It was quite a while ago that I first heard about, but our upcoming trip (specifically the eight to ten hour drives in each direction) brought it back to my attention.  Librivox is a site that as they say “provides free audiobooks from the public domain.”  They do this in a marvelous way.  Once a book is chosen one person steps forward to manage the project.  They then recruit volunteers, folks just like you and me, to record one ore more sections of the book.  The sections are generally one chapter, but it depends a great deal on the format of the material.  While most books are read by a number of readers, it isn’t uncommon for someone to read the entire book.  The readers use their computer to record their reading to an mp3 file which is then checked for accuracy, clarity, etc before being approved.  Once the entire book is recorded it is made available for download at no charge.

The projects greatest strength lies in the fact that anyone can read and record a section.  Readers often identify themselves or their location at the end of each chapter (the text is approved beforehand by the project lead).  So I can tell you I’ve heard heard books read by at least a dozen people from at least the following countries: the US, UK, Turkey, and France.  The quality of readers varies to put it simply.  Some readers you hope will only read one chapter while others would be at home recording books professionally (ah… Chip from Florida, you made Treasure Island come alive) .  Part of the fun for me is thinking how I would have pronounced this or that differently or being grateful that I didn’t have to pronounce that part at all.  Some of the readers simply read the words, others do voices, and others almost act out the parts.  Voices, accents, pronunciations are ever changing.

It certainly isn’t a “professional” quality product.  But I think it more than makes up for it in its sense of community.  I have to admit I’m tempted to try my hand at reading a chapter or two.  If I do, I’ll post the link to the book I’ve read some small part of.  Until then we’ll be listening to the first three books of the  series as we head west across Texas.  Who knows, maybe at some point in the future, we’ll each take a hand in voicing a children’s book that Wesley and Jillian will listen to.


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