DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

audiobooks

Jul 28 2008

That All May Read…

by Nolan R

I remember many years ago, my grandmother had this funky looking tape player that played books on cassette.  She would get tapes in the mail, and when she was finished listening to them, she would send them back.  A few days later, more tapes would come.  Many years later, when I started working at the Library, I realized that she must have been signed up for service with what is now called GLASS–the Georgia Library for Accessible Services.  A lot of patrons I talk to have never heard of GLASS and the wonderful (and free!) materials and services they provide, so I’d like to share a few of them with you.

GLASS works with Georgia’s Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and local libraries across the state to provide access to a free national library program from the National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (NLS) to eligible persons with a visual or physical disability.  All materials and the playback equipment  are mailed to borrowers and are postage-free to return.  Available materials include books and magazines in Braille and on audio. 

According to Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS), service is available to:

  • Anyone who is unable to read or handle standard printed materials as a result of temporary or permanent visual or physical disability.
  • Persons who are legally blind or cannot see well enough or focus long enough to read standard print, even with glasses.
  • Persons who are unable to hold or turn pages of print books.
  • Persons who are certified by a medical doctor as having a reading disability.
  • An application for service is available here.  A certifying authority needs to sign the application; this person can be a doctor, nurse, therapist, social worker, or a professional librarian in some situations.

    For more information on available materials and links to the online catalog, please visit the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) web page.  You may also contact GLASS directly at 404-756-4619 or by email at glass@georgialibraries.org

    For homebound patrons who are able to read printed material but are unable to visit the Library, DeKalb County Public Library offers a service called Mailbox Books.   This service is provided free of charge to patrons who are unable to visit the library.  Patrons requesting this service must fill out and submit an application certifying that they are homebound.  To apply, call the Mailbox Books Librarian at 404-370-3070 x2280.

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    If you, like me, feel that time in your car is basically time wasted, you will be interested to hear that the library carries college level courses on audio CD.  DeKalb County Public Library carries two series, the Modern Scholar series and the Great Courses series.  Both series employ the talents of well-respected college professors to teach subjects like music, art, history, religion, and science.  The ones I have listened to have been very interesting and only one or two that I’ve come across sound like that dry, boring history teacher we all had at some point in our school career.  There are two series:

    Check ’em out!

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    200pxjonathan_strange_and_mr_norrelLike many Metro Atlanta residents, I am a commuter.  My drive from home to work and back totals about an hour and a half, and that’s on good days.  This long commute, while it takes away from time I could be spending with my family, has allowed me the opportunity to explore some books that I probably wouldn’t take the time to read if I weren’t able to listen to them.  I found the Harry Potter series this way and made my way through the compendious Lord of the Rings trilogy (unabridged).  Some people consider this “cheating” somehow, but I tend to see it as enjoying the lost art of good storytelling, and getting to enjoy books I otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to read.

    My interest was piqued when I first heard of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell a couple of years ago.  As I browsed our audio book section recently, I came across a copy on CD and checked it out.  At 26 discs, I knew this would be a big time commitment, but what more do I have to do when I’m edging up I-285?  The story, like the Lord of the Rings, is paced and very descriptive, of people, places, and histories.  Susanna Clarke’s prose and subject matter is reminiscent of Jane Austen’s dry wit and focus on English upper class concerns.

    Clarke’s early-nineteenth-century England has a long history of magic.  “Theoretical” magicians, or scholars of English magic, read and discuss and form societies of magicians.  But magic left England hundreds of years before with the departure of the renowned but mysterious Raven King.  Soon, a society of Yorkshire magicians discover that Mr. Norrell, a reclusive and fussy old bachelor in Yorkshire, possesses an extraordinary library of important books of magic, and the magicians bargain away their right to study magic to see an example of Mr. Norrell’s practical magic.  Mr. Norrell’s astonishing demonstration begins the return of English magic, and soon, Mr. Norrell and his charming and adventurous pupil Jonathan Strange are known around the country as the only practicing magicians in England.  They embark, together and then separately, to bring about the return of magic to England, and do so in fascinating and world-changing ways.

    Simon Prebble’s reading is superb as he narrates the very long tale and subtly adds dimension to the story’s characters in his voicing of them.  He also adds interest to the copious footnotes throughout the story, that I’m sure I would have glossed over if I were reading the print edition of the book.  Overall, this compelling and mesmerizing tale is very much worth the time commitment involved.

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