NLS Operations Alert
DATE : February 26, 2009
TO : Network Libraries
FROM : Stephen Prine
Subject : Duplicating and downloading digital books
Recent exchanges on the LBPH Listserv indicate some confusion related to the prospective
duplication and downloading of digital books, and where responsibilities will lie in the new
digital program. The following will help clarify the NLS position.
NLS will maintain primary responsibility for mass duplication of audiobooks, but does
recognize the strong interest expressed by a number of network libraries in duplicating
copies of both NLS-produced and locally produced digital books.
NLS has always supported network library efforts to record and duplicate books. Many
regional and subregional libraries have acquired equipment to duplicate additional copies of
books to meet local needs, and many developed primary recording capabilities for local
production. Historically NLS has provided expertise and written specifications for audiotape
recording and duplication equipment. As we move forward, NLS expects to provide similar
support in the digital environment.
Mass duplication of digital books
Available funding in 2008 allowed NLS to produce 650 of the 2,000 selected titles in digital
format. The remaining 1,350 titles recorded in 2008 are available on cassette.
Lower-than-anticipated costs have enabled NLS to increase the number of digital books
produced in 2009 to the full 2,000 titles. Therefore all audiobook titles produced this year
and in 2010 will be in both cassette and digital format. In 2011, and into the foreseeable
future, all recorded titles will be produced solely in digital format at an average quantity of
925 copies per title.
The more than 13,000 titles now on the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD)
are all available as RC books and are on the shelves of regional libraries and many
subregional libraries. A subregional library that requires copies of these RC books may
obtain them through interlibrary loan from their regional library or a multistate center.
Digital download and cartridge duplication
NLS digital books provided to network libraries will be write-protected so they cannot be
rerecorded. Blank cartridges purchased by patrons and network libraries will not have
write-protection. Network libraries, therefore, will need to enable write-protection on
cartridges they acquire. NLS will provide write-protection software in the near future (see
no. 5, below).
In order to use a downloaded NLS book, a patron or a library must have a personal
computer (PC), a high-speed Internet connection, a USB patch cord, and a blank (non-
write-protected) cartridge. One-at-a-time downloading of an NLS book from either BARD or
a local server does not require an NLS digital player. In fact, a book cannot be downloaded
directly to an NLS player, even if the player has a blank cartridge inserted. A book must be
loaded directly onto a non-write-protected cartridge using the USB patch cord before it can
be read in the player. Once the cartridge is loaded, it may be played in an NLS digital player.
To facilitate downloading by network libraries NLS is implementing the following:
1. Download availability. Every network library may now access BARD. To date, 76 of
124 network libraries have done so. Libraries may download any of the more than 13,000
titles for immediate duplication and/or to save them to a local hard drive or server for future
2. Blank cartridges. NLS has provided sources for library purchase of blank flash
cartridges and mailing containers. (See Network Bulletin 08-40, October 10, 2008; and
Operations Alert 08-52, December 9, 2008). As of February 3, 2009, seven regional
libraries have placed orders.
3. One-at-a-time duplication. Network libraries will be encouraged to experiment with
single-book duplication during the prelaunch test. NLS will provide each network library with
a USB patch cord, a sample blank cartridge that is not write-protected, and a sample
recorded digital book that is write-protected. These items will be distributed in spring 2009
in conjunction with the prelaunch players.
4. Multiple cartridge duplication. NLS is working with a contractor to produce one
"dock" for each network library. Demonstrated at the preconference in San Antonio in May
2008, a dock consists of five cartridge slots that will enable up to five copies of a title to be
5. Software. NLS will provide to the network software that performs the following
-- Digital Rights Management to protect locally produced titles (availability to be
-- Write protection (availability TBA)
-- Duplication software for PCs (availability TBA). NLS has developed software that enables
a PC to simultaneously duplicate multiple books. By what means this software can be
delivered to the network and what hardware configuration will be required to utilize it
continues to be investigated. However development and implementation of a distribution
process is, and has to be, a lower priority until the transition is initiated and production
problems, if any, for both players and books are eliminated.
6. Support collections. To support network libraries that may not initially have access to
downloading and duplication capability, NLS will make a small collection (one copy of each
retrospective title older titles converted to digital format) available in each multistate center.
Libraries may obtain a book for a patron through interlibrary loan. However the limited
number of copies available may well mean a lengthy waiting time for the patron. (This would
be similar to the interlibrary loan procedures for BRA unique hand-copied braille titles.)
For more information contact:
Assistant Chief, Network Division
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