A state-of-the-art recording studio, designed under guidelines of the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and purchased with funds from the Country’s Barbecue Midnight Express Run, is now recording books and news articles for blind and visually impaired citizens of Georgia. The studio is operated by staff and volunteers of the Columbus Public Library.
The Recording Studio is used specifically to record local history books, local periodicals and other printed items that are not available in audio format for the blind or visually/physically impaired. Whenever possible, the author of the work being recorded will be preferred as narrator. Recordings produced at the Columbus Public Library Country’s studio are intended for use exclusively by blind or other persons having disabilities that prevent them from using standard print material, thereby meeting the provisions of Section 106 of the US Copyright Law: ” Limitations on exclusive rights: reproduction for blind or other people with disabilities.”
There are three positions available to volunteers in the recording studio: Reviewer, Monitor and Narrator. These positions are unified under what we call “the recording team.” The team works together, under the guidance of CPLstaff, to produce books on tape. A new volunteer can work either as a reviewer or a monitor. Orientation and training are provided by Recording Studio staff and usually takes 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.
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 tape 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.
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 makes corrections to recorded material, taking 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.
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 that are recorded: one containing dialog 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-tryouts will be offered to volunteers no sooner than three months (20 hours) after the previous audition, and only if the volunteer continues working in the studio during that time.
The Volunteer Recording Studio is located on the first floor of the Columbus Public Library (across from the auditorium), 3000 Macon Road in Columbus, GA.
Recording Studio staff offices are on the third floor. If you live in the Columbus area and are interested in volunteering to record books, please call (706) 243-2673 for more information. On behalf of the Columbus Public Library and the people we serve across Georgia, thank you for your interest in the Volunteer Recording Program. Please feel free to visit or call for more information about volunteering with us.
Columbus Public Library
3000 Macon Road
Columbus, Georgia 31906
(706) 243-2686 or (800) 652-0782