Volunteering with the South Dakota State Library Braille and Talking Book Library is a rewarding experience that produces materials benefitting South Dakotans who are unable to read standard print. Volunteers with the Braille and Talking Book Library work in our recording studios.
The South Dakota State Library has three volunteer recording studios:
Volunteer Twila Merkwan smiles for the camera while narrating a book in the Pierre studio.
There are two positions available to volunteers in the recording studio: Reviewer and Narrator. Contact the BTBL Volunteeer Coordinator at the contact information below.
The reviewer operates the Media Player software to listen to the recorded material. The reviewer's job is to ensure a quality recording by scouring the recording 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.
- Good vision and hearing.
- Exceptional listening skills.
- Ability to offer objective feedback and criticism as well as appropriate solutions.
- Sensitivities to the technical and aesthetic challenges involved in translating a printed text into the spoken word.
- Broad literary background.
The narrator 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, and practicing awkward phrases. The narrator is the only member of the production team that cannot be replaced because he or she must read the book from start to finish.
- Voices that are clear and distinct.
- Ability to sustain energy over a long period of time.
- Voices that are free of regional coloration or accents.
- Voices that are free of mannerisms such as lip smacks and other oral and guttural interferences.
- Skill in securing proper emphasis.
- A sense of timing and inflection.
- Ability to read in a conversational manner.
- Ability to retain a collective understanding of the material.
Every volunteer who is interested in being a narrator must pass an audition. The audition consists of reading two selections onto a digital cartridge: one that contains dialogue and the other narrative. The 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.