Category Archives: Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS)

Friday Reads & #BookFaceFriday: The Fabric of Civilization by Virginia Postrel 

The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.

Mark Weiser

Virginia Postrel’s The Fabric of Civilization begins with the dawn of human history, with the first fibers twisted into string, and ends with modern innovators creating new fibers and types of fabrics. The book is sectioned into seven chapters, each covering a certain step in the fiber-to-textile life cycle: Fiber, Thread, Cloth, Dye, Traders, Consumers, and Innovators. Postrel’s core thesis: fabric was among our first technologies, and it was also our most crucial and defining technology — and it still is. “We hairless apes co-evolved with our cloth,” Postrel writes. “From the moment we’re wrapped in a blanket at birth, we are surrounded by textiles.”     

This book was absolutely fascinating. As a knitter, crocheter, and now a beginning spinner, part of my awe for the fiber crafts comes from their long-stretching history: from me, to my grandmother, to endless generations past. The way I spin yarn from wool, sitting on my couch in front of the TV in 2024, uses the same motions that would be familiar to someone in ancient history. Fibers spun into thread were necessary for the cloth needed for sails, clothing, blankets, political functions, military uniforms, and religious/cultural rituals. My burgeoning love of spinning is likely why Chapter 2: Thread was my favorite. Postrel’s breakdown of how long it would take spinners and their spindles from different eras to produce the thread that was so crucial for exploration, competition, commerce, and general livelihood was incredibly thorough. Take a moment to think about all the fabric around you right now. That fabric is composed of woven threads or knitted yarns. Today’s modern factories use heavy machinery to spin fibers into miles and miles of that thread for jeans, cotton shirts, and wool coats. For much of history, however, that process needed to be done entirely by hand. Much of the rest of the world’s economy could not work until the spinners did, and the quest to expedite the process drove inventions and innovations that had far-reaching effects on industries beyond that of textiles.     

At times, Postrel’s overview and analysis bottlenecks into myopia, and the occasional – but thankfully brief – insertions of her own personal experiences with the textile process were jarring. Postrel occasionally falls into a columnist’s cadence, sacrificing the distance of academic de rigueur for a more conversational tone. Another reader might appreciate the first-person connections and exposé-esque sections – a la How It’s Madeand I can certainly understand the reasoning behind her choice, but I did not find that these added much to the book.  

Her myopia, however, is less forgivable. Postrel would have crafted a more solid body of work had she matched the title with the true scope of her endeavor, and called the book The Fabric of Western Civilization. Industrial Revolution-era Europe and New England are centered far more prominently than I would have preferred. Postrel touches briefly on the interaction between the South’s cotton industry and England’s mills — even after the latter abolished slavery — but doesn’t spend as long on that connection, even though I feel it would have bolstered her argument about global commerce and economy. This was an especially disappointing flaw, especially given Postrel’s own definitions of “civilization,” including the fact that it is a cumulative process not bound to one region or culture; in fact, as Postrel does mention, exchange (willing and unwilling) is what drove the evolution of textiles and humanity both.   

Postrel also falls into the trap of rebuttal for the sake of novel arguments, which end up bordering on dismissal of broader historical truths: particularly and most egregiously in her argument about cotton in the Pre-Civil War South, singling out Edward E. Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (2013) and his statement that increased cotton production was caused by ever-intensifying brutality inflicted on enslaved people. Postrel counters that the production increase can be simply explained, instead, by advancements in both cotton stock and processing technologies. However, there is no reason why both cannot be true. The same root issue is also at play when she disregards the low-wages of the pre-industrial (and typically female) spinners as solely a business decision, devoid of the influence of gender and class politics. History is not a field with single-causes and single-effects.  

Part of the appeal of non-fiction to me, however, is actively engaging with the arguments that the author presents. A sense of wonder is important, but I also want to think about the topic and build my own perspective. And so, overall, I enjoyed the book. I listened to the audiobook read by Caroline Cole, but I do plan to check out the print copy from my local library, in order to explore Postrel’s footnotes and bibliography for further reading and learning opportunities.  

You can find “The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World” by Virginia Postrel is available for download on BARD, the Braille and Audio Reading Download service. BARD is a service offered by the Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled at the Library of Congress.

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available in our Book Club collection, permanent collection, and Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

Postrel, Virginia. The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World. Basic Books/OrangeSky Audio, 2021.  

Posted in Books & Reading, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2024 One Book One Nebraska: Now Available on BARD!

Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir of a Crimeby Debora Harding is now available on cartridge and for download on BARD, the Braille and Audio Reading Download service. BARD is a service offered by the Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled at the Library of Congress.

This memoir of native Nebraskan, Debora Harding, is all about a traumatic childhood event, the aftereffects of which would change her family forever. Harding expertly weaves the past with the present in a riveting story of survival and family dynamics.

“With remarkable narrative skill, Harding untangles the lingering effects of family dysfunction and criminal trauma. This is a page-turner with a deep heart and soul, full of forgiveness but demanding of accountability.”

BookPage, “Best Books of 2020: Memoirs

This title has been selected as the 2024 One Book One Nebraska. The program is now in its 20th year of bringing Nebraskans together for the reading and discussion of one great book written by Nebraska authors or that have a Nebraska theme or setting. Nearly every One Book One Nebraska winner is available on cartridge and for download on BARD.

The narration was done by Connie Healey, who has been volunteering for Talking Book and Braille for 10 years and received a Nebraska Library Association Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2022. The recording took over 30 hours in the studio and an additional 20 hours of post-production to prepare for our patrons. Connie has now read three One Book One Nebraska selections, the other two beingThe Bones of Paradiseby Jonis Agee andPrairie Forge by James J. Kimble.

TBBS borrowers can request “Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir of a Crime,” DBC02052, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Book Available on BARD!

“Take All to Nebraska” by Sophus Keith Winther is now available on cartridge and for download on BARD!

A novel about a Danish family struggling to establish themselves on a rented farm in Nebraska at the turn of the century.

TBBS borrowers can request “Take All to Nebraska”, DBC02009, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Nebraska Book on BARD!

“Keith County Journal” by John Janovy is now available on cartridge and for download on BARD!

The natural life of Keith County, in West Central Nebraska, is explored in this unusual and highly praised book. As we walk through the field and marshes, we are shown aspects of the countryside that are usually ignored or even found repulsive, such as termites, snails, the blood-sucking louse, etc.

A very different look at the wonders of nature, fascinating, well written, and enlightening

Library Journal

TBBS borrowers can request “Keith County Journal,” DBC02008, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Home Place” Now Available on BARD

“The Home Place” by Wright Morris is available on cartridge and for download on BARD!

First published in 1948, this novel, written in the first person, describes the one-day visit of Clyde Muncy to “the home place” at Lone Tree, Nebraska. This tale of a New York family’s visit to a Nebraska farm has been acclaimed for its human interest and humor, stemming from the quiet collision of ways of life going in opposite directions. It was selected as the 2010 One Book One Nebraska and is listed on the 150 Greatest Nebraska Books list — a list that represent the best literature produced from Nebraska during the past 150 years.

A fine piece of Americana.

Library Journal

TBBS borrowers can request “The Home Place,” DBC02005, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Book Available on BARD!

No Time on My Hands by Grace Snyder is now available on cartridge and for download on BARD!

Snyder grew up on the high plains of Custer County, Nebraska and lived in the western Nebraska all her life. This book serves as her autobiography, a full life in which, “I have been blessed by having no time on my hands.”

“Snyder’s lengthy narrative is filled with humorous incidents, and she rarely fails to see a light side to even the most dreary event. Still the pathos comes through. . . . We realize Snyder’s importance as a folk artist, an outstanding quilter whose work was shown all over the country.”

Denver Post

TBBS borrowers can request “No Time on My Hands,” DBC01997, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2023 NLS Summer Reading Author Talk: Jenny Torres Sanchez

Join us on Zoom for an exciting author talk with Jenny Torres Sanchez, author of We Are Not from Here!

Jenny Torres Sanchez writes children’s and young adult fiction that has been a finalist for the Pura Belpre Award and included on the American Library Association’s annual list of Best Fiction for Young Adults. Her book We Are Not from Here vividly captures the treacherous journey of three teenagers who cross from Guatemala through Mexico to the United States in search of a better life.

This event is specially designed for YA, but all are welcome.

For more information:
Annette Hall
402-471-4033
annette.hall@nebraska.gov

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Programming, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS), Youth Services | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2023 NLS Summer Reading Author Talk: Kwame Alexander

Join us on Zoom for an exciting author talk! Kwame Alexander is a New York Times best-selling author for children of all ages, as well as a poet, educator, and recipient of the Newbery Medal.

This event is specially designed for YA and middle grades, but all are welcome.

Mark your calendar for the last upcoming event in the NLS Summer Reading program:

For more information:
Annette Hall
402-471-4033
annette.hall@nebraska.gov

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Book Available on BARD!

The Saga of Hugh Glass: Pirate, Pawnee, and Mountain Man by John Myers Myers is now available on cartridge and for download on BARD!

This title relates the adventures of Hugh Glass, who was by turns a pirate, a captive of the Pawnee, and a mountain man who dragged himself 2,000 miles after being left to die in the wilderness.

“There is no story like it in all literature and in all history. . . . The greatest and truest hero of all time was once a buckskin man living on the American frontier. Mr. Myers has done a fine job of scholarly research. He offers many new insights as to the true character of the mountain man. And the bibliography is alone worth the price of admission.”

Frederick Manfred, Chicago News

TBBS borrowers can request “The Saga of Hugh Glass“, DBC01996, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website.  If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2023 NLS Summer Reading Author Talk: Annette Bay Pimentel and Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins

Join us on Zoom for an exciting author talk with Annette Bay Pimentel, author of All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything!

Author Annette Bay Pimentel will read from her picture book and be joined by the heroine of her story, Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins.

This event is specially designed for K-5th grade, but all are welcome.

Mark your calendars for the following events happening this summer as part of the NLS Summer Reading program:

For more information:
Annette Hall
402-471-4033
annette.hall@nebraska.gov

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Programming, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2023 NLS Summer Reading Author Talk: Celia C. Perez

Join us on Zoom for an exciting author talk with Celia C. Perez, author of The First Rule of Punk!

This event is specially designed for middle grades, but all are welcome.

Mark your calendars for the following events happening this summer as part of the NLS Summer Reading program:

For more information:
Annette Hall
402-471-4033
annette.hall@nebraska.gov

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Programming, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2023 NLS Summer Reading Story Time and Music

Join us on Zoom for an exciting story time and music with Matt Mazur of Turtle Dance Music! Come prepared to have lots of fun with stories, songs, and silly dances.

This event is geared toward K-3rd grade, but all are still welcome.

Mark your calendars for the following events happening this summer as part of the NLS Summer Reading program:

For more information:
Annette Hall
402-471-4033
annette.hall@nebraska.gov

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Programming, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

2023 NLS Summer Reading Author Talk: Shelby Van Pelt

Join us on Zoom for an exciting author talk with New York Times best-selling author of Remarkably Bright Creatures, Shelby Van Pelt!

This event in the National Library Service Summer Reading Program is specially designed for adults, but all are welcome.

Mark your calendars for the following events happening this summer as part of the NLS Summer Reading program:

For more information:
Annette Hall
402-471-4033
annette.hall@nebraska.gov

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

2023 NLS Summer Reading Kickoff Program

You’re invited to attend the very first National Library Service Summer Reading Program!

It begins on Monday, June 26 with a kickoff event featuring Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, who will welcome everyone and read a picture book for the younger participants. All ages are welcome!

The kickoff event will be followed by these weekly author talks and story times and music:

For more information:
Annette Hall
402-471-4033
annette.hall@nebraska.gov

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS), Youth Services | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

New Summer Book Available on BARD!

“Jack and Noah’s Big Day: The Summer When Everything Happened Just Like No One Had Imagined” by Jay Patrick Slagle has been recorded by our Talking Book and Braille Service and is perfect for summer!

Best friends Jack and Noah are facing what promises to be a long boring summer. They decide that Jack needs the world’s greatest birthday party, for which they will need to raise a lot of money. As fundraisers, they start a summer camp, staff a slushie stand, and try to sell glow-in-the-dark necklaces at the city’s July 4th fireworks show. Along the way, a house is blown up; there are visits by police, foremen, and news reporters; and an elephant marches down the driveway.

TBBS borrowers can request “Jack and Noah’s Big Day,” DBC01984, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Autobiography Available on BARD!

“Behind the 8-Ball by Nebraska author Tom Frye is now available on cartridge and for download on BARD!

“This is the story behind all of my stories, starting from when I was a kid growing up in Havelock and moving on through the 45 years I spent in the field of youth work. I may have a wild imagination, but this one is non-fiction and filled with true stories of my life and times.”

Author, Tom Frye

TBBS borrowers can request “Behind the 8-Ball,” DBC01988, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Becker’s Farm” Now Available on BARD!

“Becker’s Farm: A Novel” by William Timmons is now available on cartridge and for download on BARD!

World War II prisoner of war Helmut Sommerfield is interned at a small POW camp in western Nebraska. He soon earns the good will of surrounding farmers as he puts his mechanical skills to work repairing farm equipment. Their admiration for him deepens after Helmut is severely burned while rescuing two farmers trapped in a burning barn. One of the farmers, a recluse, dies, giving rise to a plot to swap Helmut’s identity for the deceased farmer. His chance for a new life is threatened by an escaping POW who knows Helmut’s true identity.

TBBS borrowers can request “Becker’s Farm,” DBC01999, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

2023 One Book One Nebraska Selection available on BARD!

“The Mystery of Hunting’s End” by Mignon G. Eberhart has been recorded by our Talking Book and Braille Service!

Smack in the middle of the Nebraska Sand Hills is Hunting’s End, a weekend lodge owned by the rich Kingery family. Socialite Matil Kingery invites a strange collection of guests — the same people who were at the lodge when her father died of “heart failure” exactly five years ago. She intends to find out which one of them murdered him.

This title has been selected as the 2023 One Book One Nebraska. This dynamic program cultivates a culture of reading and discussion in our state by bringing our diverse state together around one great book by a Nebraska author.

TBBS borrowers can request “The Mystery of Hunting’s End,” DBC02012, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website.  If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Nebraska Center for the Book, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Book Available on BARD!

“Haven’s Wake” by Ladette Randolph is now available on cartridge and download on BARD!

When Haven Grebel dies following a tractor accident on his Nebraska farm, his Mennonite family gathers for the funeral service. Widow Elsa, estranged son Jonathan, and the rest of the family must navigate love, loyalty, and long-buried secrets.

Haven’s Wake is about memory and silence, and about secrets and the fear of them. But above all, it’s a tale of love and loyalty. At the very heart of this deeply heartfelt novel is the story of the restorative power of family and tradition.”

Timothy Schaffert

This novel is part of the Flyover Fiction series and is listed on the 150 Greatest Nebraska Books list — a list that represents the best literature produced from Nebraska during the past 150 years.

TBBS borrowers can request “Haven’s Wake,” DBC01896, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

William Kloefkorn Book Available on BARD!

“This Death by Drowning” by Nebraska author William Kloefkorn has been recorded by our Talking Book and Braille Service!

“Is there any human corner left to illuminate? To surprise? Absolutely, as these wondrous recollections by poet Kloefkorn prove. This slim volume is filled with provocative perceptions garnered from daily life. . . . After the last line, readers will turn back to page one and start again, slowly.”

Publisher’s Weekly

This Death by Drowning” serves as Kloefkorn’s personal memoir. It is an artfully assembled collection of reminiscences having to do with water and is listed on the 150 Greatest Nebraska Books list — a list that represent the best literature produced from Nebraska during the past 150 years.

TBBS borrowers can request “This Death by Drowning,” DBC02002, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

Posted in Books & Reading, General, Talking Book & Braille Service (TBBS) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment