Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

September 17, 1998

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped Establishes Committee for Development of Digital Audio Technology

A committee to oversee the development of a new digital audio technology for America's talking-book program has been established by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) of the Library of Congress.

NLS Director Frank Kurt Cylke announced the multiyear Digital Audio Development Project by naming Brad Kormann, chief of the Materials Development Division, as project director and head of the executive committee. Other executive committee members are John Cookson, head, Engineering Section, and Michael Moodie, Research and Development Officer. Providing communications support to the committee will be Robert Fistick, head, Publications and Media Section. A 13-member steering committee of technical, consumer and NLS network library specialists has also been named.

"The Library of Congress now embarks upon its fourth major technological advance in the provision of reading materials for blind and physically handicapped people," said Mr. Cylke. The Library began its national service of providing specialized reading materials to Americans a century ago with the introduction of braille technology. This was followed by long-playing vinyl record technology in the 1930s and by audiotape technology in the 1960s. During the 1990s, the Library has been aggressively researching and developing its plans for the fourth technological advance -- to digital audio technology.

"The digital talking book will be the Library's 21st century technology and this committee will lead the project," Mr. Cylke said, announcing the project and committee.

Brad Kormann, project director, said, "It is important to remember that this new technology represents a complex and total replacement of an existing national infrastructure of playback equipment and recorded book collections valued at more than $200 million. It is vital to the success of this cooperative federal, state and local government program that appropriate attention be given to technological design that represents the broadest needs of program patrons. It was for this reason that NLS, two years ago, initiated the development of a national digital talking-book standard through the National Information Standards Organization (NISO), coordinated by Michael Moodie."

NLS issued a 72-page report in July 1998, Digital Talking Books: Planning for the Future, outlining both the scope of activity and steps required to develop a digital talking-book system. A series of seven articles outlines these details and discusses consumer involvement in technology planning and design. Additional copies of the report are available in braille, in large print, on recorded cassette and on computer diskette from the Reference Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, Washington DC 20542, telephone (202) 707-5100; fax (202) 707-0712; e-mail: nls@loc.gov.

For additional information contact: Brad Kormann, Chief, Materials Development Division, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress Washington, DC 20542; telephone (202) 707-9317; fax (202) 707-0712; e-mail: bkor@loc.gov.

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PR 98-148
9/17/98
ISSN 0731-3527

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