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NLS: That All May Read

Audio book distributionsystem design

For: Digital talking book distribution analysis. Task 2 - System design (Final report : June 29, 2006)

Executive Summary

This report presents findings and recommendations developed by ManTech International Corporation for the Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), for work performed under Order Number GST0005AF5023. The objective of Task 2 of the project, which is the subject of this report, was to develop the design for the selected future distribution system for Digital Talking Books (DTBs). While NLS generally intends to implement the Hybrid DTB distribution system, which was recommended in Phase 1 of the project for implementation, it is possible that NLS may not implement DOD Centers and that DTB distribution may be performed exclusively via mass-duplication and library-based distribution. Therefore, system designs for both the All Mass-Duplication and Hybrid distribution systems are described in the report.

The system design did not consider recorded magazine operations, only those for recorded books. Analyses were based upon steady-state distribution operations after all patrons in the program have Digital Talking Book Machines (DTBMs), and it was assumed that the implementation of DTBMs would be identical under both distribution options. NLS duplication and distribution costs were determined and are presented, network library distribution costs as presented in the Phase 1 final report were determined to still be valid, and costs incurred by the USPS were not considered. It was assumed that the quantity and mix of DTB titles produced by NLS in the future and demand for the same would be identical or very similar to that of the current system, and that title composition and demand would be identical under both the All Mass-Duplication and Hybrid distribution systems.

The final report 1 describes the future audio book distribution system including: operating procedures and general functional specifications for book distribution and duplication at network libraries and DOD Centers; estimated resource requirements and costs for DOD Center operations, and estimated costs for mass-duplicated DTBs; functional specifications for changes to library information systems and functional specifications for the DOD Center information system required to implement the future distribution system, including the exchange of information via data telecommunications between the libraries and Centers and operations within the Centers; and, service standards and policies which influence audio book distribution operations.

Data were collected from NLS, network libraries and several other sources, compiled and analyzed in order to update the statistical profile of the current system and to model the future DTB distribution system and estimate costs for the same. Comprehensive site visits were also performed at a sample of Regional and Subregional network libraries. The analyses focused upon audio book production, circulation, collections, collection turnover, collection turnover by title age, and collection size by title age. An all-day meeting was held with Library Automation System (LAS) representatives and vendors in order to determine the relevant characteristics of the systems and define what enhancements to LASs will be necessary in order to support DTB distribution under both the All Mass-Duplication and Hybrid systems. Site visits to network libraries were performed in order to gain a thorough understanding of audio book distribution operations in the network, including the variations therein. The libraries visited covered all five information systems expected to be in use in the future audio book distribution system, and several library operations employing innovative audio book distribution technology including automation of several distribution tasks, random storage, and terminal digit storage. These efforts are described in Section 2 of the report.

Section 3 of the report presents the design of the All Mass-Duplication system. Most audio book production and distribution operations would remain unchanged in this system relative to that used currently for RCs. NLS intends to use the same title numbering schema for DTB titles previously produced in RC format, and book production levels, service standards, and the copy allotment process would remain essentially the same as that used in the current system. No recommendations are made for changes to RC operations except to: (1) identify containers so that they can be returned if mis-delivered, (2) use pick tickets with pre-printed library barcoded zip codes, and (3) perform weeding continuously rather than periodically and have the information system assist in this regard. Service standards and policies at the library level would remain effectively unchanged for DTB distribution. Inspection of returned DTB copies will be greatly simplified relative to that for RCs, but inspection for cartridge-container agreement and for lack of foreign objects will still be required. Multistate Centers will play no role in DTB distribution. In-House duplication would be facilitated by a tool developed by NLS and the DAMS system to enable efficient library-level DTB duplication of copies. Libraries would purchase and own their own cartridges for In-House duplication. LASs would need to be able to manage patron-level machine ownership (DTBM-only, CBM-only, or dual-machine), patron language preferences for DTBMs, select books in the appropriate media, preferentially select DTBs over RCs if DTB copies are available, maintain a crosswalk of titles read in different media, generate pick tickets for DTBs, possibly provide random or terminal digit storage capability in order to handle “gaps” in title numbers during the early years of the transition period and for the “Retro” collection, forward cartridges and containers to reconditioning contractors, perform continuous and system-assisted weeding, and reprofile collection shelving in order to store DTB copies efficiently. The cost projections for the All Mass-Duplication system have been updated and are shown in Appendix 13.

Section 4 of the report presents the system design for the Hybrid distribution system. Most aspects of the mass-duplication portion of the Hybrid system would be identical to those of the All Mass-Duplication system. A 40% mass-duplication Hybrid model is still recommended for implementation, and other combinations of Title and Time-based Hybrid models are presented, with DOD Center operations described in Section 4.2. Communications between the libraries and DOD Centers will be web-based (i.e., via the Internet), using records in XML format. A "Periodic Polling" approach will be employed, whereby library systems will send transaction records to a server(s) at the DOD Centers and will "pick-up" transaction records written to the server(s) by the DOD Centers. In this manner, some of the more fundamental security and system access issues, specifically difficulty associated with the DOD Centers having security access to 132 library information systems, will be minimized. Considerations of information systems and the information exchange between libraries and DOD Centers are presented in Section 4.3. Resource requirements and cost estimates for the operation of the DOD Centers have been revised and are shown in Appendices 16 - 20.

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Posted on 2006-12-05