Home > What Is Available > Services to American Citizens Abroad > Overseas Outlook

NLS: Overseas Outlook

July─December 2012, Volume 35, Number 2

New NLS director

Karen Keninger has been appointed new director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), effective March 26, 2012. She replaces Frank Kurt Cylke who retired on February 28, 2011, after thirty-eight years of service. She is the first blind person to be named director in the agency’s 80-year history.

Keninger was the director of the Iowa Department for the Blind, a leading U. S. provider of vocational rehabilitation and independent-living programs and library services for blind and visually impaired individuals, from 2008 until her appointment to NLS. Prior to that, she served as director of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped for eight years, managing the statewide library program, the machine-lending agency, instructional materials center, and braille- and audio-production units. A native Iowan, Keninger holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Drake University in Iowa and a master’s in English with a specialty in business and technical writing from Iowa State University. She completed graduate courses in library and information science at the University of Iowa.

NLS is delighted to welcome Karen as the new director and wishes her all the success.

New accessories available for digital players

NLS has available two new accessories for use with digital talking-book machines: a breath switch adapter and stereo headphones.

The breath switch adapter, which is compatible with both the standard and the advanced model digital players, allows for use of the existing NLS breath switch to control the Play/Stop function of the digital player. It is available solely to patrons with little or no use of their extremities and requires a separate application.

The stereo headphones connect directly into the headphones jack located on the right-hand side of both the standard and the advanced digital player. Headphones are issued only to readers who require them to read talking books where speakers are not permitted.

Contact the overseas librarian for more information on either accessory.


Beginning in 2013 NLS magazines will be distributed on digital cartridges. The cartridges will be shipped in red containers with the imprint “magazines” in braille on the case. Readers who receive audio magazines can request an advanced machine, if they wish. An advanced player will enable readers to move easily to different articles in the magazine. Unlike cassette magazines, patrons are requested to return magazines on cartridges by placing them in the red containers and returning them as free matter (no postage) by reversing the address label card in the container. Those who wish to download magazines can do so by registering at the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) site http://nlsbard.loc.gov. Please contact the overseas librarian for further instructions if interested.

Digital player software updates

Digital players that patrons receive come with their software updated and batteries charged. For readers who received the first digital players, the software inside the player may need to be updated. New books and magazines on digital cartridge include the software to update the player, if needed. When a cartridge is inserted in a player needing a software upgrade, the player will announce “updating software.” Do not remove the cartridge until this process has been completed. You will know the update has finished when the player starts playing the book or magazine. At this point, it is safe to remove the cartridge.

New materials and features on BARD

The Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) system now includes new materials such as music books and scores, Web-Braille, and specially acquired foreign language books produced abroad. The available music materials are audio instruction guides and braille music scores. Contact the overseas librarian for more information about available music materials.

Newsweek magazine

Newsweek, an audio magazine produced by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) in Louisville, Kentucky, for NLS will continue to be available in audio format despite Newsweek’s recent announcement that the print publication will cease. APH plans on using the online text to record the audio magazine. Patrons receiving this magazine on cassette should request a digital talking-book player from the overseas librarian to avoid interruption in service.

Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction from 2000

Joseph Pulitzer (1847–1911) is best remembered for the prize that bears his name, but the impetus for the award came from his experience as a newspaper publisher and editor. As owner and editor of the New York World, Pulitzer crusaded against corruption in government and business. After becoming blind in 1890, Pulitzer resigned as editor but maintained administrative control over the newspaper.

Pulitzer established the Pulitzer Prize in his will as an incentive for journalists and other writers to strive for excellence. He specified that the prizes would be awarded for journalism, letters, drama, and education, with an advisory board empowered to make any changes conducive to the public good and to withhold an award if no competitors in a category met the Pulitzer Prize board’s standard of excellence.

Established in 1917, the category for fiction was called Novel and was to be awarded to the novel “. . . which shall best present the wholesome atmosphere of American life, and the highest standard of American manners and manhood.” The award has gone through several changes since then. In 1947 the category was renamed “Fiction” and opened up to collections of short stories. The standard today is “For distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life.”

This minibibliography lists the Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction since 2000. Titles are available in braille and/or audiobook formats on cassette (RC), digital cartridge (DB), and/or in braille (BR). Many titles are also available from the Braille Audio Reading Download (BARD) at https://nlsbard.loc.gov, which allows registered patrons to download digital books and magazines. (Some digital titles may be available only for download.) Patrons who wish to use BARD must have a blank cartridge, a USB cord, a digital player, a computer, and a high-speed Internet connection.

There are several minibibliographies that are available at http://loc.gov/nls/minibibs/index.html for readers who wish to read books on other topics:

Agatha Award-winning novels

Books from Caldecott collection

Christy Award books

Horatio Hornblower Series by C.S. Forester

Pulitzer Prize Award-winning books from 1970–1990

If you need any assistance or have any questions regarding these minibibliographies, please contact the overseas librarian.

Back to top


The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
DB 50950
RC 50950

1939. An eighteen-year-old artist and magician flees Czechoslovakia for his cousin’s New York home. With their love of legend and fantasy, the boys launch a superhero comic-book series. The golden age of comic art is at hand, but so are the horrors of global war. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 2000.


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
DB 65402
RC 65402
New Jersey. Overweight Dominican American Oscar works as a substitute teacher and dreams about being a famous writer. Oscar grew up with his rebellious sister Lola and beautiful mother, but the ancient curse of fukú haunts their lives—until he decides to do something about it. Violence and strong language. Bestseller. 2007.


Empire Falls by Richard Russo
RC 52601
Empire Falls, Maine, was once a thriving town with three mills. But the owners, the Whitings, have allowed their vast holdings to become decrepit real estate. Miles Roby, who runs the Empire Grill for Mrs. Whiting, recounts the tale of this dying town with bemused regret. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2001.


Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
BR 16160: Volume 1 Gilead , Volume 2 Gilead
DB 59561
RC 59561
Gilead, Iowa; 1950s. Dying seventy-six-year-old, minister John Ames writes a parting letter to his young son. John reflects on the tensions between his pacifist father and militant abolitionist grandfather (both preachers), the death of his first wife and child, the gospel, a friend’s transgressions, and life’s eternal mystery. Bestseller. 2004.


Interpreter of Maladies: Stories by Jhumpa Lahiri
RC 50087
Nine tales of brief encounters with lasting effects, set in India and America. Each emphasizes cultural transition and loss. In the title piece, while American-born Mr. and Mrs. Das and their three young children tour India, Mrs. Das confides a disquieting secret to their guide. Bestseller. 1999.


The Known World by Edward P. Jones
DB 56918
RC 56918

Manchester County, Virginia; 1855. At his death Henry Townsend, a thirty-one-year-old former slave who maintains a relationship with his owner William Robbins, owns more than thirty slaves himself and fifty acres of land. But now his plantation begins to fall apart as slaves betray one another. Bestseller. 2003.


March by Geraldine Brooks
DB 64617
RC 64617
Reverend March, the husband and father from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (DB 58830, RC 58830, BR 11778: Volume 1 Little Women, Volume 2 Little Women, Volume 3 Little Women, Volume 4 Little Women, Volume 5 Little Women), leaves Connecticut to become an army chaplain during the Civil War. An assignment to teach freed slaves on a plantation changes March’s view of humanity, while hardship hurts his family. Strong language and some violence. 2005.


Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
DB 54934
RC 54934

At forty-one, Cal Stephanides examines the rare genetic mutation that has caused his gender to change since his birth as a girl in 1960. He describes his teenage revelations, his Greek grandparents' guilty secret, and his coming-of-age in Detroit. Explicit descriptions of sex and some strong language. Bestseller. 2002.


Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
DB 67392
RC 67392

Thirteen stories set in a small community on the Maine coast are linked by the presence of Olive Kitteridge, retired teacher and pharmacist’s wife. In “Tulips” Olive struggles in the aftermath of her husband’s stroke and with their son’s response to his father’s nursing-home confinement. Some strong language. 2008.


The Road by Cormac McCarthy
BR 17072: Volume 1 The Road, Volume 2 The Road
DB 63649
RC 63649
A father and his young son journey south after the destruction of the civilized world. Their survival kit consists of a few blankets, a pistol, a cart of scavenged food, and their love for each other. Their values are tested by occasional encounters with other desperate survivors. Bestseller. 2006.


Tinkers by Paul Harding
DB 71092
As clock restorer George Washington Crosby lies dying in his Massachusetts home; he hallucinates and channels his late father Howard. A tinker and mystic, Howard worked as a traveling peddler to keep his epilepsy a secret. Bestseller. 2009.


A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
DB 71810
The members of a fictional 1980s San Francisco punk band, along with their groupies, enjoy temporary fame and settle into middle age. Sasha, a secretary and kleptomaniac, and her music-producer boss Bennie Salazar, the former bass player, self-destruct before seeking redemption. Strong language and some violence. 2010.

Order Form

Mail to: Y. Rathan Raj
National Library Service for the
Blind and Physically Handicapped
Washington, DC 20542
Fax: (202) 707-0712

Your Name________________________________________________

Book Number Select DB Select RC Title
50950 ____DB ____RC The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
65402 ____DB ____RC The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
52601 ____RC Empire Falls
59561 ____DB ____RC Gilead
50087 ____RC Interpreter of Maladies: Stories
56918 ____DB ____RC The Known World
____DB ____RC March
54934 ____DB ____RC Middlesex
67392 ____DB ____RC Olive Kitteridge
63649 ____DB ____RC The Road
71092 ____DB Tinkers
71810 ____DB A Visit from the Goon Squad


Number Select BR Title
16160 ____BR Gilead
17613 ____BR March
17072 ____BR The Road

Back to top

Library of Congress Home      NLS Home     Comments about NLS to [email protected]     About this site      Legal     Comments about this site to the NLS Reference Section

Posted on 2015-11-23