Monday, May 9, 2011

Texas state Talking Book Program

As we move along in life and our birthdays come sooner and sooner and we begin to gradually walk with more care; even think in new ways; experience that life is not all wine and roses.

As we age we are fortunate to see maturity as anything but dull and meaningless years tacked onto the closing chapters of our time on earth. Anything but monotonous, boring and tedious. “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made.” (Robert Browning).

Long life is a time to build on what has been learned, review and revise our views on life, faith, and be a light for those who may be discouraged with the aging process. Never lose the old ‘get up and go.”

Medical science has a lot to do with “living into the best years of life.” Attitude is important, especially when ailments increase and we can’t jump rope or play hopscotch and other exciting “stuff” we came to enjoy.

There is help and it is from a place that seldom gets the credit it deserves. The state government of Texas may misuse or waste tax dollars -- but there is another side where wonderful programs use tax dollars wisely.

One of these government run entities has a history of helping the sight-impaired: the Texas Talking Book Program (TBP). Texas has a good record and long history of providing library services to people who are blind. In 1918, the Texas Legislature appropriated $1,000 to purchase raised-lettering books for the blind. Texas was one of the first states to join the National Library Service that was established by the Library of Congress in 1931.

The last 80 years much has changed for TBP. Books were on phonograph records in the early years. Phonograph players and records were furnished free to patrons. It took a lot of records to hold longer books. The 1930s best seller, Gone With The Wind, was on 20 long-playing records.

In the 1950s reel to reel tapes were used and in the 1970s books on cassette tapes were introduced. Spanish was added in 1978. The use of digital flash cartridges began in 2009.

Downloading book and magazines is the latest innovation. Instead of 20 records needed for “Gone with the Wind,” the entire book will fit onto one BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) cartridge.

The 82nd Texas State Legislature has one huge challenge: the proposed budgets. It is not news that most every state agency will be taking significant cuts to their budgets and staffing. A bright spot is that the Talking Book Program thus far has suffered very little in the way of direct cuts.

The bad news is that the State Library is facing a 71 percent reduction in its general revenue (the money given to it by the State Legislature). The TBP may be affected by large cuts to the State Library, meaning that TBP will need more donations from concern people, readers and citizens.

By law, the budget must be balanced and must be passed by the end of the legislative session May 30, 2011. Our representatives need to be aware we are watching and praying health and medical programs will not suffer. Dropping nurses like dropping school teachers is not in the best interests of Texans.

TBP now serves 18,000 patrons and sends out an average of 4,500 items every weekday. Cartridges and players are postage free.

For information on the program check with Texas Talking Book Program, P.O. Box 12927, Austin, Texas 78711-2927. A toll-free number, 1-800-252-9605, can be used for information about disabilities and health conditions.


No comments: