Volunteering on LibriVox

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I had been listening to audiobooks on www.audlibri.com, an app I installed on my Google Chrome web browser, for quite some time. At the start of each recording, I heard the disclaimer, "This is a Librivox recording. All Librivox recordings are in the public domain. For more information, or to volunteer, please visit librivox DOT org." Oh I so wanted to volunteer. Thus, I headed over to LibriVox.org, surfed around the site, liked what I discovered, signed up as a member, and spent the following days recording my voice for a few of their upcoming audiobooks, all this while having a great time.

Therefore, here I am, sharing LibriVox on HubPages, and trying to make it as brief as possible yet feasible for understanding. Here, we hubbers enjoy both writing and reading; for this reason, I feel that LibriVox offers a wonderful reading experience on a different dimension that most Hubbers would take pleasure in. So do read on and see if you would like to join the fun on LibriVox too.


What is LibriVox

On LibriVox, volunteers read and record chapters of books, even books that are in languages apart from English, that are in the public domain (books that are no longer under copyright, published before 1923), usually from Project Gutenberg, and make them available for free in audio format on the Internet.

LibriVox was started in August 2005, by Hugh McGuire, a Montreal-based writer and web developer, and together with a few other friends and acquaintances, recorded Joseph Conrad's "The Secret Agent." Then more and more people came on board to volunteer, and what started initially as a small project soon grew into a huge platform, which has over 29,000 volunteers to date (as of November 2011) and still growing strong.

The name Librivox is a conflation of two Latin words - "libri" meaning book, and "vox" meaning voice - so by literally translating the fusion into English it means "bookvoice", which is an apt name for such a project although according to Latin rules such a combination of words may be considered erroneous.

Basically, LibriVox's community is a lot like Hubpages' in terms of interaction and support, except that there are no such things as followers. And unlike HubPages, no one is paid on LibriVox; everyone is a volunteer. The backbone of LibriVox is its forum, where contribution and cooperation are the most essential values,


Types of volunteers

Here is a list of the volunteering positions on LibriVox and a short description of what they do. All new members will automatically be assigned to a specific group (default). Other groups - MCs, Mods, and Admins - are closed groups in which members can only joined upon invitation of the group leader.

  • Reader records for audiobooks (almost everyone on LibriVox is a reader)
  • Book Coordinator (BC) takes on the day-to-day management of group projects
  • Dedicated Proof-listener (DPL) listens for any glitches and technical problems in submitted recordings and ensures that recordings meet Librivox's requirements.
  • Meta Coordinator (MC) completes projects in the database and catalogs completed books on the web
  • Moderator (Mod) helps run the forum
  • Admin helps to ensure that everyone has what they need


What is needed to volunteer on LibriVox

If you are volunteering as a reader, a great voice and a passion for reading, along with a simple microphone and laptop are all that is needed. Everyone is welcomed and encourage to contribute. No auditions, prior experiences, or resumes are needed, although you will be required to submit a 1-minute-test recording (see below) before you seriously start recording for audiobooks to ensure that the tech settings of your recording software is correct and meet LibriVox's requirements.


How does volunteering on LibriVox work

There are many other volunteering positions available on LibriVox, such as PLs (proof-listeners; not to be confused with DPLs; DPLs proof-listen to all sections of a project), web designers, graphic designers for CD covers, to name a few; but the most popular one is being a reader, therefore, I am just going to elaborate on what's it like to be a reader on LibriVox. .

A reader will first head to the "Readers Wanted" forum based on project type: short works (prose and poetry), books, dramatic works, or solo, posted by an MC and view the selection of works available for recording.

After deciding on a specific work, the reader will be taken to its forum page where sections or chapters of a book are listed in a window along with the amount of words there are for a particular section and that section's status: completed, assigned, or available. Included too on that page are the targeted dateline for that project and information on what to do and say before and after recording.

Next is to claim an available section that the reader is interested in by indicating the desired sections in a reply to that forum's thread. A reader can claim multiple unrelated sections at a time as well. Once assigned, the reader can begin recording his or her assigned section(s). Should there be any questions, the reader can PM (private message) the author of that topic.

After uploading the completed recording onto LibriVox, the status of that section would be changed by the topic's author to "complete" with "PL needed." Once the PL gives a "thumbs up" for that section, only then is the task on that section concluded.


Getting started

  1. Head over to LibriVox and its forum and navigate around to learn more.
  2. Download Audacity recording software and configure the tech specs - http://wiki.librivox.org/index.php/Audacity_1-2-3 - and get comfortable using it.
  3. Register yourself as a member on LibriVox.
  4. Tell a little about yourself and what makes you interested in joining the Librivox community in another email to LibriVox (as indicated in your registration conformation email) to activate your forum account.
  5. After your account is activated, introduce yourself in the "introduce yourself" forum.
  6. Upload a "1 Minute Test" and receive feedback.
  7. Start volunteering and recording!

Some useful videos on the Audacity software by phil chenevert ~


What is great about volunteering on LibriVox

For me, it is the satisfaction I get by knowing that my reading is of help to someone like a visually-impaired person, or one who enjoys listening rather then reading so that he or she can visualize the flow of pictures and stories mentally, or one who likes to multi-task (ex. jogging and listening simultaneously). And then there's the flexibility, which makes volunteering on LibriVox undemanding.

Here are personal replies of a few of LibriVox's members. To view more replies, please visit this forum page.

  • Linda Andrus 1. There are several different ways to volunteer - reading, proof-listening, book coordination, technical issue resolution, cd cover design, podcast readings/ creation and if you really get interested in the whole process an administrator position.
    2. The ability to work with many different people all around the world. I feel like I have made some friends and expanded my horizons by getting to know people I would never have met otherwise.
    3. No pressure to getting projects accomplished - everyone is quite aware that real life gets in the way sometimes and there is always help available.
    4. Creating audiobooks from works in the public domain helps to bring great literature back into the public arena to be enjoyed at no cost.
  • Joyce Martin Why do I volunteer? Well, not only is it satisfying to work on a project with others and see it to completion, but you have the added benefit of the enjoyment of the text yourself. Top that off with the fun that comes from adding expression to the reading, and I quickly found it addictive! All that is needed is a voice and a decent mic.

    Many of these older texts are delightful, and it is wonderful to think that perhaps my children, or their children, or perhaps their children’s children will access this one day to listen to something written in the 1800's and read by me and others like me.

    I am thankful to be able to do something to make these works more accessible, and also thankful that I myself can be exposed to them by volunteering as a reader.
  • miss stav The great things of being here is that I can make sure that there are many interesting books for other blind people like me who do not read. Of course, other people can do this for me, but the feeling of doing this myself is... Magical and addicting. Also, I can't tell you how glad I am to read all the posts of new people, thanking us for what we are doing. And, of course, I enjoy being here + I learned so many new things.
  • Michael Packard One great thing is that a budding voice actor can practice and hone his craft working on real projects, without criticism about how really dismally dreadful some of their first few recordings are. And there is a whole community of like minded folk who have been where you are and can talk you down from the ledge and get you back into the booth when you need it.

If you are not into volunteering in any way on LibriVox, LibriVox has lots of wonderful audiobooks to listen to. Here's the catalog.

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Comments 9 comments

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

What a great service this is! I never knew that it existed, and it seems like a wonderful way to perform a service that would help the visually impaired. You did a great job of explaining Librivox and pointing out good reasons to volunteer. Voted up!


Carmen H profile image

Carmen H 5 years ago Author

Thanks for your vote and comment, Stephanie. LibriVox's community is extremely small in comparison to HubPages's community, and it would be great to see more people making something useful out of their passion for reading...hopefully this hub will reach out to more.


Becky 5 years ago

Great article!!!It really did librivox justice. Its really easy to volunteer, no tech-savvy required.


Carmen H profile image

Carmen H 5 years ago Author

Thanks, Becky, for heading over to HubPages and for commenting. I too find Annise's description of the "finished product" really cute! :)


phil chenevert profile image

phil chenevert 5 years ago

Great Post Carmen. I have been recording for Librivox for 1 year now and enjoy it immensely. The technical problems do slow down new people but the community is so helpful they move on quickly. By the way, I am known as The Video Guy and made those three videos you mentioned. This is my way of helping new members.

Wonderful article, well written and informative. Thanks!!!


Carmen H profile image

Carmen H 5 years ago Author

Thanks for your compliment and your visit, Phil. Those videos that you made are very useful - I didn't even have to read Audacity's manual and I am comfortable using Audacity already.

Welcome to HubPages too! Maybe you would be writing a lot of instructional hubs with useful videos - I don't know, but I'll check them out.


phil chenevert profile image

phil chenevert 5 years ago

I had never heard of HubPages until my Google Alert pointed me to this site. What a neat site with interesting things going on!! About writing, that is not easy for me. The hardest part of any video for me is writing the script. Drives me crazy!


Carmen H profile image

Carmen H 5 years ago Author

Well, now that you are on HubPages, just try to have fun. It is as flexible as LibriVox is and there are so many interesting, and not to mention, useful hubs around here for reading pleasure too.

Thanks, Phil, for the fan mail as well : )


english eloquence blogspot 5 years ago

one of my favorite website thanks carmen

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