Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

March 16, 2000

Library of Congress Moves Closer to Digital Talking Books

The Library of Congress is developing a new system, a life-cycle cost tool, to determine the most efficient and cost effective way to bring digital talking books to users of its National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS).

NLS is building the life-cycle cost model to help it choose, from among the many systems that are technologically feasible, the best way to advance from analog audio cassette books to a digital format. The project requires working closely with program patrons and the national network of cooperating libraries to accurately identify and categorize all program costs.

"This is a significant intellectual effort that will allow the Library accurately to identify overall program costs for the current talking book program as well as to project costs for the program in the years ahead," said NLS Director Frank Kurt Cylke.

NLS serves more than 765,000 readers with a circulation of 23 million books and magazines each year. A union catalog currently lists 325,000 braille and audio titles, in 22 million copies representing 40 languages, available to eligible users.

This cost-analysis tool is the latest in a string of developments that NLS has pursued over the last two years. Laying the digital foundation is under way with development of a digital talking book standard through the National Information Standards Organization.

The Library has installed its first state-of-the-art digital recording studio that will permit development of specifications for a digital mastering and duplication system. It has installed a digital duplication system at its facility in Cincinnati, and it will require narration contractors to begin providing digital recordings in fiscal year 2001, beginning on Oct. 1, 2000.

Staff from NLS met on Feb. 24 and 25 with representatives of the network of cooperating libraries for its first national review of the draft life-cycle cost model. Comments will also be solicited from program users nationally and from various constituent groups. Representing the network of cooperating libraries were Donna B. Calvert, West Virginia Library Commission; Jenifer Flaxbart, Texas State Library and Archives Commission; Linda Montgomery, Arizona State Department of Libraries, Archives, and Public Records; and Lissa Shanahan, Indiana State Library. Representing the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) was Jim Scheppke, director, Oregon State Library.

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PR 00-035
3/16/00
ISSN 0731-3527

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