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NLS Press Release


For immediate release
April 11, 2005
Contact: Robert E. Fistick
(202) 707-9279 or rfis@loc.gov

Updated Strategic Business Plan Affirms Conversion Progress and Future Direction

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In the near future, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, will issue an updated Strategic Business Plan that assesses its progress to date and outlines the major tasks remaining in its implementation of digital systems. The plan affirms that NLS’s transition strategy remains solid and on schedule as the project nears its 2008 completion date.

"In the relatively short period of time since transition work began, we have accomplished much," says Frank Kurt Cylke, NLS director. "Steady progress in a number of key projects is an indication that our strategy is sound and that the transition is on target."

To date, NLS has made considerable progress in the following key conversion projects: development of a digital talking-book (DTB) master collection, Internet download, and product design. Accomplishments in these ongoing projects are helping the transition stay on track.

NLS is moving rapidly to develop a digital talking-book master collection of twenty-thousand that NLS aims to have ready in 2008. Titles will include ten thousand "born digital" books—new titles produced directly in a digital format—as well as ten thousand existing analog titles that have been converted to digital format. To achieve its conversion goal, NLS must continue to produce roughly two thousand new digital titles and to convert approximately 1,600 analog titles to digital per year.

NLS’s long-term goal is to offer its patrons the option of reading digital books through Internet download in 2007. A DTB pilot program is set to launch early this year to test its functionality. Since January 2004, NLS has also been engaged in an ongoing magazine pilot program. The findings of this project will influence implementation planning for both digital book and magazine download.

NLS is currently engaged in its second stage of DTB, playback machine, and container design. Product refinement and usability testing will culminate in November 2006 with the introduction of preproduction prototypes and specifications.

More than 23 million copies of recorded and braille books and magazines were circulated to a readership of 799,718 in 2004. The International Union Catalog provides access to 423,500 titles (19 million copies). Audiobook readers borrow an average of 31 books and magazines a year. Braille readers average 20 books and magazines a year.

An overview of the NLS digital talking-book project may be found in Current Strategic Business Plan for the Implementation of Digital Systems at www.loc.gov/nls/businessplan2003.html. For enrollment information, visit www.loc.gov/nls or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

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Posted on 2011-01-10