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 4 of the project, which is the subject of this report, was to develop a multiyear Transition Plan for the conversion of the present Recorded Cassette (RC) audio book distribution system to the future distribution system for Digital Talking Books (DTBs). 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 transition steps relevant to both the All Mass-Duplication and Hybrid DTB distribution systems are described in the report, but multiyear transition tables for only the All Mass-Duplication system are presented (shown in Appendices 2 and 3).
The production and repair of audio book playback machines, both Cassette Book Machines (CBM) and Digital Talking Book Machines (DTBM), are addressed in the Transition Plan because the phase-in of the DTB distribution system must be closely coordinated with the phase-in of DTBMs and the phase-out of RC production and CBM production and repair. The Transition Plan does not address recorded magazine operations, which were not in the scope of the project, but does consider the workload placed upon CBMs by recorded magazines. The operations of and costs incurred by the United States Postal Service (USPS) were also not within the project scope, and thus were not addressed, but it is ManTech’s assessment that USPS operations and costs will be only marginally impacted by the transition. In developing the Transition Plan, 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 and the timing of its implementation will potentially be subject to change from that presented in this report. Finally, the Transition Plan recommended for implementation had to be economically feasible given anticipated normal and special funding for NLS audio book and playback machine operations.
The fundamental transition strategy is to await further declines in the wholesale unit price of flash memory so that implementation of the All Mass-Duplication DTB distribution system will become economically feasible, which is expected to be by the beginning of FY 2008, and secondarily to give NLS mass-duplication contractors time to develop production capabilities for DTB mass-duplication, which is also expected to be accomplished by the beginning of FY 2008. Implementation of the Hybrid distribution system will require further development of DTB duplication technology, modifications of network library information systems, and set-up of DOD Centers, so that actual DOD distribution operations would commence in FY 2012.
Section 2 of the report presents the major steps required to successfully implement the transition to the future DTB distribution system, which are:
- Finalize DTBM, DTB and DTB Container Design - The second phase of product development will continue, with pre-production prototypes and specifications completed by November, 2006, and with the products being transitioned to mass-production in July, 2008.
- Procure DTBMs - The mass-production of DTBMs will begin in July, FY 2008 with approximately 15,000 machines being built per month and allocated to libraries through FY 2011. After FY 2011, DTBMs will be produced at a "maintenance" level.
- Procure Flash Drive Cartridges - The mass-production and purchase of 256 MB Flash Drive cartridges customized for the NLS program will begin in late FY 2007 and continue in subsequent years. Beginning in FY 2011, the reuse of reconditioned cartridges will begin to reduce purchasing requirements.
- Procure DTB Containers - The mass-production of DTB mailing/storage containers will begin in late FY 2007 and continue in subsequent years. Beginning in FY 2011, the reuse of reconditioned containers will begin to reduce purchasing requirements.
- Finalize Duplicator Equipment Design and Procure Equipment – Mass-duplicator contractors will procure commercially-available duplication equipment, customize such equipment and/or design and build custom equipment as necessary. NLS will provide guidance in this step, which will occur during FY 2007.
- Develop New and Retro DTB Production Scheduling System – NLS must implement, during the transition years, a DTB production scheduling system for both new and Retro DTB copies.
- Phase-In DTB Mass-Duplication - The mass-duplication of DTBs will begin in late FY 2007 in modest quantities, and continue in subsequent years. DTB cartridges and containers will be provided as GFE. Full-scale production will be achieved by FY 2012.
- Recondition Cartridges and Containers – One and ultimately two contractors will be selected to begin reconditioning both DTB cartridges and containers in FY 2011 for reuse in mass-duplication.
- Library Information System Redesign and Implementation - This step will involve the modification of existing library information systems to support both DTB distribution and the distribution and repair of DTBMs, and the testing and implementation of such systems. It will begin in FY 2007 for the All Mass-Duplication system and be completed by FY 2008. Modifications to enable DOD circulation would be performed in FY 2010 and FY 2011.
- Storage Changes to Accommodate DTBs in Libraries – Library storage areas and shelving must be reconfigured to handle DTB copies in the most efficient manner. This process will begin in late FY 2007 or early FY 2008.
- Library Duplication Capability and Equipment – NLS will provide application software to libraries, and libraries will procure the equipment necessary to perform in-house duplication of DTBs. This process will begin in FY 2008.
- Implement DAMS and Internet Delivery of DTBs – Beginning in FY 2007, NLS will implement the DAMS system by which program patrons and network libraries will be able to perform Internet downloads of DTBs.
- Implement New Book Inspection Procedures – Beginning in FY 2008, libraries will implement new inspection procedures for DTBs, which will be greatly simplified relative to those used for RC inspections.
- Distribute DTBMs to Patrons – Beginning in the last quarter of FY 2008, network libraries will begin distributing DTBMs to patrons, giving priority to veterans, students, pre-transition patrons, and possibly the most active readers.
- Weed DTB Collections - The weeding of DTB collections in network libraries will begin during FY 2011 and continue in subsequent years. Weeded copies will either be re-allocated among libraries or used for mass-duplicated DTBs after reconditioning.
- Develop DTB Title Master Collection – NLS will continue development of this collection, with the goal of having 20,000 titles in digital format by FY 2008. This will be a continuing operation with 2,000 new titles produced per year.
- Develop New and Retro Copy Allotment System – NLS will have to allocate both new and Retro DTB titles to network libraries, beginning in FY 2008. Libraries will continue to interact with PICS in a similar manner to the current system. NLS will have to effectively ration copies of DTBs during the transition years.
- Develop DTBM Repair Infrastructure - This step will involve the evaluation of DTBM repair processes and parts needs as experience with DTBMs is accumulated. Testing and repair procedures will be developed, parts procurement requirements determined, repairers trained in repair procedures, the best warranty terms for NLS determined, and the repair logistics system put in place. This will begin in FY 2008 and continue in subsequent years.
- Phase-Out RC Mass-Duplication - The reduction and phase-out of mass-production of RC books will begin in FY 2008 when DTBs and DTBMs become available to readers; at that point, production quantities will be reduced, but all titles still produced. Production will totally cease after FY 2010.
- Reduce CBM Inventories - The reduction and phase-out of CBMs will effectively begin in FY 2007 when C1 production ceases and will continue in subsequent years.
- Weed RC Collections - The reduction of the number of RC copies in library collections, which also involves re-allocation among libraries using the XESS system, is already on-going and will continue in subsequent years.
- Migrate RC Titles to Multistate Centers – RC titles with very little or no circulation will be removed from library collections and MSC’s will circulate the titles.
- Make Lifetime Buys of CBM Repair Parts – In FY 2006 – FY 2008, NLS will make lifetime buys of all CBM repair parts required for future repairs, except for batteries which will be purchased annually as required.
- Phase-Out RD Distribution from Libraries - The removal of RD collections from network libraries has effectively already begun and should be completed by the end of FY 2007. Some copies will be disposed, while others will be transferred to MSCs.
- DOD Center Production Related Tasking - The distribution of DTBs via NLS contracted DOD Centers would begin, if implemented, in FY 2012 and continue in subsequent years. The set-up of these operations would occur in FY 2010 - FY 2011.
- Migrate DOD Titles from Libraries to Centers - The migration of DTB titles from network library distribution to DOD Center distribution would probably not begin until FY 2015, after the earliest mass-duplicated DTBs have had 8 years of circulation from libraries.
Section 3 of the report presents multiyear transition plans for playback machine and audio book operations, and Appendices 2 and 3 present these plans in tabular format. The plans are economically feasible, and effect the transition before the end of FY 2011, i.e., all patrons who want DTBMs will have them by that time.
C1 production will cease in March, 2007. CBM inventories will hit a "pressure-point" in the FY 2008 – FY 2009 time period, but no actual shortage of CBMs should develop. Volunteer repair capacity would continue to be fully-deployed on CBM repair through FY 2009, but some capacity will be shifted over to DTBM repair in FY 2010, and repairs to CBMs would cease after FY 2011. C1 commercial repair will continue through FY 2009, but E1 repairs will only be continued through FY 2007. DTBM production will begin in July, 2008 with 15,000 units produced per month, and continue at that rate through FY 2011, and at maintenance levels thereafter. DTBM repair queues would not be allowed to develop, i.e., repair resources would be deployed as necessary to prevent such an occurrence.
RC mass-duplication would be scaled down beginning in FY 2008 and be discontinued after FY 2010, while DTB mass-duplication would begin in late FY 2007 and be scaled-up as the digital system replaces the current system. A careful balance of production of new titles and copies of new titles in both RC and DTB formats has been formulated for the plan in order to satisfy fiscal constraints, be in balance with planned DTBM production, and maximize service levels to patrons. Retro titles would be mass-duplicated during FY 2008 and FY 2009, with most produced during FY 2008. Reconditioned cartridges would first become available for reuse during FY 2011, reducing cartridge procurement requirements.