Banner: Iowa Department for the Blind

Open Door

Winter 2006

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
Monster Reads
Summer Reading for Children and Teens
"Braille Readers Are Leaders" Contest Winners
All Iowa Reads 2006
Staff News
Orphans Team
New Reader Advisor
Book List Tips
Descriptive Video
Magazine Alert!
Monster Book List
Contact Us


 Our Library has always had a lot of friends.  Some send us chocolate during the holidays as a way of expressing their appreciation for the outstanding work of the staff.  In times of need, our friends have rallied to tell the governor and their legislators how important this library is to them as citizens of Iowa.  Our friends have volunteered thousands of hours each year to Braille, record, and proofread books, magazines, and a plethora of other things our patrons need to read.  They come in singly and in groups on a daily basis to rewind and inspect returned cassette books, process magazine and book containers, duplicate tapes, burst and bind Braille, and help wherever they are needed.   Over the years, many friends, inspired by their positive experiences with the Library, have given generous gifts and memorials to the Department.  In honor of our friends, we as staff have pledged to do the very best job we can to make this the best library for the blind in the country.  With the help of our friends, I believe we are on our way to achieving that goal!
        We have thousands of friends throughout the state who help support our library, but we have never had a formal Friends organization.  Traditionally, a Friends organization supports a library with funding, advocacy, and public awareness.  I am thrilled to announce that the Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is becoming a reality.  Under the initial direction of Peggy Chong, Louise Duvall, and Jo Slayton, the Friends Group will hold its first meeting on April 21 in the Assembly Room at the Iowa Department for the Blind.  
        The purposes of the Friends Group are to build support in the community for the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped; to encourage gifts, endowments, bequests, and memorials to the Library; to enhance the image, materials, services, and facilities of the Library by undertaking specific projects on its behalf; to maintain an association of individuals, civic organizations, businesses, and other groups interested in the Library; to create public awareness of the activities of the Friends and encourage participation in the organization; and to assist in outreach to newly blinded persons not aware of library services for the blind in the state of Iowa.
        Activities and projects anticipated for the Friends Group include helping the Library secure grant funding; providing funds for the purchase of new books for Brailling, recording, and for the large print collection; supporting summer reading clubs and other programming; participating in volunteer recognition; publicizing the Library; and helping the Library improve its programs and services.
        The Friends Group is a charitable, tax-exempt 501c(3) organization that will be funded by memberships and donations.  Memberships will be available for  $15 per year with higher levels encouraged for those interested.  The address is:

Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
PO Box 93046
Des Moines, IA 50393-3046

If you are interested in helping with the initial organization of the Friends Group, or want more information, please contact Karen Keninger or Randy Landgrebe at 800-362-2587.  Watch for your invitation to join in early spring.


         Monster Reads, the first annual summer reading program for adults at the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, will begin Monday, June 12, 2006.   Coinciding with the library’s summer reading programs for children (Paws, Claws, Scales, and Tales), and teens (Creature Feature), Monster Reads will offer adult participants chances to win monthly prizes and a grand prize for reading from a large group of selected “Monster “ books from the Library’s Braille, large type, cassette, or descriptive video collections.  
        What makes a book a Monster book?  If you look up “monster” in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary you read: “one who deviates from normal or acceptable…character; one unusually large for its kind; one that is highly successful…”   Based on those definitions, here are some examples that would qualify as Monster books:  Dracula, for obvious reasons; War and Peace, because of its unusual length; The Bible, as the most sold book of all time; and, perhaps surprisingly, Valley of the Dolls, as the best-selling fiction book of all time (Gone With the Wind is a close second).   A sample book list is compiled on pages 6-7 of this newsletter.  If you would like a more extensive book list, contact your reader advisor.  
        So, now that you know what a Monster book is, you need to know how to play Monster Reads.  Simply follow these directions.  Call your reader advisor, and choose titles from the Monster Books list.  After reading your book(s), call 800-362-2587, ask for the Monster Reads program line, and leave a message with your name and the titles you have read.  Or send the same information via e-mail to  Local callers should phone 281-1269 to submit their information for Monster Reads.  You can tell us about one book or as many as you can read before the summer reading program’s drawing dates.  
        Monthly drawings will take place Friday, June 30th, and Friday, July 28th.  The grand prize will be drawn Monday, July 31.  Participants may read cassette, Braille, and large print books, or enjoy descriptive videos to earn points and become eligible for a chance to win the monthly prizes and the grand prize.  Contact Circulation Supervisor, Randy Landgrebe, at 800-362-2587 for more information about
Monster Reads.


 The Summer Reading Club theme this year is Paws, Claws, Scales and Tales.  The club will run from June 12 - July 21, 2006.  All patrons of our library ages 3 to 18 are welcome to enroll.  The theme deals with pets.  We have a wide variety of books about animals from geckos to dogs, including several series books with animal characters.  The child may choose to read about just one animal or many different kinds of animals.  Participants may choose other topics for their reading and still be involved in the club.
        We will have a book discussion for the younger children enrolled.  The book has yet to be chosen, but it will be related to our theme.  The teen readers’ book discussion will feature Summer of the Traveling Pants.  
        There will be contests and prizes, such as stuffed animals, T-shirts, watches, videos, and tickets to different events.  Come and join the fun this summer!



Two Iowa students were among the winners of the 2004-2005 Braille reading contest, sponsored jointly by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille.  Emily Brown, Grimes, was recognized in the K-1 category for reading 1327 pages.  In the Grades 2-3 category, Annabelle Costanzo, Des Moines, read 2014 pages.  They each received $25, a special T-shirt, and a certificate.   Congratulations!


Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, is the All Iowa Reads selection for 2006. This beautifully composed novel chronicles three generations of the Reverend John Ames family and is written as a long, memory-filled letter from Reverend Ames to his seven-year-old son.   Ames, a preacher in a small town in Iowa, is in his seventies, is in poor health, and is afraid he hasn't much time left to tell his young son about his heritage. Reverend Ames hopes that when his son is older, he will read the letter and learn more about his absent father and earlier generations.  In the course of his writing, Ames examines the relationships of fathers and sons, faith and love, and current events as they relate to his family history. 
        The novel is the winner of numerous awards, including the 2006 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religon, the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award, and the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It is available in Braille (BR16160), on cassette (RC59561), and is on order for large type. 
     Gilead, Robinson’s second fictional work, was preceded by the classic novel, Housekeeping (1981), which received the PEN/Hemingway Award and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  Housekeeping was released as a motion picture in 1987.  Marilynne Robinson has also written two books of nonfiction, Mother Country (1989) and The Death of Adam (2000). She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. 
        The purpose of All Iowa Reads is to encourage Iowans statewide to read and talk about a single title in the same year. The Library will be offering a special book discussion of Gilead in the spring. Please call Marilyn Jensen, Information Specialist, at 515-281-1333, for further information. 


Orphans Team

This team is called the “Orphans” because each person’s job is unique and does not fit with any other team.  Dawna Ray (left) is secretary for Library Program Manager, Karen Keninger.   She also handles time sheets, supplies,  purchasing, and Lions’ Bibles.  Marilyn Jensen (center), Information Specialist and Volunteer Coordinator, makes library presentations state-wide, facilitates book discussions, and edits the volunteer newsletter.  Karen Eis (right), Library Cataloger, is our expert on the Title database, the new Series program, and the Radio Show collection. Apart from work, Karen is also famous for her origami, beadwork, and other handcrafts.

 New Reader Advisor

Susan Stageberg (Susie) returned to the Library after a two-year assignment with the Department’s Project Assist. She is a library patron and enjoys reading print/Braille books to children. Her guide dog, Camden, is a quiet observer of the bustle in the busy reception area to the library. Susie is an avid reader, knits by the hour, sings in choirs, is married and the mother of four children. She serves patrons whose last names begin with H through O.


 When sending a written book order (not on an order form), you do not need to give the title or author. The Title ID number is all we need to enter your request.  This is the number with a prefix such as RC, BR, or LT.
        Talking Book Topics occasionally includes additional book numbers in the annotations of the featured books.  These may be other titles in the same series.  If you want to order these titles, please write the extra numbers at the end of the order form.  Trying to squeeze a number between the printed listings makes it difficult for our optical scanners to read the print and enter your requests.


If you would like to have two DV’s in circulation at a time, please contact Marcella to arrange for this service.  800-362-2587 or 515-281-1276.


 Three new cassette magazines are now available.  Esquire, subtitled “Man at his Best”, covers men’s fashions, cars, gadgets, entertainment, sports, politics, and women.  Seventeen is targeted at teens and young adult women, featuring fashions, hair, make-up, music, movies, and boys.  Seventeen is also available in Braille.  The third new title is Reminisce, which contains nostalgic stories and memories of the early to mid-20th century.  Please mark your order form if you would like to receive any of these magazines.


 Check out the following to begin some monstrous reading in advance of the Adult Summer Reading Club!

 RC28083, BR1062   Slaughterhouse-five, or the Children’s Crusade, Kurt Vonnegut
Based on the firebombing of Dresden in World War II. The hero survives capture by the Germans to become a rich doctor in Ilium, New York, until he is kidnapped by a flying saucer. Strong language and violence. 1968.

RCO13588   A Perfect Evil, Alex Kava
Serial killer Ronald Jeffreys, executed for three heinous murders,  goes to his grave with a terrible truth. Three months later, another body is found, killed in the same style as Jeffreys' victims. FBI criminal profiler Maggie O'Dell is called to Nebraska to investigate. Some violence and strong language. Maggie O'Dell mystery #1.

RC46488, BR11637   Richard III, William Shakespeare
A historical tragedy of Richard of Gloucester's ruthless extermination of all obstacles to his immediate kingship.

RCO12564   Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
Fight Club, secret after‑hours boxing matches held in the basements of bars, is the brainchild of Tyler Durden, who thinks he has found a way for himself and his friends to live beyond their confining and stultifying lives. But in Tyler's world there are no rules, no limits, no brakes.

RCO14306, BR11421  The Giant’s House: A Romance, Elizabeth McCracken
In 1950 young librarian Peggy Cort meets James Sweatt. Although only eleven years old, he is already extremely tall. As they become friends and fall in love during the next nine years, James grows taller and taller, until he is 8 feet, 7 inches tall, weighing 415 pounds. 1996.

RC55748  The Devil in the White City, Erik Larsen
Dr. H.H. Holmes, killer and sociopath, preyed on young women during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair in the amazing landscape that architect Daniel H. Burnham created in a mere two years. Bestseller. Non-fiction. 2003.

RC33963, BR9555, LT5569  Sackett’s Land, Louis L’Amour
The Sackett saga begins with struggles and intrigue in Elizabethan England and follows Barnabas Sackett to the New World, where he establishes a western dynasty. Sackett series #1. 1974.

RC22726   In Cold Blood:  A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences, Truman Capote
The author coined the term "nonfiction novel" for this account of the murder of a Kansas family. Violence and some strong language.

RC52511, BR1873, LT776   Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach
Refusing to conform to the life of the flock, Jonathan, a seagull, intensely desires to fly higher than any gull has ever flown. 1970.

RC38310, BR1772, LT3523  Grendel, John C. Gardner
A novel about the first and most terrifying monster in English literature. Here Grendel tells his side of the story, in which Hrothgar is a royal bully and Beowulf, weird defender of mankind, is half dragon, half computer. 1989.

RC44751  The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger
Recounts the 1991 loss at sea of the fishing boat Andrea Gail in the "perfect storm" that resulted from the convergence of several explosive weather fronts.  Vividly portrays failed rescue efforts in the vessel's final hours before sinking. Bestseller. Non-fiction. 1997.

BR10553  Alphabetical Africa, Walter Abish
A unique telling of a mystery tale. Alex, Allen, and Alva arrive in Antibes in the first chapter, which consists only of words beginning with the letter "a." Each chapter progresses a letter, until the story reaches Zambia and Zanzibar. Each subsequent chapter deletes a letter until "Africa another alphabet." In the process, a murder mystery punctuated with kinky sex is solved. Strong language and explicit descriptions of sex. 1974.

DV461   The Terror; D.V., Leo Gordon
Andre pursues the mysterious Helene to the castle of an elderly baron. Andre discovers that Helene might be the ghost of the baron's dead wife. Stars Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson. Directed by Roger Corman. 1963. PG. 81 min.

RCO13880   Day of the Triffids (Radio Show), John Wyndham
A six‑part BBC radio adaptation. A blinding blast from meteors causes the earth to be overrun by great flesh‑eating plants. Mankind must battle the plants and learn to live in a world where nearly everyone has been suddenly blinded.

RC35408  Hitler and Stalin:  Parallel Lives, Alan Bullock
A dual biography probing the differences and similarities of two of the most tyrannical individuals in history. Analyzes how they obtained power, committed inhuman crimes, and failed on a monumental scale.  Non-fiction. 1991.

RCO12587  Guilty Pleasures, Laurell K. Hamilton
In a world where vampires have equal rights with humans, vampire executioner Anita Blake has difficulty finding work. But when a serial killer starts murdering vampires, Anita finds herself accused and begins working for the vampires! Some descriptions of sex, violence, and strong language. Anita Blake series #1.

RC49937  The Face of Apollo, Fred Saberhagen
In a battle between ancient classical gods, Apollo is killed, and young Sal carries off his face. Just before she dies, Sal entrusts her treasure to Jeremy, a teen-aged farm laborer. Soon Jeremy's life is transformed. Book of the Gods series #1.  1998.

You can order an entire book series by circling Y for “yes” on your order form.


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 - O 281-1325
P - Z 281-1348

Applications for service Cindy 281-1368 or Marilyn 281-1348
Machine questions Niels 281-1275 or Pat 281-1262
Tape Production Beth 281-1280
Braille Production Laura 281-1271
Descriptive Videos Marcella 281-1276

Instructional Materials:
A - L Gail 281-1296
M - Z Carol 281-1285

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.