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Open Door

Newsletter of the Library

Winter 2003

Published and Distributed by the Iowa Department for the Blind
524 Fourth Street
Des Moines, IA 50309-2364
(515) 281-1333
(800) 362-2587

Winter 2003
Vol. 3 No. 1

Beth Hirst, Editor
Karen Keninger, Library Director


"All Iowa Reads" Chooses Peace Like a River.
What's in the News?
Celebrating Talking Books.
Volunteer Recognition.
Braille Shifting Project Completed.
New Year's Resolutions for Readers.
Library Staff Favorites.
How to Contact Us.

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Graphic: Section Break


"All Iowa Reads" Chooses Peace Like a River

"All Iowa Reads" is a newly formed program intended to promote reading in Iowa. The "All Iowa Reads" committee, which includes our own Karen Keninger, Christie Vilsack, and several librarians, has announced its selection for 2003, Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger (LT6721, RC54212, and BRD20325 - in progress). The criteria for choosing the book called for a broad appeal to readers high school age through adult, a universal theme, and, if possible, a Midwestern setting or author.

Leif Enger sets his story in his native state of Minnesota during the 1960's. Peace Like a River is at once a heroic quest, a tragedy, a love story, and a haunting meditation on the possibility of magic in the everyday world. It is about faith, miracles, and family. All citizens are encouraged to read the chosen title. Book discussion groups may be held at local public libraries and book stores to foster participation in the program.

The Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped will be active in "All Iowa Reads" as well. Patrons are asked to read Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and to consider joining a discussion group. Several "Book Club" events will be held for our borrowers, including telephone conference calls and small groups meeting at the three department locations. The projected dates for the phone book clubs are April 30 and May 30. Eight registrants will be accepted for each call. Group meetings will be arranged in June, and additional dates will be added if demand is great. The Library staff will facilitate each discussion. To register, call Marilyn at the Iowa Department for the Blind, 800-362-2587 or 515-281-1348.

What's in the News?

Do you miss reading the newspaper due to impaired vision or a physical handicap? If so, you may be able to access news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by signing up for one of the following services.

NFB-Newsline is a free dial-in service that provides more than fifty newspapers, updated daily. Using a touch-tone telephone, you can easily select an article of interest, which is read with computerized speech. This service is sponsored by the National Federation for the Blind. To register, call your reader's advisor.

Iowa Radio Reading Service (IRIS) will provide you with a special, pre-tuned radio receiver to access its round-the-clock news offerings. 260 volunteers read Iowa newspapers, magazines, and other publications for this non-profit organization. Over 50,000 Iowans keep up-to-date by listening to IRIS. To ask if the service is available in your area, call our Administrative Office at 800-362-2587.

Do you live within 80 miles of the Quad Cities area? Augustana Public Radio Information Service (APRIS) also provides radio reading. Some of its programming includes the N.Y. Times, Chicago Tribune, and The Clinton Herald. For information, call 309-794-7560.

Celebrating Talking Books.

Noted Iowa authors and other public personalities helped the Library introduce Iowa seniors to the pleasure and convenience of talking books through two events called "Reading a la Mode." More than 1200 pamphlets about Talking Book Services were handed out at shopping malls in Des Moines in October and November. The public was invited to hear stories well told by authors Elizabeth McCracken and Roger Polt, dignitaries from local city councils, mayor's and city manager's offices, chiefs of police and fire, talking book narrators, and Mrs. Iowa 2002, among others.

Public service announcements will be broadcast this winter telling about the wide array of recorded materials available through our Library. If you know people who might be eligible to receive talking books, please tell them what the program means to you. Help us spread the word!

Volunteer Recognition.

September 6, 2002, was a day set aside for celebrating the value of our volunteers. Transcribers, rewinding clerks, staff, and others enjoyed seminars and guest speakers, and the Orientation students' buffet luncheon was a scrumptious success. Gloria Alverson, who has contributed countless hours of rewinding, was this year's recipient of the Elizabeth Perowsky Volunteer Award.

Library patrons are encouraged to send notes of thanks to the transcribers who fulfill individual requests for Braille and taped materials. Such notes can be mailed to the Library. Address them to Beth's attention, and she will forward them to the appropriate transcriber. We want our volunteers to feel appreciated year-round!

Braille Shifting Project Completed.

The Iowa Regional Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped has been justifiably proud of its extensive Braille collection, the largest in the United States. Over the past forty years, the impressive collection has grown to a record 120,000 volumes. How to house the Library's treasured resource has been a major challenge. Late last summer staff implemented a historic change which resulted in shifting the Braille collection from Dewey Decimal order (arranged by subject) to accession order (arranged by number in order received). The Library pooled its human resources to tackle the massive effort to gain more space. Book trucks, step stools, and metal book ends were scarce and coveted commodities. At last on Thursday, September 18, 2002, the monumental re-shelving effort was completed, and staff and volunteers took time to celebrate their achievement. Although patrons may no longer browse the braille collection by subject, they may still use the Library's on-line catalog to search for material to read. Congratulations to all who were involved in this huge undertaking.

New Year's Resolutions for Readers.

1. I will reread a book I loved as a child.

2. I will finally read that classic from high school that I have been avoiding.

3. I will find a book of poetry and read some outloud.

4. I will spend an hour in aimless browsing on the OPAC or in Talking Book Topics.

5. I will read a book written in the year I was born.

6. I will create a journal and keep notes about the books and magazines I read.

7. I will assemble a list of my favorite people and send them my ideas about books (favorites, recent reads, and the like).

8. I will read a book to a child.

9. I will gather a few friends and read a play out loud.

10. I will read a book on the history of my town.

11. I will read a book written from a political point of view totally opposite my own.

12. I will read a book about a place I have never been.

13. I will reread a book that I just did not "get" when I was eighteen.

14. I will read a book written by a non-American.

Adapted from a list created by Camille DelVecchio, Penfield (NY) Public Library.

Library Staff Favorites.

Curl up by the fire with a great book!

Long winter nights seem to beg for hot tea or cocoa, an afghan on the sofa, and a good book. Check out the following titles recommended by various Library staff members: classic novels, favorite children's stories, mysteries, and more. Many of the selections are available in several media, so be sure to circle the format you want on the order form. Remember, BR= Braille; RC= Cassette; and LT= Large Type.

BR9954, RC21574, LT3653 The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Pulitzer Prize-winning (1939) story of the Great Depression. The Joads from Oklahoma are driven from their dust-bowl farm by the encroachment of large agricultural interests. They set out to the promised land of California to find work. Instead they face organized opposition to their struggle to survive. Strong language.

BR11902, RC25178, LT844 Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Classic 19th-century novel, set on the moors of Yorkshire, about Heathcliff, a foundling raised in the Earnshaw home, and his love for Catherine. He dedicates his life to the realization of that love and vows revenge on those who oppose him. First published 1847.

BR12559, RC49208, LT1940 Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. Utah, 1871. When Jane incurs the wrath of her fellow Mormons for befriending Gentiles, gunman Lassiter comes to her aid, making a startling personal discovery. Violence. Published 1912.

BR12800, RC44849, LT5444 Tuesdays With Morrie; an Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom. Twenty years after college, Mitch Albom rekindles his relationship with a former professor who is terminally ill. His weekly visits with his mentor become a colloquium on the meaning of life. Bestseller 1997. (Two of the staff picked this book.)

BR13456, RC38959, LT3928 Animal Farm by George Orwell. Classic political satire targets Soviet Communism. The animals on a farm overthrow their master and live a utopian life, until the intelligent pigs take over -- and one establishes himself as dictator.

BR5919, BRN3005, RC22906 Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. After being sent to bed without supper for acting wildly, Max puts on his wolf suit, sailing far away to where the wild things are. Grades K-3. Caldecott Medal 1964. (Three of the staff picked this.)

BR8315, RC31971, LT142 Longshot by Dick Francis. John Kendall, struggling author of survival manuals, agrees to write a biography of champion horse trainer Tremayne Vickers in return for room and board and a small fee. His research turns up the recent murders of two young women. When John closes in on the solution, the murderer forces him to use his own survival advice. Strong language. Bestseller 1990.

BR9405, RC46839, LT1753 Charlotte's Web by E. B. White. A little girl who can talk to animals is devoted to both Wilbur, the foolishly smug pig, and Charlotte, the beautiful gray spider who saves Wilbur's life. Grades 3-6.

RC40507 Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint. Entwining urban fantasy with social justice issues, this short story collection is set in an imaginary city. Populating these urban myths are recurring characters who meet monsters, goblins, ghosts, wizards, and Bigfoot in city alleys, clubs, and cafes. Some strong language. High school and older.

RC40326 Pulp by Charles Bukowski. A satire on detective novels. Nick Belane commands a fee of six dollars. Among his clients are Lady Death, annoyed by the evasiveness of one of her targets; John Barton, in search of the Red Sparrow; Jack Bass, convinced that his wife is unfaithful; and Hal Grovers, troubled by a space alien. Belane tries in vain to make sense of this sordid and absurd business. Strong language.

RC29081 In Pale Battalions by Robert Goddard.Historical mystery of WWI period with multiple unexpected twists. Raised as the maltreated ward of a cruel woman, Leonora is haunted by the riddle of her parentage. When she reaches adulthood, the tragic tale of a British officer who balked at the waste of war begins to unfold.

RC22968 On the Road with Charles Kuralt by Charles Kuralt. Interviews by the popular CBS reporter who found quirky stories about the folks in small towns from Lookingglass, Oregon, to Sopchoppy, Florida. Bestseller 1985.

RC37258, LT4650 Having Our Say; The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years by Sadie and Bessie Delany. The sisters recall having been "colored" children in the late 19th-century South. Later Bessie became the second black female dentist in New York, and Sadie was the first black person to teach high school domestic science.

RC45678, LT5812 An Angel for Emily by Jude Deveraux. Angry at being stood up by her fiance, Emily Todd is speeding down a curving road, when she hits a man. Michael, unscathed by the accident, is actually Emily's guardian angel, sent to protect her from some evil -- if only he knew what. Bestseller 1998.

BR10210, RC36529 Laughing Gas by P.G. Wodehouse. Reginald, the third earl of Havershot, goes to Hollywood to prevent the ill-contemplated marriage of his cousin Egremont. The earl encounters even greater difficulties when he accidentally ends up changing places -- and bodies -- with a famous but spoiled child movie star.

BR11427, RC33082, LT4302 Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. A romantic Civil War epic in which Scarlet O'Hara, forceful and ruthless, and Rhett Butler, war profiteer, pursue a tempestuous love affair against the backdrop of the war-torn South. Pulitzer Prize 1936. (If you loved the movie, you will find the novel superior. Two of the staff picked this.)

RC18485 Little, Big by John Crowley. Poignant adult fairy tale that chronicles five generations of the family of an eccentric Victorian architect. Smoky Barnstable, a city boy, marries granddaughter Daily Alice Drinkwater, and spends the rest of his life trying to understand their family, a clan of mystics, sibyls, fairies and gnomes. Some descriptions of sex.

BR12850, RC36414, LT4310 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Classic tale of injustice, friendship, and coming-of-age in 1930s Alabama. Six-year-old Scout and her friends are fascinated by the mysterious Radley place and its reclusive occupant. But their focus shifts when Scout's attorney-father is called upon to defend a black man accused of rape. For senior high and older readers. Pulitzer Prize 1960.

BR9731, RC33948 The Pelican Brief by John Grisham. Two Supreme Court Justices are murdered on the same night. One is very old and extremely liberal; the other is young, erratically conservative, and a closet homosexual. A top law student, Darby Shaw, investigates the cases due to come before the high court and pinpoints the mastermind behind the murders. Now Darby's running for her life. Violence, strong language, and explicit descriptions of sex.

BRD18160, RC45024, LT4847 Rosehaven by Catherine Coulter. England, 1277. Severin of Langthorne, having returned from the Holy Land to find his estate in ruin, accepts an offer to wed Hastings of Trent and become lord of her lands upon her father's death, which is imminent. Hastings, a strong-willed girl who has no desire to be subservient to a man she detests, uses her knowledge of herbal medicine to her benefit. Violence, descriptions of sex. Bestseller 1996.

BRN13984, RC17020, LT2755 The Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie. Eleven short mysteries, some with psychological or supernatural plots. 1954.


Toll-Free 800-362-2587 FAX 515-281-1378 TTY 515-281-1355

Reader's Advisors - If your name begins with: A - G: Darin, 281-1248 H - N: Gail, 281-1325 O - Z: Lynne, 281-1369

Applications for service: Cindy, 281-1368 or Marilyn, 281-1348 Machine questions: Niels, 281-1245 or Pat, 281-1285 Tape or Braille Production: Beth, 281-1280 Descriptive Videos: Marcella, 281-1246

Instructional Materials: A - L: Carol, 281-1271 M - Z: Karen P., 281-1275

This newsletter is available in large print, on cassette tape, and in Braille. If you wish to receive Open Door in a different medium, please so advise.

This newsletter is printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink.  The Iowa Department for the Blind is committed to preserving the environment and to reducing waste.

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