Network Bulletin No.: 07-24
Date: April 27, 2007
Subject: Digital Transition Advisory Committee
Index term: Digital transition issues identified and NLS responses
Please find attached "Digital Transition Issues Identified," as mentioned in Network Bulletin 07-20, dated
April 6, 2007, which lists questions raised at the Digital Transition Advisory Committee meeting January
30-31 2007, along with NLS's responses.
For more information contact:
Carolyn Hoover Sung
Chief, Network Division
[log in to unmask]
Digital Transition Issues Identified
January 30 31, 2007
The Digital Transition Advisory Committee (DTAC) met at NLS January 30-31,
2007. The following is a list of questions, comments, and concerns expressed
by the group and NLS's responses.
DTAC: Librarians are concerned about rising labor costs.
NLS RESPONSE: Labor costs are related to either additional workload or
additional staffing. Beginning in 2008 NLS will provide fewer copies of books
to the network (analog and digital combined) than are now being produced on
cassette. Technical support for patrons using the download will remain the
responsibility of NLS through the transition years.
DTAC: Librarians are concerned about cost savings as they relate to long-term
NLS RESPONSE: NLS understands this concern, but cautions that such
savings are five to ten years in the future, and actual savings may vary by
DTAC: As there are currently not enough resources to provide every network
library with multiple copies of the entire pre-2008 collection, librarians
suggest that NLS look at alternative ways to maximize access to the pre-2008
collection, approximately ten thousand analog-to-digital (A-to-D) titles and
eight thousand born-digital titles produced between 2003 and 2007.
NLS RESPONSE: NLS agrees to research solutions to maximize library access
to the pre-2008 collection. Possible solutions include:
Identifying changes needed to support shared resources of the
A-to-D collection and interlibrary loan between libraries.
Using the Multistate Centers (MSCs) as a safety net, to function as a
resource for less popular pre-2008 titles or possibly to house the entire pre-
2008 collection and circulate through interlibrary loan (ILL).
These and other alternatives will be investigated to determine which will work
best for patrons and the network.
DTAC: It was suggested that NLS put more than one book on a flash
NLS RESPONSE: NLS is committed to the policy of one book per cartridge.
DTAC: Reuse of cartridges by NLS is a shift in operations. Perhaps network
libraries could reuse cartridges for duplication, helping to alleviate the
shortage of books in the early years of the transition.
NLS RESPONSE: Actually, this is not a major change. It has always been
NLS's policy to redistribute needed books throughout the network then, if
unneeded, dispose of them. Now instead of recycling the books, they will be
returned to a central point(s) for reuse. NLS has never approved of
reduplication of NLS-produced books at the network level.
DTAC: Will there be a redistribution opportunity or just a recall of the flash
NLS RESPONSE: NLS is still considering whether to redistribute the books or
just recall them so the cartridges can be recycled.
DTAC: State librarians perceive an increase in cost to make up for the
shortage of flash cartridges.
NLS RESPONSE: This could occur in the early years of the transition.
However, once the transition is completed NLS will provide roughly the same
number of books in digital format that it provided on cassette.
When the on-demand centers become operational, network libraries will not
have to retain a copy of every digital book at their locations, as duplication
and circulation of many digital books will be the responsibility of the on-
DTAC: NLS should do a second production run of older titles when flash
cartridges are more affordable and high circulation books are identified.
NLS RESPONSE: NLS currently reissues books whose demand has remained
high and available copies have dropped or disappeared. This practice will
DTAC: What cataloging changes are needed to support collection sharing by
NLS RESPONSE: No cataloging changes will be required. If two or more
regional libraries were to agree to share a collection, the inventory function of
these libraries would need to be modified to identify which library holds which
part of the collection.
DTAC: Is the current ILL system robust enough to support higher volume?
NLS RESPONSE: Yes; however, if two or more libraries agreed to share
resources and used the same circulation system, the system might be
modified to request or send books seamlessly to patrons of the other library,
without using the electronic interlibrary loan form.
DTAC: There was a request for demonstrations of alternative shelving
systems such as the Texas shelving system and the New York City RL's
terminal digit shelving, as well as other alternative shelving techniques.
NLS RESPONSE: NLS will include programs on alternative shelving
techniques at the national conference in 2008 and attendees will have the
opportunity to observe firsthand how the Texas regional library handles
shelving. In the interim it should be noted that Mary Lamica, Consortium of
User Libraries (CUL) consultant, will give a PowerPoint presentation on
random access shelving at the Western/Midlands Conference in Scottsdale,
Arizona, in May 2007.
DTAC: It was suggested that magazines be distributed in digital format as
soon as possible because the navigation capabilities vastly improve their
NLS RESPONSE: NLS agrees. This will be done as soon as the cost allows.
DTAC: What are the implications for distribution of the MSC Quality Assurance
(QA) program magazines?
NLS RESPONSE: The current practice will continue until it becomes cost
effective to provide these magazines in a digital format.
DTAC: What are the implications for the local book recording program? When
will the NLS guidelines/specifications be available to support the QA program
voluntary evaluation at MSCE?
NLS RESPONSE: This document is currently being written and is expected to
be available by December 2007.
DTAC: Some patrons prefer having a bookcard rather than totally depending
on listening to the description of the book.
NLS RESPONSE: NLS will continue to provide bookcards with both cassette
and digital books.
DTAC: It was recommended that the network be allowed to reuse cartridges.
NLS RESPONSE: Current cost scenarios do not make this feasible. The issue
can be revisited if the overall cost of cartridges drops to an acceptable level.
DTAC: It was suggested that NLS keep continuity of format for books in a
NLS RESPONSE: NLS agrees.
DTAC: Will libraries need to keep one copy of each book?
NLS RESPONSE: NLS expects regional libraries to maintain at least one copy
of each title issued to the network in braille, recorded cassette, or digital
DTAC: Will network libraries need to purchase containers for locally produced
NLS RESPONSE: Yes; network libraries will also need to purchase flash
cartridges for local titles. NLS will identify sources of purchase for both
cartridges and containers.
DTAC: It was suggested that more photographs of the player and container be
made available for network library publications.
NLS RESPONSE: These will be provided when digital players become
DTAC: It was suggested that simpler descriptions of the transition be
published as the ones in Talking Book Topics and Braille Book Review are
NLS RESPONSE: NLS will look at this request to determine what, if anything,
can be done.
DTAC: We recommend that the minutes of this meeting be circulated to the
NLS RESPONSE: The minutes have been distributed to the network.
DTAC: Communication with readers should be expanded beyond the normal
channels to reach eligible users who are no longer frequent users.
NLS RESPONSE: NLS will investigate ways to do this.
DTAC: We recommend communication beyond the Flash newsletter with more
specific information about timing and the kinds of planning needed by
librarians and users. Please clarify that the digital players will not be in the
hands of all users or fully rolled out until 2010 or 2011. Many librarians and
readers actually expect all patrons to have players in 2008. Expectations may
need to be reduced.
NLS RESPONSE: NLS agrees with this assessment and will undertake steps
to address this concern.
DTAC: It was recommended that NLS start reducing expectations of the
availability of digital players in current NLS channels of communication and
then move to new channels.
NLS RESPONSE: This is a challenge. One of the ways to reduce expectations
will be to slow the promotion of the new format and to withhold promotional
materials on digital books until the number ofbooks and players have reached a critical mass in network libraries. This will
not be easy as many libraries are already looking for ways to promote the new
DTAC: A listserv for the group may be a useful way to work on the more
practical transition implementation plan with a variety of sub-plans and time
lines. Also a special section of the network library web site could be dedicated
to the most current information on the implementation.
NLS RESPONSE: NLS agrees; and will establish a listserv for DTAC to
exchange ideas and concerns.
A number of questions and concerns were raised regarding the NLS download
project. Responses require further investigation. The questions concerning
the download project will be answered in a separate document that will be
distributed as soon as it is completed.
DTAC: It was mentioned that some libraries have not emphasized identifying
veterans to ensure that they receive preferential service.
NLS RESPONSE: By law veterans have preference for talking-book service.
Libraries signing machine-lending service agreements have committed to
ensuring that this is accomplished.
DTAC: Player distribution policies are to be developed and implemented
locally. Public Law 89-522 states that veterans must be given preference and
NLS recommends that 10-Squared Talking-Book Club members follow the
veterans in preference.
NLS RESPONSE: That is correct.
DTAC: Each regional library will need to establish a distribution priority policy
based on local library needs and patron preferences. Questions received by
NLS regarding a player-distribution policy will be referred to regional libraries.
NLS RESPONSE: NLS suggests that each regional library formalize its policy
by the end of calendar year 2007 and share the policy with its patrons once
digital players become available for distribution.
DTAC: We encourage network libraries to involve consumer advisory groups
in the formulation of these policies.
NLS RESPONSE: NLS agrees.
DTAC: Members of the committee noted that machine distribution is complex
and political and should be discussed among peers at regional conferences.
The conference representatives concurred.
NLS RESPONSE: NLS agrees and encourages the regions to include machine
distribution on agendas at the upcoming regional conferences.
DTAC: NLS should notify each library of its patrons who have volunteered to
participate in testing the player.
NLS RESPONSE: NLS will refer this information to appropriate MLAs.
DTAC: Some librarians indicated that they have already begun lists of patrons
requesting digital players.
NLS RESPONSE: This is good. NLS is not suggesting that the network
publicize its collection of patron requests, but that it retain names of patrons
and cross check for veterans' status and/or 10-Squared Club membership to
enable an MLA to begin issuing digital players immediately upon receipt.
DTAC: Is it true that subregional libraries will not get allotments of players as
was the case with the C-1?
NLS RESPONSE: It is expected that digital players will be distributed to MLAs
in the same way that cassette players were.
DTAC: NLS should consider a distribution process, other than on a monthly
basis if production, quality control, and libraries can accommodate a faster
NLS RESPONSE: This will be considered, but a number of factors come into
play not the least of which is the manufacturer's production capability and
the important quality assurance review that machines must pass before they
are accepted for distribution.
DTAC: Will the serial number indicate if the player is advanced or basic so
that it will be immediately apparent to library staff which type of player a
NLS RESPONSE: Yes, the first character of the serial number will indicate
the type of machine. The current plan is to also encode the warranty
expiration month in the serial number, so that the library will know
immediately if a faulty machine should be returned to the manufacturer.
Thus the number "S 1209 12345" would indicate a standard player with a
warranty expiration at the end of December 2009, and it would be the
12,345th machine manufactured in that month's production.
DTAC: How will libraries determine who needs an advanced machine?
NLS RESPONSE: This is difficult to answer before there are actually any
machines available for readers to use. The current plan is that a standard
player will be issued to each reader unless the MLA knows of extenuating
circumstances that would suggest an advanced player as the more appropriate
choice. Once readers have received standard players, the MLA would be
expected to exchange a standard player for an advanced player if readers
indicate the standard player does not meet their reading needs.
DTAC: The group suggested that NLS give more thought to letting early
adopters purchase their own players.
NLS RESPONSE: This will be up to the MLA/library after they meet the needs
of veterans and 10-Squared Club members.
DTAC: NLS should have a procedure to inform librarians when aftermarket
players become available.
NLS RESPONSE: NLS will inform the network of the availability of
aftermarket players through Reference Section publications.
DTAC: NLS should advise readers of both options for buying a player and
receiving an NLS player.
NLS RESPONSE: See the response to the previous question.
DTAC: There is concern that it would be difficult and complex to advise
readers in making a decision to buy a player or wait for one to be issued.
NLS RESPONSE: NLS agrees. Concentration will be on providing digital
players to MLAs for assignment to readers. Decisions as to the
appropriateness of an aftermarket player must be up to the individual
considering the purchase of such a device.
DTAC: More concrete and reliable information on player production and
distribution will be needed before advising readers.
NLS RESPONSE: NLS agrees.