Banner: Iowa Department for the Blind

Open Door

Summer 2005

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

Summer 2005 Beth Hirst, Editor
Vol. 5 No. 2 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.

From the Director's Desk
Special Club for Centenarians
Say Thanks to Postal Workers
Do Your Tapes Sound Like the Chipmunks?
Library Staff News
Introducing Randy Landgrebe
Just the Facts
Jumbled Words
Book Club Mix
How to Contact Us

From the Director’s Desk

Have you ever wondered just exactly how lightning works, or why the word “sanction” can mean both “to approve” and “to deny”? How did Senators Harkin and Grassley vote on important bills last week? These are the kinds of questions reference librarians get every day.

Last year our library participated in a pilot project called InfoEyes. The project offered Internet-based reference to people who logged in via the Internet. The software made it possible for the reference librarian and the patron to talk to each other using microphones and the Internet, or write notes to each other through text-chat. They could both look at the same web pages, as the librarian searched for resources containing the answer to the question asked. This type of reference service is becoming widely used by universities.

Although this did not prove to be a big success, we learned many interesting things from it, including the unhappy fact that the software most universities use for on-line reference (Iowa and Iowa State among them), called QuestionPoint, is not accessible with a screen reader. We also learned that a different web program, iVocalize, works very well for all of these functions.

Reference services have always been an important part of public libraries, and we’ll be phasing in reference services here as well. In the meantime, your local public library can offer you telephone-based reference service. What does that mean? If you have a question of any kind, you can call the reference desk and ask them to look up the answer. If they can’t find it quickly, they will call you back.

University libraries can also offer you reference service via e-mail or by phone. Use them when you’re looking for more in-depth answers to your questions. If the result of your inquiry involves printed documents such as magazine or journal articles or a book, we will be happy to transcribe them for you upon request.

Your public library is also an excellent place to join a book club. Several of our patrons routinely request that we record books for them to read with their local book clubs. Often these book clubs make their choices months in advance, which gives us time to get the recording done. It’s a good place to meet your neighbors and talk about the books you love to read. If getting to the library for local book discussion isn’t an option for you, consider joining one of our telephone-based discussion groups.

Our book list for this issue features several titles chosen by discussion groups. See pages 6 and 7 for some thought-provoking reading!

Special Club for Centenarians

To honor patrons who are one hundred years old or older, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), recently established the 102 Talking-Book Club. The 102 Club salutes remarkable patrons who, at more than one hundred years of age, remain actively engaged in reading. The 102 Club provides the opportunity to acknowledge their achievements and the rewards of a life of reading and intellectual curiosity.

The Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is joining in celebrating these patrons. Starting in September 2005, the Library is establishing a new tradition of granting “First Choice Status” to all centenarians who are active patrons. A patron with this priority status will not have to wait for any book requested. This recognition will be ongoing. In the future, 102 Club members will be among the first patrons to receive the new digital talking-book players, which are designed to be readily accessible to our oldest patrons.

Inductees into the inaugural Iowa 102 Club will be invited to a ceremony where they will be presented with a certificate, letter, and pin from NLS. If patrons are unable to attend the induction ceremony, materials will be delivered to them directly by members of the library staff.

In honor of our centenarians, we offer the following books with 100 in the title:

RC41994 100 Years, 100 Stories, by George Burns.

RC37258, LT4650 Having Our Say: the Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, by Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delany.

RC50431 The Century That Was: Reflections on the Last One Hundred Years, edited by James C. Giblin.

RC57408 If I Live to Be One Hundred: Lessons from the Centenarians, by Neenah Ellis.

RC48431 Our Dumb Century: The Onion Presents 100 Years of Headlines from America’s Finest News Source, by Scott Dikkers.

Say Thanks to Postal Workers

The Library will host the second annual celebration of the postal workers of Iowa on November 18, 2005. For the success of this year’s event, 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, please write a letter of nomination for that person and send it to us. Include the nominee’s name, post office address, phone number, and details of why he or she deserves recognition.

Please submit your nominations by September 16, 2005, in any format to: Marilyn Jensen, Library, Iowa Department for the Blind, 524 Fourth Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-2364; or e-mail:

Help us express our gratitude to the U.S. Postal Service!

Do Your Tapes Sound Like the Chipmunks?

When the voice on the tape sounds high-pitched and rushed, like chipmunks, this means the tape is running too fast. This rarely occurs because of a mechanical problem in the player. First check the speed selectors. Is the rear rocker pressed down to the left, and is the variable speed slider pushed to the left side?

If the tape still runs fast, take it out and tap it gently on its edge. When replacing the tape in the machine, push only on the two hard corners of the cassette. Do not put your fingers over any of the openings in the tape case; this can push the tape back in the case, causing it to be in the wrong place when you close the cassette door and press play. If the tape is too far back, it will run fast, producing that familiar chipmunk sound. ALVIN!!

Library Staff News

On June 30, 2005, Karen Paloma retired after 28 years of service with the Iowa Department for the Blind. A reception in Karen’s honor was held in the assembly room that afternoon.

Karen is from Waterloo, where her parents owned a florist shop. She often worked there while she was pursuing her degree at the University of Northern Iowa. After college she worked in school libraries before coming to IDB. Karen began as a Reader Advisor and subsequently held positions of tape librarian, print librarian, volunteer coordinator, and director of the radio reading program. For the last 15 years she has been an Instructional Materials Center (IMC) librarian, providing students in kindergarten through college with textbooks in alternative media.

After her retirement, Karen hopes to move with her husband to Texas. She enjoys travel and would like to see the northeastern and northwestern United States, as well as Europe. Visiting zoos is a pastime of Karen’s, and she will probably visit several zoos in her travels. Two of her favorites are Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and the Albuquerque Zoo.

Karen will be remembered as a consummate professional and someone who was always willing to lend a hand. We wish her well in her retirement!

The Machines Team - Pat Kokke, Niels Andersen

Niels and Pat maintain the inventory of cassette players, issue and exchange machines for patrons, and oversee cleaning and repair of returned players.

Deena Cross has moved from the Stacks team to the Instructional Materials Center. She is the IMC Specialist, assisting the IMC librarians, overseeing the Summer Reading Club, and aiding patrons with the OPAC and the Career Resource Center.

Gail Stricker is now the IMC Librarian, filling Karen Paloma’s position. Gail was a reader advisor for five and a half years. She will be serving students in the first half of the alphabet, A-L.

Tim West has joined the Library staff as Digital Recording Specialist. He will manage the construction and implementation of our in-house recording studio, as well as plan for the conversion of at-home recording to digital equipment.

Introducing Randy Landgrebe

Our new Circulation Supervisor, Randy Landgrebe, comes to us from the Newton Public Library, where he was Adult Services Librarian. He and his wife, Susanne, a nurse-practitioner in Colfax, have six children. Randy enjoys coaching Little League Baseball and other outdoor activities.

Randy says what has impressed him most about our Library is the commitment of all of our staff to providing the best possible service to borrowers. He is very happy to have joined such a dedicated crew.

Welcome, Randy!

Just the Facts

In the past four and a half years, what is the greatest number of books that one patron has checked out?
7458 patrons borrowed at least one book.
2462 borrowed more than 100 books
553 borrowed more than 500 books
163 borrowed more than 1000 books
13 borrowed more than 2000 books
Second most books borrowed by one patron: 3091
Most books borrowed by one patron since January 2001: 4479


Unscramble the letters of each of the eight words. Then arrange the identified letters to answer the question: What was the most popular mystery title read in the Library during the year 2004?

(Clue: each of the jumbled words is related to a mystery.)

THUSEL _ _ _ _ _
Last letter.

TEVIDCEET _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Third letter.

TIRINUGE _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Third letter.

RURGBLA _ _ _ _ _ _
First letter.

NCEIDEEV _ _ _ _ _
First, fifth, and eighth letters.

TOPARREPTER _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Third and last letters.

MAEGIN_ _ _ _ _
Second letter.

NUTWHIDO _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Second letter.

Answer: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Answers following next article.)



Several of the following titles were recorded for the Perry Public Library book club. Others have been selected by our library’s discussion groups. Choose one or several for yourself, and start a conversation!

Crossing Over: One Woman’s Escape from Amish Life, by Ruth Irene Garrett

The author was the fifth of seven children raised in Kalona, Iowa, as a member of a strict Old Order Amish community, which unyieldingly avoided all interaction with “the English” — everyone who lived on the outside. Ruth’s life changed dramatically when she fell in love with an outsider 15 years her senior. Worse, he was divorced, and wedding him was equivalent to adultery in the eyes of the Amish. Nonfiction.

The Sleeping Father, by Matthew Sharpe

Bernard Schwartz, a divorced dad of two teenagers, inadvertently combines two incompatible antidepressant medications, goes into a coma, has a stroke, and emerges with brain damage. His teenage son and daughter inherit some money and decide to rehabilitate their father on their own.

RCO14186, LT6697
Some Days There’s Pie, by Catherine Landis

Ruth elopes with Chuck as a way out of Summerville, Tennessee. When Chuck “gets religion,” Ruth, cherishing freedom more than safety, heads north. When Ruth faints from hunger at a North Carolina five-and-dime, Rose, a feisty octogenarian reporter, rescues her, and a friendship stronger than family ties unexpectedly blossoms.

After Dark, by Beverly Barton

After fifteen years away from Noble’s Crossing, Alabama, Johnny Mack Cahill receives an anonymous note stating: “Your son needs you. Come home.” The enclosed newspaper article states that the boy’s mother is suspected of murdering her former spouse. Johnny goes back to meet his son, find out who sent the note, and find the murderer.

RCO14254, BR14366
Crow Lake, by Mary Lawson

Education has always been the goal in Kate’s family, but when her parents die, her two older brothers must sacrifice their plans so they can keep the family together. Help from their rural community and the efforts of the brothers make it possible for seven-year-old Kate and her baby sister to remain in a household filled with love and humor. As an adult, however, Kate looks back with a sense of tragedy and loss, not so much for her parents, but for her brother Matt.

RCO13893, BR14084
The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, by Brady Udall

Edgar Mint, the half-Apache, half-white narrator, is run over by a mailman’s car, his head crushed. He recovers, only to be abandoned by his family. The boy embarks on an odyssey through various institutions and homes, including St. Divine’s hospital, then Willie Sherman’s, a horrific school for Indian children, and finally is placed with a dysfunctional Mormon family.

RC52291, LT7203
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich

Inspired by welfare reforms, the author explores surviving on less than $8 per hour as an “unskilled” worker. Traveling across the country, she takes on six jobs and lives anywhere she can afford. She concludes that low-paying jobs without supportive public services are a disgrace to the United States. Nonfiction.

RC41185, BR3167, LT984
The Bridge of San Luis Rey, by Thornton Wilder

This Pulitzer Prize-winning 1927 novel surveys the lives of five Peruvian travelers, victims of the collapse of a famous Incan bridge in 1714. Franciscan Brother Juniper, witness to the tragedy, weaves a story revealing how these people came together on the bridge at that final moment. Was it fate or was it an act of God?

RC50945, BRD18722, LT6507
Evans Above, by Rhys Bowen

Evan Evans, the newly assigned constable for Llanfair, North Wales, is searching for two missing hikers who are later discovered murdered. While hunting for a possible serial killer, Evans also contends with two local ladies who are vying for his attentions, as well as with competing ministers’ wives.

RC51202, LT7182
Wish You Well, by David Baldacci

In 1940 a happy family outing turns to tragedy when their car overturns, killing the father and leaving the mother incapacitated. The two children, Lou and Oz, take her to great-grandmother Louisa’s rural Virginia home, where the New York City kids face difficult adjustments.

RCO14422, BRD21025
Alice’s Tulips, by Sandra Dallas

Newlywed Alice’s husband, Charlie, an Iowa farmer, has joined the Union Army and left her with his formidable mother. Alice writes to her sister of quilting bees, farm life, and small-town customs. But no town is too small for intrigue and treachery; when Alice is accused of murder, she discovers her own hidden strengths.

Answers to Jumbled Word Game:
sleuth, detective, intrigue, burglar, evidence, perpetrator, enigma, whodunit
The Brethren, by John Grisham



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

Reader’s Advisors - If your name begins with:
A - G 281-1248
H - N 281-1325
O - Z 281-1369

Applications for service Cindy 281-1368 or Marilyn 281-1348
Machine questions  Pat 281-1285
Tape Production Beth 281-1280
Braille Production Laura 281-1292
Descriptive Videos Marcella 281-1246

Instructional Materials:
A - L Gail 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.

Return to Contents

Return to Newsletter page.

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.