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Open Door 

Winter 2004

Newsletter of the Library
Iowa Department for the Blind
524 Fourth Street
Des Moines, IA 50309-2364

Winter 2004
Vol. 4 No. 1
Beth Hirst, Editor
Karen Keninger, Library Director

Table of Contents
Director's Message
Our New Look
"All Iowa Reads" Chooses Book By Elizabeth McCracken
The Production Team
Book List Etiquette
Cassette Tips
Don't Know Much About Geography?
Take A Look At Our Books!
Radio Shows
2004 Anniversary Events
How To Contact Us

Note: 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.


By Karen Keninger

    “May you live in interesting (or important) times.” Attributed to many different cultures, this statement is not intended as a blessing, but rather the opposite. As we ring in the new year, we at the Library realize that we are definitely living in interesting times. We are working hard and creatively, but everything is overshadowed by the realities of the State budget. As Iowa struggles to catch up with the economic upturn some parts of the nation are experiencing, we are facing the potential of deep cuts to the Department’s, and thus the Library’s, budget. Without an increase of approximately $400,000 in State funding, the Library will face cuts of nearly 25 percent by July of 2005.
    These cuts will naturally affect all aspects of your Library service. If Iowa legislators understand how important Library services are to our patrons, they may legislate the $400,000 needed to maintain the quality services we have traditionally provided. Interesting? Yes. Important? Definitely! If you are interested in learning who your state legislators are or need other information about Iowa government, contact your reader advisor.
    Speaking of information services, Iowa is joining a group of Libraries for the Blind throughout the country to pilot test an on-line interactive reference desk for our patrons. If you are interested in participating in the pilot project, call Dan Bakke at 800-362-2587 or e-mail him at for details.


    The Library recently made some exciting changes to the public area inside our front entrance. One of our goals for the year 2003 was to redesign this area to enhance your visits to our facility. Due to the recent budget constraints, we’ve had to be resourceful in working with materials we already own.
    When you enter the Library, you can explore our large topographical globe and three tactile picture maps of Washington D.C. You can also find displays of descriptive videos and cassette, Braille, print/Braille, and large print books. The items found on these shelves can be checked out to take home. Our patron computer work station is located immediately to your left. You may access our OPAC (online public access catalog) or the Internet here. Work stations have been rearranged so that after you proceed past the displays and computer desk, the reader advisors are straight ahead or a little to your left. All reader advisors face the front entrance now, so no more corners, nooks and crannies to navigate! Please stop in, visit us, and experience our new design and offerings.


    This year’s “All Iowa Reads” title has a special connection to our library. Elizabeth McCracken, author of Niagara Falls All Over Again, is a native of West Des Moines and is the niece of Elizabeth Perowsky, volunteer Braillist. Perowsky Brailled for over sixty years before her death at age 97. McCracken visited with library staff and patrons as part of the “Take a Talking Book” event in October 2002.
    The novel, Niagara Falls All Over Again, is the story of the thirty-year relationship of a vaudeville and movie comedy team. Reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello, Mose and Rocky share both fame and hard times in early 20th-century Hollywood. Mark your order form to receive this book, available on cassette, in Braille, and in large print.
    The library will again arrange discussion groups as part of the “All Iowa Reads” project. Contact Marilyn to participate: 800-362-2587 or


    The production  team produces Braille and taped materials for patrons. Laura Williams processes Braille requests, delegates in-house Braille assignments to Karen Cunningham and Sarah Cranston, and sends projects for volunteers to the Braille coordinator. Braille coordinator Joan Boggess assigns work to volunteer braillists and produces vast quantities of Braille herself. She also mentors new Braillists and students. Sandy Jacobs and Alan Ackley process all new books and prepare them for circulation. They also handle repairs and maintenance of cassette, Braille, and large print books and descriptive videos. Beth Hirst manages the tape production unit, assigns projects to volunteer tapists, and records publications in-house.


Help us to serve you better. When placing an order for your books, it is not necessary to re-order titles that you have requested on a previous book list. All selections are entered into the computer system and will remain on your request file until they are sent. Please try to keep your order forms as neat and clean as possible. When lists are soiled, book numbers can be obscured. This could cause you to receive books you don’t wish to read.



1. Listen to one book at a time, so you won’t get the tapes mixed up.
2. Rewind each cassette.
3. Make sure the correct number of tapes is in each box before returning it.
4. Put a rubber band around any tape that has a problem or does not belong in the container.
5. Keep all of your books in a specified location in your home, so they won’t be misplaced.
Thank You!


    Do the cold winter days ever spark your wanderlust, causing you to dream about faraway places? Do daily news events make you curious about your neighboring states or countries in another hemisphere? If so, you may want to examine some of our library’s maps to explore the places you’ve wondered about. The library has added a variety of Braille maps and atlases to its collection recently. Atlases of the Middle East and Eastern Europe are now available, as well as maps of the British Isles, Morocco, and several states. You may request a Braille list of maps and atlases by checking the appropriate box on the order form.
    For those who want something more comprehensive, we also have the National Geographic Picture Atlas of Our Fifty States (BRN17840). This Braille atlas includes tactile maps and information about the geography, industries, and population of each state. It also features political, physical, and road maps of each state. If you are interested in just one particular state or region, you may check out Braille volumes individually.
    Let us know if you wish to do some armchair exploring, and we’ll send something off to get you started. Who knows, you may become a world traveler without ever leaving your den!


    Did you know that you can order books for yourself from the comfort of your own home? Our online public access catalog (OPAC) allows you to search our database of 47,000 cassette titles, 31,000 Braille titles, and 7,000 large print titles. You can access this catalog by going to any of the following WEB addresses:

Iowa Department for the Blind -
Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped -
An online user’s manual, which provides hints and tips on how to best utilize the catalog, is also available on the OPAC website.

    Anyone who has access to the Internet may search the OPAC. If you wish to send books to yourself, please contact a reader advisor to obtain your Patron ID and patron number. If the book that you wish to receive is on the shelf, it will be sent to you the next business day. Otherwise, we will send it to you as soon as a copy is available.
    When visiting the library, you may peruse the collection’s holdings on the computer inside our main entrance. It is speech accessible, and headphones are provided.


~Better Than Ever~

    Was sitting in front of the radio a favorite pastime when you were a child? Our new and improved radio shows will surely appeal to you. You may have borrowed radio shows in the past and been disappointed to find that many of the tapes included only two half-hour programs. Our new tapes may include up to six shows per cassette, and there may be multiple cassettes per title.
    These “new” programs are actual recordings of radio shows from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. There are comedies, dramas, science fiction, mysteries, variety shows and more. Because these are original programs, the sound quality may vary. Some shows will include commercials and opening and closing announcements, while others will have them edited out.
    A good script was never wasted. It was often reused on the same show or re-worked for another series. So if you think you’ve heard an episode before, you may be right—although every effort was made to remove obvious reruns.
    Our new catalog includes old favorites from every genre, such as: Classic comedy - Amos and Andy, Red Skelton; Mystery and Suspense - I Love a Mystery, Inner Sanctum; Westerns - Ft. Laramie, Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger; Science Fiction - Dimension X, X Minus One. You also might find some uncommon shows such as World War II news broadcasts and baseball games of the 30’s. There are far too many choices to list here.

    Request a catalog by marking the order form, or log on to the OPAC and view a list of new radio shows. Entries in the catalog include the title ID number, show title, and brief description. Episode listings are available on request.

    We would like to thank and for their help in obtaining the shows. Thanks also to our several volunteers who spent many hours converting these shows to a much easier-to-use format.


    At the start of a new year, we often look back to see what landmark events took place one hundred years ago. This issue’s book list features titles that illuminate people and incidents of historical significance from the years 1804, 1854, 1904, 1929, and 1954. The information included here comes from Chase’s Calendar of Events 2004, described as “The definitive guide to all holidays and anniversaries”. The library’s reference collection includes a copy of Chase’s Calendar.

1804 - U. S. Vice President Aaron Burr fatally shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel, thus ending Burr’s political career.
RC51416 - Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America, by Thomas J. Fleming

1854 - The National Institute for Blind Children in Paris adopted the Braille system of raised dots as a method of reading. Louis Braille had died two years earlier, not knowing that his system would be a success.
BR10436 - The World Under My Fingers: Personal Reflections on Braille, by Barbara Pierce
CBO12906 - Louis Braille and the Baker’s Daughter, by the Blue Ridge Radio Players

1854 - The first “Orphan Train” from New York took homeless children to the Midwest for adoption and foster care. By 1929, an estimated 150,000 children were relocated.
LT1119 - Orphan Train, by Jim Magnuson
RC48206 - Orphan Train Rider: One Boy’s True Story, by Andrea Warren

1904 - Construction began on the Panama Canal.
RC15721 - The Path Between the Seas: Creation of the Panama Canal, by David G. McCullough

1904 - Helen Keller graduated from Radcliffe College, becoming the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor’s degree.
RC48038, BR12198 - Helen Keller, A Life, by Dorothy Herrmann
RC54590, BR14162 - Helen Keller, Rebellious Spirit, by Laurie Lawlor

1904 - Theodore Geisel, later known as Dr. Seuss, was born.
RC41116 - Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel, A Biography, by Judith Morgan.
RC34062 - You’re Only Old Once!, by Dr. Seuss

1929 - Dorothy Eustice incorporated “The Seeing Eye” in Nashville, Tennessee, for training guide dogs. The first class consisted of two students.
BR1320 - First Lady of the Seeing Eye, by Morris Frank
RC53712, BR4133 - Love in the Lead: the Fifty-Year Miracle of the Seeing Eye Dog, by Peter Putnam

1929 - Seven men were gunned down in a Chicago garage, a gangland murder known as the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”.
RC40115 - Capone: The Man and the Era, by Laurence Bergreen

1929 - The New York Stock Exchange suffered a catastrophic crash on October 29, Black Tuesday.
RC14025 - The Day the Bubble Burst: A Social History of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, by Gordon Thomas

1954 - Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas was the Supreme Court decision which heralded the beginning of desegregation.
RC25648 - Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965, by Juan Williams
RC34369 - Free at Last?: The Civil Rights Movement and the People Who Made It, by Fred Powledge

1954 - The first two parts of The Lord of the Rings trilogy were published.
RC52637 - Tolkien, A Biography, by Humphrey Carpenter
RC36850 - Inventing the Middle Ages, by Norman Cantor


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

Reader’s Advisors - If your name begins with:
A - G Lynda 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 Production Beth 281-1280
Braille Production Laura 281-1292
Descriptive Videos Marcella 281-1246

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

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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Open Door is published by the Iowa Department for the Blind. Please direct questions and suggestions to the Iowa Department for the Blind, 524 Fourth Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-2364, 515-281-1333.