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NLS-REPORTS  July 2005



Network Bulletin No. 05-34 (Digital Talking Books--Questions and answers about distribution of DTBs)


NLSBPH <[log in to unmask]>


NLS Documents for Network Libraries <[log in to unmask]>


Tue, 5 Jul 2005 14:36:57 -0400





TEXT/PLAIN (622 lines)

Network Bulletin No. 05-34

Date: July 1, 2005

Subject: Digital Talking Books (DTBs)
Index Term: Questions and answers about distribution of DTBs

A study of prospective distribution systems for digital talking books (DTBs) is currently under way at
NLS. Awarded in March 2005 to ManTech Advanced Systems International, the contract includes
subcontractors Jerome Ducrest, principal of Ducrest Associates, and Daniel Kind, a principal of
Wesley-Kind Associates. Both subcontractors have worked with NLS in the past and are familiar with
network library operations.

The two-phase study is expected to take about sixteen months. In the first phase, which will end in
September, the experts will evaluate three distribution models and make recommendations based on
their findings. After NLS evaluates the recommendations and decides what system to implement, the
contractors will begin the second phase, in which they will design the new system and plan the

The three models under consideration include one similar to the current system, in which mass quantities
of book titles are duplicated and stored locally for easy off-the-shelf access by librarians as they fill loan
requests. Radically different is an all on-demand duplication system, in which a central facility would
copy digital talking books as patrons request them. Finally, there is a hybrid model, which would
combine the mass duplication of very popular titles with on-demand duplication of less popular books at
central facilities. NLS is receptive to all possibilities, but the second model all on-demand
duplication is considered a highly unlikely candidate.

To aid the study, NLS sought input from network libraries. In Operations Alert 05-11, Distribution Study
Considerations, April 4, 2005, NLS invited network library staff to submit queries, concerns, and issues
regarding the future DTB distribution system.
Many of the questions submitted by the network can be answered now, and those questions and answers
are provided in the attached document. Many questions are, of course, still under deliberation, as are the
conclusions of phase one of the study.


For further information contact:

Stephen Prine
Head, Network Services
[log in to unmask]
(202) 707-9245
___________________________________________________________________________________ Digital Talking-Book Distribution: Questions and Answers

DTB characteristics, cartridge, and packaging

 1.       Will the new media be durable and easy to insert?

Response: Yes.

 2.       Will NLS seek U.S. Postal Service input during design of the new mailing container?

Response: Yes.

 3.       Will the new mailing container be designed without the snaps? Be sure to consider the
difficulty many patrons have in opening current mailing containers.

   Response: Usability by patrons and by library staff will be of primary concern during design
of mailing containers.

 4.       Will the new mailing container be sturdy cardboard similar to but smaller than the mailer
 for magazines and Talking Book Topics?

Response: No, but the final design has not yet been determined.

 5.       Will the new mailing container be made of thin plastic that facilitates storage and access?

Response: To be determined.

 6.       Will the new mailing container be large enough so that what we mail out will not be lost?

Response: Yes.

 7.       Will the container be thick enough to place a legible book number on it so that it can easily
be read for retrieval from the shelves?

Response: Yes.

 8.       Is a separate mailing container even necessary?

Response: Yes.

 9.       Will the mailing container be designed so that the title inside can be identified without
 opening the container?

Response: To be determined.
10.       Will books supplied by a center also have a brailled sticker?

Response: To be determined.

11.       Will packaging dimensions mirror current characteristics with the exception of depth of

Response: To be determined.

12.       Will there be a suitable color variation to distinguish containers of different media?

Response: Yes.

Book cards

 1.       Book cards may be nice for readers able to read them; they are not mandatory.

Response: Books cards will be produced for mass-duplicated books but not for
duplication-on-demand books.

 2.       Book-card size ought to remain unchanged, at least through a phase-out period. As transition
from analog to digital medium may encompass a decade's time or more, card dimension and
formatting might as well not change within the foreseeable future.

Response: Book-card size will remain unchanged.

Current collections

 1.       With the launch of DTBs, can we stop accessioning cassette masters?

Response: This is a library decision; network libraries must plan to continue to circulate cassette
titles to meet the demand of their readership. Libraries may meet the demand with titles acquired
and retained for circulation or with new copies duplicated as needed from a collection of
designated cassette masters. Cassette copies can be created from DTBs only with the use of
special equipment. In addition, there will be many older cassette titles for which DTB versions
will not be available.

 2.       Can we remove cassette masters that have been digitized and use access to digitized masters
available in their place?

Response: Unless a library develops local resources for using DTB files to create circulating
cassette copies, it should retain cassette masters.

 3.       Can circulation of RDs be handled through the regional distribution centers using the
 network interface designed for digital book notification?

Response: Circulation of RDs should continue in the same manner as today, until NLS issues
notice to withdraw them from library collections; a mechanism for fulfilling patron requests after
RDs are withdrawn will be available at that time.

 4.       How long will titles be produced in both cassette and digital format?

Response: To be determined.

 5.       If the 80/20 rule is used for DTBM distribution (i.e., priority to the 20 percent of readers
who receive the most books), won't there quickly be major reductions of number of copies
produced on cassette?

Response: Yes, possibly. However, policies for distributing DTBMs are not yet established.

 6.       What will be the disposal policy for analog titles available in both cassette and digital

Response: To be determined.

 7.       Can older cassette titles (RC 40000 and below) be withdrawn and circulation of these items
handled by the distribution centers via the network interface designed for digital book

Response: No.

DTB player distribution policy

 1.       Will NLS set a policy for distribution of digital players during start-up and transition, and
will network libraries have input during policy creation?

Response: Yes, NLS will set a policy in consultation with the network.

 2.       How will libraries handle repair of DTBMs?

Response: Similar to today.

 3.       Who distributes the machines, distribution centers or local library?

Response: Machine-lending agencies will be responsible for loaning equipment to patrons as they
are today.

Length of transition

 1.       Will there be a commercial vendor for libraries with budgets or Friends groups to purchase
additional machines to speed up the process?

Response: There is a high likelihood that vendor(s) will emerge to serve the aftermarket.

 2.       How long will NLS produce selected books in both cassette and digital formats?

Response: To be determined.

Transition process issues

 1.       What will be the interval between library receipt of DTBs and announcement to patrons of
 their availability?

Response: The interval will be the same as current practice.

 2.       Can the initial DTB player shipment be from the distribution centers to pre-identified local

Response: No; to preserve the current inventory control system, machine distribution will not

 3.       How long before magazines will be available in the digital format?

Response: To be determined.

 4.       Will NLS keep C1s in stock and operating well until magazines and audio catalogs are
available in digital format?

Response: Yes.

 5.       Will the NLS planning for a transition include an examination of network library staffing
and equipment needs? For the first few years, we will see at least some additional staff time
devoted to the new format, and I still don't expect to see a corresponding reduction in staff time
devoted to the cassette program for the first few years. Web-Braille has not significantly reduced
staffing needs for the traditional braille service.

Response: Each network library will need to consider local needs for staffing and adjustment of
procedures in light of the implications of the transition plan (to be completed in phase two of the
distribution-system design contract).
6.       Does NLS expect a need to train patrons in the use of new technology? How?

Response: Yes. A deliverable item from the machine and cartridge-design contract will be
methods for instructing users.

Locally produced DTB recordings

 1.       When will NLS give us guidelines, i.e., hardware and software requirements and
best-practice procedures, for production?

Response: As soon as possible.

 2.       Will NLS give us procedures and guidance on storing our masters and making copies for

Response: Yes.

 3.       Will Multistate Center East make copies of our DTBs that are part of the quality assurance

Response: To be determined.

Duplication of DTBs at network libraries

 1.       What equipment will we need to duplicate copies of NLS DTBs that are part of our

Response: To be determined.

 2.       What will we need to have to be able to get masters for NLS DTBs that are not part of our

Response: A computer with broadband connection to the Internet.

 3.       Will NLS help libraries to pay for any of the equipment?

Response: As in the past network libraries will be responsible for acquiring duplication
equipment, if deemed needed at their facility

 4.       Will NLS give us cartridges?

Response: Blank cartridges will not be a supply item. NLS is considering other ways in which
cartridges might be provided.

 5.       If you won't be providing supplies or equipment, how soon will you tell us the particulars, so
that we can begin to find funds? NOTE: Affordable duplication technology needs to be
determined at least two years in advance of release of digital medium (2006) to allow regionals
the opportunity to establish funding, especially if cost is to be assumed entirely by regionals and

Response: As soon as possible.

 6.       Will NLS provide guidance on system life cycles, i.e., how frequently equipment needs to be
replaced or software needs to be upgraded?

Response: Yes.

 7.       What do we need to be able to convert to DTB a cassette title that NLS does not convert or
our own cassette books?

Response: You will need the tools (hardware and software) to convert analog recordings to
uncompressed digital audio files and to produce NISO-compliant DTBs from these files.

DTB supplies for the network (cartridges, mailing containers, labeling)

 1.       Will network libraries be required to label DTBs with a print-braille label?

Response: Locally produced materials should be labeled in a manner appropriate to reader needs.

 2.       Will NLS provide a software update for the print-braille label program that enables us to
 choose label format, cassette or DTB?

Response: Yes.

 3.       Will NLS provide us with any supplies, such as label stock for NLS DTBs prepared locally
for circulation?

Response: To be determined.

 4.       Will NLS provide us with label stock specifications and companies that sell label stock
suitable for DTBs?

Response: Yes.

Copy allotment, PICS download, and delivery verification

 1.       Will the purpose of copy allotment be to determine popularity of titles and whether
distribution is from libraries or from a center?

Response: To be determined, but probably.

 2.       Will copy allotment determine if a title will be produced in both cassette and digital format
during transition?

Response: To be determined. All books will be produced in both media to a point (as yet
unknown) in the transition process.

 3.       Will the 80/20 divide affect ordering titles available in both cassette and digital format?

Response: Yes. NLS will set a minimum and maximum number of copies for titles. Within copy
allotment, libraries will be able to accept their default number of copies or adjust the number
within the minimum-maximum range. They will be able to allocate the chosen number of copies
between cassette and DTB.

 4.       In the 80/20 scenario, who decides what the 20 percent mass-production titles will be?

Response: NLS will decide, based on results of copy allotment demand and other factors.

 5.       If Pareto's law is the model chosen, will network libraries have the option of receiving more
titles than the 20 percent? There may be libraries that can handle additional titles. What
 would their options be under this model?

Response: If a title is categorized as duplication on demand, no copies will be sent to libraries.
Libraries can, however, make copies locally if desired.

 6.       Will there be a field indicating if a title is a locally or remotely distributed item?

Response: Yes.

 7.       Will there be verification when distribution center titles are ready for circulation?

Response: Yes.

Shelving issues at network libraries

 1.       What type of shelving will be needed for DTBs?

Response: To be determined.

 2.       Will shelving capacity be expressed in cubic feet (for those who stack their media) and
          linear feet (for those who will want to shelve recorded media as print books are traditionally

Response: Yes.

Pareto's Law applied to duplication-on-demand scenario

 1.       Will NLS provide data to network libraries to confirm the validity of Pareto's Law?

Response: Yes.

 2.       Will the 80/20 rule be applied to cassettes as well as DTBs? If so could that be started
sooner? Would NLS consider a pilot project of applying the 80/20 rule to a small number of
libraries for cassette distribution in order to confirm what the process will be like?

Response: No.

Automation concerns (network interface with distribution centers)

 1.       Will there be an automated interface to the duplication center through circulation systems?

Response: Yes. Circulation systems would need to be modified to communicate directly with a
duplication center.

 2.       Will the connection be secure in order to protect patron privacy?

Response: Yes. Patron privacy is a primary concern; every effort will be made to protect
information about patrons.

 3.       Will the data exchange be real-time or batch?

Response: To be determined.

 4.       Will there be immediate notification of receipt of request?

Response: Yes, requesting libraries will be notified promptly.

 5.       Will there be a predictable time lapse between the center's receipt of a request and mailing
of the book?

Response: Yes, there will be a mandated fulfillment timeframe.

 6.       Will there be automatic notification of a delay in filling a request?

Response: Yes.

 7.       Will there be automatic notification of book sent?

Response: Yes.

 8.       Will there be automatic notification of book return?

Response: Yes.

 9.       Will circulation systems have the ability to prioritize titles, so that locally distributed titles
from turnaround will be selected first?

Response: This is dependent upon design of the circulation system.

10.       Will the system integrate seamlessly with READS, so that staff do not have to consult two

Response: Yes, READS will seamlessly interact with a distribution center's system.

11.       Will books go directly to patron or through the requesting agency?

Response: Books will be mailed to the address submitted by the requesting library.

12.       What agency will count the circulation from a duplication center?

Response: The requesting library.

13.       If conservation of copies per title results in frequent requests to other sources by regionals or
subregionals, how may these requests be processed most expeditiously?

Response: Duplication centers will be required to fill requests for duplication-on-demand within
a predictable time frame; network libraries will fill requests from copies provided by mass
duplication in the same way that they have been filling requests for RC titles.

14.       Library automated circulation systems whatever is done should appear seamless to the
patron. For this to work, it would appear helpful and useful for NLS and all of its networked
libraries to be on the same automated circulation system or at least be able to view holdings,
particularly as it relates to knowing what books are in, out, or on hold.

Response: The system will appear seamless to patrons. Libraries need only consider their own
holdings, since centers will be able to fulfill all requests for duplication-on-demand titles.

Distribution center administration

 1.       How many distribution centers will there be and where will they be located?

Response: To be determined.

 2.       Will distribution centers have adequate staffing to ensure timely distribution of books?

Response: Yes.

 3.       Will distribution centers have a customer-service toll-free line?

Response: The customers of a center are libraries who will have toll-free access to their center.
Patrons should have toll-free access to their service library.

 4.       What will be the protocol for patrons and/or library staff to contact the centers?

Response: Patrons should be in contact only with their service library; library staff will have
voice and electronic communication channels with their duplication center.

 5.       Who will track overdue materials?

Response: Libraries will track overdue materials, as they do now.

6. Who will contact patrons about overdue materials?

Response: Libraries will contact patrons about overdue materials, as they do now.

 7.       Will there be a definition of a patron in good standing?

Response: Current policies and practice will continue for determining patron standing and
resolving problems.

 8.       Could distribution centers also handle locally produced DTBs, instead of each library
making copies of their locally produced books for ILL?

Response: No. Libraries will handle their own locally produced books.

XESS considerations for DTBs versus straight recycling

 1.       When a title loses its popularity, will its distribution be taken over by the distribution

Response: Yes.

 2.       Will redistribution of DTBs (removal from local collections and recycling of flash cards) be
a faster, more direct process? Current storage for a period of time for XESS is unacceptable.

Response: NLS anticipates that redistribution of DTBs in a hybrid system will be faster than the
system in place for analog audiobooks.

Youth services

 1.       In the 80/20 world, how will NLS prevent juvenile and youth DTB titles from becoming

Response: To be determined.

 2.       Can current bestsellers, frequently requested classics, and books on school lists, such as
Accelerated Reader, be housed locally?

Response: To be determined.

Additional topics

 1.       Mailing cards:
Will NLS involve the network ASAP in planning, if we will need to produce more than one kind
of mailing card--one for RC and a different one for DTB?

Response: Yes. Analysts on the teams of the concurrent contracts for the distribution-system
design and the machine, cartridge, and mailing-container design collaborate as their designs
evolve. While NLS expects that the DTB mailing container will employ a mailing label of the
same size as currently used for analog audiobooks, we will not know that until the design for the
mailing container becomes final. As soon as we know that design, NLS will be able to advise the
network on any requirement for a different mailing label for DTBs.

 2.       DTB player:
Will the player be repaired or be disposable?

Response: To be determined.
What kind of warranty will it have?

Response: A minimum of one year.

Will it have rechargeable batteries?

Response: Yes.

Could it have a standard type/size battery that patrons can replace themselves if they wish?

Response: No. The battery will not be a consumer-changeable item.
Will there be remote controls and other adaptive devices for users with physical limitations?

Response: Yes.

 3.       Pioneer volunteers
Will they be phased out, how long does that take, how will it happen, can they help in other
ways? We enjoy their presence in our program and they do lots of other things to help us. If they
weren't generally around we might miss those additional opportunities to get their help.

Response: NLS expects to continue the very helpful relationship with volunteer repair groups.

4. Delivery customer service
Whom will the patron call when mail is not getting there? The network library or the central
distribution? If it's central distribution, how do libraries stay on top of service issues?

Response: Patrons must always work with their service library when issues about service arise.

 5.       Measuring patron satisfaction
How can network libraries judge our customer service quality, if central distribution degrades our
patrons' current experience?

Response: When network libraries conduct patron satisfaction surveys, they will want to
structure the survey instrument to be able to make this type of distinction.

 6.       Integration of records
How will these changes [sending patron request to a remote site] be incorporated into the
circulation software that network libraries use? Will there be an opportunity for us to look at the
draft processes to see if anything is missing?

Response: Vendors and libraries will be involved in the decision-making process.

 7.       Training of patrons on the new equipment
Will we just send it to them with an instructional card in it?

Response: Digital talking-book machines will be packaged with audio, print, and braille

 8.       Publications
Will there be changes to TBT or other magazines?

Response: There will be changes to order forms provided with Talking Book Topics. NLS has
not determined the transition of the audio form of TBT or of other audio magazines.

 9.       Personnel
We may need to rewrite job descriptions if we are to duplicate items on-demand in phase two. In
bargaining-unit sites (like ours) positions need to be cleared by both the union and HR. This
takes a lot of time. What type (if any) of retraining will have to be done for staff? What will be
the suggested skills set required by staff?

Response: To be determined.

10.       Additional personnel
Network library staffing patterns will need to be changed in 2008. For several years, libraries will
be providing two audio formats, and this will certainly require a redesign of work flows, and
perhaps even the need for some additional staffing, especially in the large libraries.

Response: NLS agrees.

11.       Patron education
Will the contractors develop a patron training guide for staff to use? It should be straightforward,
almost an outline, for use on the phone.

Response: Yes.

12.       Statistics
Will DTB service include statistics that show the number of circulations from remote centers?
DTB circulation from a remote center is different from the direct circulation magazines. We
spend much, much more time discussing books, authors, etc. than we do with sending label
information for subscriptions.

Response: The distribution system for DTBs will ensure that counts for circulation are attributed
to the library serving the patron.

13.       Network education
Will there be a post-prototype distribution of digital machines and materials to teach network
staff long before we try to teach patrons?

Reponse: yes

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