[Last updated: 3rd December 2015]
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What's this all about then?
At LibriVox, volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain into digital audio (eg. mp3), and then make the audio files available to the world, for free (through our catalog, a podcast, and in a variety of other formats at Archive.org)
Why are you doing this? What's in it for you?
We love reading, love books, love literature, think the public domain should be defended and enriched, we like free stuff, we like to hear people read to us, and we like reading to other people. It's fun, it's a great community, it's a rewarding public service to the world. And "nothing" is in it for us, except the satisfaction of participating in a wonderful project.
Who started the crazy project?
Hugh McGuire started LibriVox in August 2005, and quickly corralled a few friends and random strangers to make a recording of Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent. The project began spiraling out of control, and Kristen McQuillin came on board, stabilized things and designed our original website. Kara Shallenberg added an almost frightening keenness, and served as cataloger-in-chief; Chris Goringe was the back-end coder who seemed to be able to fix things 2-3 seconds after getting an email. Other early volunteers got the ball rolling, and now over 7000 people have recorded or helped at LibriVox, and we're all just one big family, including, we hope, you.
Who are the LibriVox moderators and what do they do?
The moderators (also known as admins and MCs) are LibriVox volunteers who help in the forums and look after cataloging. Every recording project is assigned one MC. The MC answers any questions the collaborative book coordinator or solo reader might have, puts the project in the 'In Progress' section on the catalog and, upon project completion, sends the completed files to the LibriVox section of archive.org. A new catalog page is then created and the recordings are made available for download so listeners can enjoy them. Admins can also fix some catalogue errors and edit forum posts (see our Forum Policies). Moderators are drawn from within the community of dedicated LibriVoxers, and are identified with "LibriVox Admin Team" next to their forum posts.
What does LibriVox mean?
'LibriVox' is the sort of name you invent when you don't know Latin at all. 'Libri' means book, and 'Vox' means 'voice' -- so it means: 'BookVoice'. But it's possible Latin scholars would cringe at some error in the melding together of the two words. Still, it sounded pretty good. Another Latin word for book is 'Liber', which also means: 'child, offspring'; and 'free, independent, unrestricted'. So we like to think LibriVox might be interpreted as 'child of the voice', and 'free voice'. Finally, the other link we like is 'library' so you could imagine it to mean Library of Voice, which sounds cool too. But all this is the result of using online Latin dictionaries with no formal training.
What does "Acoustical liberation of books in the public domain" mean?
We've had much healthy debate about this tag line. It's been called pretentious, swanky, lofty, inspiring, verbose, unclear, self-important, hype and exciting. Maybe it's all of those things, but it served us well in the beginning of the project, and consensus is we're going to keep it. What does it mean? LibriVox makes free audio books. We free books into audio. Free beer and free speech, we're doing both. We're unlocking text with our voices and freeing the books into the airwaves. We are freeing works of literature to be experienced by those who might not have experienced them before. Some of us are making a stand about public, non-commercial space, about public domain, about the importance of efforts outside the pervasive commercial framework that dominates our world. But some of us are just reading because we like it. This can be political if you wish, or mean nothing more than this: we read books and give the audio files away for free. Both are valid, both are important. In fact, we don't care why you volunteer for LibriVox, or why you listen to our books, as long as you enjoy what you are doing. P.S. we might change the tag line to: "Free Audiobooks," which would probably be easier for all concerned, but Hugh is stubborn.
"Our objective is to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet." Are you crazy?
Okay, so it's pretty unlikely we'll succeed. Probably impossible. But what's wrong with trying? Like world peace, we think it's a worthy objective. Don't you? It would be silly to say: "Our objective is to make some books available", since we've done that already. We want the project to continue while there are public domain books to read. If that takes 1,000 years, well, nothing could make us happier.
What do all the other acronyms in the forum mean?
Have a look here: http://wiki.librivox.org/index.php/Glossary and just ask if something's not covered.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Updated today, making forum links for all FAQs https, rather than http. Posting to bump this particular thread to the top of the list, since it's the best starting point.
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