Network Bulletin No. 98-61
Date: November 13, 1998
Subject: Collection development
Index term: National Advisory Group on Collection Building
Activities, 1998; recommendations and NLS responses
Enclosed is a copy of the responses to the recommendations
made by the National Advisory Group on Collection Building
Activities at the meeting September 16-18, 1998.
For further information contact:
Ruth J. Foss
Head, Collection Development Section
Recommendations of the 1998 National Advisory Group
on Collection-Building Activities with NLS Responses
1. Committee recommends that NLS make it a high priority to
update the Magazines in Special Media catalog.
The 1998 revision to Magazines in Special Media is now
available in large print and on the NLS website. It will
also be produced in cassette, flexible disc, and braille
2. Committee recommends that NLS review the current
collection production rates in relation to existing policy
statements, such as the allocation of children's and
foreign-language materials, and fiction to nonfiction
The Collection Development and Production Control Sections
have recently adjusted NLS production rates to achieve the
desired balance between adult and juvenile, and braille and
recorded materials. For example, juveniles (defined by
NLS as children thirteen years and under) represent
approximately five percent of the national readership.
However, to encourage reading at an early age, NLS will
continue to produce twenty-two percent (reduced from thirty-
six percent) of the titles selected for this audience.
Similarly, only two or three percent of NLS adult readers
use braille, although NLS, to promote braille literacy, will
continue to produce twenty-two percent of selected materials
in braille and print-braille (reduced from thirty-two
percent in recent years).
Fiction versus nonfiction and current versus retrospective
ratios are considered at every stage, beginning with
selection. Although CDS monitors the book publishing market
closely, we are aware that what is available in print at any
given time may influence our ability to maintain the
balances stated by NLS policies. Similarly, the
availability of narrators or the workload of producers may
affect balances temporarily.
One of CDS's primary responsibilities is to examine the
collection to verify what it contains, to understand its
strengths and weaknesses, and to determine what needs to be
weeded and what needs to be added. In performing these
duties, we welcome suggestions from this committee, NLS
network library staff, and readers.
Please see Response No. 5 concerning foreign-language
3. Committee recommends that NLS increase the number of
fiction titles, including bestsellers by popular authors, in
braille as well as recorded format.
We will make more fiction titles by popular authors
available in braille. However, most popular titles,
particularly bestsellers, will still need to be produced in
a recorded format. As you know, production in duplicate
formats will reduce the total number of new titles that will
be made available annually.
Some fiction titles are simply too ephemeral in nature to
justify the additional expense of braille production and
long-term storage. We are also committed to meeting the
informational needs and preferences of all readers.
Nonfiction, therefore, will remain an important part of the
4. Committee recommends that NLS include in its outreach
efforts children who are mainstreamed in schools.
NLS has consistently provided information to a wide range of
organizations involved with mainstreaming issues and
children who are mainstreamed. NLS has implemented all
available options. State and local librarians, however, can
work with their boards of education. Person-to-person
contact at the regional and subregional library is perceived
as a very effective approach.
5. Committee recommends that NLS continue to produce a
minimum of thirty-five foreign-language titles per year,
with an emphasis on Spanish, not excluding other languages.
Unfortunately, the FY 99 budget will limit NLS production of
foreign-language titles to twenty-five. Also, please bear
in mind that currently a single producer, who employs one or
two narrators, is under contract to produce titles in
Spanish for NLS. Due to the economics of contracting
procedures, it may not be feasible for a producer to
audition, employ, and retain a narrator to record a small
number of titles other than Spanish. If NLS were to
consider producing talking books in a foreign language
besides Spanish, it would be to produce up to five titles in
one other language only, most likely Vietnamese.
For the most part, the NLS foreign-language collection will
continue to be developed by purchasing recorded materials in
various languages from producers, including foreign agencies
for the blind and commercial sources. This mechanism allows
NLS to include many more foreign languages in the collection
than would be possible if NLS tried to produce all foreign-
language materials itself.
6. Committee recommends that NLS continue to produce all
titles in an existing series, as defined in the 1997
recommendations. A series, as defined by the committee, is
a collection of books with a continuous story line that must
be read sequentially. Since some titles may be out of
print, we recommend that NLS pursue every means of obtaining
We will continue our attempt to do so. Unfortunately, a
vacant library technician position in CDS tends to slow the
effort to locate out-of-print titles.
7. Committee recommends that the braille-formatted files of
magazine texts be included with the other braille material
available through the NLS website.
NLS will focus first on mounting braille books on the NLS
website through the Web-Braille project. In the last
quarter of fiscal year 1999 NLS will investigate adding
8. Committee recommends that NLS narrators insert an
appropriate pause where necessary to indicate a transition
between the sections of a book.
The use of pauses to indicate transitions between sections
of a book is a practice used by skilled NLS narrators. NLS
will encourage studio narrators and monitors to make full
use of this technique.
9. Committee recommends that NLS encourage network libraries
to continue to share their volunteer recordings through the
This is done on an ongoing basis through suggestions made
during consultant visits and by encouraging network
librarians to participate in the quality assurance program
at the Multistate Center East. Earlier this year, the
Bibliographic Control Section (BCS) implemented an
electronic and paper process by which network libraries can
submit "in-process" information for titles they are working
on. This information is included in the BPHI file on Web-
BLND and updated weekly. BCS is also developing a process
for libraries to submit cooperative cataloging
10. Committee recommends that NLS produce its bibliographies
in large print, computer diskette, and recorded formats, and
make the bibliographies available on the NLS webpage.
NLS-produced subject bibliographies are currently available
in large-print, braille, and recorded formats. NLS is
beginning, and will continue, to mount these bibliographies
on its webpage. We have no plans to provide them on
computer diskette. On the other hand, network libraries
have the option of downloading NLS bibliographies and making
them available to readers in diskette among other formats.
11. Committee recommends that NLS pursue the production of
titles on alternative medicine and stress reduction in
braille as well as recorded formats.
We will do so. At least twenty such titles are currently in
process. Other subject headings that may be used to locate
related titles include: holistic medicine, healing, mind and
body, relaxation, yoga, massage, meditation, stress, herbs,
folk medicine, chiropractic, and health.
12. Committee recommends that NLS improve access to network
library- produced bibliographies via the Internet.
NLS continues to look at ways to accomplish this goal.
Listing network-produced bibliographies is the easy part.
However, by doing so we create an expectation that a network
library can provide a copy to anyone who requests it; this
is not always possible. We also may create the expectation
that a network-produced bibliography will be similar to an
NLS-produced bibliography, which is also not always the
13. Committee recommends that NLS encourage network
libraries to download braille-formatted materials from the
NLS website to computer diskettes for distribution to
patrons who have no access to the Internet.
NLS will explore this option.
14. Committee recommends, for the second time, that NLS
include the volume number, issue number, and date on the
first side of each recorded magazine since this information
is displayed on the title page of braille magazines.
The date is included. The NLS Engineering Change Control
Board will consider the inclusion of issue and volume
15. Committee recommends that NLS update its reference
circulars pertaining to materials not produced by NLS, such
as educational and reference books, and announce the
availability of these reference circulars in Talking Book
Topics (TBT) and Braille Book Review (BBR).
The NLS Reference Section produces new and revised
publications, including bibliographies and circulars,
annually. An up-to-date catalog of all reference titles
appears in Facts: Books for Blind and Physically Handicapped
Individuals, published each year in January. New
bibliographies and circulars, as published, are also posted
on the NLS website and announced in TBT and BBR.
An update of Reference Books in Special Media is in process.
16. Committee recommends that, because many patrons comment
on their difficulty in hearing high-pitched voices, the NLS
Research and Development staff investigate playback devices
that have the capability of adjusting the pitch of the voice
without affecting the speed.
With analog cassette technology, independently adjusting
speed and pitch is not economically feasible. Digital
technology, however, makes it more practical. Independently
adjustable speed and pitch is one of the features to be
included in the digital talking book presently in
17. Committee recommends that, at the end of a cassette
book, the narrator instruct the reader to either rewind or
fast forward the tape, whichever is appropriate.
This suggestion has been previously considered by the NLS
Engineering Change Control Board and failed to win its
approval. The ECCB believes that patrons could interpret
this instruction as condescending or demeaning. Moreover,
NLS policy recommends that all returned books be opened and
inspected by the library upon return. If necessary, rewind
or fast forward can be done at that time.
18. Committee commends the Collection Development Section
Head, Ruth Foss, and staff for their excellent facilitation
of this meeting, including travel arrangements, hotel
accommodations, and transportation.
Thank you. We too are pleased that all of these
arrangements went smoothly.
19. Committee commends the NLS staff for its attention to
and prompt action in the implementation of the
recommendations of the 1997 committee.
Thank you. The ability to fill librarian positions has been
20. Committee commends NLS for its continued solicitation of
suggestions from patrons and network librarians for
selection of library materials.
We will continue to do so.
21. Committee commends NLS for its leadership in providing
patrons and network staff with improved access to the Union
Catalog through electronic media, for example, the CD-ROM
catalog, and the World Wide Web.
NLS will continue to explore ways, including new technology,
to improve access to the collections.
22. Committee commends NLS for its continued effort toward
providing a balanced collection of titles with and without
explicitly sexual content.
This remains an ongoing effort.
23. Recognizing that patrons must have playback equipment in
order to access the NLS recorded collection, the committee
commends the Materials Development Division for procuring,
maintaining, and supplying a sufficient number of machines.
Everyone involved in this process appreciates your