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NLS: That All May Read

Transition Plan

For: Digital Talking Book Distribution Analysis. Task 4 - Transition Plan (Final Report : August 12, 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 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:

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.


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Posted on 2006-12-05