Inside this Issue

Kate's Corner

Capitol building in pierre framed with frosted foliage
Photo by Travel South Dakota: Pierre's Capitol building in the background with frosted pine branches framing the image.

Winter is here and with it the end of the year. It's so hard to believe we've made it through 2021. I'm sure for many that this year, like last, seems to have been slow at best, but for me, it has absolutely flown by, and I really can't believe that we're back to bundling up and wrapping Christmas gifts. The prairie wind here is teaching me a lesson in humility, as I've never felt such a biting cold in all my days! My new favorite pastime is to hunker down with a cat or two under the blankets and read for a couple of hours. I expect I'll pass much of January and February similarly!

I thought it would be appropriate to give a little wrap up of all the things our library has done this year. It's been a year of big changes locally and nationally! The National Library Service hired a new director, Jason Broughton, who began work in September in Washington DC.

Here in South Dakota, the state librarian, Daria Bossman decided to hire a dedicated manager to run the Braille and Talking Book Library, which resulted in them hiring me! While the hiring process was happening, our duplication and equipment guru, Mike Smith, fell ill and was out of the office for six months. We were fortunate enough to hire a temp in Dylan Frye, whose tenure was over at the end of December, after steadily duplicating materials and keeping things humming for six months on his own, and then helping Mike transition back to work thereafter. Daria retired as State Librarian and we are in the midst of the search process for a new one!

Because the Covid restrictions relaxed a lot over the summer and fall, Marcia Kaup was able to hit the road and visited multiple libraries, nursing homes, and other institutions to start refreshing existing depositories and building new ones. This means that in many communities across the state, interested patrons can go to their local libraries and check out a Talking Book Machine, which allows them to "try it before they buy it" so to speak (of course, our service remains free of charge to all eligible patrons!).

Lynda Lowin has been busy at work with our school kids and with Josh Easter ran a very successful summer reading program with crafts, reading charts, and field trips. We had more than 30 children and teens sign up for this year's program. Lynda brought a lot of creativity to the program and we got great feedback on it.

Speaking of Josh, he has been back out there as well, visiting our recording studios around the state, updating equipment, getting volunteers back in the studio, and working to put together a proposal for a new recording studio in Aberdeen. He took over Mike's equipment duties during Mike's absence and is now training state employee Barb Nickolas to work in that area for us.

Lynette Thum has also kept very busy working on all the government reporting and statistics that we are required to report to the State of South Dakota, the National Library Service, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. As a result of her work, we've been able to determine that we have served 2,174 patrons this year across South Dakota, and we've checked out a total of 176,417 items.

We're happy to report that Mike Smith came back to work in the early fall and has been busily duplicating all the books and magazines you love to read. He's getting stronger every day and we enjoy his Friday Fun Facts and their long-awaited return.

For my part, I've mainly been working behind the scenes, cleaning up thousands of catalog records to make your book requests easier than ever to find (apparently there are about 14 different ways to spell Stephen King, for example). I've worked hard to present our new Braille and Talking Book Social Club and provide interesting programming to folks who have participated over the past four months-we've done trivia, had a spelling bee, discussed books, listened to great stories, and gotten to know each other around the state. I am also working on the new five-year plan for the state library and Braille and Talking Books in conjunction with other members of the leadership team. Finally, I've worked hard to strengthen and renew partnerships with local organizations like the SD Toy Lending Library (you'll read more about them inside!), the National Federation of the Blind, the South Dakota Association of the Blind, the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the special education department here at the Department of Education, and the state's Services to the Blind and Visually Impaired.

With all this going on, do I still have time to read? Yes, I do! However, I'm going to start a new column each month with my book picks, so keep an ear out and listen ahead for my book picks for this month. My genre is dystopian fiction, and I'd love to hear your suggestions, either for books or book genres, to feature in future columns!

Thank you for reading so much of my update this month, it's a long one! Keep warm and resolve to read more books! We appreciate your support of our program. It's our pleasure to serve you all.

Adult Winter Reading Challenge

sd braille and talking booi library presents 2022 winter reading programs

Register now for the 2022 Adult Winter Reading Challenge.

Senior High School students looking for more of a reading challenge can also participate at this level this year! (More information about the Youth Winter Reading Program is in the Kids News section of the newsletter).

Call or email your reader advisor or register online to join. Sign up at

You will receive the 2022 Winter Reading cartridge with six pre-selected books from various genres and a questionnaire to answer about each book. When all six questions are answered, you have successfully completed the challenge!

A drawing will be held for those who registered early (by February 14, Valentine's Day) and those who complete the challenge by March 31, 2022!

It's a chance to try something new and maybe discover an author or genre that you'd like to read more of. So request those cartridges and cozy up with a new book!

SD Braille & Talking Book Library's Virtual Programming

Don't Miss our Upcoming Virtual Programming. The last Monday of each month, we host a fun virtual event for all our patrons!

SD BTBL Social Club Calendar

Movie Day: a beautiful day in the neighborhood movie poster. monday january 31 2 pm ct zoom call
BTBL Social: Movie Day. Monday, Jan. 31, 2 pm CT - Zoom Call. features Movie poster of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Monday, January 31, 2022: Movie Day

Enjoy 'watching' the movie Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers, the inspiring man behind Mr. Rogers's Neighborhood. After a jaded magazine writer is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about kindness, love, and forgiveness from America's most beloved neighbor.

Audio description only. Come see what it's like to 'watch' one of our audio described DVD's. We will not show the film but will instead play the audio description over our regular Zoom call. Hopefully this will pique your interest in the 900+ movies in our collection!

South Dakota Braille and Talking Book social cooking podcast with Cooking in the Dark on Monday february 28 @ 2pm CST
BTBL Social: Cooking in the Dark Podcast. Monday, February. 28, 2 pm CT - Zoom Call.

Monday, February 28, 2022: Cooking in the Dark Podcast

Cooking in the Dark podcasts hosts Dale Campbell and Cheryl Cumings will join us and create a live episode of the show in our very own Zoom meeting! Learn a great new recipe, some cooking techniques, and ask questions about podcasting and cooking!

Monday, March 28, 2022: Author Event with Steve Kluger

Come and 'meet' the author of Last Days of Summer, learn about the writing of the book, and ask your questions!

Monday, April 25, 2022: Jim Hoxie

Come and learn about BTBL patron and author Jim Hoxie's adventures with his guide dog and his children's book on using a white cane.

Monday, May 23, 2022 (Note date change for Memorial Day): Storytelling, Part 1

We will listen to some storytellers on The Moth and TED Talks. Ryan Knighton talks about challenging his remaining senses by attending a massive snake round up after he goes blind. Ron McCallum talks about how reading has changed for the blind throughout his life. Then you'll be given instructions on writing your own story to share in June.

Monday, June 27, 2022: Storytelling, Part 2

You've heard other folks tell their stories, now bring yours and share with an appreciative audience.

All events are free and held via ZOOM and telephone.

To log on via Zoom, simply go to and enter meeting number 983 6593 0748 and password 080815.

To call in via phone, simply call 312 626 6799 and enter meeting number 983 6593 0748 and password 080815 (long distance rates may apply).

Questions? Call your reader advisor at 1.800.423.6665 or 605.773.3131

Mail Delivery

We get talking book deliveries 2 to 3 days a week at the library. When we get your cartridge back, we check it in. The cartridge is replaced the next business day so due to the lack of cartridge deliveries there could be a lengthy wait until you receive your replacement book.

Please contact your reader advisor if you would like to ask for more books to offset the lack of cartridge deliveries or with any questions you may have.

  • If your last name begins with A through H or if you are a student or under 19, your reader advisor is Lynda Lowin. She can be reached at 1-605-773-4914 phone.
  • If your last name begins with I through S, your reader advisor is Lynette Thum. She can be reached at 1-605-773-3514 phone.
  • If your last name begins with T through Z or if you are a resident of an assisted living or nursing facility, your reader advisor is Marcia Kaup. She can be reached at 1-605-773-6609 phone.

You can also use our in-state toll free number at 1-800-423-6665 phone and press 1 to reach the Braille and Talking Book Library. Listen to the options and when you hear the name of the reader advisor you'd like to speak to, press the appropriate number and you will be transferred to that line. 1 for Lynda, 2 for Lynette, and 3 for Marcia.

Magazines Update

You may have wondered why you haven't received magazines such as the South Dakota Magazine, Dakota Country, Dakota Farmer, South Dakota Conservation Digest, Bishop's Bulletin and others. Challenges of the pandemic have affected our volunteer's ability to record at our recording studio locations. The federal prison camp where some of our magazines are recorded has also been shut down for long periods at a time for quarantine. We continue to work toward getting caught up on magazines recorded in our South Dakota studios. Thank you for your patience.

Do you still have a DVD player?

Lynette Thum, Reader Advisor

dvd movie boxes with popcorn and movie ticket

With today's streaming technology, DVD players are becoming a thing of the past, but if you still have one, we have over 900 DVD & BluRay titles here at the Braille and Talking Book Library that you can borrow. These videos are designed for the enjoyment of people who are blind or visually impaired.

The videos, which are referred to as descriptive audio, carefully describe the visual elements of a movie, such as action, characters, locations, costumes, and sets, without interfering with the dialogue or sound effects.

Borrowers must be active patrons in good standing with the Braille and Talking Book Library. All borrowers must complete and return a Descriptive Video Registration Form before receiving the videos.

Patrons may borrow two videos at a time and keep them for two weeks. There are no renewals.

Videos may be requested in the same way you request books, by telephone, email or mail. There is no limit to the number of requests you can place on file for future loan. The first available video on your request list will be sent automatically each time a video is returned.

If you are interested in receiving the catalog, please contact your Reader Advisor. The catalog is also on the Braille and Talking Book Library website

Kate's Book Picks

My director's report seems plenty long enough without adding several paragraphs of book suggestions, so I've decided to start a separate column just for my book selections of the month. Without further ado, I bring you this issue's book list.

My daughter and I are reading dark stories together in this dark time of the year. She is really into dystopian literature right now, and I'm joining her on her journey. She just ripped through all five books in the Maze Runner series by James Dashner, a series in which a boy's memory is erased and he's dropped into a constantly changing maze with other boys in similar circumstances, all of whom are fighting to survive (start with Book 1, which is DB072392 ).

"Maze Runner"

by James Dashner

book cover of maze runner by james dashner.

Leah would also not forgive me for failing to mention the Scythe series by Neal Schusterman (DB086810 for Book 1). These books take place in a utopian future in which humans have managed to conquer poverty, disease, and old age. With nothing to kill us off, we need some form of population control, so humans create a special class of people called Scythes who murder a certain number of people each month.

"Maze Runner"

by James Dashner

book cover of Scythe by Neal Shusterman

I recently finished Vox by Christina Dalcher (DB092260 ), the story of Dr. Jean McClellan, a woman fighting to survive in a society in which women are not allowed to say more than 100 words per day. When her young daughter stops talking altogether, she realizes something must change.


by Christina Dalcher

book cover of Vox by Christina Calcher

Finally, I'll recommend Hugh Howey's Silo Series (DB075396 will get you the first book). This series explores life in the United States after humans are forced to live in giant silos underground after the Earth becomes too toxic for survival. When humans engage in criminal behavior, they are sentenced to be sent outside to certain death, which is what happens to new sheriff, Juliet, who somehow manages to survive.


by James Dashner

Silo series

book cover of Scythe by Neal Shusterman

This list is by no means exhaustive, and if you'd like a few more in this genre, just email or call and our reader advisors will be happy to help you select some more! Happy Reading.

New Director Selected for the National Library Service

The National Library Service (NLS) has announced their selection for the next NLS director: Mr. Jason Broughton!

Broughton will be the first African American person to helm the NLS. Prior to joining the NLS, he served as Vermont State Librarian. In this role, he engaged in strategic planning for the Department of Libraries and established a long-term vision for the State Library. Throughout his career, Broughton has held numerous positions at libraries in South Carolina and Georgia.

The NLS underwent significant changes under the previous director, Karen Keninger. She spearheaded many efforts to modernize the NLS, including the introduction of the BARD Mobile app for smartphones and tablets, updates to certifying authorities for applicants with reading impairments, Marrakesh Treaty implementation, and the Braille e-reader pilot we recently announced. As a result, Broughton is now helming a more nimble, more open, and more exciting NLS, and we are looking forward to what he has planned for his own tenure.

Broughton earned his Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina, a M.S. in Public Administration from the University of South Florida, and a bachelor's degree in biology from Florida A&M University.

His first day at NLS was Monday, September 13. Please join us in wishing Jason Broughton the very best in his new role!

NLS Braille e-reader

There have been questions about the NLS Braille e-reader. Here is what we know so far. The pilot testing for the Braille e-readers is continuing. Two devices are being tested, with both having the same features. Our library is not involved in the pilot testing. Once the pilot concludes, NLS will use the information gained in the pilot to prepare to begin rolling out the e-reader to patrons. Look for further updates in future issues of this newsletter. We know many patrons are excited about the e-readers, and we look forward to providing them.

BARD First

BARD First is the new motto for NLS and the SD Braille and Talking Book Library. BARD is the Braille and Audio Reading Download service, and it continues to play a vital role for not only technology enthusiasts but, in fact, all patrons. Research into next generation dictation-enabled talking book players, the possibility of streaming NLS books and magazines through smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Nest, braille eReader displays and even the Books on Demand service we are using now all rely on cloud-based internet infrastructure. Over the next several years, there will be new assistive technology rolling out to simplify and provide internet access technology for both hesitant technology users as well as those inexperienced patrons who lack training, through no fault of their own. Stay tuned for more information.

News You Need!

Each newsletter, we'll put together a list of short news stories, resources, and tips that we are learning about, which might make your life a little easier.

Troubleshooting Your Talking Book Player

Our reader advisors often get phone calls that a talking book player is no longer working. There are many possible reasons for this, including that the player is broken and needs repair or replacement. The problems we often encounter about the players are that the machines talk when they are turned off, then come on all by themselves, or they don't charge fully when they are plugged into an outlet.

Here are a few things to try before calling your reader advisor for help:

  1. If your player is plugged into an outlet that is attached to a wall switch, you may be turning the power to the player on and off when you flip the switch. Either leave the switch on to allow your machine to charge or change to a different outlet.
  2. If your power fails or surges, when it is restored, the machine will react by talking.

Do you know how to look for books yourself if your Talking Book Topics doesn't arrive on time? Talking Book Topics is uploaded to the NLS website long before it is ever delivered to your mailbox. The newest issues (and older issues) can be found at . You can search the SD BTBL online catalog by going to and even add books to your request list! Or you can visit the National Library Service (NLS) online catalog at

From NLS

"Patrons who subscribe to Talking Book Topics (TBT) in large print will not receive the January-February 2022 issue in paper format due to ongoing supply-chain issues and worldwide paper shortages.

Due to significant and worsening supply-chain issues and worldwide paper shortages, the large-print edition of Talking Book Topics (TBT) January-February 2022 will not be printed.

The US Patrons can access TBT January-February 2022 online in HTML and PDF right now at . TBT in HTML contains direct links to BARD for downloading or adding books to wish lists, and TBT in PDF contains printable order forms for mailing. TBT January-February 2022 in audio will be available on cartridge and on BARD and BARD Mobile the first week in February. Additionally, TBT Abridged will be available through Braille Book Review in hardcopy braille and BRF on ."

The National Federation of the Blind is hosting its annual convention at the Rapid City Rushmore Inn and Suites on Friday, April 22nd and Saturday, April 23rd. A variety of speakers will speak on topics of interest to blind and visually impaired individuals. For more information, please contact NFB President Michael Klimisch at .

The Hadley School for the Blind is a nonprofit educational organization that provides free training in a variety of areas for visually impaired people, for their families, and for professionals. To see all the courses they offer, visit their website at or you can call their toll free 800 number at 1-800-323-4238 and a friendly guide will help you learn about all the classes they have to offer.

The Be My Eyes app is downloadable on your mobile phone and connects you to a sighted volunteer. Using your phone's camera, your sighted assistant can help you read labels, locate landmarks in your surroundings, determine colors, and more! For more information or to download the app, visit

The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults provides free Braille calendars to anyone who might need one. Please visit to request yours today. The fund has several programs including Braille pen pals, free white canes, scholarships and more. For more information, visit their website at

The Independent Living program

from the Services to the Blind and Visually Impaired Newsletter

The Independent Living Services with Service to the Blind & Visually Impaired provides training and various types of low vision devices to people who are experiencing vision loss. Common types of vision loss may be macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, sudden vision loss due to stroke or other medical condition.

The Independent Living Service staff may suggest these items to help solve problems:

  • Magnification devices - to help see labels, recipes and mail.
  • Directional task lighting - to help illuminate dark areas around the home.
  • Solar shields - to manage bright glare inside and outside of the home.
  • Simple solutions like bump dots or tactile markings - these help you find a start button or line up a temperature gauge in order to use your microwave or other home appliances.

The Independent Living program does not provide medical services or high-tech devices but focuses on training to do daily activities such as reading with less vision along with specialized magnification and lighting.

closed circuit tv device. model shown is called merlin full hd ultra

Closed Circuit TV devices are a unique magnification device that have been made available to the clients of the Independent Living Services program since 2004. There are 216 machines in the program that can be either leased (for $30/month) or loaned to individuals who meet the economic criteria. Since the program began 1,136 people with low vision have received CCTVs and training which contributed to their independence.

If you have an eye disease and are struggling to do your normal activities or chores around the home; please call Services to the Blind & Visually Impaired to ask about solutions. We want to help! 1-800-265-9684

Visitors, Volunteers, and pictures

group of smiling volunteers from Lions Club pose with staff Kate Kosior
Lions Club volunteer group with staff Kate Kosior

HUGE thanks to the Pierre/Fort Pierre Lions Club, who volunteered their time and efforts on Saturday, January 8, 2022. Ten Lions Club members helped us box up 6,200 old cassettes and cartridges for shipping and recycling. This is freeing up valuable shelf space for our Braille books, which need to be relocated before a planned remodel of our workspace later in the year. Thank you, Lions!

consultants from S B V I visit with staff
SBVI Consultants and staff group photo

Consultants from the SD School for the Blind and Visually Impaired stopped by for a tour on Wednesday, January 19, 2022. Library staff enjoyed meeting and visiting with Julie Vandover, Adrianna Heinert, and Barbara Rohrbach and showing them a bit more about the Braille and Talking Book Library.

smiling patrons pose for photo with staff
Patron visitor group photo with staff

Patron Steph Gisi and her friend Fyrne Schlenker stopped in to visit us and tour the library back on December 17, 2021.

To set up a tour of the SD Braille and Talking Book Library in Pierre, SD contact us and make an appointment.

We also celebrated World Braille Day and National Braille Literacy Month with a few posts on our South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library Facebook page and you can go check those out at .

To check out the photos accompanying this article go to the online version of our Prairie Trails Newsletter on our website. Some of the photos are also posted on our Facebook page .

Educational Materials Order reminder

Contact Lynda Lowin to order Braille or Large print textbooks and learning materials for patrons K-12. Applications to sign a qualifying student up for services and the Textbook order form are located on our website.

While materials can be ordered year-round, to assure they will be available for the start of the fall 2022 semester, orders must be received by January 15, 2022.

Questions, please contact: VACANT, Educational Materials Coordinator/ Reader Advisor: 1-605-773-3131 Option 1, 1; 1-800-423-6665 Option 1, 1; or email

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, February 21, 2022 President's Day
  • Monday, May 30, 2022 Memorial Day
  • Monday, June 20, 2022 Juneteenth
  • Monday, July 4, 2022 Independence 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.