Adding Audio Titles from the Past

Most of the first books our library recorded in audio were created by the library’s volunteer narrators. The recording was done in the volunteers’ homes using cassette recorders. These cassette “master” tapes were hard to edit because it was so easy to inadvertently record over good sections of tape, so minor mistakes were often left on the original master and overlooked! It was fairly common to hear background noises on the tape like sounds from clocks, pets, appliances etc. and the tape itself would produce a slight “hiss” when playing it back – and the hiss problem would increase each time the tape was duplicated from this master.

As things do, technology progressed and in 2006 we began to record books “digitally” instead of using the cassette recorders. These digitally recorded books were much easier to correct when mistakes were made, and had virtually no “noise” in them. Now with the digital recorders, and using better quality microphones and equipped with a little more understanding and awareness of their audio surroundings, the home narrators audio recording quality was much improved.

During this time while transitioning our home narrators from the analog cassette based recordings to the new much higher quality digital audio recordings, there was a dream to have a voiceover studio here in Des Moines where narrators could come to record books in a very pristine audio environment. That dream was realized in 2005 when the library constructed its own recording studio. The first digitally mastered book from our studio, Wanted by Caroline B. Cooney, was recorded by the library in March 2006. Hundreds of books have been recorded in the Library’s studio since.

We still had one minor obstacle: the National Library Service did not have a “Digital Talking Book Machine” created or available yet that would play back our high quality digital audio books. So our digital recordings still needed to be “formatted for and transferred to” cassette tapes for playback.

After digital talking book players became available (around 2010) the library had hundreds of “digitally recorded and mastered” cassette titles. Now to make these titles available and playable on the new digital players, they need to be edited, marked up for navigation, and converted in the proper format needed for the digital cartridge and digital players.

As library staff and our amazing volunteers have transitioned to working from home during our current situation, they began to focus on the titles that still needed to be converted from the digitally mastered cassette format to the digital book format. The wonderful news is that digitally recorded books can be stored for many years and do not lose their initial quality, as cassettes will after being stored for years.

Over 40 titles have been converted and more are being done every day. The books include westerns, romances, science fiction, children’s books, religious books, history, and more.

In addition to providing different titles to the collection, this project also helps the library offer books that were recorded by different narrators. Some of the narrators of these books only recorded books for cassettes.

Here are some highlighted authors and titles:

Loren Zane Grey’s Lassiter Series:
Lassiter Gold  DBC15177
Lassiter Tough  DBC15180
Lassiter’s Ride  DBC15188
Lassiter on the Texas Trail  DBC15179

Titles by Grace Livingston Hill
Marcia Schuyler  DBC15192
Mary Arden  DBC15181
Phoebe Deane  DBC15173
Lone Point  DBC01680
The White Flower  DBC15190

Reflections Along the White Pole Road   DBC15183
Last Man Out:  Glenn McDole, USMC, Survivor of the Palawan Massacre in World War II by Bob Wilbanks  DBC15175
Partners in Command:  George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower in War in Peace by Mark Perry  DBC15178

Biographies and Autobiographies:
Lute!: the Seasons of My Live by Lute Olson  DBC15170
Abigail Adams:  First Land of the Faith and Courage by Evelyn Witter  DBC15102

Other Titles:
The Night Angel by T. Davis Bunn  DBC15189
This Loving Land by Dorothy Garlock  DBC15184
Cause for Alarm by Erica Spindler  DBC15191

Ebooks, Audiobooks, and Video, Oh My!

The Iowa Library for Blind and Physically Handicapped is a part of a statewide consortium called Bridges.  Bridges gives Iowa Library for the Blind patrons access to ebooks, audiobooks, streaming video and more! The Bridges collection is an addition to the library’s collection of NLS and Iowa Library for the Blind produced books. Patrons can check out and download their own books from the Bridges site.  It is a very easy process. To check out items from Bridges follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Bridges site:
  2. Choose the Sign In button
  3. Choose the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped from the list of libraries
  4. Enter your library card number and hit Sign In. Your library card number is your patron ID number and starts with the letter P followed by five or six digits.  If you don’t know this number, call the library and we can tell you!
  5. Now you can search the collection!
  6. Once you find a book or other material you are interested in, select it and hit Borrow.
  7. Then you must select Borrow again.
  8. You will be given the opportunity to read it with a Kindle, read it in your browser or read it as an epub.

Things to keep in mind:

  • We share this collection with participating libraries throughout the state, so there may be a wait list for the book you are interested in.  Not all books will be available all the time.  You are able to put a hold on the book you want and you will then receive an email when the book is available.
  • The books or videos are borrowed for a set time and will automatically expire at end of the designated time (usually two weeks). 
  • There are no late fees!

If you have any questions about Bridges, please call the library at 515-281-1323.

Did someone say BRAILLE BITS?

What is Braille Bits did you ask? No worries, I would be happy to shed light on this question. Braille Bits is an introductory class that is flexible and convenient, supportive and structured in providing a fun, tiny size sampling of braille. You may want to call this dot learning experience, an appetizer of braille.

This online program is designed to teach braille to sighted people who have connections with braille readers. For example, teachers and parents are taught through a combination of visual representation of braille dot positions, through lessons, homework and a podcast. Did I mention Podcast? Prepare to be both entertained and delighted by listening to others share their love for braille.

What a thrill it is that this wonderful resource is made available. In addition to this, you are also supported by a mentor to see you through! By completing all 21 Braille Bits Lessons, you will receive an official Braille Bits Certificate of Completion just to say you did it!

For more Braille Bits information:
Braille Bits Introduction
Braille Bits Lessons
Braille Bits Podcast

Denise Bean


Beyond the Book

If you listen to the Library News Podcast on your circulation cartridge or through this blog, you may have heard of Beyond the BookBeyond the Book is a segment we do every other month in Library News that highlights an audiobook in our collection.  We introduce the book, give readers a chance to request that book, and then readers have an opportunity to offer a review or their thoughts on the book by calling in or emailing the library.  A few select reviews or thoughts will be read in the next installment of the Beyond the Book on Library News.  In addition, we could also go Beyond the Book by discussing the author, setting of the book, or characters in the book or more!

Currently, we are going Beyond the Book with a western by Johnny Boggs titled Northfield (DB67254)Northfield is a fictional account of the 1876 robbery of the First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota, by the James-Younger gang. The raid unfolds from various perspectives, including those of outlaws Frank and Jesse James, Sheriff James Glispin, the daughter of a murdered teller, and the gun-toting town residents. There is some strong language.

Call the library at 515-281-1323 to request this title or head over to BARD and download it.  Once you have read it, contact us and give us a review!  We would love to hear from you!  Call Leslie at 515-452-1329 or email with your opinions!  You may hear your thoughts on a segment of Beyond the Book.  You can choose to remain anonymous if you would like.

Past Beyond the Book titles have been:

Check out our BARD page for more information on how to use the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD).

Thanks for reading with us!

Looking for something to read or add to your book list?

Check out these book reviews from Deena, a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team.  Let us know if you would like any titles added to your book list or head over to BARD to download the titles now.

Do you remember as a child enjoying fairy tales?   Return to a childhood fantasy by reading The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.   This is the story of an older estranged couple who build a snow child. During the night the girl comes alive, through the love of the child, she brings the couple together.  This is set against the harsh landscape of Alaska in the 1930’s.  It is a magical, nostalgic tale sure to please people of any age.  DB75862

Link to Title on BARD

The Poacher’s Son by Paul Doiron–Mike Bowditch gets a strange phone call from his father on his answering machine.  Mike has not spoken to his father in over two years. Mike, who is a game warden, learns from his supervisor that a police officer was shot and they have arrested his father. While being taken in to custody, his father escaped and now there is a manhunt. If you find this book enjoyable, you might also like books by C.J. Box.  DB72532

Link to Title on BARD

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History by Garrett M. Graff.   I have read at least half a dozen books on Sept 11.  Having said that, there were many things I learned about that day from this book. They talked to many survivors, first respnders, and family members of those lost. I believe it is a must read for those who were born after the event or were too young to remember.  DB96933

Link to Title on BARD

Top Five Fiction and Nonfiction Titles on BARD

Are you a BARD (Braille Audio Reading Download) user?  See below for the top five fiction and nonfiction downloaded digital books on BARD this week.  Do you want to be a BARD user or learn more about BARD?  Go to our BARD page to find out more information or get signed up!


Lost DB98503 by James Patterson and James O. Born

Detective Tom Moon attended University of Miami on a football scholarship before becoming a Miami PD officer. Now–as the new leader of an FBI task force–Moon discovers that two opportunistic Russian nationals have built a vast, powerful, and deadly crime syndicate throughout Europe and metropolitan Miami. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2020.

Blindside DB98664 by James Patterson and James O. Born

New York’s mayor has a daughter who’s missing and Detective Michael Bennett has a son who’s in prison. The two strike a deal. Sources lead Bennett to a homicide in the Bronx. The victim has ties to a sophisticated hacking operation–and also to the mayor’s missing twenty-one-year-old computer prodigy daughter. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2020.

Suicide run: three Harry Bosch stories DB97953 by Michael Connelly

LAPD Detective Harry Bosch in three never-before-collected stories. In the title entry, the apparent suicide of a beautiful young starlet turns out to be much more sinister than it seems. Also includes “Cielo Azul” and “One Dollar Jackpot. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2011.

The wives DB98148 by Tarryn Fisher

Imagine that your husband has two other wives. None of you know each other, and you can see your husband only one day a week. But one day, while doing his laundry, you find an appointment reminder for a woman you realize is another of the wives. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. Bestseller. 2019.

The museum of desire DB98667 by Jonathan Kellerman

Four people have been slaughtered and left displayed horrifically in a stretch limousine. None of the victims seems to have any connection to any other, and a variety of methods have been used to dispatch them. Psychologist Alex Delaware and LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis investigate a crime that stretches the definitions of evil. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. Bestseller. 2020.


A very stable genius: Donald J. Trump’s testing of America DB98392 by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonning

Washington Post’s White House Bureau Chief and a fellow investigative journalist analyze patterns in President Trump’s behavior during his time in the White House and present theories on his tactics and motivations. Draws on interviews with witnesses and members of the Trump administration. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. Bestseller. 2020.

Sizing people up: a veteran FBI agent’s user manual for behavior prediction DB98403 by Robin Dreeke and Cameron Stauth

Behavior analyst formerly with the FBI presents a guide to identifying if someone is a friend or foe and understanding the six signs of behavior prediction. The signs are: vesting, longevity, reliability, actions, language, and stability. Uses examples from his work to illustrate his arguments. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2020.

The third rainbow girl: the long life of a double murder in Appalachia DB98420 by Emma Copley Eisenberg

In 1980 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, twenty-six-year-old Vicki Durian and nineteen-year-old Nancy Santomero were murdered in an isolated clearing while hitchhiking to a festival known as the Rainbow Gathering. Follows the threads of this crime through the complex history of Appalachia. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2020.

No encore: musicians reveal their weirdest, wildest, most embarrassing gigs DB98409 by Drew Fortune

A collection of stories spanning four decades that chronicle what can go wrong–onstage or offstage–when musicians play live. Contributors include members of The Police, Garbage, Ministry, Linkin Park, Insane Clown Posse, Ween, Van Halen, and many more. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2019.

Custer’s fall: the Native American side of the story DBC13851 by David Humphreys Miller

This is the story of the famous Battle of the Little Big Horn as told by the only ones who survived to recount it–the Indians. Based on the oral testimony of seventy-two Native American eyewitnesses, the story reconstructs the events of a battle that has become legend.

National Volunteer Month – Every Moment Makes a Difference

April is National Volunteer Month.  Every moment our volunteers give to the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) and the Library makes a huge difference in so many ways.  Their willingness to share both their time and talents by volunteering with the Library says a lot.  Their willingness to give selflessly to help others speaks to both their strength and the quality of their character.

For example, in 2019, volunteers gave over 7,220 hours to IDB and the Library.  Volunteers assisted with audio production, braille production, youth programs, library circulation and more. 

Our volunteers helped us do more in 2019 than we ever could have done to ensure we positively impacted Iowans lives.  We thank our volunteers!  This statistics illustrates how much their gift of time makes such an impact in achieving our mission and goals.

Moving into 2020, our volunteers are helping us through these uncertain times through their work at home. 

Two of our volunteer narrators helped us launch a new program for the library called, IDB Read.  Patrons can call in and listen to one of our wonderful volunteer narrators read live on the phone, followed by a short chat about the book.  Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:00pm-5:00pm, you call in and listen to our narrator, Christine, read a cozy mystery. The first one is titled A Scone to Die For by H.Y. Hanna.  Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00am – 11:00 am, you can call in and listen to our narrator, Bob, read a western, titled To the Far Blue Mountains by Louis L’Amour.  Please call the library at 515.281.1323 to get the conference call number for IDB Read.

Our volunteer Braillists and narrators continue to work on projects from home for both the students and patrons ensuring our patrons have the information and materials that they need.  Our Friends of the Library continue to work tirelessly on supporting the library through fundraising and support.  And the Library Consumer Advisory Committee continues their work as advocates for our library.

Thank you again to all of our volunteers who continue to help us in so many ways!

For information about how you can help check out these pages:

National Library Week: Find Your Place at the Library

National Library Week logo: Find your place at the libaryApril 19-25, 2020 is National Library Week, an annual celebration highlighting the valuable role libraries, librarians and library workers play in transforming communities and improving lives.  Our library invites all community members to find their place at the library by exploring their passions and discovering new interests through free technology, programs and services.  Even though we are can’t come together in-person, we are here to bring programs and services to you.

The library is a place where all people are welcome regardless of age, interests or background. From audiobooks and job-seeking resources to programs and technology assistance, the library has something for everyone.  Especially during these difficult times, libraries our here for everyone.

Today’s libraries strive to develop and maintain technology, programs and collections that are as diverse as the populations they serve. “Libraries have long served as trusted and treasured institutions where we can all come together, connect and learn alongside one another,” said Sarah Willeford, Library Director. “National Library Week is a perfect time for community members to check out what’s new at the library and pursue their interests and aspirations.”

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries of all types across the country each April.

For more information, call 515-281-1323 or visit us online at  Listen to our April Library News Podcast and check out our YouTube Channel.

Check out these programs happening now at the library:

New D-List (Digital List Including Special Titles): Staff Picks

Are you curious about what the staff at the Iowa Library for the Blind likes to read?  Well our new D-List will give you an inside look at the library staffs’ favorites.  D-List stands for “Digital List Including Special Titles.”

This D-List is comprised of 60 books, all filled with our staffs’ all-time favorite books.  As with our staff, there is a wide variety of books included, from true crime stories to romance to mystery to historical fiction.  With a little horror and fantasy thrown in there! 

If you are interested in receiving these books, please call the library at 515.281.1323 and ask to be signed up for the Staff Picks D-List.  We will then send you a special cartridge (in addition to your circulation cartridges) loaded with our favorite books.  Once you have listened to an installment, mail it back and we’ll reload it until you have read all 60 titles!

Past D-Lists are also still available to receive on cartridge.  Just let us know which ones you would like.

  • The Great American Reads – features 100 books from the Great American Read list featured on PBS.
  • VOICE (Voices of Iowa Connecting Everyone) – features the library’s volunteer narrators and the books they have recorded for our collection.
  • Bookmark Series – if you are a fan of Hallmark movies this list is for you.