CTBL News - Fall 2023

Fall 2023 - Volume 58, No. 3

Table of Contents

Getting Books from CTBL — Your Questions Answered

Earlier this year, the Library Research Service administered the biennial survey for patrons of the Colorado Talking Book Library. During the survey, patrons raised many of the same questions and comments. To assist all our patrons, we thought it might be helpful to address some of these concerns and questions in our newsletter.

I get too many books or There are too many books on a cartridge.
We can customize the number of books you receive in several ways.

  • The number of cartridges you receive can be adjusted to between 1 and 4 at a time.Audio book cartridge being scanned before being mailed to a CTBL patron
  • The number of books on each cartridge can be set from 1 to 20 books. So, if you’re getting too many books we can lower the number and if you’re not getting enough books we can raise the number.
  • Also remember, the cartridges don’t have a due date. If it takes you a while to read the 10 books on a cartridge, it’s not a problem.
  • And finally, the way our service works is that when we get a cartridge back from you, we will automatically send another one out to you.

I’m not interested in the books I’m receiving or I would like to only get the books I request.

  • If you are receiving books, subjects, or authors you are not interested in, please call one of our Reader Advisors and they will help you adjust your preferences to get more books in areas you will enjoy.
  • To only get books that you request, call the library and a Reader Advisor will adjust your account to either only send you a cartridge when you call to ask for one or to only send cartridges with books from your request list.
  • Reader Advisors can also offer suggestions for new books to read if you’re having difficulties coming up with new titles.

I want more or all of the books in a series on one cartridge.

  • Our system defaults to sending 2 books from a series at a time. However, if you would prefer to get a single cartridge with the entire series on it, let one of our Reader Advisors know and they can create a cartridge for you. Note that some longer series will not fit on a single cartridge.A Reader Advisor talks with a CTBL patron on the phone.

Remember, if you are having any problems with your service or the type of books you are receiving, call 303-727-9277 or 800-685-2136 and ask for a Reader Advisor. They are always happy to help you adjust your account to get materials you will enjoy or to make suggestions for new titles for you to read. If you prefer, email your questions and comments to ctbl.info@cde.state.co.us. We love to hear from you!

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From the Director

Hope this finds you enjoying the fall season. Whether you enjoy football, going back to school, or just the cooler weather, there’s a lot to love about fall. And, for those of you who love pumpkin spice everything, this is your season!

October marks the one-year anniversary of the distribution of the Humanware braille e-Readers in Colorado. CTBL has distributed 190 e-Readers throughout the state, and we continue to send out machines every week. Patrons tell us they love the convenience of the e-Reader. Just this afternoon a patron told us the e-Reader is a “big hit” with all the braille readers she knows.

Are you a braille reader and don’t yet have an e-Reader? Would you like to try one? Give CTBL a call, we still have e-Readers available and would be happy to send one to you. Of course, you can still get print braille books, too!

In this edition of the CTBL News you’ll find several curated reading lists, including lists focused on Holiday Reads, Food Fiction, and locally recorded audio books. There is also a list of selected new large print titles and descriptive video. Look for articles about assistive technology and a wrap-up of the summer reading program.


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CTBL will be closed on the following days in 2023 and 2024:

  • November 23rd and 24th
  • December 25th and 26th
  • January 1st
  • January 15th

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Summer Reading Wrap-Up

By Judy Craigo-Robb

Summer 2023 saw the launch of Colorado Talking Book Library’s first all-ages Summer Reading program. Throughout the summer participants across Colorado worked to complete 10 activities from our summer reading activity guide.

It seems like folks enjoyed spending time with old literary friends this summer because of the 35 activities to choose from, rereading a favorite book was the activity completed by nearly every participant. Hopefully readers were also able to discover new favorites while working on their summer reading activities!

In addition to the suggested activities CTBL provided, the National Library Service (NLS) presented a variety of events ranging from a story time for younger readers to series of author talks featuring well known authors such as Kwame Alexander and Shelby Van Pelt. This was NLS’s first year offering programming, and it will be exciting to see what they plan next summer.

Finally, keeping with the All Together Now™ theme, folks had the opportunity to vote for an organization that the Friends of CTBL would donate to at the end of the program and Freedom Service Dogs was the winner! Thanks to those who voted and completed the program we were able to make a positive impact in our community. We hope you enjoyed Summer Reading this year and will join us in Summer 2024.

If you missed out on Summer Reading, or if you just love a reading challenge, Winter Reading is just around the corner! More information will be available on our website after the new year. Until then, Happy Reading!

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Tech Talk — PENfriend3 Voice Labeller

You may have heard of the PENfriend, since it was originally introduced in 2007. But the latest version also functions as a talking book and mp3 player.

The PENfriend enables you to record your own audio labels for a wide range of items in and around the home, at school, and on the way to work. To identify an item, touch the label with PENfriend and it will play back your voice recording! Labels can be re-used and can play back up to 60 minutes of content.

More information and videos about PENfriend are available at: https://www.penfriendlabeller.com/

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Using Colorado’s Accessible Ballot Delivery and Return System

By Curtis Chong

Starting October 16, 2023, ballots for the November 7 coordinated election will be mailed out to registered voters in Colorado. For people with disabilities, those who are blind, and individuals who are unable to mark the printed mail ballot without assistance, this means that on that date, Colorado’s accessible electronic ballot delivery, marking, and return system will be open and available to be used. In Colorado, people with disabilities can obtain and mark their ballots at home using the access technology with which they are most familiar. People with print disabilities can also return their ballots electronically.

Step-by-step instructions and important contact information can be found on the CTBL website at: bit.ly/3Rk8raW.

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News from the Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering

New Resources to Help Individuals with Disabilities Acquire Assistive Technology

The Assistive Technology Program of Colorado, a project of the Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering (CIDE) at the University of Colorado Denver, can help individuals with disabilities lead more independent lives through the use of Assistive Technology (AT). The CIDE team works together with stakeholders throughout Colorado to provide AT information and assistance to individuals with disabilities, seniors, and their service providers. AT devices can make an incredible impact on the lives of users and their caretakers. CIDE wants to ensure that these devices remain accessible despite someone’s financial status. Two resources are now available to help individuals with disabilities and their families and providers find (and fund) AT devices and services.

The CIDE AT Funding Sources is a searchable database to help identify these potential funding sources. Once a potential funding source is identified, the site directs users to more information and instructions on how to apply for funding. The CIDE AT Funding Sources Flyer (PDF) provides more information and instructions on how to utilize the database.

The CIDE AT Exchange is an online tool and resource that assists individuals, and organizations, in obtaining used AT devices or equipment for little or no cost. You can also post equipment you no longer need to the site. This service allows users to search posted items available within Colorado. Any devices or equipment obtained from AT Exchange should be based on a professional evaluation and recommendation from an Assistive Technology Specialist to ensure proper usage and fit.

The CIDE AT Exchange Flyer (PDF) provides directions on how to find affordable assistive technology solutions.

For more information and access to these resources visit the CIDE website at: https://www.ucdenver.edu/centers/center-for-inclusive-design-and-engineering

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Genre Fiction: Finding the Books You Like to Read

Food Fiction

Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love
Written by Kim Fay
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
In 1962, Joan Bergstrom, a twenty-seven-year-old just starting out as a food writer in Los Angeles, sends a fan letter and a gift of saffron to fifty-nine-year-old Imogen Fortier, a columnist from the Pacific Northwest. Their correspondence turns into a life-changing friendship. Unrated. Fiction. Audio DB106798; Large Print PR031637; Braille BR024218

Amish Cooking Class (Books 1-3)
Written by Wanda E. Brunstetter
Narrated by Deborah Desmone
Three novels — with recipes included — about a cooking class held at an Amish farm in Ohio. In The Seekers, Heidi Troyer decides to start the classes, gathering an unexpected group of students who all need healing. Also includes The Blessing and The Celebration. Fiction. Audio DB0904998

The Hundred-foot Journey: A Novel
Written by Richard Morais
Narrated by Barry Bernson
Born above his grandfather’s modest restaurant in Mumbai, Hassan Haji first experienced life through intoxicating whiffs of spicy fish curry, trips to the local markets, and gourmet outings with his mother. But when tragedy pushes the family out of India, they console themselves by eating their way around the world, eventually settling in Lumière, a small village in the French Alps. The boisterous Haji family takes Lumière by storm, opening an inexpensive Indian restaurant opposite the esteemed French relais of the famous chef Madame Mallory. Some violence. Fiction. Audio DB084747; Large Print PR023273; Braille BR021533

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune
Written by Roselle Lim
Narrated by Catherine Ho
Natalie Tan returns to San Francisco’s Chinatown when her mother dies only to find her once-vibrant street in decline. She learns she has inherited her grandmother’s long-shuttered restaurant and a recipe book, and decides to re-open the restaurant and bring life back to the neighborhood. Fiction. Audio DB095463; Large Print PR029780

Kitchens of the Great Midwest
Written by J. Ryan Stradal
Narrated by Michael Stuhlbarg
Chef Eva Thorvald came by her love of food as the daughter of a chef and a sommelier. Her mother left and her father died, but cooking sustained her through an awkward childhood. She went on to become one of the hottest chefs in America. Strong language and some descriptions of sex. Fiction. Audio DB082282; Large Print PR023962; Braille BR021172

Need even more recommendations?
Talk to a CTBL Reader Advisor at 303-727-9277.

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Key to Book Numbers

Each book number is proceeded by two or three letters. These letters indicate the book’s format. Here’s a quick guide to help you get the book you want in the format that works best for you.
BR = braille book
DB = digital audio book
DBC = locally recorded digital audio book
PR = large print book

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Holiday Reads: Ten Books for the Winter Season

A Week in Winter
Written by Maeve Binchy
Narrated by Martha Harmon Pardee
Chicky Starr returns home to Stoneybridge in western Ireland after twenty years in New York City. Chicky restores a dilapidated mansion and makes it into a boutique hotel with the help of her niece and a friend’s son. A motley crew of characters become their first guests. Fiction. Audio DB076309; Large Print PR020985

Winter Nights
Written by Francis Ray
Narrated by Colleen Delany
Three holiday romances featuring African Americans. In “Until Christmas” Samantha becomes a housekeeper for Principal Rawlings and his twins. “Kwanzaa Angel” finds Erin being reintroduced to an old high school crush. In “’Round Midnight” radio talk-show host Summer falls in love with her director. Some descriptions of sex. Fiction. Audio DB052196

Skipping Christmas
Written by John Grisham
Narrated by Steven Carpenter
Tax accountant Luther Krank calculates that a Caribbean cruise will cost less than what he and his wife, Nora, spent celebrating the holidays last year. Since daughter Blair is in the Peace Corps, they plan to skip Christmas. Luther, however, doesn’t anticipate the town’s reaction. Some strong language. Fiction. Audio DB052929; Large Print PR011035

Hanukkah Lights: Stories of the Season From NPR’s Annual Holiday Special Stories of the Season
By National Public Radio
Narrated by Suzanne Toren
Twelve stories celebrating Hanukkah by contemporary authors Myra Goldberg, Daniel Pinkwater, Harlan Ellison, Dani Shapiro, Elie Wiesel, Mark Helprin, and others. In Anne Roiphe’s “The Demon Foiled,” a new Jewish mayor attempts to light the family Hanukkah candles while he is being filmed for local TV. Fiction. Audio DB062028

A Christmas Memory
Written by Truman Capote
Narrated by John Stratton
A late November morning and the exclamation “Oh my, it’s fruitcake weather,” conjure up for Truman Capote the memory of a beloved cousin, Miss Sook Faulk, and Queenie, a little rat terrier “who has survived distemper and two rattlesnake bites.” They make fruitcake on this, their last Christmas together. Fiction. Audio DB030913

Winter Solstice
Written by Rosamunde Pilcher
Narrated by Vanessa Maroney
Elfrida, a retired actress; Oscar, a recent widower; Carrie, recovering from a love affair; Lucy, Carrie’s niece; and Sam, deserted by his wife, spend the winter solstice in a Scottish cottage, where they form a lasting bond that allows them to recover from their various challenges and losses. Fiction. Audio DB050844; Large Print PR009673

Wandering Through Winter: A Naturalist’s Record of a 20,000-Mile Journey Through the North American Winter
Written by Edwin Way Teale
Narrated by Robert Sams
A naturalist and his wife spent four winter months traveling twenty thousand miles across the southwestern United States and parts of the Midwest. He reports on the people, plants, animals, and birds they encountered. Nonfiction. Audio DB034830

The Santa Suit
Written by Mary Kay Andrews
Narrated by Kathleen McInerney
Newly divorced Ivy Perkins is looking for a change in her life and buys an old farmhouse, sight unseen. In the closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit with a note in the pocket from a little girl who has a special Christmas wish. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. Audio DB105314; Large Print PR031465

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times
Written by Katherine May
Narrated by Rebecca Hagan Lee
Combining memoir, philosophy, and self-help, the author discusses her own experiences of dealing with a difficult winter in her life by slowing down. She believes the idea of hibernation — embracing a slower, quieter life — can be healing and interviews people around the world who have mastered life living in the cold. S ome violence. Commercial audiobook. Nonfiction. Audio DB101809; Large Print PR031099

Mr. Dickens and His Carol
Written by Samantha Silva
Narrated by Euan Morton
Depressed about the failure of his most recent book, feeling pressured by his publisher to write a Christmas book, and worried over his family’s financial stability, Charles Dickens seeks refuge in nightly walks. On one, he meets Eleanor Lovejoy, who takes him on a Scrooge-like journey. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. Fiction. Audio DB087973

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From the Colorado Collection — Audio Books:

These newly recorded audio books were produced in the CTBL studios and feature Colorado authors and local history, as well as books of general interest. Available from CTBL and on BARD.

The Breath of Dawn: Rush of Wings Series #3
Author: Kristen Heitzmann
Narrator: Geri Gingras
Stalked by a man bent on revenge, Quinn Riley fears her past has ruined all hope for a peaceful life for herself and for the Spencer family she has now come to cherish — and plunged everyone she loves into danger. Christy Award winner. 2012. Fiction. DBC13095

Colorado and the Silver Crash: The Panic of 1893
Author: John F. Steinle
Narrator: Hille Dais
A catastrophic depression engulfed Colorado in 1893. The government’s decision to adopt the gold standard and stop buying silver hit the mining industry like a cave-in. Using firsthand commentary, John Steinle commemorates the story of Coloradans trapped in the unprecedented social, economic, and political conflict of America’s first great depression. 2021. Nonfiction. DBC25794

Denver City Justice: Drouillard Series #2
Author: J. v. L. Bell
Narrator: Patricia Jonietz
Territory of Colorado, 1864. Newlyweds, Millie and Dom Drouillard, are barely settled into wedded bliss when their neighbor, the Widow Ferris, is found dead. Suspects abound, but soon Dom becomes the main suspect and is hauled off to jail. Some strong language. 2019. Fiction. DBC13157

Gonzalez & Daughter Trucking Co.
Author: Maria Amparo Escandon
Narrator: Laverne Rios
Serving a sentence in a prison in Mexico, Libertad González finds a clever way to pass the time with the weekly Library Club, reading to her fellow inmates from whatever books she can find in the prison’s meager supply. With her stories, Libertad enthralls a group of female prisoners every bit as eccentric as the tales she tells. 2005. Fiction. DBC26074

The Great Book of Colorado: The Crazy History of Colorado with Amazing Random Facts & Trivia
Author: Bill O’Neill
Narrator: Matthew Ballantine
In this trivia book, you’ll learn about Colorado’s history, pop culture, inventions, and more. Some of these Colorado facts may be shocking, others may be sad, and some might give you goosebumps. 2020. Nonfiction. DBC13189

Author: Sherry Gomes
Narrator: Laverne Rios
Elizabeth Bennett is seeking healing after her emotionally abusive, unscrupulous ex-husband used his family’s political influence to gain sole custody of their daughter — on the basis that Elizabeth is blind. Michael Kelly’s grief for his wife is fresh as when he lost her three years ago, but he focuses on his love for the son he is now raising alone. These two people, nearly broken by disaster, meet on a snowy night that will change their lives. 2021. Fiction. DBC00693

The Showtime: Denver’s Performing Arts, Convention Centers & Theatre District
Authors: Thomas J. Noel, et al
Narrator: James Ryder
Traces Denver’s love affair with theatre, dance, opera, music, and conventions back to its Gold Rush origins. 2008. Nonfiction. DBC13167

The Spiritual Nature of Animals: A Country Vet Explores the Wisdom, Compassion, and Souls of Animals
Author: Karlene Stange
Narrator: Stephanie Oram
A rural veterinarian, through examples from her practice, shares her journey to understand the spiritual nature of the animal-human bond and offers readers a unique interpretation of our love for animals. 2017. Nonfiction. DBC13124

Up With the Lark: My Life on the Land
Author: Joan Bomford
Cathy Gloeckner
As a child, Joan Bomford wanted to be a farmer. Now aged 83, she’s still as active and still a farmer. This is her account of a lifelong love-affair with the land and the people who work on it. 2015. Nonfiction. DBC13089

Author: Sarah Elizabeth Schantz
Narrator: Judith Knapp
In 1994, Fig looks back on her life and relates her experiences from age six to nineteen, as she desperately tried to save her mother from schizophrenia while her own mental health and relationships deteriorated. Some violence. 2015. Young adult fiction. DBC03286

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New Large Print Titles

Here’s a sampling of a few of the large print titles CTBL has added to the collection recently.

Bestseller Fiction

  • PR032266 — Homecoming by Kate Morton
  • PR027936 — The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson
  • PR027905 — How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix
  • PR025833 — I Will Find You by Harlan Coben
  • PR027903 — Just the Nicest Couple by Mary Kubica
  • PR025808 — The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
  • PR032225 — Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
  • PR032267 — Simply Lies by David Baldacci
  • PR027875 — Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes
  • PR025830 — Worthy Opponents by Danielle Steel

Bestseller Nonfiction

  • PR027848 — And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle by Jon Meacham
  • PR027918 — The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir by Paul Newman
  • PR027929 — Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris
  • PR027872 — The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times by Michelle Obama
  • PR027951 — Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories by Kelly Ripa
  • PR032261 — Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond
  • PR025809 — Prisoners of the Castle: An Epic Story of Survival and Escape From Colditz, the Nazis’ Fortress Prison by Ben Macintyre
  • PR027952 — The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams by Stacy Schiff
  • PR025904 — Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks by Patrick Radden Keefe
  • PR032236 — The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human by Siddhartha Mukherjee


  • PR032130 — Back to the Garden by Laurie R. King
  • PR032226 — The Family Game by Catherine Steadman
  • PR032266 — Homecoming by Kate Morton
  • PR032274 — The London Séance Society by Sarah Penner
  • PR025826 — The Neighbor’s Secret by L. Alison Heller
  • PR032278 — Never Never by Colleen Hoover


  • PR027931 — Need to Know: World War II and the Rise of American Intelligence by Nicholas Reynolds
  • PR027939 — Righteous Troublemakers: Untold Stories of the Social Justice Movement in America by Al Sharpton
  • PR027954 — Waging a Good War: A Military History of the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1968 by Thomas E. Ricks
  • PR027906 — Wise Gals: The Spies Who Built the CIA and Changed the Future of Espionage by Nathalia Holt

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New Descriptive Videos on DVD

These videos have audio descriptions embedded in each disc. You can turn on this feature by following the directions starting at the disc’s main menu. The library's collection includes DVD and Blu-ray formats, but not all videos are available in both formats. For more information call a CTBL Reader Advisor at 303-727-9277.


  • MD00640 — Armageddon Time (R)
  • MD00643 — Beast (R)
  • MD00649 — Black Adam (PG-13)
  • MD00645 — Bros (R)
  • MD00637 — Champions (PG-13)
  • MD00652 — DC League of Superpets (PG)
  • MD00650 — Don’t Worry Darling (R)
  • MD00641 — Downton Abbey: A New Era (PG)
  • MD00648 — Easter Sunday (PG-13)
  • MD00651 — Father of the Bride 2022 (PG-13)
  • MD00647 — Halloween Ends (R)
  • MD00642 — Jurassic World Dominion (PG-13)
  • MD00636 — Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (PG)
  • MD00646 — Nobody (R)
  • MD00635 — The Northman (R)
  • MD00634 — The Outfit (R)
  • MD00639 — Spoiler Alert (PG-13)
  • MD00638 — Vengeance (R)
  • MD00644 — Violent Night (R)

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Contributors to The Friends of the Colorado Talking Book Library and The Colorado Talking Book Library

The list of contributors to Colorado Talking Book Library and the Friends of CTBL from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023, has been omitted from this format. Interested parties may access this information through the PDF version of our newsletter. Further assistance may be requested through the Reader Advisors.

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Unused machines

If you are using your digital book machine, this message isn’t for you. Please keep the machine and continue listening to books on cartridge—and we’ll keep sending you new titles! However, if you’re a BARD user and simply don’t use your machine any longer, we’d love to have it back. Could you return it to CTBL? Machines can be returned in the original box using the U.S. Postal Services. Be sure “free matter for the blind” is in the upper right-hand corner of the box and no postage is necessary. Don’t have the box? You can take the machine to most Colorado public libraries and ask them to put the machine on the library courier. Let them know CTBL’s courier code is: C984. For more information call CTBL at 303-727-9277 or 800-685-2136. We’re happy to help.

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Legacy Gifts

Legacy gifts to the Friends of CTBL are a vital way to ensure ongoing support for all the services the library provides to patrons. The Friends have established Eyes to the Future that honors and recognizes the generosity and vision of patrons, families and friends who have chosen to leave a legacy through their estates or other deferred gifts.

We invite you to become a member of Eyes to the Future. Enrollment in this honorary group is simply a matter of advising us about your plans to make a legacy gift, such as a bequest in a will or living trust, or designating The Friends of CTBL as beneficiary of an individual retirement plan, 401k or life insurance policy. The Friends of CTBL is a public 501(c)(3) charity and the tax ID is 23-7243950.

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Contributions to The Friends of the Colorado Talking Book Library and The Colorado Talking Book Library

An additional way to contribute to either the Friends or to CTBL is through a charitable bequest as part of a will or through life insurance. You do not have to rewrite your current document but can add a written amendment called a codicil. Such a bequest only becomes irrevocable at your death. Giving to the library helps support the programs and service we provide to our patrons and helps to secure the future.

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How to Reach Us:

Colorado Talking Book Library
180 Sheridan Blvd.
Denver, CO 80226

  • Susana Córdova, Commissioner of Education
  • Nicolle Davies, State Librarian
  • Nicolle Steffen, CTBL Director

Social Media: Facebook Logo

Logo for the Colorado State Library Logo for the Friends of CTBLLogo for the Institute for Museum and Library Services


The Colorado Department of Education does not discriminate on the basis of disability, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or age, in access to, employment in, or provision of any of CDE’s programs, benefits, or activities.

This newsletter was published with funding from the Friends of CTBL and was made possible in part by the institute of Museum and Library Services.

Design services provided by State of Colorado/Integrated Document Solutions

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