our daily lives and remember that even in the year 2024, not all Americans have access to reliable internet, whether due to their rural location, their pocketbooks or both.

But finances need not obstruct a household's access to this modern-day and highly advantageous tool. If you use the internet regularly or intend to, whether it is to find and download books or to pay your bills, two resources to be aware of - formed under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - are the Lifeline program and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

Lifeline was established in 1985 to help low-income Americans access vital communications by providing qualifying subscribers a $9.25 monthly discount (or a $34.25 per month discount for those on Tribal lands) on their telephone service, broadband internet service or bundled voice-broadband packages purchased from participating wireline or wireless providers. Lifeline has allowed tens of millions of Americans to afford basic phone service.

To participate in the Lifeline program, consumers' household income must be at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or the consumer participates in a federal assistance program, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), Medicaid or Veterans Pension. For more information on Lifeline, refer to FCC: Lifeline Support for Affordable Communications

Similar to Lifeline, the ACP was launched in January 2022 and offers eligible households $30 off and eligible Tribal lands $75 off their monthly internet bills.

If you are enrolled in a high-speed internet plan with your internet service provider that costs $30 or less, you could pair your plan with the ACP and have high-speed internet at no cost. A list of service providers who offer low-income internet plans at $30 per month can be found at The White House: Get Internet , or check with your service provider.

ACP-eligible households may also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers. To find companies that offer device discounts, visit Universal Service Administrative: Companies Near Me .

Households qualify for ACP if the household income is 200% or less than Federal Poverty Guidelines — or if they are already enrolled in a government assistance program, such as the ones above that make them eligible for Lifeline. If you currently receive a Lifeline benefit, you automatically qualify for the Affordable ACP and can receive both benefits at the same time. For a complete list of eligible assistance programs that qualify someone for the ACP and for more information, go to FCC: Affordable Connectivity Program .

Grandpa's White Cane now on BARD

"Grandpa's White Cane", written by Jim Hoxie and Joanna Jones, has recently been added to BARD.

BARD, the Braille and Audio Reading Download service, offers downloadable books and magazines for patrons who are unable to read standard print due to a visual, print, or physical disability. BARD is a service offered by South Dakota Accessible Library Services and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled at the Library of Congress.

South Dakota submitted the recorded audio to staff at the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) and now talking book library patrons across the country can access it. The BARD book number for "Grandpa's White Cane" is DBC06000. You can also receive it on cartridge from us DBS004889 .

Jim and Joanna have been sharing with groups across the United States about "Grandpa's White Cane" who are excited to be able to access this title now that it is available on BARD. "We are thrilled with the Library of Congress announcement and look forward to many more blind, visually impaired and physically disabled people reading and enjoying our book. The Spearfish SD Lion's Club sponsored the first printing of the paperback book which was distributed to Creekside Elementary third grade teachers and students," stated Hoxie. Hardcover and paperback print copies of the book are available on Amazon.

This is the first South Dakota narrated book added to BARD. We look forward to working to have more titles added in the future.

"Grandpa's White Cane" by Jim Hoxie and Joanna Jones

book cover of Grandpas White Cane by Jim Hoxie. cartoon style man walking with red/white tipped cane on sidewalk with real photo background of creek, trees and grass.

An ophthalmologist diagnoses Grandpa with glaucoma. He suggests that Grandpa learn to use a tall white cane. Therefore, Grandpa attends the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center, Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital for those who are visually impaired. There Grandpa regains his confidence for independent living. He received training in orientation and mobility with a white cane, relearned how to do activities of daily living and communication, had visual skills training, and manual skills training for hobbies and household repair. Back in Spearfish, SD, Grandpa shares these experiences with school children and the Spearfish Lion's Club. He emphasizes White Cane Safety Day as well as the dos and don'ts for helping visually impaired people to be self-sufficient.

Joanna and Jim were our featured presenters at our April 2022 social club Zoom meeting. Joanna conducted an interview with Jim. They shared Jim's journey learning how to use a long white cane, the journey of publishing Grandpa's White Cane, working with his seeing eye dog, and more.

You can check out the recording at 2022 Social Club Recap page

Book Added to the South Dakota Collection

"Capturing the Younger Brothers Gang in the Northern Plains: The Untold Story of Heroic Teen Asle Sorbel" by Arley Kenneth Fadness

Capturing the younger brothers gang book cover. four portraits of 1800s men

Near Sleepy Hanska slough, September 21, 1876, Norwegian teen Asle Sorbel made a daring Paul Revere ride into Madelia, Minnesota. His efforts, and those of the Madelia Magnificent Seven, led to the capture of the Younger Brothers of the Jesse James-Younger Gang. The gang's botched Northfield bank raid and infamous Madelia Shoot Out were well reported. But Asle's story was lost to history. Friends of the outlaws planned reprisals. Asle changed his name, his persona, and his location. He kept his mount shut. In 1883, he quietly reestablished himself in Dakota Territory. As years passed, he became the premier horse doctor in the Webster, South Dakota area, all the while haunted by vigilant fear.

Author Arley K. Fadness uncovers the lost secrets and remarkable life of valiant Asle Oscar Sobel.

In Memory

smiling older woman standing at front door with flowers and balloons

We always are sad when we lose a library patron but enjoy receiving notes from family who share what the service meant to their loved ones.

From Juliette Hyronemus Family

We want to Thank You for the years of enjoyment our mother has had with the audio books. She was an avid reader until macular degeneration started to take her vision. She listened to the books every day. We lost her on September 19, 2023. It has been a great loss to us. She lived on her own in her own house with a little help from us kids. Something happened 2 days after her 85th birthday and we lost a treasure on the 19th. We really appreciated the books and sometimes we would listen in with her.

Thank you again - Julie Hyronemus Family - Mark, David, Tami, Sahri, Gail, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Kids News

Youth Winter Reading Program

south dakota accessible library services youth winter reading program

Registration is now open for the 2024 Youth Winter Reading Program. Join us and read every day during the month of February.

Register by January 25th and be entered in the Early Bird Drawing!

SD Accessible Library Services Youth Patrons - Birth through 19 years - who read during the 28 days in February and return their reading chart postmarked by March 11, 2024, will be entered into a drawing. We encourage reading at least 20 minutes every day.

You can register online, by phone, or email.

Reading Program Registration page

Senior High Schoolers looking for more of a challenge can also register for the Adult Winter Reading Challenge.

If you have any questions or are unable to use our online registration form, please contact:

Watch for videos on our website and Facebook page .

Textbook Order Reminder

My name is Ginny Kaus, and I am the Educational Materials Coordinator and Reader Advisor for children and teens. I hope that I can help you with any requests or questions that you may have.

As the Educational Materials Coordinator and Reader Advisor for children and teens, I am responsible for providing services that include reader advisory, audio talking books, Braille, and educational materials including textbooks in large print and Braille.

To guarantee that you will have textbooks for the 2024 - 2025 school year, we need to have the orders in by January 15th. You can still order textbooks after that date, but we cannot guarantee the date that you would receive them.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me: Virginia "Ginny" Kaus, Educational Materials Coordinator/ Reader Advisor: 1-605-773-4914 Option 1, 1; 1-800-423-6665 Option 1, 1; or email if you have any questions.

Gifts and Donations

The SD Braille and Talking Book Library thanks all our generous donors who have made contributions to the library in the past several months.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and Dorothy Nielsen for their 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 donating, 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.

Donations can be sent to:

SD Accessible Library Services
800 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501-2235

Please make checks payable to the "SD Accessible Library Services".

Thank you for helping to enhance and improve library services.

Holiday Closings

The Library will be closed for the following holiday(s). Please plan to order your books accordingly. Keep in mind that the books you return will take longer to reach us. You may want to order extra books at least one week in advance of the following holidays:

  • Monday, Feb. 19, 2024 for President's Day
  • Monday, May 27, 2024 for Memorial Day
  • Wednesday, June 19, 2024 for Juneteenth

Be prepared for interruptions in service due to weather events. You can ask your reader advisor about possibly increasing the number of books you receive so you don't run out. Or ask about how you can download books at home from the BARD website or on the BARD mobile app for smartphones and tablets.