Summer Library Program News

Due to continuing health concerns and our desire to make sure we keep everyone healthy and safe, we will be cancelling our Makerspace Monday on Monday, June 8th and our STEM & Stories Saturday on Saturday, June 20th.  The library will also cancel its extended hours on June 8th and June 20th.

We have Summer Library Program News!

We are offering an incredible online virtual experience. This hands-on learning, includes singing, crafts, STEM learning activities, engaging sounds, reading and exploring new worlds that will openly welcome the unexpected. This Summer Reading Program will be launched on June 15th! Over six weeks there will be 18 virtual events that include, “A Trip Around the World”, “Exploring Nature Together”, “A Week of STEM”, “ANIMALS”, and last but not least “Race into Space”. As an extra treat you will be introduced to a very special guest, the fun is endless.

There are two ways you can track reading for your child. This year we are partnering with Beanstack.  Beanstack allows you to log your minutes and activities in a quick and easy way using the Beanstack website.

If you prefer not to use Beanstack, you can receive a logbook to record the minutes your child will read this summer. Everyone who completes the program by reading 300 minutes and attends all 6 weeks of our incredible virtual summer events will be sent a summer reading t-shirt and certificate.

Register Here for the Summer Reading Program

Beyond the Book

This month we are going Beyond the Book with Northfield by Johnny Boggs.  It is a fictional account of the 1876 robbery of the First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota, by the James-Younger gang. Some strong language is involved. The James-Younger gang consisted of Cole and Bob Younger and Frank and Jesse. Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of a different character involved in the raid from the robbers themselves to the lawmen to everyday citizens in the town.  Including those viewpoints of the James and Younger brothers.  Even though this book is considered western fiction, it is great for non western fans as well.  Jesse James and his gang are fascinating historical characters and this book would be enjoyed by historical fiction or true crime stories fans also!

The author, Johnny D. Boggs, is an award winning western author.  He has won a record of eight Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America and the winner of the Western Heritage Wrangler award!  Booklist magazine called him “among the best western writers at work today. He also received the 2020 Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Contributions to Western Literature.   Boggs grew up in South Carolina and now lives Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife and son.  He knew from an early age that he wanted to be a writer and got an interest in the West when he watched Gunsmoke as a kid with his dad.*

If you would like to discover more about the robbery gone bad of the First National Bank in Northfield from everyone involved, call the library at 515.281.1323 to request this book!  Once you have read it, call or email with your review or thoughts.  You might hear your words in the next Beyond the Book segment in the July Library News. We would love to hear from you!  Call 515.452.1329 or email


Thanks for reading with us!

Latest D-List: Plants in Name Only

We are announcing our latest D-List (Digital List Including Special Titles)!  Summer is a time for planting, flowers blooming and time spent outdoors.  So to celebrate summer, our staff member, Deena, has put together a D-List titled “Plants in Name Only.”  This list includes books with a kind of plant or flower in the title.  The variety of genres in this list is remarkable. Call (515-281-1323) or email ( the library today to request the newest D-List, “Plants in Name Only” and we will send you special cartridges with those books included.

Here is a taste of what you might expect:
Violets of March by Sarah Jio
Picture of flowersBlue Dahlia by Nora Roberts
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Crime by Tamar Myers
Peony in Love by Lisa See
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie

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.
  • Staff Picks – comprised of 60 books, all filled with our staffs’ all-time favorite books.

Cozy Mystery and a Scone

Detective magnifying class with finger printsOne of the IDB Read groups has been reading cozy mysteries by H.Y. Hanna. What is a cozy mystery you ask? According to Wikipedia, “cozy mysteries, also referred to as ‘cozies’, are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence occur off stage, the detective is an amateur sleuth, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.”

The Oxford Tearoom Mysteries by H.Y. Hanna center around Gemma Rose and her tearoom near Oxford in England. Gemma is trying to get her newly established tearoom off the ground, but trouble and dead bodies keep getting in her way. This series comes with a fun, interesting set of characters, a pesky, entertaining cat and of course, a love interest or two. Your mouth will water as the author describes delectable scones, muffins and delicious dinners. You’ll soon want to start baking your own pastries. Well, we’ve got you covered. Below is a recipe for a classic English scone from Plated Cravings (

The IDB Read Cozy Mystery group meets every Monday and Wednesday from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm via a conference call to listen to one of our volunteer narrators, Christine Mach, read live. If you would like to be a part of the group, please call the library 515.281.1323 and we will give you the conference call number.


• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 3/4 stick cold butter
• 3 tbsp granulated sugar
• 3/4 cup milk
• 1 tsp lemon juice
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 egg beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. In a large bowl mix flour with the salt, baking powder, and sugar. Add the butter, then rub it in with your fingers until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
3. Heat up the milk on the stove until warm, but not hot. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, then set aside for a moment. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat and put it in the oven.
4. Add the milk mixture to the dry mixture and combine them quickly with a fork.
5. Scatter some flour on the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it’s a little smoother. Don’t overwork the dough. Pat into a round about 1.5-inch (4cm) high.
6. Use a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter and plunge into the dough, repeat until all the dough is used. You should get 8 scones.
7. Brush the tops with egg wash, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray.
8. Bake for 10-15 mins until risen and golden on the top. Eat just warm or cold on the day of baking generously topped with jam and clotted cream.
If freezing, freeze once cool. Defrost, then put in a low oven for a few minutes until warm.
Calories: 259kcal

Reading With a Purpose

Heart shape filled with books on shelvesMany writers and readers would agree that reading or getting lost in a good story CAN be so powerful and essential to life. But why read? The reasons are endless…

By reading, you are exposed to so many wonderful things. This helps your imagination when it comes to creating and thinking. By reading, you are painting those pictures of the story in your mind. Books can take you anywhere you want to go!

When you are reading, you are focusing and concentrating on one thing. Almost as if you are mediating. Did you know that meditating for just 30 minutes a day helps create a healthier you!

When you read you are using your memory muscle which lies in the Cerebrum part of your brain. Using this muscle helps your memory long term.

Readers display greater knowledge of how things work, vocabulary and language development, as well as information on people, places, and things.

Our library is brimming full of books just waiting to be read.

Thank you for allowing us to fulfill your craving for a good book!

Book Reviews from Deena

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.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
This book is told through the viewpoint of three women in the 1930’s and 1940’s as World War II begins. Caroline is a New England socialite whose passion is saving the orphaned children of France, Kasia, is a 16 year old Polish girl who eventually joins the resistance movement, Herta is a strong believer in the Nazi movement and wants to become a doctor. As the story progresses these three women’s stories cross paths. The story is based on the true story of Caroline Ferriday and her philanthropy for the children of France and those who survived the war.  DB84356
Link to Title on BARD

Caroline: Little House, Revisted by Sarah Miller
If you loved Laura Ingalls Wilder as a child or enjoyed the TV show Little House on the Prairie this book might appeal to you.  The book Caroline is a fictionalized account of how life might have been for Caroline Ingalls, mother of Laura Ingalls. The Ingalls family left their home in Wisconsin and set out by covered wagon while snow was still on the ground, for Kansas with two little girls.  The book tells the story of the hardships they faced in Kansas away from civilization and family. The book was researched by Miller and the reasons they left and later moved from Kansas is well-documented.  DB89267
Link to Title on BARD

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan
Pino Lella, as a teenager becomes involved in the resistance movement to ferry Jews out of Italy and over the Italian mountains into the safety of Switzerland.  Rather than be drafted into the Italian army his parents convince him to sign up for the German army.  Pino becomes a driver for Nazi General and a spy for the Allied forces. He faces several terrifying moments when he is nearly caught by the General working for the Allies. This is based on a true story.  DB90012
Link to Title on BARD

Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim
California 1923:Mei Ling comes to America through a matchmaker for an arranged marriage.  Her husband, Kai Li is a merchant and a U.S. citizen needing a wife for his son. On board the ship to America Mei Ling meets a young orphan girl, who coming to America with an “uncle”.  Mei Ling comes to care about the girl.  Mei Ling and Kai Li have both been untruthful with each other. Can their marriage survive and will they learn to love each other?  DB93176
Link to Title on BARD

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