NLS Operations Alert


No. 17-54


DATE          :    August 9, 2017

TO                :    Network Libraries

FROM         :    Bibliographic Control Section/Collection Development Section

SUBJECT   :    Rating unrated books



Commercially produced audiobooks added to the NLS collection, unlike NLS-produced talking books, are not rated by the NLS Collection Development Section (CDS). Audio files are generally not available at the time of selection, and reviewing those that are available within a reasonable time is not possible. This presents difficulties for patrons whose circulation profiles do not allow them to receive unrated material.


Some network libraries are addressing this issue by reviewing and rating unrated material. The ratings are compiled on a spreadsheet that is maintained on the LBPH WIKI at As of July 31, over a thousand commercial audiobooks have been rated in this way. NLS will incorporate these ratings into the Voyager catalog and on BARD.


The rating tags for books in this category do not provide the same level of granularity as those for NLS-produced books. NLS cannot verify the criteria used in determining the explicitness of sexual content or the amount of strong language or violence in the network rating. Thus, if the spreadsheet indicates that a book has—for example—explicit descriptions of sex, some violence, and some strong language, the catalog will simply indicate that the book contains “strong language, violence, and descriptions of sex.”


Initially, NLS staff will input the data into the catalog. In the near future, we will create an online form by which network libraries may submit their ratings of commercially produced audiobooks. Another Operations Alert will be sent when that form is made available.


NLS thanks network libraries for taking on the ratings project.


For more information, contact:

Chris Corrigan

Acting Section Head, Bibliographic Control

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Edmund O’Reilly

Head, Collection Development Section

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