How LibriVox Works

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Revision as of 17:10, 26 May 2009 by Jc (talk | contribs) (The Moderators and Administrators)
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LibriVox's objective is "To make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet."

There are three key ways to help.

  • Recording is easier, harder, and more fun than you'd think!
    You'll need equipment (usually a $30-50 USB mic) and software (usually Audacity - free) and a computer and time. And an enjoyment of reading aloud to others. Everything created at LibriVox is given to the public domain.
  • Editing help is always in demand!
    If you enjoy computers and shaping things, you may enjoy editing. Most folks at LV use the free, open-source program Audacity (Windows, Linux, Mac OSX).
  • Prooflistening may be the best way to understand LibriVox! forum guide
    Nearly every LV recording is prooflistened (so we can remove repeats or gaps before a book is catalogued). Even a little prooflistening exposes you to LV's diversity of projects and readers, gives you ideas about your own projects, and makes the LV community come alive as nothing else can.

Welcome! You are now part of How LibriVox Works!

Volunteering, not just reading

LibriVox is entirely run by volunteers. The majority of them read and record texts in the public domain, and make them available in audio format, also in the public domain. That said, there are many other tasks that need to be carried out. Among these are:

  • Proof-listening (checking completed recordings for mistakes like long pauses, repeated sentences, etc)
  • Editing (most volunteers edit their own recordings but some help is always appreciated)
  • Promoting (adding LibriVox links to relevant entries in Wikipedia, creating posters, etc). See Promotional Material.
  • Bit-torrenting (creating files for torrents). See BitTorrent
  • Organising (coordinating collaborative recordings, uploading completed recordings to the catalogue, moderating the forum, etc)
  • Helping volunteers (welcoming at the forum, explaining, directing, creating and updating wikis)
  • Numerous other tasks (some ongoing, others quick one-offs, or longer projects)

For a more detailed explanation in the ways you can volunteer, see How to Volunteer

(If you're new to recording and are looking for a place to start, try this Newbie Guide to Recording).

Since most volunteers are involved with reading and recording for LibriVox, we'll look into that process first.

The LibriVox recording process

(See below for an explanation of the different roles)

Usually, the process works like this:

  1. A book or shorter work is suggested in the Book Suggestions forum. From there, two things can happen:
    1. It is taken up as a solo project
    2. It is made into a collaborative group project, with several readers reading parts of the text. In this case, someone volunteers to become a Book Coordinator.
  2. Once someone agrees to read the book,
    1. The soloist or Book Coordinator posts it as a Solo or Group Project in the New Projects Launch Pad. A Meta-Coordinator (MC) claims the project, sets it up in the database, and moves the thread to the appropriate forum.
    2. If it's a solo project, it moves to Going Solo, where the reader occasionally posts progress reports and receives encouragement from wannabe listeners, until the reading is completed.
    3. If it's a group project, it moves to Readers Wanted: Books (or Short Works or Dramatic Works). The Book Coordinator liaises with volunteer readers, who 'claim' parts of the work and post the completed readings in the thread. Once all chapters have been claimed, the project is moved to the Readers Found forum.
    4. At any point in the process, a Dedicated Proof Listener (DPL) may volunteer to proof-listen the work.
    5. Proof-Listeners listen to the files for mistakes, long pauses, stumbles, etc, and post feedback in the thread.
    6. If applicable, the reader fixes his recording and uploads the corrected version.
  3. When the recordings are done,
    1. The Solo reader or Book Coordinator notifies the Meta-Coordinator
    2. The recordings are posted on and on the LibriVox catalogue, where they are available to listeners.

The roles involved in making a LibriVox recording

To make the core work at LibriVox - creating recordings - possible, some team work is needed.


Anyone can read for LibriVox. No prior experience is necessary. We have a continuous stream of 'newbies' join us, many of whom have never recorded their voice before. We have readers from many countries, and with many native languages. Most record in English, but we have projects in other languages, too. We don't mind accents, so everyone may read in whichever language they feel comfortable. Readers need a computer, a cheap microphone (mics or headsets for around US$30.00 are good enough) and recording software, which is available as a free download. Other than that, just some time and enthusiasm.

Readers can record a text on their own (as a solo project) or join one of the group (collaborative) projects.


Most readers edit their own recordings, but some detest the task so much that they prefer to 'outsource' ;-) it. Several volunteers on the forum are keen editors and help is always found in the Listeners and Editors Wanted forum.


Proof-Listeners check completed files for long pauses, repeated sentences etc. The files are listed in the Listeners and Editors forum (link to forum) and feedback is posted there, too.

A volunteer may commit to listening to all the files for a certain project, thus becoming the Dedicated Proof-Listener.

Book Coordinator

Often shortened to BC, this title is slightly misleading, as not all projects that are undertaken collaboratively are books. Book Coordinators also coordinate collections of poems and other short works. Basically, a Book Coordinator manages other volunteers who contribute to a collaborative recording, and collects and prepares files for the Meta Coordinators. See How To Become A Book Coordinator.

Meta Coordinator

Meta coordinators (the name comes from metadata), or MCs, help and advise Book Coordinators, and take over the files with the completed recordings (soloists are also Book Coordinators in this sense, as they prepare their own files for the Meta coordinators). The files are then prepared and uploaded to the LibriVox catalogue, in a lengthy and cumbersome process.


At the end of the chain, another important role: the listener of the final product! Many volunteers were Listeners first. Files are, of course, available for download free of charge, from the LibriVox catalogue.

The Moderators and Administrators

With the number of LibriVox volunteers growing exponentially (almost 1,000 forum members in Spring 2006, just 6 months after LibriVox was started), and the tasks that need to be juggled increasing in number, too, some organisation is required.

Moderators and Admin do the general housekeeping to keep things running, but ALL volunteers should feel comfortable helping out in any way they see fit. And volunteers should feel free to suggest projects, and to run with them (assuming there's some community support for the idea!).

So what do Moderators do? They have three prime responsibilities:

  1. welcoming and helping out newbies (though of course we hope all volunteers do this too)
  2. managing the collection, meta data, uploading, and cataloging of LV books. This is the demanding one!
  3. making sure that our (very few) policies (say on copyright, language) are known and implemented.

Other than that, the Admin & Moderators are just like anyone else, and volunteer their time reading and wandering around the forum, mostly because they are LibriVox addicts.

So how do Moderators get chosen? First, we want to keep the number of moderators as low as possible - less administration, more reading. But when we do add more moderators, they generally should have these characteristsics:

  1. be a LibriVox addict
  2. be diplomatic and helpful (maintaining harmony on the LibriVox forum is important for the success of the project)
  3. demonstrate hyperkeenness in Book Coordinator duties. This is probably the most important one. Our big workflow issue is file management, meta data verification & uploading of files. This takes a certain talent, and a certain perserverence, a certain attention to detail. It's not very glamourous, but some people are really GOOD at it and enjoy it. Those people go to the top of the candidates pile quickly.

BUT DO NOTE: as mentioned above: we don't really want to have too many Moderators, it makes for a top-heavy project, and what we want is the opposite, a place run in a distributed way by all the volunteers who put their time and energy into it.

Our current list of mods and admins (in alphabetical order by screen name). This page is always the complete list.

Screen name Real name MC initials Tasks & Responsibilities Include
AmethystA Mary mla mod; MC; proof listener
anna Ans mod; Proof listener par excellence
a.r.dobbs Anita ad mod; slacker MC; effusive; editing tricks and loves to "coach" readers
Bear Creek Mama Laura bcm rookie MC & mod
Caeristhiona Kirsten ct MC of many of Ye Olde projects, esp. Latin & Greek works
CarlManchester Carl cm MC
ceastman Catharine ce mod; MC; and court musician
Cloud Mountain Alan add poetry; literary obscurities, greeter, GarageBand user, voice over techniques, recording/EQing techniques, dry humorist
chocoholic Laurie Anne law mod; MC
Cori Cori cs mod; vigilante MC; lover of order and tidiness; LibriVox podcaster; sci-fi specialist
ductapeguy Sean dtg mod; forum cruiser; class clown; LibriVox Podcaster; rookie MC focusing on Children's Lit., Oddball PD works, and Catholic/ Religion
earthcalling David ec MC-emeritus who enjoys foreign language projects and other challenges
ezwa Ezwa ez mod; MC; French translation & help
Gesine Gesine ge Forum organisation; Catalog; MC
gypsygirl Karen ks mod; MC; Spanish translation & help; some help with French, German & Italian
hugh Hugh hu LibriVox founder; general project direction; policy etc.
Jc Jc jc MC
jimmowatt Jim jm MC; specialist in Historical works
kayray Kara kr Chief cataloger and forum boss; MC specializing in Children's Lit
kmerline Karen km MC; Classicist, Historian; Proof listener; Notably well-organised
knotyouraveragejo Jo jo mod; MC; editing, noisecleaning and general all around help
Kristen Kristen Web site & design
kristin Kristin kh mod; MC
LeonMire Leon lm mod; MC; specialist in Philosophical works
lezer Anna lz mod & MC; Dutch translation & help
luciburg Lucy lb mod; MC; Children's Lit specialist
!PeterWhy Peter Poetry coordination
raynr Rainer ry Other language projects; Catalog; MC specializing in Non-English Books
Rowen Lizzie ld MC
RuthieG Ruth rg Rookie MC, Mod
Shurtagal Zach STL rookie MC, Mod
Starlite Esther ehl Ever-present mod & MC; lots o' editing
Sherris Scott ss mod; MC; dramatic / multiple-voiced works specialist
thistlechick Betsie tc US Copyright Goddess; Catalog; MC specializing in Fiction, Short Fiction
tis Chris Technical guru

The Forum and Discussion

LibriVox is not like other forums you may have participated in. In addition to being a place to discuss the various projects going on, the forums are used for project management. This means that various pieces of the forum have a specific purpose, and any discussion is secondary to the project at hand in particular places. Because of this - and this will probably be the biggest difference you find with the LibriVox forum and others - posts that are no longer needed may be deleted. If a post of yours has been deleted, it is most likely due to an admin cleaning and organizing things.

Places you may expect a post to be deleted:

  • Book Suggestions - When someone decides to begin a project that has been suggested in this forum, the thread containing the suggestion of that book may be deleted or moved.
  • Orphaned Chapters in Readers Wanted - This is only an advertisement thread. Once the announcement of an orphaned chapter is no longer needed and everyone who needs to see it has, it may be deleted. Any important discussion regarding the orphaned chapters will occur in the project thread, not the Orphaned Chapters thread.
  • Listeners Wanted - Some MCs will clean up their own Listeners Wanted threads once they've received the information and edited the main post to reflect the changes. Only an admin or MC can delete posts, and they will only delete posts in another person's thread with their permission.
  • Weekly Poetry Planning - Suggestions for upcoming weekly poems are contained in this thread, as well as discussion for which poem will be chosen. Once the information discussed in the thread has been updated in the main post, posts may be deleted.
  • Abandoned Projects - If a solo project has been abandoned, or relinquished by the volunteer who began the project, the thread for said project will most likely be deleted.

In any other place in the LibriVox forum, your posts will not be deleted unless an admin sends you a PM with an explanation. Deletions of this kind are usually due to a post being made in the wrong place (for example, hitting "New Topic" instead of "Post Reply") and will be moved to the correct place. Also, any blatant spam or obscene/nasty posts will be deleted.