There are three positions available to volunteers in the studio: Reviewer, Monitor, and Narrator. These positions are unified under what we call "the recording team." The team works together, under the guidance of studio staff, to produce digital audio books. A new volunteer can work either as a reviewer or a monitor. Orientation and training are provided by Volunteer Recording Studio staff during the initial session and usually take about two hours. A volunteer who has worked in the studio for a minimum of six months (40-hours) can then audition to be a narrator.
Basic Requirements for Reviewers:
The Reviewer operates the Media Player software to listen to the recorded material. The reviewer's job is to insure a quality recording by scouring the digital audio recording for errors in narration, unwanted noises from the recording booth, and general misrepresentation of the author's intent. The reviewer's objective criticisms are crucial to the production.
Basic Requirements for Monitors:
The Monitor operates the Digital Sound Recorder software and signals the narrator when to start and stop narration. The challenge presented to the monitor is to assure that the narrator is reading correctly and that the digital equipment is recording properly. The monitor keeps track of digital audio file lengths and make corrections to recorded material. The monitor takes care to make sure that recording levels remain constant, that the narrator does not shift in front of the microphone, that pages don't rustle and chairs don't creak. The monitor ensures smooth transitions in the narration, as well as proper format and documentation during production.
Basic Requirements for Narrators:
The Narrator is a seasoned monitor or reviewer who presents the text of the book in a professional, yet conversational manner. The narrator must prepare for each session by researching pronunciations of difficult words, practicing awkward phrases, and consulting the manual and studio staff about format issues. Special attention is paid to providing continuity in vocal volume, communicating with the monitor and foreseeing challenging text. The narrator is the only member of the three person production team who cannot be replaced because he or she must read the book from start to finish. Therefore it is necessary for the narrator to make a strong commitment to the program. Along the same lines, it is important for the narrator to maintain good health.
Every volunteer who is interested in being a Narrator must pass an audition. The audition consists of reading two selections which are recorded digitally: one that contains dialogue and the other narrative. This audition is a cold reading that determines if the volunteer has the natural ability to read both kinds of materials. If accepted as a Narrator, the volunteer will be assigned materials suitable to his or her voice.
Re-trys will be offered to volunteers no sooner than three months after the previous audition, and only if the volunteer continues working in the studio during that time.
The Volunteer Recording Studio is located in Room G30 of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Library and Archives Building, 1201 Brazos, just east of the capitol between 12th and 13th street on San Jacinto. If you live in the Austin area and are interested in volunteering to record books, please call 512-463-5546 for more information.
On behalf of the Texas State Library Talking Book Program and the people we serve across Texas, we thank you for your interest in the Volunteer Recording Program. Please feel free to visit us at the studio or call for more information about volunteering with us.
[ NOTE: The TBP Volunteer Studio does NOT accept court-mandated CSR (Community Service Restitution) volunteers. However, our Circulation facility on Shoal Creek Blvd (512-452-7306) does - or rather, will resume accepting CSRs sometime after late May, 2015. We do accept some types of non-court-mandated "Community Service" volunteering.]
Stephen Miles Lewis, Studio Manager
- Monday-Thursday; 8:00am-7:30pm
- Friday 8:00am-6:00pm
- Saturday 9:30am-1:30pm
Talking Book Program
Texas State Library & Archives Commission
PO Box 12927
Austin TX 78711-2927
1-800-252-9605 (in Texas)
512-463-5546 (in Austin)
Good Match For
Requirements & Commitment
- Must be at least 18
- 2 hours per week preferred minimum