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Network Bulletin No. 03-44



Date: November 21, 2003


Subject: Digital talking books
Index Term: Progress in digital mastering


As NLS moves toward its goal of issuing digital talking books and players in 2008, it is
developing a new digital recording system called the Low Complexity Mastering
(LCM) system to assist volunteer studios in network libraries to adapt to the digital
environment.  The system will support the production of analog cassettes for immediate
distribution as well as digital talking books (DTBs) for distribution when digital players
become available.

Though NLS will continue to produce cassette books and magazines well beyond 2008,
it is building the digital collection and has arranged for the digital player to be designed.
The LCM will help volunteer studios in network libraries prepare for the forthcoming
changes in book production and duplication and, through feedback and consultation,
provide NLS with data for improving digital recording techniques and processes.  NLS
will be happy to provide advice on studio construction and equipment (such as
microphones and cassette duplicators), but such information is independent of recording
technology.

LCM uses software that allows users to make tone-indexed digital masters from which
to duplicate analog cassettes.  It also enables users to define navigation points such as
chapters and build DTBs that conform to the DTB standard Z39.86.  DTB masters can
be stored in local collections until digital players are available.  NLS will share its
experience with storing DTBs and managing the collection using computer systems so
that network studios can make storage decisions according to their local resources.

The LCM has been installed at regional libraries in Montana, New Mexico, and Texas
(and is scheduled for installation in Florida).  From the experiences of network library
staff and volunteers at these sites, NLS expects to learn what changes need to be made
and what additional support is required.

Once satisfied that the system efficiently and conveniently makes acceptable digital
recordings and Z39.86 compliant DTBs, NLS will issue a performance specification that
will help network libraries to obtain the equipment and software they need to build a
DTB collection.  It will be written to encourage competition among qualified vendors.

NLS plans to hire experts for the development of a copyright protection system to be
ready for use when digital products are ready for distribution.  Until that time, libraries
must store and handle digital files with the greatest care to guard against copyright
violations.  Copyrighted digitally recorded  materials should not be released to anyone
(not even authorized patrons)  until the NLS digital player is available.  Releasing
digitally recorded material in any medium except the NLS digital player would be a
violation of copyright.

For further information contact:

Bill West
Audio Book Production Specialist
(202) 707-0709
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