Banner: Iowa Department for the Blind

Open Door

Summer 2004

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

Summer 2004 Vol. 4 No. 2
Beth Hirst, Editor
Karen Keninger, Library Director
This newsletter is available in large print, on cassette tape, in Braille, and by E-mail. If you wish to receive Open Door in a different medium, please so advise.

Issue Index
Reading For Fun
Magazine News
From the Desk of Karen Keninger
Cassette Tips
Narrator Information
Scourby Awards
Staff of the Library's Instructional Materials Center (IMC) Team
Got E-mail?
Free Matter Matters
What We've Been Reading
How To Contact Us


    "Literacy: That all may read", this year's theme for the library, is being expressed through talking with others about books. The library began establishing book discussion groups over a year ago. There are three that meet bi‑monthly by conference call and one group that has formed in Clinton to discuss the All Iowa Reads books.
    Each telephone group meets for about an hour and a half. The facilitators randomly ask members questions, so each participant has a chance to contribute. The group chooses the next book for discussion as well as the date and time. Copies of the selected book and study guide are sent six weeks to two months before the event. Members are encouraged to keep the book until after the discussion is held.
    Some books that have been discussed are: Undaunted Courage, by Stephen Ambrose; Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand; The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown; and The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd. Several more books have been selected, and their study guides are being prepared. The guides, produced in Braille, large print, and cassette, are available to any borrower. Many participants have commented on their book club experience.

"What a fun time I am having; these books are just terrific. I am being encouraged to read titles and authors that I would never have chosen for myself and finding this to be just what the doctor ordered."

"Our group has really bonded, and I feel close to each one of them. I am so glad the library started these book discussions."

"I now have new friends all over the state of Iowa. I wish we could find a way to actually meet."

"I wish we could meet more frequently, but I realize that it takes time to create and distribute the study guides. Thank you for making these groups available to us."

"I never thought I could be a part of a book discussion because I can't get out. I am confined pretty much to bed. This has been a wonderful experience for me, and I enjoy our group so much."

    You are invited to become a part of a discussion group. Call the library, and ask to have your name put on the list. When six or seven people sign up, we will start another group. When you join, you might find yourself quoting the German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, "Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading!"


    The cassette editions of Guideposts and Woodsmith are sent in envelopes with address cards on the outside. Even though the cards can be turned over, these two magazines do NOT need to be returned. You may keep your copies. Any magazines in plastic boxes need to be returned to the library when you are finished with them.
    The library will be offering two new cassette magazines very soon. Mark your order form if you are interested in receiving either Wallace's Farmer or Poetry.
    We are exploring the possibility of adding more magazines to our cassette list. Your input regarding areas of interest will help us decide what titles to consider. The order form will include several categories; you may mark as many as interest you. The categories are:

1. Cooking/entertaining/lifestyles
2. Outdoors/recreation/ participatory sports
3. Upscale women's fashion/society
4. For Children
5. Issues/events/"thought-provoking"
6. Retirement/senior interests

    We will tally the results of this very unscientific survey, and let you know in a future issue what new titles we will offer.


    Florence Grannis Shropshire, the librarian who, along with Kenneth Jernigan, established our library and set the high standards of excellence and customer service which we strive to meet every day, has passed away at the age of 84. She served as Regional Librarian for Iowa from 1960 to 1976 and supervised the beginnings of our library. In 1976 she resigned her position here to move with her new husband, Robert Shropshire, to Virginia and later to California. Many of us remember her unswerving demand for excellence and her willingness to provide anything a patron requested. I once requested "everything you have on Russia" for a high school term paper. My mailman hasn't forgotten the load of Braille he delivered, and I haven't forgotten the joy of having real resources at hand for the first time.
    Although she left Iowa 28 years ago, Mrs. Grannis left behind a network of volunteer transcribers, which thrives today, and a library we are all proud to call our own.
    During long hot Iowa summers on the farm, I used to wait every morning for the mail. Would a new book arrive? Was it the one I had called about or something my mother had requested and we'd both forgotten? My mailman brought the world to me wrapped in brown paper and tied with string or housed in heavy black boxes with formidable straps. Many of us have stories to tell about the extra mile our mail carriers have gone to bring us our library books. This fall we will be honoring the postal workers who do so much for our library.
    In October 2004 we want to make a public statement of thanks to the postal workers of Iowa, but we need your help. If you have a mail carrier or someone in the post office who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to bring books to you, we would like you to write a letter of nomination for that person and send it to us. Please include the nominee's name, post office address, phone number, and details of why he or she deserves recognition. One entry will be selected to receive special commendation at the event in October.
    Please send in your nominations by September 15, 2004. Any format will do. Address your letter to: Marilyn Jensen, Library, Iowa Department for the Blind, 524 Fourth Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-2364.


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!


    The National Library Service (NLS) has created a website,, where library borrowers can learn more about their favorite narrators. So far narrators who record at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) and the NLS studio have provided information, including an audio sample. As other narrators submit information, a link for their recording studios' websites will be added.
    Library patrons may also send comments, fan mail, and letters of appreciation in the following ways:

1. MAIL:
Name of narrator
C/O Margie Goergen-Rood
NLS/BPH Library of Congress
1291 Taylor Street NW
Washington, DC 20542

2. FAX: 202-707-0711


4. Telephone: 202-707-9329

NLS will forward all correspondence to the narrator's recording studio.


    The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) sponsors the Alexander Scourby Narrator of the Year Awards. This year, AFB has made changes to the awards' structure and process. Traditionally held in June at Madison Square Garden, the 2004 Scourby Awards will take place on October 14 as a web-based event.
    AFB believes that an online, virtual event will reach a wider audience by enabling more people to vote and to view the ceremony via the web. Their goals are to ensure a high standard in the quality of nominations; to give greater attention to the significant accomplishments of Talking Book narrators; to enhance the involvement of Talking Book producers and users; and to heighten public awareness of the importance of Talking Books for people who are blind or print disabled.
    AFB is anticipating increased participation by the audience that knows narrators the best _ Talking Book users. You are encouraged to vote online at between August 16 and September 15 for your favorite nominee in the categories Fiction, Non‑fiction, and Multilingual Non-fiction.


Karen Paloma, Lynda Wood, Carol Eckey

    The IMC Team researches, acquires, and initiates production of school and job-related materials in alternative media for students and workers who cannot use standard print. To accomplish this, they use both statewide and national resources. The Team also provides guidance and consultation to itinerant vision teachers, resource teachers, and college special needs personnel. To encourage recreational reading during the summer months, the group offers a Summer Reading Club for eligible youngsters throughout Iowa.


Our library software has been upgraded, allowing us to keep track of your E-mail addresses right along with your mailing addresses. Therefore, we are collecting E-mail addresses from everyone who wants to share. We won't be sending unsolicited E-mail, but you might be interested in receiving this newsletter and other Department publications via E-mail rather than in the other standard formats. We also hope to start a ListServ within the next year which will be used to distribute timely information to subscribers. You can submit your E-mail address on the enclosed order form and indicate if you want to switch to E-mail subscriptions for publications.


The Post Office now prefers that free matter envelopes be sealed. If you are sending lists or correspondence by free matter, please seal the envelopes.


The Department for the Blind staff includes many avid readers. The following titles are some we recommend for your enjoyment. Be sure to indicate on the order form which medium you prefer for each book you select.

BR12284, RC45008

Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden

A fictionalized account of the life of a typical geisha in Japan in the 1930s -1940s. At age nine, Sayuri and her sister are sold to a geisha house as their mother lies dying. From then on Sayuri learns the traditional exotic arts for pleasing men. Bestseller. 1997.

RC50033, LT6380

House of Sand and Fog, by Andre Dubus

Because of a tax-office error, recovering addict Kathy Lazaro is evicted from the bungalow she inherited from her father. The house is bought by an Iranian looking for the American dream. Correcting this mistake leads to a legal tussle with dire results. Some sex, violence, and strong language. Bestseller. 1999.

RC56487, LT6956

Flirting With Pete, by Barbara Delinsky

Casey Ellis, a thirty-four-year-old psychotherapist, inherits a Boston townhouse from her psychologist father, who never acknowledged her. When sifting through papers he left behind, she discovers a story about a young woman abused by her father that sets Casey on a path to family and love. 2003.

BR14806, RC54698, LT6689

The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold

Susie Salmon, a fourteen-year-old girl murdered by a neighbor, watches over her family and friends from heaven. While adjusting to a new habitat, she reaches out to them as she observes their struggle to survive their grief. Some sex, violence, and strong language. Bestseller. 2002.

RC50848, LT6301

The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood

This convoluted tale of two sisters begins with the questionable circumstances of the 1945 death of the younger, Laura, at twenty-five. Iris, the surviving and now elderly sister, recalls what led to the tragic event. Interspersed is a novel-within-a-novel, Laura's posthumously published book. Bestseller. 2000.

BR14466, RC55050, LT7143

Chasing the Dime, by Michael Connelly

Dr. Henry Pierce moves while in the midst of a computer technology battle and a fight for project funding. His new, and very busy, telephone number belonged to a dazzling online call girl, who seems to be missing. Violence, strong language, and some explicit descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 2002.

BRD20775, RC52887, LT6430

Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, by James Patterson

Katie Wilkinson, a book editor in New York, believes she has found the perfect man when she meets poet Matt Harrison. They are having a wonderful time together, when without warning, he gives her a diary his deceased wife had written for their son. Then Matt disappears. Bestseller. 2001.


Truman, by David McCullough

A monumental study of the life and times of the plainspoken, plain-looking, 'ordinary' man from Missouri who became an extraordinary president. McCullough details Truman's accomplishments as a politician and a statesman, as well as his failings and his lack of sophistication. The author also recreates the famous 1948 presidential election, which he calls Truman's finest hour. 1992.

RC52281, LT7080

Cane River, by Lalita Tademy

Tademy's fictionalized account of her maternal ancestors, from 1834 to the 1950s, begins with her enslaved great-great-great-great-grandmother Elisabeth and continues with three generations of successively lighter descendants. She describes these women's struggles for freedom and justice on a Creole plantation in Cane River, Louisiana. Some violence. Bestseller. 2001.

BRD20604, RC55533, LT7000

The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

South Carolina, 1964. Fourteen-year-old Lily rescues her African American housekeeper (and substitute mother), Rosaleen, from the hospital. Rosaleen had been beaten while trying to register to vote. They flee to a safe place where Lily's battered late mother had also fled C a beekeeping operation run by three black sisters. Some strong language. 2002.

BR14929, RC56894

Bleachers, by John Grisham

After fifteen years, former high school quarterback Neely Crenshaw returns to his hometown, where he learns that legendary football coach Eddie Rake lies dying. With other Spartans he reminisces about the "glory days" of their youth while contemplating his own lost potential. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2003.


The Blue Bottle Club, by Penelope Stokes

Christmas Day, 1929. In an act of faith, four young women write their dreams on slips of paper and hide them in a blue bottle in the attic. Sixty-five years later a demolition worker discovers the bottle and hands it to reporter Brendan Delaney, who searches for the four women.


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

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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.