Audio Book Narrator Volunteer

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California State Library

  • 6 people are interested
State Library

Position Description: Provides the voice that translates an author’s words and meaning into a clear, artistic, and technically sound audio book for use by blind and otherwise print-disabled library patrons statewide and nationally. [May also be asked to volunteer as either audio Book Monitor or Audio Book Reviewer at various times.]

Key Responsibilities:

  1. Read entire book in advance of recording process.
  2. Review, plan and prepare material - in consultation with narration program coordinator -- to be recorded prior to the book audio recording session, including deciding which illustrations to describe, finding accurate information sources for pronunciations of names, words or symbols, and preparing to handle all announcements, footnotes and formats according to BTBL/NLS standards.
  3. Work cooperatively with the session monitor to determine the conversational tone, i.e. style and manner in which a book is to be presented, keeping in mind the audience for whom the book is intended and the nature of the material itself.
  4. Narrate the printed materials with interest and enthusiasm - as if you were telling (but NOT acting) the story for the first time. Ensure that the text is intelligently and accurately presented.
  5. Accept gracefully any comments made by the monitor or reviewers for improving audio recording quality.


  • Excellent command of American English, a broad literary background and knowledge of how to use a dictionary and other reference materials.
  • Self-disciplined, self-motivated and thorough.
  • Professionally trained voice not required, but must have good breath control and a voice which can vary in pitch, and ability to maintain a reading speed of 150-175 words per minute.
  • Willingness to audition and ability to pass the audition.
  • Ability to tolerate working inside a small closed room (sound booth).

Training and Support Provided: Following a successful audition, you will be trained to use the equipment, informed of BTBL/NLS standards, and be introduced to staff and volunteers with whom you will be working, and have access to them as needed.

Location Commitment: All studio volunteer opportunities occur on site at BTBL Headquarters, 900 N Street in Sacramento. At this time there are no remote volunteer opportunities, though that could change in coming years.

Time Commitment: Minimum 2-4 hours per week/4-8 hours per month through completion of at least one Talking Book. Volunteer shifts occur during business hours, Monday through Friday 9AM to 5 PM.

Length of Commitment: Time will vary with the length and complexity of the book being prepared, but will usually take several months. Progress is usually made at the rate of 10-30 pages per hour.

Benefits of Volunteering:

  • Opportunity to provide books in a format that can be read by blind or otherwise print-disabled library patrons in California and nationwide.
  • Meet people who share similar interests.
  • Your voice is archived for decades to come for people with print disabilities as part of a Library of Congress affiliate service!

3 More opportunities with California State Library

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Arts & Culture Education & Literacy People with Disabilities


We'll work with your schedule.


900 N StreetSacramento, CA 95814



  • Literacy / Reading
  • Special Needs
  • Program Management
  • Basic Computer Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Music Arts




  • Must be at least 18
  • Minimum 2-4 hours per week/4-8 hours per month.
  • Volunteer shifts occur during business hours, Monday through Friday 9AM to 5 PM.

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