Accessibility Trial

of the

Downloadable Digital Audio Book Service

from

netLibrary and Recorded Books LLC


 


FINAL REPORT

September 16, 2005





Prepared for the Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center

and the

Alliance Library System



by

Thomas A. Peters

TAP Information Services



Executive Summary

During June and July 2005 184 print-impaired library and talking book center patrons and staff in at least 15 states had trial access to the new downloadable digital audio book service from netLibrary, a division of OCLC, and Recorded Books LLC. 

The goal of the trial was to enable talking books centers, libraries for the blind and physically handicapped, other libraries who serve primarily persons who are print-impaired, and individuals who are print-impaired to test and evaluate the accessibility and general usability of this digital audio book system. 

One reason for undertaking this two-month no-cost, no-obligation trial was to help netLibrary better understand the needs and preferences of persons who are blind or visually impaired and interested in using their system. 

NetLibrary (http://www.netlibrary.com) generously provided 200 individual passwords, training and orientation, and other support for this trial.  The Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center (http://www.mitbc.org/) and the Alliance Library System (http://www.alliancelibrarysystem.com/) organized the trial.  Tom Peters of TAP Information Services (http://www.tapinformation.com/) served as the project coordinator.  The participating libraries and the individual volunteers donated much time and expertise. 

Twelve state and regional talking book libraries participated in this trial by enlisting their patrons and staff members to test the service and provide feedback.  Other print-impaired volunteers also participated in the trial and evaluation, including volunteers in the Mid-Illinois Digital Talking Book (MIDTB) Project (www.midtb.org). 

Data were collected via an 18-question survey and via email comments.  The response rate to the actual survey was low, but additional valuable feedback was received through numerous email communications. 

The volunteers who participated in this two-month trial had a wide variety of experiences and reactions to those experiences.  Some volunteers thought this was the best digital audio book system they had ever tried.  (Many of the testers currently use and subscribe to a variety of digital audio book services, such as Audible.com and Bookshare.)   Many of the volunteer testers noted that the quality of the texts, the narration, and the sound was very high.  

Others thought the overall system was barely functional and marginally accessible.  The content website, the digital rights management system, and Microsoft’s Windows Media Player software presented substantial accessibility challenges for a large portion of the group of volunteer testers. 


Introduction

 

During June and July 2005 184 print-impaired library patrons in at least 15 states had trial access to the new downloadable digital audio book service from netLibrary and Recorded Books. 

The goal of the trial was to enable talking books centers, libraries for the blind and physically handicapped, other libraries who serve primarily persons who are print-impaired, and individuals who are print-impaired to test and evaluate the accessibility and general usability of the digital audio book service provided by a partnership between netLibrary, a division of OCLC, and Recorded Books LLC.  One reason for undertaking this two-month no-cost, no-obligation trial was to help netLibrary better understand the needs and preferences of persons who are blind or visually impaired and interested in using their system. 

NetLibrary (http://www.netlibrary.com) generously provided 200 individual passwords, training and orientation, and other support for this trial.  The Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center (http://www.mitbc.org/) and the Alliance Library System (http://www.alliancelibrarysystem.com/) organized the trial.  Tom Peters of TAP Information Services (http://www.tapinformation.com/) served as the project coordinator.  The participating libraries and the individual volunteers donated much time and expertise. 

The participating libraries included:

1.      Arizona Braille and Talking Book Library

2.      California State Library, Braille and Talking Book Library

3.      Hawaii Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

4.      Idaho Talking Book Service

5.      Illinois State Library, Talking Book and Braille Service

6.      Kansas State Library, Talking Book Services

7.      Maine State Library

8.      New York State Talking Book and Braille Library

9.      Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library in Massachusetts

10. Philadelphia Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

11. Pittsburgh Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

12. Washington Talking Book & Braille Library

Other print-impaired volunteers also participated in the trial and evaluation, including volunteers in the Mid-Illinois Digital Talking Book (MIDTB) Project (www.midtb.org). 

A small website (http://www.tapinformation.com/netlibrary.htm) was created to provide access to information about the trial, such as a getting started guide (see Appendix B), a feedback form (see Appendix A), and audio recordings and PowerPoint slides made during online orientation sessions. 

In May and early June a series of online orientation sessions were held for librarians, library staff members, and volunteer patrons who would be involved in the project. 

The process of using this service can be summarized as a series of steps or processes.  Each process involves working with various configurations of hardware, software, interfaces, file types, and other variables.  Each process presents its own accessibility challenges. 

1.      Login to the netLibrary ebook and digital audio book website.

2.      Use browser software to navigate through the website to locate digital audio books of interest.  This process involves both searching and browsing. 

3.      Checkout a digital audio book of interest.

4.      Download the digital audio book to the user’s computer.

5.      [optional] Use media player software on the user’s computer to listen to the digital audio book.  Note:  “listening” in this context can include a wide variety of interactions with the digital audio book text, including such things as non-linear navigation, bookmarking, and annotating. 

6.      [optional] Transfer the digital audio book to a portable audio playback device.

7.      [optional] Listen to the digital audio book on a portable audio playback device. 

8.      Interact—wittingly or unwittingly--with the digital rights management system throughout this series of processes.

Data were collected via an 18-question survey and via email comments.  In the sections below, actual feedback from volunteer testers is included in quotation marks.    


Required Hardware and Software

Any desktop or laptop PC capable of running version 9 or higher of Microsoft Windows Media Player is able to access these downloadable digital audio books.   Supported operating systems include Microsoft Windows (98 SE, Me, 2000, XP).  At the beginning of the trial we thought that Mac OS X also would work, but that proved not to be the case. 

The computer needed an Internet connection, as well as a sound card and an audio output device (speakers, headphones, earbuds) if the user planned to listen to the content on his or her computer, rather than on a portable audio playback device (MP3 player, PDA, cell phone).

The required software included browser software and media player software.  For browser software, Microsoft Internet Explorer was officially supported, but anecdotal reports about other browser software programs, such as Firefox and Opera, indicated that they worked as well.  For media player software, three brands were officially supported:  Microsoft Windows Media Player (version 9 or higher), Musicmatch Jukebox (version 8.2 or higher), and Nullsoft Winamp (version 5 or higher).  Several of the print-impaired testers reported that Winamp has the reputation of being the most accessible of the three. 

It should be noted that the netLibrary/Recorded Books downloadable digital audio book service does not require special software to use.  The two basic pieces of software used are browser software and media player software.  Various brands and versions of both types of software are freely available to download from the Internet.

If a tester wanted to transfer a digital audio book to a portable audio playback device, he or she needed to supply the device. 

Summary of Survey Responses

The response rate to the actual survey (see Appendix A) was low—only 12 responses.  The fact that this was a summertime trial may have contributed to the low response rate.  However, many volunteers included valuable feedback in free-form email messages sent to the coordinator of the trial.  Some of that feedback is either summarized or directly quoted in this final report.    

Question 1:  Overall Website Accessibility

Respondents to the formal survey covered all five points on the Likert scale, from very accessible to very inaccessible.  Testers who sent email messages often noted stumbling blocks and ways to improve the accessibility of the content website. 

Question 2:  Download Time

No respondent indicated that the download time was very long, but several indicated it was somewhat long.  On the other hand, several reported their perceptions of the time to download as being very fast. 

Question 3:  Playback Hardware

Most of the respondents to the formal survey indicated that they listened to their trail digital audio books on a computer.   A few, however, did transfer the content to portable playback devices.    

Question 4:  Playback Software

Most testers reported using either Windows Media Player or WinAmp.  A couple of testers tried both.  Based on prior experiences and information gained before the start of this trial, most testers were of the opinion that WinAmp is the most accessible software program of the three media player programs officially supported by the netLibrary digital audio book system.  Numerous testers reported problems and frustrations related to the accessibility of Windows Media Player. 

Question 5:  Ease of Transfer

The few testers who commented on the transfer process to a portable device reported that it was easy or very easy.

Question 6:  Portable Device Used

A few respondents, as well as a few other testers, indicated that they transferred the content to portable audio playback hardware, such as the PacMate BX400, a SanDisk device, and the Creative Nomad MuVo.

Question 7:  How to Improve the Process

This question generated many responses.  Some testers suggested that the process be simplified.  Others suggested that the content be offered in a file format other than WMA, because WMA files cannot be played on many playback devices designed specifically for print-impaired users.  Other testers suggested that the files be divided into sections, or that media markers be placed at every chapter break.  Several suggested ways to improve the searchability and navigability of the catalog, brief displays, and full displays. 

Question 8:  CD or Radio Quality Files

Most of the testers opted to download and listen to the CD quality files, but several tried both file types.  For those who tried radio quality, they reported that the sound quality was acceptable. 

Question 9:  Sound Quality

Nearly all respondents indicated that the sound quality was very satisfactory. 

Question 10:  Overall Satisfaction

Responses to this question spanned the entire Likert scale. 

Question 11:  Overall Accessibility

Responses to this question spanned the entire Likert scale.   One tester wrote, “If I were rating the service on a scale where 1 is totally unworkable and 10 is the perfect solution, I'd give this service a 3.”  Yet another volunteer tester who had tried various digital audio book systems and playback devices concluded, “This one's a keeper, definitely a keeper!"    

When all feedback received is examined and summarized, overall the group of volunteer testers were encouraged by this service but noted some accessibility challenges that would make use of this service less than optimal for print-impaired users.  They encouraged netLibrary to continue seeking feedback and recommendations from print-impaired users and potential users. 

Question 12:  Recommendations

Again, this question generated many varied responses.  Some testers encouraged netLibrary to improve their DRM system so that it becomes less obtrusive for the user.  Some were frustrated that the source files could not be converted to other file formats and manipulated in other ways.  Others encouraged netLibrary to work on the processes of logging on and entering the digital audio book collection. 

Many testers already were focused on the size and quality of the collection of downloadable digital audio books, rather than on the technological processes.  They were encouraged by this fledgling collection, but wanted to see it grow and diversify rapidly. 

Question 13:  Operating System

Apparently the majority of volunteer testers were running Windows XP. 

Question 14:  Internet Connection

Apparently most of the volunteer testers had either a DSL or cable modem connection to the Internet. 

Question 15:  Screenreader Software

Based on the survey responses and email feedback, it appears that the majority of volunteer testers was using screen reader software, predominantly either JAWS for WindowEyes.  A few testers, however, used screen magnification software, and some used neither a screen magnifier nor a screen reader. 

Question 16:  Age

Only seven respondents to the formal survey indicated their age.  The average age of those who self-reported their age was 53.  The ages of the volunteers spanned at least 50 years, from 25 to 74.  Five of the seven respondents who indicated their age were 50 years of age or older.  Although print-impairments can occur at any age, in general the print-impaired population is older than the general population.       

Question 17:  Gender

Based on survey responses and the names of the volunteer testers who communicated via email with the project coordinator, it appears that the pool of volunteers was fairly evenly divided between females and males. 

Question 18:  General Comments 

This question created much feedback.  Some respondents provided suggestions on how to improve the accessibility of both netLibrary’s content website and the small website created for the trial.  Others used this opportunity to summarize their experiences and thoughts about the sound quality.  The licensing system generated some comments, too.  Several respondents used this question to praise the service and encourage further accessibility and usability testing and overall system improvement. 


netLibrary Digital Audio Book Website

Most users appreciated the ability to logon right when they entered the website, rather than at the point of checking out a digital audio book.

Other testers noted, however, that the logon process could be improved.  I would like the login portion of the site to be made more prominent. I had users login on both public and private computers. Both logins proved to be more difficult than necessary.”

One tester suggested that netLibrary nclude a “save password” option in the logon dialogue window. 

Several users commented that the screenreader software program they used read the screen with a British accent, rather than with an American accent.

Several volunteers reported that the audio book collection within the overall suite of netLibrary content and services was difficult to find.  Some people inadvertently ended up searching for e-books, rather than for digital audio books.  Note:  several of the volunteers who inadvertently wandered in to the e-book portion of the netLibrary website liked what they encountered and asked about getting access to the e-books, too! 

One volunteer—using Windows 98 as an operating system—reported that evidently some of the java scripts used on the website made it impossible for her screen reader software (JAWS version 6.0) to find the hotlinks on a webpage. 

Several users suggested that the buttons used in the results display should be labeled.   

The layout of the results page created some navigation challenges for some users of screenreader software.

One volunteer recommended that the titles of the books be hotlinked. 

Some volunteers reported problems when they tried to listen to the 2-3 minute previews of digital audio books.  Because this problem was reported often during the early days of the trial, netLibrary Tech Support was able to offer the following solution: 

"Situation: Try to download an audio book from NetLibrary and receive a C00D11CD, C00D1197 error or IE browser crashes.  Symptom: When you click the "Checkout & Download CD Quality" or "Checkout & Download Radio Quality" links and receive either a C00D11CD, C00D1197 error message or the browser crashes.  Problem: These errors occur when the Media Bar has been selected to play NetLibrary audio books from within the IE browser.  Solution: Make sure the Media Bar is showing.  To view the Media Bar: •  On the View menu, click Explorer Bar, and then click Media.  The Media Bar appears in the vertical Explorer Bar pane on the left side of your browser window.  At the very bottom of the Media Bar, click "Media Options". Click "Settings". Click the "Reset preferred types..." option and answer Yes to the "Do you want to reset your preferred media file types?" question.  The next time you click a download link from NetLibrary, you will be presented with the following dialog: Media Bar Settings You clicked an audio or video link. Internet Explorer can play this in its own window, so it will be easier for you to see or hear it while still browsing the Web.   Do you want to play the item in Internet Explorer? Remember my preference Yes No More Info  The "Remember my preference" checkbox will be checked by default.  Click "No" and NetLibrary will prompt you to download the audio book.  This fixes all errors listed above.  You may re-hide the Media Bar if you don't want to see it by: •  On the View menu, click Explorer Bar, and then click Media.  The Media Bar disappears from the vertical Explorer Bar pane on the left side of your browser window."

netLibrary Digital Audio Book Collection

During the trial. testers had access to the entire collection of digital audio books available through the netLibrary/Recorded Books master collection, which at the time of testing contained over 850 titles, including frontlist fiction and non-fiction titles, backlist titles, and approximately 80 (ten percent) classics in the public domain. 

Most of the testers were satisfied with the collection, although, as expected, nearly all of them wanted a larger and broader selection of titles. 

Several testers suggested that netLibrary mprove the process of searching by author. 

File Format

Digital audio books from netLibrary/Recorded Book are available in DRM-protected Windows Media Audio (WMA) file format.  Two file sizes (compression levels) were made available:  “radio quality” and “CD quality”.  The radio files are smaller files designed for people who download content via dial-up access to the Internet.  The CD quality files were larger and of higher quality.  They were designed for users with broadband access to the Internet.  Also, if the tester wanted to transfer the content to a portable audio playback device, he or she needed to download the CD quality version of the titles.  The digital audio book files were delivered whole.  They were not divided into parts. 

Most of the volunteers apparently had no major concerns about the WMA file format per se, but many of them wanted to be able to convert the files to other formats, such as MP3 and DAISY.  In part they want to do this to be able to use the content on a device and/or software program with which they are familiar. 

Checkout and Download

One tester reported that his Internet service provider seems to change his IP address in the midst of a long download session, which terminates prematurely the download session.  He tried using both Netscape 7.2 and IE and experienced the same disconnect problem.  He has notified his Internet service provider about this problem.

One volunteer—a user of screen reader software--reported that the download over a DSL connection happened so quickly that she did not have time to note where the file was located on her hard drive.  She was unable to locate the file using both Windows XP search and WinAmp. 

A couple of volunteers reported a problem where they received an error message when attempting to download a title. 

I was just trying to download "The Kite Runner" and I encountered a similar problem.  The computer would try to start automatically downloading after I clicked on "Download CD Quality" and Windows Media Player would try to open inside my browser, then give me an error message.  I would hit the back button to get back to the page where I could try downloading it manually, but as soon as I got there, it would try to download automatically again.  This repeated until NetLibrary said that I had already downloaded the item the maximum number of times, even though it had never actually downloaded.  Very frustrating.”

“I just downloaded my first book.  The download was 118 megs in size and took approximately 13 minutes on my DSL connection.  I was quite pleased.”

One tester asked for the capability to add notes to items on a user’s list.

Another tester suggested an option to download all the books currently on a user’s list.   

Digital Rights Management

Several testers reported the annoying process of having to re-license a netLibrary digital audio book in order to begin or continue listening to it.

Other testers using WinAmp reported problems getting the licensing to work.  They found that they had to activate the license to access the content in Windows Media Player, then switch to WinAmp in order to actually listen to the content in a more accessible software environment. 

Unfortunately the box that pops up for to enter your password and user ID is not accessible with Jaws.  I could get no "forms mode" , which allows typing into fill-in boxes on a page.  The book itself played real havoc with my memory and when I finally got it to run it caused other applications to fail, including Winamp.  I have not had this problem before while using other mp3 format with winamp on my computer. I also could not copy, or paste my user ID, or password into the window boxes, which is very useful when making sure that you have a correct password and user ID.”

Playback on a Computer

NetLibrary officially supports three media player software programs:  Windows Media Play, MusicMatch, and WinAmp.

Numerous testers reported the frustration and annoyance when using Windows Media Player of not being able to continue listening to a netLibrary digital audio book from the point where they left off.  My only frustration so far is that with Windows Media Player, every time you exit the program, you start back a the beginning of the book.  Using file markers, you can eventually find your way back to where you left off, but it's tedious.” 

Other testers were confused by the placement of media markers with each book, and they were frustrated by the difficulty in inserting user-defined media markers.  One tester wrote, “Being limited to Windows Media Player, I was able to jump to the provided marks, but not able to set my own bookmarks or jump to specific time locations within the file. Consequently, the process of reading was quite restrictive.  Unfortunately, the markers were not consistently at the beginning of chapters.” 

In general, the users wanted better, more accessible ways to navigate around within the content, such as a jump back or rewind feature, the ability to go from a table to contents to a selected chapter or section, etc.   

Several volunteers reported that in general WinAmp is more accessible that Windows Media Player, but there were problems using WinAmp exclusively to access netLibrary digital audio books.  For example, one tester reported, “Winamp only works after you've satisfied the digital right management. The way that I've done this so far is to open the file first in windows media.  Then close windows media and open winamp.  This sets up the file type of WMA to be used by winamp instead of windows media player.  Winamp does have a dialogue box that comes up for digital right management, but it isn't accessible with JFW [JAWS for Windows]. The reason that winamp is so good to use, is that you can use the left and right arrows to skip through the file.” 

“Overall, the quality of the titles was very good, but that experience was impacted very negatively by the limitations of Windows Media Player.”

Transfer to a Portable Audio Playback Device

Because netLibrary digital audio book files are not broken into parts, the sheer size of the content files, especially the CD quality variety, make it difficult or impossible to transfer the content to portable playback devices with limited flash memory.  This problem, however, probably will recede as new devices become more powerful. 

A few testers reported that the process of transferring content from their computers to their portable audio playback devices was relatively complex and required some testing and iteration before they felt comfortable and confident transferring netLibrary digital audio books to portable playback devices. 

Playback on a Portable Audio Playback Device

The fact that netLibrary's digital audio books are in the protected WMA file format, coupled with the fact that Apple iPods and most accessible devices (for example, the Book Port and the Book Courier) will not play the WMA file format, is unfortunate.  One can only hope that soon both Apple and the manufacturers of accessible playback devices realize that supporting the playback of WMA content is in everyone’s best interest. 


Conclusions

The volunteers who participated in this two-month trial had a wide variety of experiences and reactions to those experiences.  Some volunteers thought this was the best digital audio book system they had ever tried.  (Many of the testers currently use and subscribe to a variety of digital audio book services, such as Audible.com and Bookshare.)  

Others thought it was barely functional and barely accessible.  The content website, the digital rights management system, and Microsoft’s Windows Media Player software presented substantial accessibility challenges for a large portion of the group of volunteer testers. 

The volunteers generally were very satisfied with the quality of the digital audio books themselves, in terms of the selection of content, the quality of the narrators’ performances, and the sound quality of the files.

Because the process of finding, checking out, downloading, transferring, and playing back digital audio books is a complex process involving many systems, software programs, and hardware, these wide variations in overall experience are to be expected.  It is a tremendous system design challenge to make such a complex system accessible to and usable by all. 

Ultimately, the size and quality of the digital audio book collection, not the technology used to find, deliver, and playback that content, will become a major factor in the long-term value of this service for print-impaired users.  Numerous testers already were thinking beyond the technological and procedural logistics of this system and assessing the size and quality of the collection.  The race for a good, large collection of current, compelling content will be important for all the vendors of digital audio book services to libraries.  In the realm of downloadable digital audio book services geared primarily toward libraries, for example, OverDrive currently has over 25 content providers, but, at the time of this two-month trial, netLibrary had only one content supplier, Recorded Books LLC.  NetLibrary representatives have indicated that netLibrary has no contractual obligations that prevent them from reaching agreements with other content suppliers, and they say they are continuing to pursue content from other sources.

The end-users and libraries involved in this two-month trial of the new downloadable digital audio book service from netLibrary and Recorded Books LLC were pleased and proud to provide feedback and recommendations on how to make the system accessible to all. 


Appendix A:  Survey Instrument

Feedback Form

Trial of netLibrary Digital Audiobooks (June/July 2005)



Thank you for testing the new digital audiobook service from netLibrary (www.netlibrary.com).    

Please take a few minutes to tell us about your most recent netLibrary digital audiobook experience. 

Your responses will help improve the accessibility and general usability of this service for everyone.    

Please answer only those questions that pertain to your own experiences with this digital audiobook service. 

Please Note:  None of the information you provide in your responses to these questions will be attributed to you directly in any reports or other communication.


When you have completed this feedback form, please return it via email or surface mail to:


Tom Peters

1000 SW 23rd Street

Blue Springs, MO  64015

Email:  tpeters@tapinformation.com


1.   Overall, how would you rate the netLibrary Audiobook Center website (www.netlibrary.com) in terms of accessibility?

__  Very inaccessible
__  Somewhat inaccessible
__  so-so
__  Somewhat accessible
__  Very accessible

2.   Please rate the time it took to check out and download a digital audiobook:

__  Very long
__  Somewhat long
__  About right
__  Somewhat fast
__  Very fast

3.   How did you listen to the digital audiobook?

__  On a computer
__  On a portable playback device, such as an MP3 player, PDA, or cell phone (e.g., RCA Rio, Creative Nomad MuVo)


4.   If you listened to the digital audiobook on a computer, which media player software program did you use?

__  Microsoft Windows Media Player
__  MusicMatch Jukebox
__  Nullsoft WinAmp
__  Other (Please specify): ______________________

5.   If you transferred a digital audio book to a portable playback device, please rate the process:

__  Very difficult
__  Somewhat difficult
__  So-so
__  Somewhat easy
__  Very easy


6.   If you listened to a digital audio book on a portable playback device, please specify the brand, model, and storage capacity of the device (example:  Creative Nomad MuVo 128 MB)



7.   What recommendations would you make to improve the process of checking out, downloading, and transferring a netLibrary digital audiobook?

 




8.   Was the most recent netLibrary audiobook you downloaded CD quality or radio quality?

__  CD Quality
__  Radio Quality



9.   How would you describe the sound quality of the netLibrary digital audiobook you listened to most recently? 

__  Very satisfactory
__  Somewhat satisfactory
__  Neither satisfactory nor unsatisfactory
__  Somewhat unsatisfactory
__  Very unsatisfactory


10.                   Overall, how satisfied were you with your most recent experience with netLibrary digital audiobooks? 

__  Very satisfied
__  Somewhat satisfied
__  so-so
__  Somewhat dissatisfied
__  Very dissatisfied


11.                   Overall, how would you rate the entire netLibrary audiobook service in terms of accessibility?

__  Very inaccessible
__  Somewhat inaccessible
__  so-so
__  Somewhat accessible
__  Very accessible


12.                   What recommendations do you have on how to improve the netLibrary audiobook experience for future users?






13.                   What operating system is on the computer you use to download netLibrary digital audiobooks?
 
__  Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition (SE),
__  Windows 2000 (Professional or Server),
__  Windows Millennium Edition (ME),
__  Windows XP (Home Edition or Professional)
__  Other (Please specify): ______________________


14.                   How did you connect to the Internet?

__  dial access
__  cable modem
__ 
DSL
__  Other (Please specify): ______________________
__  Don’t know

15.                   If you use screenreader software, please indicate the brand you use:

__  WindowEyes
__  JAWS for Windows
__  Other (Please specify): ______________________


16.                     What is your age?



17.                   Are you a female or a male?

__  female
__  male


18.                   Are there other experiences, comments, or suggestions you would like to share?





 




Thank you for completing this feedback form. 

Please return it via email or surface mail to:

Tom Peters

1000 SW 23rd Street

Blue Springs, MO  64015

Email:  tpeters@tapinformation.com

 


Appendix B:  Getting Started Guide Created for the Trial 

 

NetLibrary/Recorded Books Digital Audio Books Trial: 
Getting Started Guide

Most recent version:  May 18, 2005

Overview:  The purpose of this document is to help staff and patrons get started using netLibrary/Recorded Books digital audio books during the trial period for libraries and talking book centers serving print-impaired patrons as their primary clientele. 
 

The following seven sections of this guide will explain:

1.    Introduction to the trial

2.    System requirements

3.    Required software

4.    How to find, check-out, and download a netLibrary digital audio book

5.    How to use media player software to listen to a netLibrary digital audio book on your computer

6.    How to transfer the content to a WMA-enabled portable playback device

7.    Troubleshooting and Feedback 

Please send your comments, questions, and suggestions about this guide to Tom Peters (tpeters@tapinformation.com). 

Part 1:  Brief Introduction to the netLibrary/Recorded Books Digital Audio Book Trial

The goal of this trial is to enable talking books centers, libraries for the blind and physically handicapped, other libraries who serve primarily persons who are print-impaired, and individuals who are print-impaired to test and evaluate the accessibility and general usability of the digital audio book service provided by a partnership between netLibrary and Recorded Books LLC.

The trial will run for the two months of June and July 2005.

Participating Libraries:

Arizona Braille and Talking Book Library

California State Library, Braille and Talking Book Library

Hawaii Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Idaho Talking Book Service

Illinois State Library, Talking Book and Braille Service

Kansas State Library, Talking Book Services

Maine State Library

New York State Talking Book and Braille Library

Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library

Philadelphia Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Pittsburgh Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Washington Talking Book & Braille Library

A small website for the trial has been created, with the following URL for a homepage:  http://www.tapinformation.com/netlibrary.htm  

Orientation and Training Sessions for the netLibrary Digital Audio Books Trial

All online orientation session will be held in an online meeting room accessible from the following URL:  http://www.tcconference.com/lib/?tap&nopass_field=1. 

The first time you enter the room, you may be asked to allow a small, benign software plug-in to be downloaded and installed onto your computer.

If library staff members or patrons are unable to attend any of the following online orientation sessions, recordings of the training sessions will be available on the website created for the trial (http://www.tapinformation.com/netlibrary.htm)   

Online orientation sessions for librarians and library staff members will be held on the following dates:

Tuesday, May 3 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 1:00 Central, noon Mountain, and 11:00 a.m. Pacific.

Wednesday, May 4 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 10:00 Central, 9:00 Mountain, and 8:00 Pacific. 

Tuesday, May 10 at noon Eastern Daylight Time, 11:00 a.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. Mountain, and 9:00 a.m. Pacific.

Wednesday, May 11 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 1:00 Central, noon Mountain, and 11:00 a.m. Pacific.

Thursday, May 12 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 1:00 Central, noon Mountain, and 11:00 a.m. Pacific.

Online orientation sessions for patrons will be held on the following dates:

Tuesday, May 17 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 1:00 Central, noon Mountain, and 11:00 a.m. Pacific.

Wednesday, May 18 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 7:00 Central, 6:00 Mountain, and 5:00 Pacific.

Wednesday, May 25 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 10:00 Central, 9:00 Mountain, and 8:00 Pacific. 

Thursday, May 26 at 2:00 Eastern Daylight Time, 1:00 Central, noon Mountain, and 11:00 a.m. Pacific.

Tuesday, May 31 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 1:00 Central, noon Mountain, and 11:00 a.m. Pacific.

During the trial we will have access to the entire collection—currently over 800 titles.

New items are added monthly—approximately 30 new titles per month. 

Tom Peters (tpeters@tapinformation.com) will serve as the day-to-day coordinator of this trial.  Tom will:

Moderate meetings

Assist participating libraries

Provide online orientation sessions for librarians and library staff members

Provide online orientation sessions for patrons

Develop a small website for the trial

Develop a feedback form

Collect and evaluate feedback

Write a project report to be submitted to OCLC

Part 2:  System Requirements

Any desktop or laptop PC capable of running version 9 or higher of Microsoft Windows Media Player should be able to access this content.   Supported operating systems include Microsoft Windows (98 SE, Me, 2000, XP) and Mac OS X.

The computer needs an Internet connection, as well as a sound card and an audio output device (speakers, headphones, earbuds) if you plan to listen to the content on your computer, rather than on a portable playback device (MP3 players, PDA, cell phone).   

Part 3:  Required Software

Web Browser

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (recommended)

Other browser software programs, such as Firefox and Opera may work, too. 

Media Player software

Microsoft Windows Media Player (version 9 or higher)

To learn what version of WMP you currently have, launch WMP, then click on the Help dropdown menu, then select About Windows Media Player. 

To download WMP, go to http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp

Musicmatch Jukebox (version 8.2 or higher)

To download Musicmatch Jukebox, go to http://www.musicmatch.com/download/plus/jukebox_intro.htm?os=pc&mode=input&BTD=1&DID=

Nullsoft Winamp (version 5 or higher)

Please note:  Nullsoft Winamp does NOT work with the Mac OS X operating system. 

To download Winamp, go to http://www.winamp.com/player/

Part 4.  Find, Check Out, and Download a netLibrary/Recorded Books Digital Audio Book

To be able to check out and download digital audio books from netLibrary, all users need to have a username and password.

If you have not yet been assigned a username and password, please contact either your state LBPH or Tom Peters (tpeters@tapinformation.com):

The circulation period is 21 days.

Up to six books may be checked out by any patron at any given time. 

Steps for searching for (or browsing to) a book and checking it out

First, use your browser to go to http://www.netlibrary.com

Second, input the username and password provided to you for this trial. 

Screen shot of the logon page



After you have logged in, click on the link to enter the “Audiobooks Center.” 

Within the AudioBooks Center, the basic search interface contains one input box and four radio buttons to indicate the type of search you want to perform.  The four options are keyword, title, author, and narrator.

Screen shot of the basic search interface



If you prefer to search in the advanced search mode, below the basic search interface is a link to “switch to advanced search.”  n the advanced search mode, you may search by title, author, narrator, keyword, subject, or ISBN.  You may limit by year, a range of years, the publisher, language, or duration of the digital audio book. 

Screen shot of the Advanced Search Interface



Note the link in the lower right area of the screen that will produce a list of all the digital audio books to which you have access during this trial. 

After conducting a basic search, an advanced search, or displaying the entire list of titles, you will receive brief displays of information about the books.  Within the brief display you will have three options:  download the audiobook, display details about the book, or add the book to your list.

Screen shot of brief display



Screen shot of detailed display



Note that from the detailed display you may listen to a brief preview of the digital audio book. 

Steps for Downloading a netLibrary/Recorded Books Digital Audio Book 

From either a brief or full display of information about a book, click on the Download this Audiobook link to Open or Save the audiobook file.

Screen shot of display of download options


 

Select a download option: CD quality, or radio quality. Radio quality provides faster download speed and is ideal for users with dial-up connections; CD quality offers high-fidelity playback for patrons with high-speed Internet access.

Note:  In order to transfer a digital audio book to a portable playback device such as an MP3 player, you must download the CD quality version of the book. 

A “File Download” dialogue box will open, giving you the option to Open or Save the digital audio book on your hard drive.  If you select Open, NetLibrary will download the title and launch your media player. Click the Play button to listen to the audiobook. The Save option allows you to download the file to a directory of your choosing. Once the download is complete, you can open the audiobook directly from your media player, or by using Windows Explorer.

Screen shot of “File Download” Dialogue Box



Note:  netLibrary recommends that the “save” option be selected, because the download time will be shorter than if the “open” option is selected. 

Currently there is no way to check a digital audio book back in early.  If you finish listening to your book early, simply wait for the three week circulation period to expire.  The book will automatically check itself back in. 

Part 5.  Listening to a netLibrary/Recorded Books Digital Audio Book on Your Computer

Use your favorite version of media player software (Windows Media Player, MusicMatch Jukebox, or NullSoft Winamp) to play the content.  The specific commands will vary depending on the software program you use. 

Note:  In version 10 of WMP running on the Windows XP OS it is possible to change the playback speed of the content. 

Part 6.  Transfer Content to a WMA-Enabled Portable Playback Device

A list of supported portable playback devices can be found at http://www.oclc.org/audiobooks/techspecs/devices.htm  

Use your media player software to transfer content from your computer to your portable playback device.

The method for connecting your playback device to your computer varies from device to device.  Consult the owner’s manual for your device. 

Remember, only the CD-Quality file will be playable on a portable playback device. 

Part 7.  Troubleshooting and Feedback 

There are at least three ways to report problems and provide feedback concerning the netLibrary website, systems, software, content, or service used during this trial:

Contact Tom Peters, the day-to-day coordinator of the trial, at tpeters@tapinformation.com

Consult the netLibrary online help information at the following URL:  http://www.netlibrary.com/Help/

Complete the feedback form located at http://www.tapinformation.com/netlibraryfeedback.htm
 


Appendix C:  Tabular Summary of Survey Responses

 

Question 1

Question 2

Question 3

Question 4

Question 5

Question 6

 

Overall Website

Time to

Playback

Playback

Ease of

Portable

Response Date

Accessibility

Download

Hardware

Software

Transfer

Device

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6/1/05

very inaccessible

about right

computer

WMP

 

 

6/2/05

somewhat inaccessible

somewhat long

computer

WMP & WinAmp

 

 

6/3/05

 

 

 

WinAmp 5.87

 

PacMate BX400

6/4/05

so-so

somewhat fast

computer

WMP 

 

 

6/4/05

so-so

somewhat long

computer

WMP & WinAmp

 

 

6/9/05

 

very fast

computer

WinAmp 

 

 

6/14/05

very accessible

very fast

computer

WinAmp

 

 

6/20/05

somewhat accessible

somewhat long

computer

WMP

 

 

6/27/05

 

 

 

 

 

 

8/1/05

very accessible

somewhat long

device

 

very easy

SanDisk 512 MB

8/3/05

 

 

 

 

 

 

8/9/05

somewhat inaccessible

somewhat long

computer

WMP

 

 

 

 

Question 7

Question 8

Question 9

Question 10

Question 11

Question 12

How to Improve

CD or Radio

Sound

Overall

Overall

 

the Process

Quality

Quality

Satisfaction

Accessibility

Recommendations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CD

very satisfactory

very satisfied

very accessible

 

British dialect on website

CD

very satisfactory

somewhat satisfied

somewhat inaccessible

Make the reassign license webpage more accessible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Divide the content into chapters.  Offer a file format other than WMA

CD

very satisfactory

somewhat dissatisfied

so-so

Provide unlocked samples of the content so that it can be played with in Sound Forge 7.

Spend more time on how this system works with screenreader software.

CD

very satisfactory

very dissatisfied

somewhat inaccessible

Try to make the process of selecting a book faster.  The license arrangement is very poor, esp. the constant prompts to renew the license. 

I could not tell where the downloaded file resided on my computer.

 

 

 

 

 

The website should have a link that goes directly to the list of books

CD

very satisfactory

very satisfied

 

Pausing and continueing playback in WinAmp works well, but unsure about saving my place in the book when I close the software program.

Make links part of the book title.

radio

somewhat satisfactory

somewhat satisfied

somewhat accessible

Provide a wider selection of books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CD

very satisfactory

very satisfied

very inaccessible

 

 

 

 

 

 

"If I were rating the service on a scale where 1 is totally unworkable
and 10 is the perfect solution, I'd give this service a 3."

"While the wide array of options is great for a seasoned user, I would like a simpler streamlined approach for new users. Less navigation and options, and fewer jumps from column to column."

CD

very satisfactory

so-so

somewhat inaccessible

Improve the logon process.  Make the link to the audiobook collection more prominent.




Question 13

Question 14

Question 15

Question 16

Question 17

Question 18

Operating

Internet

Screenreader

Respondent's

Respondent's

General

System

Connection

Software

Age

Gender

Comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

XP HE

DSL

XP magnified

50

17

The webpage containing information about the trial was difficult to see.

XP

cable modem

JAWS

65

male

Graphics on the website need alt tags. 

XP with SP2

cable modem

JAWS 6.10

 

 

 

XP 

Surewest Hi Speed

none

74

male

The Radio quality files sound like the narrator is gargling.  The CD quality are better, but some low level sound, probably from the compression, can be heard.

XP

cable modem

JAWS 

65

male

My main problem is with the license arrangement!

XP

DSL

WindowEyes

 

female

 

 

 

 

 

female

"This one's a keeper, definitely a keeper!" 

XP

cable modem

JAWS

52

male

Despite using really good speakers, this volunteer could not tell the difference between CD and radio quality.

 

 

 

 

female

This volunteer does not want to sit at a computer while reading a book.  She wants to be able to convert the content to the MP3 format. 

Win2000

DSL

 

43

female

"I truly enjoyed using the service.  I love audio book and the
portability available by having an entire audio book on a small digital
audio player is just wonderful!!"

 

 

 

 

male and female (combined response from two testers)

"Overall,
the quality of the titles was very good, but that experience was
impacted very negatively by the limitations of Windows Media Player."

XP

LAN

WindowEyes

25

female

Pleased that accessibility testing is included as part of the development of this service.