Archive for Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Libraries to observe Talking Books Week

March 5, 2008

The week of March 3-8 has been proclaimed as Talking Books Week. In case you're visualizing a large book with a big moving mouth, the moniker refers to recorded books which can be replayed on a tape deck or via a CD player or even an iPod device.

These books are generally available at most libraries and can be checked out by anybody wishing to combine mindless, routine tasks with the enjoyment of a ripping good yarn voiced by a skilled reader or is looking to learn another language or something else good for the mind.

However, there is another classification of library patron these books serve: a person who is disabled in a way which prohibits him/her from freely reading printed material. This disability includes blindness and could be total blindness or legal blindness past 20/200 with correction. Included in this disabled category are persons not able to hold a book and turn its pages because of "arthritis, stroke, allergies to ink, ongoing dialysis or cancer treatment and other medical conditions." (www.tscpl.org) Also included in the category are persons with conditions such as dyslexia and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. These may be permanent or temporary conditions. A medical doctor (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) must certify and sign the application.

The Talking Books service provides a free tape cassette machine and appropriate cassettes via the U.S. Postal Service. There is no charge for the machine and the tapes nor the postage. The service was established by the U.S. Congress in 1931, which meant the recording of and availability of thousands of books including classics and popular authors. Magazines, newspapers and descriptive videos are also available.

Seven libraries in Kansas administer and serve the public with the program. The books for the service are not available at our local library. They are sent in the mail through the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. Applications may be found at the Bonner Springs Library or on the Web. They may also be obtained by calling or writing or faxing TSCPL Talking Books, 1515 SW 10th Ave, Topeka, KS 66604-1374. The telephone number is (785) 580-4534 or (800) 432-2925 (in Kansas). Requests for books may also be made to those numbers. The Topeka library serves 14 counties, including Atchison, Brown, Doniphan, Douglas, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami, Nemaha, Osage, Shawnee and Wyandotte Counties.

I have known several peoplewho have used and really enjoyed this program. A friend of mine has spent a great deal of time volunteering for it because she appreciated what it meant to her mother, who due to severe arthritis had become unable to hold a book and turn the pages. It broadens the horizons of those whose world has become limited due to vision problems. For more information about the program, go to www.kslib.info/ talking/ksl_bph.html

This program is just one of the many of the great services our State Library system offers us. It is vital that our taxes continue to support these programs so that everyone in our great country can avail themselves of the opportunity to be well informed and educated - whether they are wealthy or poor. Library services exist to help us from the cradle to the grave - if we only take advantage of them. Don't forget to use our local library often and well. If you haven't used it for a long time, you will be amazed at the scope and type of information available to you.

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