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March 11, 1950 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1950-03-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

&4TURD:... .._. .,.1958_.THE.MICHGAN'DAIL

'P LG,

Electronic Reader New Aid for Blind

r ar

I s
* * *


A new world of literature is be-
ing opened for the blind by the
S electronic pencil, which translates
printed words into sound.
No larger than a woman's hand-
bag,tthe compact, portable instru-
ment may enable the blind to read
printed matter that is not avail-
able in Braille or on records.
The pencil was designed three
years ago by Vladimir K. Zwory-
kin, who also invented the tele-
vision tube. The Bureau of Psy-
chological Services of the Univer-
sity Institute for Human Adjust-
ment has been doing psychologi-
cal research on it since November,
1948; at the request of the Com-
mittee on Sensory Devices of the
National Research Council.
Ten of the readers have been
built. Two are now behind the
Iron Curtain, another in England,
a and the remaining seven in the
United States, according to Mrs.
Wilma Donahue, research psy-
chologist of the Institute for Hu-
man Adjustment.
The instrument is operated by
holding a pencil-like stylus, with
a light at the tip, over the printed
letter. The vertical lines of print
are picked up by the stylus and
transformed into sound. The
sound is heard by means of a small
earphone, similar to a hearing aid.
* * *
LETTERS are identified by the
pitch of the sound, which varies
according to the part of the light
affected by the print.
Each letter has its own pitch
pattern, somewhat like a code sig-
nal, which the blind person must
learn to identify.
The main drawback of the elec-
tronic pencil is that its speed at
present is limited to 40 to 50 five-
letter words a minute. This pre-
cludes the possibility that it will
replace Braille in the foreseeable
future, Mrs. Donahue pointed out.
Though the average person who
uses Braille reads no faster than
60 to 70 words a minute, she ex-
plained, the potential speed of a
Braille reader is much higher.
Band Concerts
Will Continue
Today at Hill
The parade of top-flight bands-
men will continue at the second
Symphony Band concert at 8 p.m.
today, Hill Auditorium.
Highlighting the current four-
day American Bandmasters Asso-
ciation convention will be the ba-
ton wielding of such favorites as
Edwin Franko Goldman and Per-
cy Grainger.
Songs by the University Choir,
under the direction of Prof. May-
nard Klein, are also on the pro-
a *
DR. GOLDMAN, a legendary
figure in the field of band music
both as composer and conductor,
has more than 90 marches and 42
years of conducting to his credit.
His famous "Goldman Band"
is a perennial favorite for its
New York "concerts-in-the-
In tonight's performance, Dr.
Goldman will direct the Symphony
Band and the University Choir in
"Apotheosis from Grand Sympho-
ny for Band."
J. J. RICHARDS, conductor of
the Long Beach, Calif., Municipal
Band, will be on the podium for
the concluding number - Sousa's
"The Stars and Stripes Forever."
The concert is free of charge
and open to the public.

For Grad Use
Graduate students who need to
use a typewriter, but don't own
one, are welcome to use those now
placed in the ante-room of the
Graduate School Office, Mrs. Lois
M. Beltran, house director of
Rackham Building, announced
They will be available from 8
to 12 a.m. and from 1:30 to 4:30
p.m. every weekday, according to
Mrs. Beltran.
The Graduate School Council
has obtained .these typewriters on
a loan from Dean Sawyer, she ex-
"If the demand is great enough,
Graduate Council will buy its own
typewriters for student use," she
Theatre Trip Time
Buses for the Michigan Union
theatre trip to Detroit today will
leave the side of the Union at
12:30 p.m., according to staffman
Jim Callison, '50.

* * * *

-Daily-Alan Reid
READING AURALLY-Jack Wilcox, Grad., reads a children's
story, using the electronic pencil, while Mrs. Ruth Kelly, psycholo-
gist, checks his accuracy. Jack began learning to read more than a
year ago, and has been practicing about three or four hours a
week. He can read 45 words a minute with 100 per cent accuracy,
which is the approximate speed limit of the instrument.
* * * *

Present Buildinr Houses
800,000 Usefu Volumes
Not just a place to get out of the rain - as public opinion would
have it - the General Library is really a storehouse for one of the
biggest University-owned collection of books.
More than 1,400,000 volumes are stored in the main building and
its 20 subsidiaries, 800,000 in the Library itself.
The present building was erected between 1917 and 1919, and
dedicated January 7, 1920. Construction involved removing the old
twin staircases, one for coeds, one for men, and the carefully divided
study hall. During this time students studied in a newly-constructed
stack. The old segregation system seems to have broken down in the
cramped quarters behind the circulation desk.
The card catalogues were moved from the old to the new par
at least three times, and the staff in charge of these files spent much
of their time just trying to find its office.
AT THE TIME OF ITS completion, the University population wa
about 6,000 and wild estimates at growth said a 10,000 enrollmen
might be expected.
In 1950 with enrollment just double what was predicted then,
remnants of the old building may still be seen. Climbing out on
the roof, the old stack section looms up clearly between the three
new wings. This original section was not demolished because of
excessive cost. Up in the attic above the old section, the out-dated,
maple beams are still holding up the roof.
But change and time have left their mark.
The hordes of students who make their appearance around the
fifth, eighth and fourteenth weeks of each semester have worn down
the marble stairs so- that the treads have had to be turned. Floures
cent lights have replaced the old, overhanging chandeliers. And
the library staff has trebled since its first days.
THE PLANT ITSELF is an intriguing combination of machin
ery, books and personnel. Gadgets like the conveyor belt with its in
tricate controls, carefully calculated loads and questionable efficien
cy and the buzzers, telephones and pneumatic tubes which connec
the widely separated stations in the stacks, would fascinate even th
The bindery is a spot worthy of more appreciation. Every
University book as need arises is processed through the large,
well-lighted basement room which holds equipment for every
type of book-binding from the rare books of the Clements Lib-
rary and Michigan Historical Collections, to the regular routine
jobs of rebinding well-used research volumes.
As for books themselves, the library offers the widest possible
collection. Books in every language, printed on everything fron
sheepskin to papyrus, on every subject from Hindhu mythology ti
horse-racing can be found in the reading rooms, stacks and branches
of the General Library.
THE LIBRARY COLLECTION is still growing at a rate of 30,to
40,000 volumes annually. Books are purchased with .department
funds and a special library fund under Warner G. Rice, Director of
the Library. And private donations keep pouring in.
With one of the largest circulations in the country, the Genera
Library is serving Michigan students with good books, after a shor
* * * -*

The electronic reader, however,'4
will enable the blind to read out-
side the restricted area that has
been reproduced in Braille or on
records, she commented.
* * *
MANY difficulties are involved
For instance, several groups of
letters, such as "e," "s" and "x",
sound so much alike that they are
almost impossible to distinguish.
Another difficulty is that the
blind person, to hear the'correct
signals, must hold the stylus di-
rectly perpendicular to each let-
ter. To overcome this difficulty
while the system is being taught,
lessons are given first on records,
and then using a kymograph,
a machine which automatically
holds the stylus in the correct po-

After this, the manipulation of
the stylus is not too difficult to
teach, because the blind person
will hold it in a position which will
give him the signals to which he
is accustomed.
After 25 hours of recorded les-
sons, subjects are able to recognize
190 words, individually or in sent-
ences. They can also identify all
the letters of the alphabet, so
that they can figure out new
Capital letters and punctuation
are taught later, in context, to
make the learning process easier.
Variations in type make some
difference in the signals, relayed
by the pencil. How serious these
differences are will be determined
in future phases of the research,
according to Mrs. Donahue.

STARTING THE BALL ROLLING-Jack Ripstra, Grad., hands in a book request at the desk to
Mary W. Stauch, library assistant who will send the request down a pneumatic tube to one of the
three stack stations.

Lost and Found Department
Overflowing With Articles

Lost something lately? The Uni-
versity's lost and found depart-
ment, on the second floor of the
Administration Building is "over-
flowing" again, Mrs. Aileen Stout,
in charge of the department, re-
"Few persons realize the num-
ber of items we receive," Mrs.
Stout declared in explaining the
department's operation. There are
from 50 to 75 pairs of leather
gloves, she added, to say nothing
of four boxes of silk, woolen, and
figured scarves.
Miss Elaine Schmid, assistant,
said that most of the articles are
turned in by University janitors,
although students bring in a few
THEY ARE then tagged with
the date they were brought in and
where they were found, Miss
Schmid continued.
If an article has not been
claimed at the end of two
months, it is either returned to
the person who brought it in or
sent to a department where it
will be disposed of advantage-
Clothes are usually sent to the l
University Hospital, she said,
while glasses go to the Health Ser-
* * *
MRS. STOUT explained that
the department is quite strict on
"who claims what." When some-
one comes in, he is asked for a
complete description of the article,

and "approximately where and
when" it was lost, she asserted.
Then he must sign a "release
check" before the item is turned
over to him.
Purses and billfolds usually
contain identification,!she said,
so the department can call the
From eight to 10 persons claim
articles on an average day, Mrs.
Stout stated, but it often runs up
to 20 or 25 on "special occasions."
ALL SORTS of things are
brought in, Miss Schmid added.
In winter, it's mostly boots, gloves,
and scarves; but in the summer,
books and briefcases are a "prime
There is also an assortment of
slide rules, pipes, tobacco, and ci-
garette lighters, Miss Schmid re-
marked, plus jewelry, rings, and
watches, some of which are very
Articles "pile up" so fast that
the department does not Ngve
room for them anymore, Mrs.
Stout said, adding that a "house-
cleaning" is in order every two
months. The department is open
from eight to five o'clock every
week day, she added, and "custo-
mers" are always welcome.
The University's first endow-
ment was two townships of land
set aside by an act of Congress in
1826. The lands were sold and the
proceeds-about $500,000-are on
deposit with the state.

OVER THE TOP-Above the old stick section, the conveyor system carries books out to the cir-
culation desk. This intricate contraption was built by the plant department when the new wings
were added, and has served faithfully, with constant repairs, since that time.

Story by
Pictures by

DISCOVERY-Rose Grace Fouchet, of the library staff, finds a
long, lost Sears-Roebuck catalogue in the West Attic. This area
has long been famed for its extension cord, one bulb lighting
system, but progress has placed several more lights on the ceiling.


ACTION BEHIND THE SCENES-At the third stack station,
Marion Birkenmeier, '52, student stack assistant, receives a book
slip and prepares to ransack the files in search of the requested

coming Mlarch 17
coming March 17
coming March 17
coming 'March 17

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