Inside this Issue

Notes from the Assistant State Librarian Steven Buras

As we approach the holidays, I highly encourage all readers to consider ordering extra books. You can never have too many books available to read at your fingertips. Also, if you have not tried our audio descriptive movies, I highly recommend that you do. It is a wonderful advancement in the way we can view movies. Do not hesitate to ask your reader advisor for more information.

The Summer and Fall seasons have been filled with many new and exciting additions as well as foundations being laid for the future of the services we provide. Our staff has worked closely with the Vermillion Public Library and Rapid City Public Library to install recording studios so that we can record more local South Dakota books.

We are also working on an implementation plan to launch our Download on Demand service where we will be able to put multiple books on a single cartridge to send to you. While the process may take some time, if you are interested in partaking in the first wave of patrons receiving these books, please let us know.

Happy Holidays to you and your families.

Steven Buras

Reading for the holidays

Happy Holidays with red and black background

Consider ordering extra books for the holidays. Mail tends to move slower over the holidays. The Braille and Talking Book Library will be closed extra days over the holidays too, so you may want to call your reader advisor a week ahead of the holiday and ask for an extra book or 2 if you think you might run out.

We will be closed on the following days:

Monday-Wednesday, December 23-25
for the Christmas holiday. Call by Tuesday, December 17 for books to go out before these dates
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
for New Years Day
Monday, January 20, 2020
for Martin Luther King Jr Day

Our mail leaves here early in the morning, so once it has left, we are unable to send books again until the next morning that we are open.

NLS Consultant Visits

NLS Consultant Pam Davenport visited the South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library September 19th and 20th for her biennial visit. We were able to ask and answer questions and receive national updates and share state happenings.

Braille and Talking Book Staff pictured with Pam Davenport
Pictured from left to right: Mike Smith, Connie Sullivan, Lynette Thum, Pam Davenport (NLS), Lynda Lowin, Marcia Kaup, Josh Easter, and Steven Buras.

NLS recently changed its' name from National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled. We are excited to be a part of the cooperating network of libraries serving individuals otherwise unable to use standard print materials.

Here's to another 50 years of service providing accessible library services to South Dakotans from the SD BTBL located in Pierre, SD!

New Recording Studios and volunteers

We recently added two new recording studios - one in Vermillion and one in Rapid City. We are excited to partner with the Vermillion Public Library and Rapid City Public Library who are providing space for our recording studios.

People interested in volunteering in or near those communities played a role in helping to bring us there. The process of laying the groundwork and making everything happen has taken some time to make a reality. It was almost 2 years from first starting dialogue with volunteers and the libraries to opening the studios.

Talking book recording studio at Vermillion Public Library

new recording studio room in Vermillion Public Library featuring soundproof walls, computer, and microphone.

After hearing from people interested in volunteering in the southeastern part of South Dakota we were looking for somewhere in the Vermillion/Yankton area to host a talking book recording studio. Steven and Josh worked with VPL director Daniel Burniston to find a spot for a recording studio. A space in the VPL basement was chosen and the next step was to decide what was needed for a recording studio booth. That process took a while until finally, after many changes, an 8 x 8-foot Gold Series Vocal Booth was ordered. The booth features acoustic foam and a ventilation system to create professional-grade recordings. In late July the recording studio booth arrived in a crate weighing over a ton and took all day to unpack and carry into the basement, and another day to assemble.

Volunteer Kathleen Bergeson using the new recording studio room in Vermillion Public Library

Kathleen Bergeson, a school librarian from Yankton, was the first volunteer Josh trained. Kathleen knows the value of our library since she works with a student who uses our services. Kathleen also was on the SD Children's Book Awards committee (Prairie Bud/Bloom/Pasque Awards) and she has already recorded several of the latest Prairie award nominees. Josh returned in August and trained a few more volunteers. He will be training more volunteers in early December.

Talking book recording studio at Rapid City Public Library

photo of four people standing in recording studio booth.
Rapid City Public Library Assistant Director Sean Minkel, Volunteer Anne Torgerson, BTBL staff Josh Easter and Steven Buras, Assistant State Librarian.

Volunteer Anne Torgerson of Rapid City learned about our library after meeting a mother of one of our patrons. She took it upon herself to contact Josh and scheduled a day to drive out and visit the library and recording studio in Pierre to learn more.

Then she looked for a location to host a recording studio in Rapid City. She talked with the Rapid City Public Library and they were interested in partnering with us and providing a room for the recording studio. Anne put Josh Easter in contact with RCPL Assistant Director, Sean Minkel to work out the details. Josh and Steven Buras traveled to Rapid City in late September. They worked to soundproof a RCPL office space by attaching acoustic foam to the walls. Josh setup the recording equipment and trained our first volunteer, Anne.

What do volunteers do?

The South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library has a rich history of volunteers through the years helping to produce materials in accessible audio format for patrons in our state who are unable to read standard print.

Volunteer narrators read aloud in a clear and conversational manner. The narrator prepares by researching pronunciations of difficult words and practicing awkward phrases.

Volunteer reviewers help catch errors by listening to the recordings while reading the printed text to ensure a quality recording.

We have volunteers from several generations. We have many great retirees who volunteer, some volunteers who work full time, and students from early teen and even preteen who have recorded books.

What do we record?

The National Library Service provides many books such as bestsellers and books of national interest. Our priorities are to record books of state and regional interest such as books on South Dakota culture, history, Native American and other titles of interest or books written by SD authors.

We also try to make Children's Book Awards (Prairie Bud, Bloom, Pasque) and YARP (Young Adult Reading Program) teen choice award books a priority. We want to ensure all South Dakota students can participate in reading and voting on their favorite books each school year.

Know someone interested in volunteering?

We currently have volunteer recording studios in Pierre at the State Library, in Sioux Falls in the downtown branch of Siouxland Libraries, in Vermillion at the Edith B. Siegrist Vermillion Public Library, and in Rapid City at the Rapid City Public Library. We also have recording studios in the federal prison camp in Yankton, SD. From time to time recording studios manager and volunteer coordinator Josh Easter travels from Pierre to our other recording studio locations to train interested volunteers.

More information about volunteering and recording studios can be found on our website or contact Josh Easter.

The 2020 census is counting on us!

Adapted from NLS on the Move

It's not too early to start thinking about the 2020 census. This coming April 1st is Census Day, the reference point for questions on the 2020 count.

Census results play a large part in determining how government entities allocate hundreds of billions of dollars each year for services that communities rely on. But certain groups of people historically have been undercounted in the census. We want to make sure that the people NLS and its network libraries serve-people who are blind or visually impaired, or who have a disability that makes reading regular print difficult-are aware of, and participate in, the 2020 census.

A few dates to keep in mind: On March 12, the Census Bureau will mail households an invitation to respond to the census. For the first time, households will have three ways to respond: online, by calling a toll-free number, or by mail. The questionnaire takes less time to complete than drinking a cup of coffee. In mid-April, census workers will begin visiting homes that haven't responded to collect information in person.

As required by the Constitution, the census has been conducted every 10 years since 1790. As of noon EDT on October 30, the Census Bureau estimates the current U.S. population is 329,910,106.

Here are some resources you might find helpful:

  • The Census Bureau website has oodles of stats, facts, and trivia about the census.
  • The Census Bureau creates guides in dozens of languages to help people complete the census. Guides will also be available in braille and large print. And while the census questionnaire itself won't be available in braille, people who are blind or visually impaired can take advantage of the online and phone-in options. Here's a downloadable and printable Census Bureau fact sheet on accessibility .

Tips for better service

Please keep the box and Styrofoam inserts that we mail to you. They are made specifically for mailing digital talking book machines and have a mail card that can be flipped over to mail the machine back to us. We cannot send empty boxes through the mail as the post office does not allow that. Please keep that box.

Mailing using "Free Matter for the Blind"

Q. How do you return the talking book player when you don't have the box it came in?
A. You can mail the talking book player back in any box it will fit in. Make sure to jot down the address that is on the bottom of the player before packing it up! Add some packing materials to protect the machine during shipment. Seal up the box and write the BTBL address in the appropriate area. Write "FREE MATTER FOR THE BLIND" where postage normally goes and mail it back.

If your postman questions the contents, open the box and show him/her what is inside. There is embossment above the speaker that says "LIBRARY OF CONGRESS" and "NATIONAL LIBRARY SERVICE FOR THE BLIND AND PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED"

The Blind and Physically Handicapped should be enough to make your postman believe it can be mailed back using FREE MATTER FOR THE BLIND when in a box other than the one it was sent out in.

If not, take the box home and call us to ask for an OFFICIAL label to be sent that can be taped to the top of the box.

Q. What else can be mailed Free Matter for the Blind?
A. The completed order forms that are used to order books from the Talking Book Topics bimonthly magazine catalog. Write your name and address on the order form and put it in an envelope. Tuck the flap of the envelop inside but DO NOT SEAL the envelope!
Q. What NOT to mail using FREE MATTER FOR THE BLIND?
LETTERS OR NOTES in a mailing container for braille or audio books! If you need to tell us something either call or mail a letter to us using postage.
Letters cannot be mailed to the SD Braille & Talking Book Library by free matter unless they are TYPED in 14-point font. Letters cannot be handwritten!

If in doubt of what can and cannot be mailed FREE MATTER FOR THE BLIND please call the library. We will do our best to answer your questions.

Marcia Kaup, BTBL Reader Advisor

Tech tips: Talking Book Machine

Verbosity of your player:

The audio book player is designed to verbalize the functions associated to the various buttons, such as "volume up" or "fast forward" etc. To some this may become annoying and wish there could be less wordiness. You can thus reduce the wordiness of the player's announcements by using this method:

  1. Remove any cartridge that may be in the player.
  2. Press and hold simultaneously the Fast Forward button and the Speed Down button for two seconds.
  3. The player will give the message "reduced verbosity" which indicates that some of the wordiness has been reduced.
  4. To return to normal operations, simultaneously press and hold the Fast Forward and Speed Down buttons for two seconds. A message will play stating "normal verbosity."


Bookshelf is a feature of the audio book player which allows you to play digital cartridges that have more than one book on the cartridge. In general, a cartridge can hold up to ten books. Bookshelf is available on both player models: the standard DS1 and the advanced DA1. Knowing how bookshelf works is essential to take advantage of the future duplication-on-demand method of distributing audio books. Follow the following directions to use bookshelf:

  1. Enter Bookshelf mode by Inserting a multi-book cartridge into the player and then press and hold the Play/Stop button for two seconds. The player will then announce the number of books on the cartridge and the title of the book currently selected.
  2. You can also have the player announce the titles of the other books on the cartridge by pressing the Rewind or Fast Forward buttons.
  3. After selecting the book, exit the Bookshelf mode by pressing the Play/Stop button. The player will remember which book was selected even if the cartridge is removed from the player.
  4. On the standard DS1 player, the User Guide will always be the first book listed on the cartridge.

If you are reading this newsletter on a cartridge you received from us your player should have updated when you inserted it into your digital talking book player. In the future when you receive a cartridge with multiple books or magazines and you have gotten to the "End of Book" message on the first title that played you will hear the instructions, "Press Play/Stop to go to the next book." Tap the square, green Play/Stop button and the next book will automatically start playing. If 10 seconds go by with no button press (for example, because you have fallen asleep), the machine will repeat the prompt the next time you press Play/Stop.

You can only move to the next book. You can still use the Bookshelf feature to move back and forth throughout all the books on the cartridge in order to select the one you want to read.

If you have any questions talk with your reader advisor. Some magazines are currently sent with multiple issues on one cartridge.

In the near future we will be able to download on demand multiple book titles onto one cartridge. For example, if you want to read the entire Mitford book series by Jan Karon we can download the entire series on one cartridge and you can start the next title in the series without having to wait for it to come in the mail. Look for more information in the next newsletter about these exciting new developments!

If you are reading this newsletter online consider signing up for BARD. You can download the latest talking book machine upgrades there.

If you have a smartphone or a tablet such as an iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android tablet consider signing up for BARD and downloading the NLS BARD Mobile App to listen to books and magazines released by NLS.

Ask your reader advisor about signing up for BARD.

Also, if you have an email address that you regularly check and wish to receive a link to this Newsletter on our website when it comes out contact your reader advisor. Let them know if you only want it via email or also in audio format on a cartridge.

South Dakota Collection

The following book has been added to the South Dakota Collection. Most are written by a South Dakota author or have some connections to South Dakota. Please contact your Reader Advisor to order the following title.

"Calvin Coolidge in the Black Hills"

by Seth Tupper
Book Cover of Calvin Coolidge in the Black Hills with image of man in Native American Regalia

On August 2, 1927, President Calvin Coolidge shocked the nation by announcing he would not seek reelection. The declaration came from the Black Hills of South Dakota, where Coolidge was vacationing to escape the oppressive Washington summer and to win over politically rebellious farmers. He passed his time at rodeos, fishing, meeting Native American dignitaries and kick-starting the stagnant carving of Mount Rushmore. But scandal was never far away as Coolidge dismissed a Secret Service man in a fit of anger. Was it this internal conflict that led Coolidge to make his famous announcement or the magic of the Black Hills? Veteran South Dakota journalist Seth Tupper chronicles Coolidge's Black Hills adventure and explores the lasting legacy of the presidential summer on the region.

Descriptive videos for the holidays

Check out these Christmas titles from our collection of DVDs and Blu-rays with descriptive audio.

What are videos with audio description? The videos use short verbal descriptions to describe the visual elements of a movie - action, characters, locations, costumes, and sets - without interfering with the video dialogue or sound effects. The descriptions are inserted into pauses within a program's dialogue. These descriptive audio tracks are created to help people with vision loss or blindness enjoy movies.

Ask your reader advisor how to sign up to receive these or other titles. We have a catalog available of all current titles in our collection. You will need a DVD or Blu-ray player to play these titles. The loan period is 2 weeks.

We will be adding more movies to the collection in the next few months.

  • "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" DVR 351 (Blu-Ray only) PG
  • "The Christmas Colt" DVD 252 (DVD) Not rated (family friendly)
  • "A Christmas Story" DVD 104; DVR 626 (DVD and Blu-Ray) PG
  • "Arthur Christmas" DVD 113 (DVD) PG
  • "A Christmas Carol" DVD 137 (DVD) PG
  • "Almost Christmas" DVD 473 (DVD) PG-13
  • "Love The Coopers" DVD 540 (DVD) PG-13
  • "Office Christmas Party" DVD 555 (DVD) R
  • "The Best Man Holiday" DVD 246 (DVD) R

Ten Squared Club

ten squared club logo

The South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library recognizes the accomplishments of our active readers who have reached age 100 or older. They are sent an invitation to join this elite club and receive a certificate of merit, a letter, and a small gift. We have heard amazing stories from our 10-squared Club members.

This newsletter's 10-squared inductees is:

Maxine Buntrock

portrait of smiling woman dressed in yellow suit, Maxine Buntrock

Maxine Buntrock turned 100 on October 14th and was inducted into the 10-Squared Club of the South Dakota BTBL. We asked Maxine to share about her experiences with reading throughout her life.

Maxine learned to read in school and still reads today "sitting in my rocking chair" despite vision loss thanks to the South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library.

Maxine says reading audio books from the library "keeps me connected to the outside world. It filled the hours of my days in assisted living and nursing home."

When asked what her all-time favorite book was Maxine answered, "No favorite book but I liked all the books about the Amish and how they lived."

Besides reading Maxine has enjoyed other activities throughout her life. "Before my eyes got really bad, I bowled when I was younger." She also "always crocheted many doilies and dish cloths 'til I couldn't see anymore." We asked Maxine what she'd like to say about her experience of living for a century and she replied, "I've seen a lot of changes in everything (from) when I was a girl, and when my kids were growing up, and things now. Things are easier now."

Congratulations on reaching the century milestone Maxine!

Share what the BTBL means to you

The South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library has been celebrating 50 years of talking book library service. The library was dedicated on January 28, 1969 and fully operational on February 1, 1969.

We would like to publish a special pamphlet of the history of our library with memories from our library users that may contain just a few words or longer memories. You can write about something from years ago or more recent — your choice. You don't have to be a longtime patron to participate, just share what the BTBL means to you.

Longtime patron Gertrude Judstra recently shared some memories during an interview over the phone. Play Audio Excerpt

Having used talking book equipment throughout her life-from her school and college years to today - Gertrude has used many formats and various equipment-some she has liked more than others.

During her school years she used a combination of braille and audio books; Using the talking book record players during her school years and using a reel-to-reel tape machine in college.

Gertrude has enjoyed the increased usability and controls of the newer talking book machines-first with the cassette player. "I liked the cassette player. They were easy to control."

And then when the digital talking book machine came out, "I like the cartridges." And with the change from analog cassette to digital cartridge it was amazing to many that books that may have taken eight or more cassettes could now be contained on a single cartridge. "I wish I could understand how they can read a story onto that little cartridge and have it contain the whole thing."

We are excited to continue the journey with our patrons as new technology comes along, making reading more accessible. Download on demand is coming, and we are already in the future with the NLS BARD Mobile app on smartphones and tablets. The possibilities, for our reading future, are bright.

If you would like to share any special memories of using the talking book service through the years or share what the library service means to you either in writing or by a short phone interview please contact Josh Easter at 1-800-423-6665 Ext. 1, 4, or direct line 1-605-773-5082 or by email at . This is your opportunity to share your experiences. We look forward to hearing from you!


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.

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.

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, December 23, 2019 - Wednesday, December 25, 2019 Christmas Day
  • Wednesday, January 1, 2020 New Years Day
  • Monday, January 20, 2020 Martin Luther King Jr Day

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.

Refer a friend!

Do you know someone who could benefit from the services of the Braille and Talking Book Library? Refer a friend, family member, or neighbor today! Have them contact us by phone or email . Applications are also on our website.

Phone Tree Options

Here is our phone tree that you will hear when you call our main number. Call us at 1-800-423-6665 (or 1-605-773-3131 ), and press 1 for Braille and Talking Book and then:

  • For adult patrons with last names beginning with A though G, press 1 for Lynda
  • For adult patrons with last names beginning with H through Z, press 2 for Lynette
  • For libraries, facilities, or people residing in facilities, press 3 for Marcia
  • For children, young adults, schools, textbooks or educational materials, press 1 for Lynda
  • For anyone interested in becoming a patron, press 3 for Marcia
  • For Talking Book machines, volunteers and other questions, press 4 for Josh

Call us anytime at 1-800-423-6665 (or 1-605-773-3131 ), press 1 for Braille and Talking Book then 1 for Lynda, 2 for Lynette, 3 for Marcia, and 4 for Josh. You can also ask us for our emails if you would like to communicate via email.