Books literally read themselves

Staff writer

Janet Marler is a librarian. She works at Marion City Library. If anyone knows about books, she does. She also knows that not all books are read. Some talk.

Marler wants to promote the Kansas Talking Book Program.

“Talking Books is a statewide service for anyone who is visually impaired or physically handicapped in such a way that leaves them unable to read,” she said. “It’s free. Our library has been doing it forever.”

A person or their caretaker visits the library and fills out a form, which goes to a service based in Emporia.

The Marion City Library has never denied anyone with a legitimate need.

Once accepted patrons receive a special audio machine that plays cassettes from the program.

“Two years ago we got new machines that are easier use,” Marler said.

The machines have bigger buttons, and the voices on each story are unique. If there is ever any problem with a machine, Marler said, it is replaced free.

Participants do not need to leave their house to get stories. Cassettes come through the mail.

Participants use a catalog—printed or in brail—to choose titles.

They can also receive random books from genres they enjoy.

“You can get any book you want,” Marler said. “When it comes to genre, a lot of people choose westerns, mystery, or romance. However, there are 15 genres in the catalogue, including a children’s section.”

“Patrons can order as many books as they want and keep them as long as they need. There are no late fees.”

“When they finish a book, all they have to do is send it back and order a new one,” Marler said.

Most participants are elderly.

“Some people are not capable of holding a book and turning the pages,” Marler said. “This program is a nice thing that they can do for themselves.”

To enroll or for more information call (620) 382-2442.

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