25 Apr 2019, 7:31am

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The Walworthians: Descriptive Voice Service

The Walworthians


A collection of telephone interviews published in the Wayne County STAR Newspaper and Wayne County MAIL Newspaper, 1994-209

by Kate Chamberlin


Descriptive Voice Service

January 28, 1998

I went to the public library to borrow a video with DVS. DVS is a Descriptive Voice Service that provides a narrator who describes the action.

Some sighted folks find the talking disruptive, but us blind folk find it imperative if we’re going to get anything out of the video.

The DVS videos are marked with braille on the spine and kept in with the regular videos. I ran my fingers over all the tapes, but they were all checked out. You can imagine my disappointment and frustration.

Since my motto is: When life rolls you a lemon, make lemonade, I went over to the books-on-tape section. No braille here, but my husband read the titles to me and I made my selection.

The Talking Books I get through the mail from the National Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired are all marked with braille. It is quick and easy to find tape one/side one, etc.

The commercial tapes aren’t marked with braille, so the first thing I have to do in preparation to listening, is to have a sighted friend check to be sure the tapes are in order with side one up and where the first tape is located in the carton or “book”. And, woe be unto me if I drop the carton and the tapes fall out!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that my current selections have paper (albeit, print) on side one which I could feel. Side two was smooth. This saved me a lot of time and frustration from losing continuity when changing tapes and sides.

The next difference I noticed was when I started to listen to “The Personal History of David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens.

It was like an old radio program! There were horses clopping, knocks on the door, the crackle of a blazing fire and lots of personal characterizations through voice inflections and style.

My first thought was that students listening to this book being read wouldn’t get any literary value out of hearing this. There were no “he said” or she said”; no tag lines. How would the student know what was really written in the book and what was put there by the reader? Forget about spelling!

However, by the end of the first tape I found tears streaming down my cheeks at the funeral of David’s mother and then laughing out loud with the clumsy, good-natured attempts of the cabby to capture David’s nurse maid’s heart.

I found the cockney accent a lot easier to understand when it was spoken rather than if I’d had to read the print. Here the voice inflections emote better than the print could have. Perhaps it is precisely that emotional factor that will keep the story in the student’s mind longer.

The second tape I “read” was Dickens’ Great Expectations. This one was a more accurate reading of the printed text. It included tag lines, descriptions and other mechanics of the printed text. While there were no crackling fires, the reader did excellent voice identification for each character. It was easy to tell who was talking, where they were and a sense of the times.

I suspect listening to classics and other stories on tape will not and should not replace reading the printed or brailled text for yourself if you want to learn about writing mechanics and spelling, but there is no denying the impact of listening to a good book.

Maybe our subconscious is remembering the good feeling of when our Mommy held us on her lap and read to us.

‘“The Personal History of David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens

BBC Radio Presentation, 1994, Bantam, Doubleday, Dell Audio Publishing, NY, NY.

‘”Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens

read by Gene Engene, Books In Motion, Spokan, Washignton,

recording copyright 1990.

2019 Up-Date: I rarely use the library tapes these days. I down-load books and magazines directly from the National Library Service, using the BARD system, then, transfer the down-loads to my Victor Stream Reader. Once I learned how to do it, it’s fast and abosolutely fabulous.


18 Apr 2019, 6:51pm

Comments Off on The Walworthians: Elizabeth M. O’Toole

The Walworthians: Elizabeth M. O’Toole

The Walworthians


A collection of telephone interviews published in the Wayne County STAR Newspaper and Wayne County MAIL Newspaper, 1994-209

by Kate Chamberlin


Elizabeth M. O’Toole

April 30, 1997


Elizabeth M. O’Toole is one of the people in our neighborhood. She is the newest Children’s Librarian at the Walworth-Seely Library.

“I’m in seventh heaven,” Liz said during our telephone interview. “I love doing the bulletin boards, crafts, stories and being with the children.”

If Liz is in the “children’s room” when the clerks leave in the afternoon, they know something special is in store for everyone in the morning!

“Liz creates such an exciting ambiance that it’s infectious,” said one of the clerks.

Liz has been working at the library ever since her friend Mary Perry, then head librarian, mentioned they needed another clerk. Liz applied and got the job. When the opening came for a children’s librarian, she was a natural shoo-in and hasn’t been sorry yet.

She has a degree in Early Childhood Education. She taught in the Cleveland area for a year and is applying that Montessori training to her library program. Liz would like to continue the current programs of Book Jammers for the 4th through 6th graders and the Story Hours for the Preschoolers.

She’s beginning a K-2 Program to encourage more library use. The children will be reading about such things as kites and pin-wheels. Then, they’ll make what they’ve read about to take home.

She’s been practicing on her own children for years! Kimberly is 13, an active Girl Scout and will be attending Our Lady of Mercy. She’d like to become “some kind of doctor”.

Tom, is 10, a Boy Scout in Troop 260 and active in sports. I met Tom several years ago when I did a Guide Dog Puppy program for the Book Jammers. He is friendly, out spoken and a real nice guy.

Colleen is 7 years old, an active Brownie and attending St. Joseph’s School in Penfield. She is fascinated with all kinds of “creatures”.

Caitlyn is 4 and attending Wee People Nursery School in Walworth and looking forward to attending kindergarten at St. Joseph’s in September.

The kids share their home with G-man, a one year old Golden Retriever, and Emmy Lou, a 7 year old Yellow Lab.

Last, but not least, (or should I say: first and foremost) is Liz’s husband John. He is an ex-Navy man who moved his family to the Walworth area 8-1/2 years ago when he came to work on the Gannett Nuclear Power Plant.

Liz met John when she was in college. She and several girlfriends decided it would be exciting to go into Milton to a tavern. It just happened to be the same tavern that was popular with the off duty Navy men from the nearby shipyard. Need I say more?

John is active in the Walworth Volunteer Fire Department and was a Den Leader for Tom’s den.

This summer, Liz is initiating a program for young adults in grades 6 through 8. The theme is On The Wild Side.

I know the cartoonist who is coming to do her thing on July 30 from 11 to Noon and she is definitely on the wild side!

“I like living in Walworth,” Liz said. “Gananda is kid oriented. I feel the children and I are safe. People in general are friendly and there are lots of baby-sitters available during the day.”

“I’d like to see the new Y come to our area,” Liz said. “If a kid isn’t sports oriented, there isn’t much for them to do.”

I suspect Liz is going to do her part to provide more for these children by and through her work at the library.

Thank you, Liz. You are a Walworthian with the accent on WORTH.

2019 Up-Date: none


11 Apr 2019, 7:13am

Comments Off on The Walworthians: Library Banned Books

The Walworthians: Library Banned Books

The Walworthians


A collection of telephone interviews published in the Wayne County STAR Newspaper and Wayne County MAIL Newspaper, 1994-209

by Kate Chamberlin


Banned Books

October 23, 1996

My curiosity was piqued by the display of banned and challenged books in the Walworth-Seely Library. Several were even on tape cassettes, so, I checked them out.

The first one I read was a children’s novel titled Julie Of the Wolves by Jean George.

It told of the tragic death of a young girl’s mother, the separation from her father due to modern laws about attending school, the arranged marriage, her running away, her befriending the wolf pack, the sport killing of the leader from hunters in an airplane and the reunion with her father.

As the tape ended, I tried to think of why the book would have been banned: The pre-arranged marriage? Inaccurate descriptions of Eskimo customs? Slaughter from the airplane? A girl living with wolves?

I finally called my friendly librarian and asked if she knew why Julie of the Wolves had been banned.

There was a weak description of the retarded, 14-year old husband attempting to mate with his 13-year old wife.

The list the librarian sent me put it this way: “George, Jean Craighead. Julie of the Wolves Harper. Challenged in the classrooms and school libraries in Palmdale, Calif-. (I 995) because the book de-scribes an attempted rape. Source: Mar. 1996, p. 45.”

One of the other tapes I listened to was Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. I didn’t have much trouble understanding why it would be banned for use in a high school. The students don’t or shouldn’t have the experiences to fully appreciate the ribald humor and lusty escapades of the pilgrims as they share their tales enroute to Canterbury.

Canterbury Tales are just not age appropriate for high schoolers.

“Chaucer, Geoffrey. Canterbury Tales. Bantam; Bobbs-Merrill; Doubleday; Penguin; Raintree Pubs.; NAL; Univ. of Okla. Pr. Removed from a senior college prepara­tory literature course at the Eureka, 111. High School (I 995) because some parents thought the sexual content of some of the tales was not appropriate for the students. Source: Nov. 1995, P. 185; Jan. 1996, P. 14.”

I was surprised to find James and The Giant Peach on the list of banned and challenged books.

Wayne Central had that title on its required reading summer list. Our daughter had been reading it before she ran away from home and subsequently away from boarding school.

“James and the Giant Peach. ABC-Clio; Knopf. Challenged at the SEafford County, Va. Schools (1995) because the tale contains crude language and encourages children to disobey their parents and other adults. The book was removed from the classrooms and placed in the library, where access is restricted. Source: Sept. 1995, P. 160.”

Maybe banning books isn’t such a bad idea after all.

2019 Up-Date: Have you ever checked the list of banned books?  I suspect the criteria has changed in the last 20 years.


3 Apr 2019, 6:55am

Comments Off on The Walworthians: Wendy Cunningham

The Walworthians: Wendy Cunningham

The Walworthians


A collection of telephone interviews published in the Wayne County STAR Newspaper and Wayne County MAIL Newspaper, 1994-209

by Kate Chamberlin

Wendy Cunningham

April 17, 1996

Wendy Cunningham is one of the people in our neighborhood. She is the Children’s Programming Specialist at the Walworth-Seely Public Library. Actually, we call her the Children’s Librarian!

“I’ve always been interested in library work,” Wendy said. “I was a Girl Scout for 10 years and my very first badge was the Library one.”

During her Senior year in High School, she did volunteer work in the school library. She also volunteered in the public library. During her college years, she had a paid position in the Roberts Weslyan College library.

Wendy’s degree is in Social Work, but the lure of the library won her heart.

Future and I first met Wendy when she was a volunteer in the Macedon Library. She was surrounded by what seemed to be a thousand preschoolers!

In the fall of 1995, Wendy was hired as our Children’s Librarian. It is a part-time position.

She might be at the library for part-time, but her mind is always thinking of interesting things for the children and the Book Jammers Club to do.

Wendy lives with her husband, Robert, two daughters and two cats.

Her daughters Beth, a 7th Grader, and Amanda, a 3rd Grader, attend the Gananda Central School System.

“My husband is currently ‘economically challenged’, but we hope that will change soon.” she said referring to his recent unemployment.

Robert’s expertise is as a Nursing Home administrator. Jobs at his level are hard to come by, but he has several irons in the fire. They are hopeful that something will come to fruition. (see KUDOS for an up-date on this situation.)

“One of my dreams for the Children’s Library Program is about to become a reality,” Wendy said. “We’re starting a Lap-sitting Story Time.”

It is for young children and a parent. Each session will run one day a week for 10 weeks. Registration can be done at the library.

“Another dream is to bring the Kindergarten, First and Second Graders back into the public library with an after-school story time,” she continued. “There seems to be a lot for the preschoolers, but once they enter the school, we don’t see them until 5th or 6th grade when they start research reports.”

Wendy explained that the Public Library has a different emphasis on their library collection than the schools.

She’d like to see the primary children using the public library all the time, year around.

Wendy has a good start on making that dream a reality, too.

Good Luck, Wendy, and thank you. You are a Walworthian with the accent on worth.

2019 Up-Date: I wasn’t able to locate Wendy for an up-date. Have you seen her lately?

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