Home > Technical Writings > Digital Talking Books, Planning for the Future > 9 Tasks

NLS Technical Writings

Digital Talking Books, Planning for the Future

July 1998

prev --- next

Nine Tasks to Implement the Use of Digital Talking Books

There are nine essential tasks in the implementation phase of building a digital talking-book machine, beyond the eleven design-phase tasks already discussed. These are numbered as tasks 12 through 20 in the previous article and are described in greater detail below.

Task 12: Narrow the player and the media choices

This task is to narrow the player and media choices using a problem-solving decision matrix, a mathematical model used to help select one of a range of possibilities. This model will help NLS decision makers determine the best technology available. A detailed description of this process is provided in Appendix I.

In the meantime, we will consider refining the cost estimates and designs of packaging, storage, and maintenance for the alternatives. Life-cycle costs will play an important role in determining how much logistics support the program can afford. We will have to look at the impact on the regional libraries and machine-lending agencies (MLAs) at the state level and on NLS and the U.S. Postal Service at the federal level. Both budgets will be affected by the system selected, so input must be obtained from both sectors. NLS will be directly responsible for obtaining postal concurrence for packaging. We will also have to consider safety, pest control, and pilfering issues. Such concerns need to be addressed early in the DTB system development.

Task 13: Design and test a catalog-access and ordering system

In this task, NLS will consider patron privacy issues and network library personnel resources. To assure proper design, NLS will need to base the system on what currently exists in the field to avoid integration problems. It is very difficult to integrate two new systems, as requirements and definitions can sometimes change in both. Automating the catalog update from NLS also will have to be examined. We must control this update in order to ensure that no anomalies are introduced into the system.

Task 14: Design and test circulation- and inventory- management software for libraries, MLAs, and NLS

As part of this task, we will examine incorporating a means of self-identification in players for audit purposes. Players also should have built-in test circuitry to help repair personnel determine the types of software errors that occur. In addition, we will have to build statistical reporting into the system to ensure patron privacy. Such reporting would be similar to that currently being used, but with modifications to handle digital statistics.

Task 15: Design and test software for international lending

As part of this task, we will have to ensure that international copyright requirements are met.

Task 16: Evaluate the players and media provided by manufacturers and communications providers

Upon completion of software design and testing, a full-scale open competition will be conducted using the federal acquisition regulations and procurement processes. The Library of Congress contracting staff will establish formal cost and technical teams to review the proposals to determine which system would be best for the government in terms of both price and technical quality. Procurement normally takes at least nine months. For a detailed description of the process, see Appendix II.

Task 17: Operate parallel digital and cassette systems simultaneously

NLS will begin scaling back the production of cassette-book machines to have funding available to introduce the new technology. Initially NLS will produce 1,000 to 5,000 digital players for field evaluation to ensure that they satisfy the consumers. Units that fail to meet specifications will be returned for warranty repair. In addition, if design flaws are reported, NLS will convene an Engineering Change Control Board meeting. If the Library of Congress is at fault, we will pay for repairs and units already in the field will be recalled. However, if it is found that the contractor failed to follow specifications, the contractor will be required to remedy the situation at no cost to the government.

Task 18: Begin full-scale production and deployment of digital equipment

In this step, NLS will set up the quality assurance process at the manufacturer(s) facility. Initially, two design samples will be provided for review, then two hundred production samples will be examined by NLS. NLS representatives will travel to the manufacturer twice a month until the line is solidly established and the inspection visits can be cut back to monthly. NLS will also need to work with the repair volunteers (the Elfuns and the Telephone Pioneers of America) to help them understand the new system and to develop new repair procedures. In addition, a warranty repair process will need to be established with the manufacturers, in coordination with the libraries. Eventually, NLS will cease producing the cassette players but will continue to repair them for ten years or for as long as parts are available, whichever occurs first.

Task 19: Establish a method for continuous patron evaluation of the new system

The patron-evaluation method will include ways to update the software in response to patron preferences and library support needs. Development might be done by the NLS National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee, or perhaps by a separate committee, as long as accurate and updated information can be ensured. NLS will also establish a maintenance process for player and software documentation, including configuration control.

Task 20: Establish a method for continuous evaluation of the system

This method will include input from the libraries, and Machine Lending Agencies. It will also include configuration control. The continuous evaluation could be done in conjunction with the libraries' regional conferences.

Wells B. Kormann, Chief, Materials Development Division

--- top

prev --- next

prologue --- planning --- NISO --- activity planning --- 20 steps --- 9 tasks --- consumer involvement

bibliography --- appendix i: details in implementation --- appendix ii: overview of contracting approach

Library of Congress Home      NLS Home     Comments about NLS to [email protected]     About this site      Legal     Comments about this site to the NLS Reference Section

Posted on 2013-06-28