ALANA LISTOE Independent Record HELENA
As Stan Lynde began talking, he quickly turned into Henry Plummer, a soft-spoken, charming leader of evildoers. The Helena author made the transformation June 25 in a recording studio at the Montana State Library. "Maybe there is a little actor in all of us," Lynde said with a wide grin. Plummer is one of the characters in Lynde's most recent book, "Vigilante Moon: A Novel of Old Montana." The bad guy is just one of the characters Lynde portrayed as he recorded his book for the l i b ra r y, wh i c h s e r ve s Montanans who are blind or physically unable to hold printed material. The library's collection boasts more than 66,000 titles on four-track cassette tapes, but a vote earlier this week by t h e A p p r o p r i a t i o n s Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives would increase funding for the nationwide Talking Book program and move it into the digital age. Christie Briggs, director of the library, said the conversion to digital is critical because cassette tapes are now obsolete, and the machines to play them are no longer being manufactured. The $34.5 million allocation called for by the subcommittee's vote, if it makes it through the budgeting process, will enable libraries to purchase new cassette players before the ones being used by the program completely wear out, and it will give patrons access to thousands of titles in the new digital format. Nearly 3,000 people in Montana use the Talking Library Service free of charge, but the program comes together with the help of over 100 volunteers. Diane Gunderson, coordinator of volunteer services at the library, said volunteers are always needed because there is a long list of tasks to accomplish, such as inspecting and repairing the 500 books that come in and go out on any given day. Paul Stark, an announcer at KMTX radio in Helena, checks out about a dozen books per year through the library. "There is a nice bunch of people (at the library) very responsive the selection is good and timely with new stuff coming out," said Stark, who is legally blind. "You can get books in just about any genre you can imagine." This is the third book of Lynde's that he has recorded for the Montana Talking Library. "I really enjoy it," he said, adding that he's probably most qualified to record it because he knows the characters so well. Library patrons say they not only enjoy Lynde's books, they like his voice as well. "When you get a voice that matches the story, it's the best kind of book to enjoy," a patron recently told Briggs. "Not all authors have the type of voice to complement the audio retelling of their book Stan Lynde is the exception," said Briggs.