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NLS: That All May Read

Statement of work

For: Digital talking book distribution analysis. Task 3 - Statement of work (Final report : August 29, 2006)

Section 3 - Basic DTB Cartridge and Container Information for Network Libraries

This section of the report presents the changes in network library audio book distribution operations, other than enhancements to library information systems, which will be necessary in order to successfully implement the All Mass-Duplication and Hybrid DTB distribution systems. Virtually all aspects of network library operations involving the distribution of mass-duplicated DTBs will be identical under both business models, the only significant difference being the number of DTB titles and copies that would be managed by and distributed from libraries.

3.1 Basic DTB Cartridge and Container Information for Network Libraries

The following summary descriptions for the DTB cartridge and container, amended as appropriate after the completion of the final designs, should be provided to network library staff for planning the implementation of DTB distribution in their operations. These two products will be the basic handling units in the future book distribution system.

DTB Cartridge

The DTB will be a customized Flash Memory cartridge, of 256 Megabyte (MB) capacity, and use a Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 connector. It will be about the size of a cassette, approximately 3/8" thick and white in color. It will be labelled in both print (using adhesive/pressure-sensitive label stock) and Braille (either as an overlay to the print label or embossed on the same stock as the print label) by NLS mass-duplicators. As provided to libraries, there will be no external identification on the DTB cartridge other than: (1) "Property of US Government"(probably written onto, but possibly molded into, the case); (2) information for quality control purposes, in both print and barcode, which will contain the cartridge manufacturer, year of manufacture, capacity, and lot number; and (3) a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) symbol. Each cartridge will have a unique ID, but it will be internal and machine-readable only by plugging-in the cartridge. It will be very durable, and require no rewinding or other type of resetting by library staff. About 95% of all titles will fit on a single cartridge, and almost all other titles will fit on two cartridges.

DTB Container

The DTB container will be made of plastic and blue in color, and measure approximately 6" deep x 5" wide x 0.75" thick. It will be hinged and openable from the top, have the buckle-type fastener straps used on RC containers, and be stackable. It will be labelled by NLS mass-duplicators in essentially the same manner as the RC container, with two print and one Braille labels. It will hold a single Flash Memory cartridge, and there will be only one size of container. The container will have a pocket for the standard 3" x 5" pick ticket/address card used by network libraries, and the pocket will be designed to hold the card firmly in place during handling and transit. The container is designed so that the cartridge is cradled face-up when placed in it, and so that the container will not close unless the cartridge is properly oriented. The dimensions of the DTB container conform with USPS specifications for a flat rather than a parcel, thus possibly expediting deliveries and returns.

3.2 Statements of Work for Library Book Distribution Functions with Little or No Change

In The five audio book distribution functions for DTBs listed below will be very similar, or identical, to those for RCs in the current system. Any minor differences are noted.

Copy Allotment

The copy allotment process for mass-duplicated DTBs will be very similar to that now used in the current RC allocation process. The patron base and circulation demand will continue to be the most important factors driving copy allotment order quantities for libraries, but collection storage space constraints will continue to be limiting factors, though relatively less so with DTBs because of their smaller size. Fiscal limitations impacting production lot sizes may also prove to be a constraint on the size of the lots that will be allocated to libraries. Bibliographic information for new titles will be downloaded from PICS at several junctures in the audio book production process by the libraries, for the same purposes as now, using the same procedures. If a title-based Hybrid distribution system is implemented, then libraries will not receive mass-duplicated copies of all new audio book titles produced annually, but rather copies for approximately 40% of these titles in larger than average allotments (those titles being “fast-movers”). The processes and procedures will otherwise be identical to those of the current system.

Service Standards in Libraries

The same service standards that now apply will apply to the distribution of DTBs from network libraries. These standards vary somewhat by library, but generally most libraries try to ship all orders within either 24 or 48 hours from the time of receipt or generation (if the order is produced via Profile-Select).

Policies in Libraries

Libraries will have discretion regarding both patron copy limits and loan periods for DTBs, as they do now for RC books. It may be that copy limits in the first years of the transition period may have to be tightened relative to those for the present (because libraries now have such mature and extensive RC collections), but after several years can in all likelihood relax them to current levels. A veterans-priority approach must be employed for both DTBM allocation and DTB distribution, as mandated by law.

Processing of New DTB Copies

New DTB copies received by network libraries will be processed in a manner which will be very similar to that for RCs. If a library uses item (i.e., copy-level) identification for book containers for inventory and circulation control, then barcode labels will be affixed to DTB containers in this step. The barcode label should also include print text which uniquely identifies the library, so that copies misdelivered to other locations can be returned. If a library does not use container item identification, or would rather not have the print text on the barcode label, then the library should affix some type of print label to the container that uniquely identifies the library so that containers with lost address cards can be returned. This feature will be especially important for DTB cartridges, which will be considerably more expensive than cassettes; libraries will want copies returned since they will otherwise have to use locally-purchased cartridges to replace lost DTBs if deemed necessary.


The XESS system would be used in the future system in the same manner as it is currently used for RCs., i.e., to redistribute copies from locations of surplus to locations of deficiency. Copies that are not redistributed to other libraries, which constitute approximately 80%-90% of those copies placed in XESS status, would be formally forwarded to an NLS DTB cartridge and container reconditioning contractor.

3.3 Statements of Work for Library Book Distribution Functions with Major Changes

The five audio book distribution functions for DTBs listed below will be significantly different from those of the current system.

Inspection of Returned Copies

There will be significant changes in this function, and it will be greatly simplified relative to what is required for RC inspection. Most (95%) of DTB titles will have only one cartridge in one container, whereas RC books have multiple cassettes per copy. For the approximate 5% of DTBs that will require more than one cartridge, there will be a second container (effectively a second "Volume"), which will appear as an "A", "B", "C" or "D" suffix to the Title Number. No rewinding will be necessary, which accounts for most of the labor required in the inspection function, and there will be no spooled or shredded tape, or jammed reels with which to contend.

The cartridge will be much more robust than a cassette, but the USB connector must be inspected to insure that there is no damage. Two checks that are currently performed on RC’s must still be performed in the inspection function for DTBs: (1) cartridge-container agreement, i.e., staff must insure that the correct cartridge is in the correct container (and that the container is not empty); and, (2) staff must insure that there are no foreign objects in the container.

In-House DTB Duplication

All libraries will use a PC-based tool that NLS is developing to duplicate in-house copies of DTBs for local/special interest materials, for additional copies of NLS titles and, in the Hybrid system, for walk-ins requesting titles managed by DOD Centers. This tool will allow the copying of one title onto a single cartridge, one title onto multiple cartridges simultaneously, or multiple titles onto multiple cartridges simultaneously. The essential system components will be a Personal Computer (PC), cable, USB "Hub," and the application software. Libraries will furnish the PC, cable, and USB hub, and NLS will supply the software application. The only customized component will likely be the USB Hub, designed so as to accommodate DTB cartridges, and the NLS will provide guidance in this procurement.

Library staff will either download the required DTB from the NLS DAMS system, or use any in-stock copy of a title to serve as a master. This process will be inherently simpler than the process used for in-house duplication of cassettes, and libraries will continue to use available equipment to prepare the cartridge and container labels. This labelling equipment may have to be modified to accommodate the new label sizes for DTBs.

Libraries should label cartridges that they own (i.e., that they purchase) with a print label that uniquely identifies the library, so that mis-directed/mis-delivered cartridges can be returned to the owner. This labelling is warranted given the relatively high price of the media.

DTB Collection Storage

Title Number Sequence Storage

DTBs should be stored in an area separate from RC’s, i.e., RC and DTB copies should not be "interfiled." The DTBs would be stored with one title per storage slot, in title number sequence which is the way that most libraries now store RCs. However, different container dimensions will require that the shelving for DTBs be configured differently than the shelving now used for storage of RCs. In both instances, the container stacking in a shelf opening will be 8-high, but there will be only 6 stacks per shelf opening for DTBs as compared with 7 stacks for RC’s due to the slightly wider DTB container. But with a considerably smaller DTB container height, the shelf openings in the DTB shelving can be 10-high, as compared with 6-high in the RC shelving.

This shelving profile is appropriate for both 1-deep and 2-deep title-based container storage. In composite, one shelf section of DTBs will have 43% greater container storage capacity than one shelf section of RCs. Or expressed differently, DTBs will require 30% less storage space than RCs.

Random Storage – Copy-Specific

Even greater storage efficiencies can be achieved by adopting a copy-specific form of random storage, which is what the Austin, Texas library now uses. This storage mode is applicable for only 1-deep container storage, and requires that all containers be barcoded. For libraries that now barcode all of their containers, this form of random storage would be comparatively easy to implement.

To prepare for copy-specific random storage, the storage aisles, shelf sections, shelf openings, and container stacks will have to be numbered, and the format of the inventory record will have to be changed to accommodate the location of each copy. Provision must also be made for recording the location of new copies as they are being put away and for recording a new storage location for a returning copy. The pick tickets for titles will then show the title number and the location of the copy, and the pick tickets will be printed in location sequence rather than in title number sequence.

Random Storage – Title-Specific

Many books that are now in the RC offerings will be republished as DTBs via either direct production from the digital master or via analog-to-digital conversion; as many as 20,000 such titles may ultimately be mass-duplicated. But unlike new books, the title numbers of these "Retro" books will not be in a predictable title number sequence when mass-duplicated. A title-based random storage approach could therefore be implemented to readily locate these titles in storage. This storage mode will minimize the voids in storage and therefore save space. In considering random storage for the retro collection, it should be noted that a copy-specific form of random storage is quite comprehensive, but requires that all containers be barcoded. The suggested retro random storage would be title-specific, and would be much simpler and easier to implement. However, if containers are now barcoded, a copy-specific random storage mode will be the most efficient way to use storage space. This storage mode would also be equally effective in reducing the needs for RC storage space.

Master Collection

There will be no requirement for a separate "master" collection in network libraries from which a copy is selected to serve as a master for in-house duplication. Because any DTB copy of a title in stock will serve equally well as a master in the duplication process, there will be no need for a dedicated storage area for a master collection, nor the need to remove a copy from circulating inventory to serve as a master. Libraries will also be able to download DTB files from the NLS DAMS system, obviating the need for dedicated master copies and master collection storage.

Weeding of DTBs

A significant new factor affecting the weeding function for DTB’s is the need to recover the inventory investment in cartridges for reuse in mass-duplication of new DTB titles. However, it will also facilitate more efficient storage in libraries, many of which have limited storage space. Libraries should therefore implement and utilize an information system-assisted protocol modeled upon the Texas system that automatically manages weeding by continuously applying decision criteria and prompting daily weeding actions. The Texas system compares demand with inventory levels before making a decision to reduce on-hand inventory of a specific title, but allows a manual override. A constraint in the logic also requires that a new title be in circulation for one year before a weeding decision is made.

Role of Multistate Centers in Library-Based DTB Distribution

Multistate Centers (MSCs) will have no appointed role in the storage and distribution of DTBs, as compared with the role that they now play in the current system for distribution of backup RC titles and for some titles that have been removed from library collections (i.e., titles numbers lower than RC6000). The planned NLS DAMS system will enable network libraries to download titles as necessary, and libraries may also make copies of DTB titles from any copy of a title that is available in their collection. There will therefore be no need for MSCs to provide copies of DTBs to libraries to serve as "masters" for in-house duplication.

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Posted on 2006-12-05