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Logo of The Friends of The New Jersey Library for the Blind and Handicapped: Within a circle is a family with their pets. Around the circle is our organization name, The Friends of the New Jersey Library for the Blind and Handicapped THE FRIENDS OF THE NEW JERSEY LIBRARY FOR THE BLIND AND HANDICAPPED, INC.


The mission of The Friends shall be to support and promote the services and programs of the NJ State Library Talking Book and Braille Center.

President’s Message

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Spring has arrived!

As I’m preparing this letter, I realize that it has not felt like spring in the last couple of days but I’m anticipating good weather soon.

Now that spring has arrived, the time of renewal for plants, trees and forest animals is here. It is time to plan on joining new organizations. Become a member of the Friends of the NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped. We promote programs and projects supporting the Talking Book and Braille Center. It’s very important to have active members. The more members we have the more we can accomplish.

Last June the golf outing was very successful as well as the Children’s Summer Reading Program. We sponsored a new program at the beginning of this year called “Chilly” Chapters. It was a reading challenge for adults and it was based on how many books you read. The grand prize was chosen at the end. For more details see the article later in this newsletter and read who was the grand prize winner! I’m sure the “Chilly” Chapters program will be done again as it was very successful.

Right now, we are preparing for our June Annual Meeting and TBBC for their Golf Outing. The Children’s Summer Reading Program will begin the summer. It Is important that children keep reading throughout the summer. A good reader always makes a good student.

Becoming a member of the Friends is simple. Fill out our application and a check for $10.00. The only requirements are attending two meetings a year, one in June and one in December, not hard, right?

The fiscal year goes from July 1 to June 30th . We need all of you to come and join us. It will make the Friends stronger and better and will benefit TBBC tremendously.

Since the friends promote programs and support projects for the Talking Book and Braille Center, we’re always looking for new suggestions. If anyone out there has any suggestions for a program or project that might benefit the Talking Book and Braille Center, please submit it to the Friends email address at Friendsnjlbh@yahoo.com. All suggestions will be reviewed by the Friends board.

I want to wish everybody a happy spring and summer and that each day be filled with beautiful weather. Enjoy your friends and family and all your summer excursions. Happy spring , happy reading!

Marie Sawyer
Friends of the Library

Meeting Information

Our next meeting will be by conference call on June 1, 2024, beginning at 10 AM dial 605-468-8005. Enter the access code 425 373#. You will be asked to press 1 after the access code is repeated correctly.

Elections of Officers
By Jim Dougherty

At our June 1st meeting, the Friends will be electing the slate of officers who will be holding positions for the next 2 years. As the Nominating Committee Chair appointed by President Marie Sawyer, I am proposing the following slate of officers: President – Marie Sawyer; Vice President - Jack Truehaft; Secretary –Mary Jo Partyka and Treasurer – Joyce Sowa. Other members may be nominated from the floor at the time of elections. We do ask that anyone being nominated from the floor be approached in advance of the meeting, have already agreed to run for the office in question, and must be present at the June meeting. All members please make every attempt to attend this very important meeting.

If you would like to be considered for an office, please contact the Friends at Friendsnjlbh@yahoo.com or call me at (732)589-5619 and leave a message on the voice mail. Below are descriptions of each open position.

Please be sure to review carefully.

SECTION 1. The officers shall consist of a President, a Vice President, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. These officers shall perform the duties set forth in these By-Laws and by the parliamentary authority adopted by the Friends. The president must be eligible for services from the (NJSLTBBC).

The President shall preside at all meetings, appoint two (2) Executive Board members-at-Large with Board approval, appoint committees and serve as an ex officio member of all committees except the Nominating Committee. The President shall be a current member and in good standing of the Friends.

The Vice President shall preside in the absence of the President. The vice-President must be eligible for services from the (NJSLTBBC).

The Secretary shall keep the minutes of all meetings, coordinate correspondence and maintain custody of all non-financial corporate records.

The Treasurer shall keep the financial records, maintain responsibility over all receipts and disbursements and prepare periodic financial reports.

Annual Dues are due

This is a friendly reminder that our annual dues for FY 2025 are due. Please send your dues and donations to the Friends mailing address and write your check out to the Friends of the Library for the Blind and Handicapped. The mailing address is P.O. Box 434, Woodbridge, NJ 07095. The Friends appreciate your support and your participation in helping the NJSLTBBC meet its goals. A membership form is attached to this newsletter for those who wish to join The Friends or pay dues. Dues are $10.00 for an individual membership and $25.00 for a family membership. These dues cover the 12-month period from July 1, 2024, to June 30, 2025.

13th Annual TBBC Golf Classic
Update By Linda Cerce

The NJ State Library Talking Book & Braille Center is hosting its 13th Annual TBBC Golf Classic, proudly sponsored by the Friends of the New Jersey Library for the Blind & Handicapped. Through this generous funding we have been able to reduce the ticket price per golfer, in efforts to attract more golfers and sponsors while raising awareness of our programs and services. We have also moved the venue to a new golf course to add to a change of pace, and to allow others to golf courses that they otherwise would not. This year it will be held on Tuesday, June 18th at Makefield Highlands Golf Club in Yardley PA. This 18-hole championship course rated “Best of Bucks” and “Golf Digest 9th Ranked Public Course in Pennsylvania.”

The day begins at 8:30 a.m. with registration and a Continental Breakfast, followed by a 10:00 a.m. shot gun start. There will be two contests during the day, a putting contest with a chance to win $5,000 if they make a 60ft putt and a Closest to the Pin contest on a par 3 hole.

There will be course hospitality stations on the course throughout the day. As the golfers end their play they will head back to the clubhouse for cocktail hour and hors d’oeuvres while they wait for golfers to finish up their play. A buffeted lunch will be served, followed by announcing contest winners of the 1st and 2nd place teams, a 50/50 winner, and Closest to the Hole finalist, and the putting contest finalist. Also, at this time the Putting Contest finalist will take a one putt shot on the putting green for a chance to make a 60ft putt and win $5,000. During the reception golfers will be given an opportunity to purchase Penny Auction tickets for a chance to win donated baskets and various other items. There will also be a Silent Auction with donated items for the golfers to view and bid on. The day will conclude with dessert!

Many thanks to The Friends of the NJ Library for the Blind & Handicapped for supporting our event for the past 13 years. Proceeds of the event benefit the Talking Book & Braille Center, New Jersey’s only FREE library for the reading and print disabled (anyone who is blind, visually or physically impaired).

Please help spread the word! If you know anyone interested in golfing, sponsoring, donating an auction item, or have any questions about the outing, please feel free to contact Linda Cerce at 800-792-8322 ext. 835 or email lcerce@njstatelib.org.

Amazon’s Alexia and BARD
By Adam Szczepaniak

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) plans to make listening to audiobooks and magazines available to patrons in mid to late summer on commercial smart speakers. The first type of smart speaker is the Amazon Alexa. BARD will be able to handle all the different types of Amazon Alexa units sold in stores.

NLS is in the final stages of beta testing this ability with a select number of patrons from across the country. There are a couple of TBBC patrons who are taking part in the testing.

Patrons will use your voice to find and to play books and magazines on these smart speakers.

As with other smart speaker products, the books and magazines will be stored within your account. If you have more than one Amazon smart speaker, you would be able to move from one speaker to another and continue listening.

The National Federation of the Blind’s Newsline has been allowing smart speaker access for a number of years to local and national newspapers.

TBBC has purchased seven Amazon Alexa speakers for Reader Services personnel. They will begin training with the staff at NLS in April.

Reflecting on TBBC's 2024 Chilly Chapters Winter Reading Challenge
By Elizabeth Kelly

During this winter season, TBBC, with generous support from the Friends of the Library for the Blind and Handicapped, hosted its inaugural Winter Reading Challenge for adult patrons, uniting 50 avid readers in a celebration of literature. From January 8th to March 1st, 2024, participants dove into reading, collectively finishing nearly 800 books!

Upon signing up for the Winter Reading Challenge, participants received a comprehensive package which included the challenge guidelines, a TBBC logo hat, and a reading log to track their literary adventures. Over the following eight weeks, TBBC sent regular update and reminder letters, including eight staff-curated book lists. Each participant who reported reading at least one book earned an entry into the prize drawing for an Amazon Fire tablet. The five readers who reported reading the most books were awarded three entries each into the prize drawing- which took place on Friday, March 15, 2024.

The Friends of the Library provided the prize for the Winter Reading Challenge, generously donating the 50 TBBC logo hats and the grand prize of an Amazon HD 10 Fire tablet. This tablet, highly anticipated by participants, significantly contributed to the success of the program. The lucky winner of the tablet was Paul Ressler, who intends to further immerse himself in reading by using the tablet to access BARD mobile.

The Winter Reading Challenge not only encouraged a deep engagement with books but also emphasized inclusivity by accommodating various accessibility needs. TBBC aimed to ensure that everyone found the challenge accessible, providing braille materials to 4% of participants and emailing challenge content to 6% for whom digital access was preferred. Adult Services Librarian, Liz Kelly, also offered assistance by maintaining reading logs for patrons who found tracking their progress challenging.

The Winter Reading Challenge showcased the incredible commitment of TBBC's readers, with the top participant completing a remarkable 82 books! Moving forward, TBBC is committed to building upon this year’s success by continuing the challenge in the following years. The passion and dedication exhibited by participants throughout this program underscores the enduring impact of books in connecting people and inspiring lifelong learning.

Winter Themed Mystery Book List (One of eight sent to the Winter Reading Challenge participants)

An Unwanted Guest DB91937
By: Shari Lapeña, Reading time: 8 hours, 28 minutes.
Suspense Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Mitchell's Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing Catskills weekend. But when a blizzard cuts off the electricity and all outside contact, the guests must settle in for the long haul. Soon, though, one of them turns up dead. And then another one. Some violence, some strong language. Commercial audiobook. 2018.

Blackmail and Bibingka DB110529
By: Mia P Manansala, Reading time: 8 hours, 50 minutes.
Mystery and Detective Stories
"It's Christmastime in Shady Palms, but things are far from jolly for Lila Macapagal. Although her new business is looking to turn a profit and she's taken the first step in a new romance, her cousin Ronnie is back in town after fifteen years. Tita Rosie is thrilled with Ronnie’s return, but Lila knows that wherever Ronnie goes, trouble follows. She's soon proven right when Ronnie is suspected of murder, and secrets surrounding her shady cousin start piling up. Now Lila has to put away years of resentment and distrust to prove her cousin's innocence.” – Adapted from publisher blurb. Unrated. Commercial audiobook.

The Ice Princess: A Novel DB77835
By: Camilla Läckberg, Reading time: 12 hours, 50 minutes.
Suspense Fiction
Fjällbacka, Sweden. When writer Erica Falck sees the body of her childhood friend, it looks like suicide. But the autopsy proves it was murder. Erica and detective Patrik Hedström investigate--and begin dating. Originally published in Swedish in 2003. Strong language, some violence, and some explicit descriptions of sex. 2009.

One by One DB100607
By: Ruth Ware, Reading time: 13 hours, 10 minutes.
Suspense Fiction
A French Alps trip for the team of a trendy London-based tech company starts out as a typical corporate retreat. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a buyout offer, tensions simmer. When an avalanche leaves them stranded, the group dwindles one by one. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2020.

Winter Counts DB100989
By: David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Reading time: 8 hours, 19 minutes.
Mystery and Detective Stories
Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment. But when heroin arrives on the reservation and finds Virgil's own nephew, his vigilantism becomes personal. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2019.

The Hunting Party DB94270
By: Lucy Foley, Reading time: 10 hours, 10 minutes.
Suspense Fiction
A group of thirtysomething Oxford friends gather for their annual New Year vacation. They arrive at this year's idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands just before a historic blizzard seals them off from the outside world. Two days later, one of them is dead. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2019.

The Violin Conspiracy DB106851
By: Brendan Slocumb, Reading time: 12 hours, 6 minutes.
Mystery and Detective Stories
Ray McMillian has always known his dream of being a world-class violinist is a long shot due to his being Black and from North Carolina. But when his great-great-grandfather's fiddle turns out to be a Stradivarius, he reaches for the stars. When it's stolen on the eve of a competition, Ray must find his beloved Strad. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2022.

Children’s Summer Reading
By Jennifer Apgar

Spring has sprung and summer is not far behind! Which means it’s almost Summer Reading time! Every summer, TBBC offers a Summer Reading Program to all TBBC children and teen patrons interested in joining the fun.

Throughout the summer, we mail out packets to anyone who has signed up which includes a variety of activities, trivia, crafts, book lists, reading incentives, and more. The incentives we send are provided by the Friends of the Library for the Blind and Handicapped.

Last year, participants received trivia games, craft ideas, word puzzles, sidewalk chalk, and a STEM kit, just to name a few!

This year’s Summer Reading Program theme is Adventure Begins at your Library! We can’t wait to share the fun adventures and surprises we have planned!

Once again, we thank the Friends of the Library for their continued support and generosity to help make the Summer Reading Program what it is.

We look forward to an Adventurous summer!

Options for Reading The Friends’ Newsletter

The newsletter is available in Large Print, E-Mail, on our website friendsnjlibraryfortheblind.org and for those who do not have computers, by telephone on Newsline. You can access these Newsletters with a Newsline subscription and a touch-tone telephone. If you do not have a Newsline subscription, contact Reader Services at the New Jersey Talking Book and Braille Center at 1-800-792-8322 to get signed up for a Newsline subscription. If you have a Newsline subscription, but do not remember your login information, contact Christian Riehl at the above number extension 821. Once you have secured your login information, dial in to the service by calling 1-888-882-1629, or the local dial up number provided to you for accessing the service. Follow the prompts for logging in and reading the Newsletters. Choose option 2 off the main menu for your state’s information channel, followed by option for the blindness groups, then the option for the Friends Newsletters. Happy reading.

Please check out our website for information on community services as well as present and past copies of our newsletters at friendsnjlibraryfortheblind.org


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