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NLS Press Release

Distribution Study Prepares NLS Libraries For New Digital Talking-Book System

For Immediate Release:
May 10, 2005
Contact: Robert E. Fistick
(202) 707-9279 or

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, is conducting an analysis of its current audiobook distribution process to determine what adjustments will be needed to accommodate its new digital talking-book (DTB) system. Three new models will be evaluated and the best suited will be designed to integrate with the distribution systems of state, regional, and subregional libraries in the NLS network.

ManTech Advanced Systems International will lead the effort with support from Jerome Ducrest, an independent subcontractor who will handle the analytical aspects of the study, and Daniel Kind of Wesley-Kind Associates, who will supply logistical expertise.

"The change from analog to digital presents an opportunity to make improvements in the way the entire talking-book system functions," says Frank Kurt Cylke, NLS director. "We are constantly striving to develop more efficient ways to serve our patrons."

The three models under consideration include the current system, in which mass quantities of book titles are stored locally for easy access by librarians as they fill loan requests. The other options include on-demand distribution, in a central facility would duplicate DTBs as patrons request them, and a hybrid model that combines mass production and on-demand duplication in a proportion based on patron requirements. Each will be reviewed for compatibility and ease of adaptation to current library systems. Other aspects such as shelving and circulation will be considered as libraries will continue to distribute a number of books from their own facilities.

"Our ideal distribution system will provide a combination of personal service for patrons, timely book delivery, and accurate tracking of materials to reduce loss rates," says Michael Moodie, NLS deputy director. "Factors such as efficient use of materials and sufficient inventory to meet patron demand are also important."

The study will be conducted in two phases. In the first phase, the three models will be evaluated and the optimal one selected. An advisory group of librarians and consumer representatives will weigh in on the recommendations of the contractors prior to the second phase, during which the new distribution system will be designed. A multiyear transition plan will be drafted to guide the implementation process to be completed by the launch of the DTB program in 2008.

More than 23 million copies of recorded and braille books and magazines were circulated to a readership of 799,718 in 2004. The international Union Catalog provides access to 423,500 titles (19 million copies). Audiobook readers borrow an average of 31 books and magazines a year. Braille readers average 20 books and magazines a year.

An overview of the NLS digital talking-book project may be found in Current Strategic Business Plan for the Implementation of Digital Systems at For enrollment information, visit or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

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Posted on 2011-01-10