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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)

Executive Summary

This final report was developed by ManTech International Corporation for the Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), under Order Number GST0005AF5023. The objective of Task 3 of the project, which is the subject of this report, was to develop Statements of Work (SOWs) for audio book distribution-related operations that would likely be contractor-performed in the future system using Digital Talking Books (DTBs) and Digital Talking Book Machines (DTBM). While NLS generally intends to implement the Hybrid DTB distribution system, which was recommended by ManTech 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, the objective of the report was to provide SOWs for the implementation of both the All Mass-Duplication and Hybrid DTB distribution systems. To this end, SOWs for four areas of future book distribution operations are presented: (1) Enhancements to network library information systems; (2) Other changes in network library book distribution operations; (3) Reconditioning of DTB cartridges and containers; and (4) Implementation of DOD Centers. While Item (2) does not fit the strict definition of operations that would be "contracted-out" since they would be exclusively or largely performed by network library staff, NLS asked ManTech to include this information in the report because such changes will be necessary in order to successfully implement the future DTB distribution system.

The SOWs do not address recorded magazine operations, which were not in the scope of the project. 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. It is noted that the design of the DTBM, DTB, and DTB container are not final, and consequently certain aspects of the future system will potentially be subject to change from that presented in this report. The focus of the Statements of Work is generally upon what has to be performed or accomplished, rather than upon how it must be accomplished. Nevertheless, recommended operating procedures for network libraries and a baseline production plan (with some alternatives) for DOD Center operations are described.

Section 2 describes the enhancements to network library information systems that will be necessary in order to successfully implement the future DTB distribution system. Each of the owners of the five information systems expected to be in use in the future system will be responsible for making the enhancements. The enhancements will be made in two phases, the first of which will develop and implement functionality necessary to support All Mass-Duplication operations, and the second of which will develop and implement functionality necessary to support DOD operations (if implemented). Functionality and enhancements required for the All Mass-Duplication system include the provision of basic audio book distribution capabilities; system knowledge of patron playback machine ownership status, in terms of whether a reader is CBM-only, DTBM-only, or dual machine; tracking of DTBM accessories; knowledge of the DTBM type (Basic or Advanced) used by a reader; DTBM language preference of a patron; selection of books in appropriate media given patron machine ownership status; preferential selection of DTBs over RCs for dual-machine patrons; establishment and use of a "crosswalk" for books read in different media; the ability to generate pick tickets for DTBs; the ability to batch and print pick tickets for DTBs for the type of storage method employed by the library; the ability to use random storage in order to handle gaps in title numbers in the early years of the transition and for Retro titles mass-duplicated; apply system-assisted weeding to use library storage space most efficiently and for NLS to reuse cartridges for mass-duplication; and the ability to update CMLS and BPHICS. Functionality and enhancements required for the Hybrid system include: an addition to a book’s title record to indicate whether the library or DOD Center is responsible for circulation; and the ability to exchange information with DOD Centers to facilitate DTB distribution from the Centers on a fully-automated basis. Information exchange between libraries and Centers would be web-based, use XML records, and employ a "periodic polling" approach whereby library systems would deposit data records to and retrieve data records from a DOD Center’s server rather than the DOD Center system having to access multiple library systems.

Section 3 addresses other changes in network library book distribution operations that will be necessary to implement future DTB distribution operations. Library-based distribution functions that will change very little include the copy allotment process, service standards for audio books, policies for distributing audio books, the processing of new book copies, and the use of the XESS system. The library-based functions that will have major changes in the future system include inspection of returned copies (which will be greatly simplified and less labor-intensive), in-house duplication (which will be somewhat simplified, produce better audio quality recordings, and not require a dedicated master collection), DTB collection storage (which should employ a different shelf module configuration to maximize storage efficiency, potentially employ either copy-level random storage, title-level random storage, or terminal digit storage, and do away with storage of a master collection), weeding (which will be system-assisted and performed continuously rather than periodically), and use of MSCs (which will have no role in the distribution of DTBs).

Section 4 presents the SOW for the reconditioning of DTB cartridges and containers, which will be a critical part of future operations because of the necessity for reuse of cartridges due to their relatively high cost. This process should begin in FY 2010 so that a contractor can begin to recondition materials in FY 2011, i.e., the first year in which weeded cartridges from library collections will be available for reuse. While the volume of activity will initially justify only one operation, it is recommended that ultimately two operations in geographically separate areas be implemented primarily to reduce operational risk but also to increase flexibility. Libraries would send DTB copies not redistributed in the XESS process to the reconditioning contractor, copies which would contain the cartridges and containers provided as GFE by NLS. The contractor would receive DTB copies, inspect containers and cartridges, either recondition or dispose cartridges and containers, and send reconditioned cartridges and containers to mass-duplicator contractors as instructed by NLS. Reconditioning will primarily consist of the removal of labels from reusable cartridges and containers, and cleaning of cartridges and containers as necessary. Both the contractor and NLS would perform quality control of the operation.

Section 5 presents the SOW for the implementation of DOD Centers if a Hybrid DTB distribution operation is implemented. NLS should take into account that this is a new approach and that although MSCs provide some DOD services currently, the level of activity will be much greater in DOD Centers. While the expected level of activity will initially justify only one DOD Center, it is recommended that ultimately two centers be implemented to reduce operational risk and to shorten average transit times of DTBs in the mails. Considerations for selection of the contractor should include financial integrity, geographic location and local access to USPS BMCs, familiarity with related production processes, information processing capabilities, and familiarity with mail-order distribution of consumer goods. A decision must also be made as to the length of the contract and the closely-associated issue of capital investment required by the contractor, i.e., the larger the capital investment required by the contractor, the longer will be the period of performance of the contract in order for the contractor to recapture their investment. NLS would provide DTB cartridges, containers, and title masters to the DOD Center contractor, at a minimum, as GFE. Prospective offerors should review NLS specifications for the DTB cartridge, container, title master, DTB itself (loaded and labeled), the ManTech final design report, and the Battelle flash memory duplication equipment concepts report prior to submitting proposals, and NLS should provide samples of products to offerors if requested for the purpose of proposal preparation. The conceptual operations of DOD Centers are presented in Section 5, and the discussion addresses throughput capacity, handling units, configuration of the facility and production areas, receiving, cartridge reconditioning, cartridge label generation, cartridge labeling, cartridge duplication, packing and shipping, the production line configuration, and information system support requirements. In several instances, alternative methods of performing DOD production are cited. Lastly, the estimated resource requirements for DOD Centers are presented for consideration by offerors.

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Posted on 2006-12-05