Volunteering for Librivox
I have been an avid listener of Librivox audiobooks for several years. About a year ago on December 24, 2017, I registered as a volunteer. I started reading six months later, completing my first reading on June 3, 2018. With relatively little equipment, anyone can volunteer for Librivox. There are a number of different types of projects, including dramatic readings. Also, you don’t have to read; there are different jobs available, such as book coordinator and proof listener.
Librivox was started in 2005, it is an entirely volunteer-coordinated effort to record all public domain text. They have made a good start with 12,424 works in the catalog. Librivox will never turn down readers, even if the readers are not professional. If you are in need of a hobby, Librivox is a great place to record a few chapters for the public benefit. If you are looking at anything to do with audio as a career such as broadcasting or voice acting, Librivox is a great place to exercise your voice.
The equipment you need is very simple. You will need a computer with internet access to get on the forum and upload files. You don’t need internet to record and edit files. All you need to record and edit is a computer with a free recording software installed on it called Audacity and a microphone. Your microphone choice is optional, but there are recommendations on the website.
The One-Minute Test
After registering every member is required to submit a one-minute test using their new equipment. After the test is posted, forum browsers will look at it and critique and advise on what is wrong and how to fix problems with your equipment. The one-minute test also proves you have figured out the uploading process. Once the test is approved, the member is able to start reading.
Collaborative Reading and Editing Process
The reading and uploading process is simple as well. Every section must have a disclaimer in front thus “this is a Librivox recording all Librivox recordings are in the public domain.” After reading the chapter, the reader is responsible for editing the file. This potentially includes a few simple techniques such as noise reductions and cutting and pasting.
Once the file is good to the best of the reader's knowledge, it needs to be uploaded and the link posted in the forum. Once in the forum, the book coordinator takes charge of it. Librivox prefers you take part in a collaborative project before trying an entire book alone. The reasons for this are to prove a reader can carry through and finish a few chapters in a responsible manner. Many registered members have never finished a reading. All communication is carried out on the forum. There is a thread for every project. After committing and carrying through with a few collaborative projects, going solo is an option.
Going Solo and Becoming a Book Coordinater
When going solo, the reader launches and manages the project. The reader will become a book coordinator, meaning the reader is in charge of pasting the files and times in the organization box called the magic window. In collaborative readings, the reader pastes the link into a forum reply and the book coordinator is in charge of getting it into the magic window. To access the magic window, the first-time soloists will need to create another login password.
A very interesting kind of reading to do is a dramatic reading. Every character has a different person’s voice. This type of work is very fun, as the readers get to work with many different people. Dramatic readings also give an air of reality to certain works with lots of dialogue.
A great need at Librivox is proof listeners. You don’t have to have a recording software and microphone just a computer and headphones. The proof listener listens to every file and then posts back on the forum about mistakes if there are any. There a two different levels of proof listening, Word Perfect and standard, the most rigorous being Word Perfect. Standard proof listening does not require perfect matching with the text. Librivox will never turn down a reading because of a reader’s style. Proof listening will not look at accents, fast reading versus slow reading, and individual style; but instead focuses on gaps, repeats, and volume levels.
My first year reading for Librivox has been a great learning experience. Having used Librivox audiobooks so much, I am very glad that I can return some time to the public benefit. I have grown to like sitting down and recording a chapter or two, it is fun to be always improving my voice and presentation. I hope to find time to record many more projects for Librivox. Please don’t be overwhelmed if you would like to volunteer. The other volunteers are all very helpful.