Introduction

Remote volunteering can be a great way to increase output, find potential volunteers with a variety of skills and specialties, and mitigate the impact of being unable to do onsite recording. Some considerations for starting and maintaining a remote volunteer program are included in this guide.

Preparations

In general, preparations for a remote volunteer program involve preparing/creating applicable documentation and identifying equipment-related solutions/strategies.

Documentation

Volunteer application

  • An onsite application form can be repurposed, but creation of a targeted application is recommended.

Volunteer assessment materials

  • Assessments can be created easily for remote narrators, monitors/reviewers, and editors.
  • For more information, please refer to the Audition Materials sub-heading on the Digital Recording page.

Volunteer timesheet

  • Excel/other spreadsheet with columns for volunteer name, date, book title, and start and end times.

Training resources

  • Written or video documentation on how to complete core recording tasks ( recording, editing, corrections, mark-up, and review).
  • Ideally, training resources would be available for completing tasks in more than one software application (i.e. Hindenburg and Audacity).
  • Links to helpful/relevant YouTube tutorials can be sent to volunteers as supplements, too (i.e. 'how to record quality audio at home').
  • Collecting feedback from volunteers able to achieve good quality recordings at home can be an effective way to get extra information and improve documentation.

NLS specifications

    • In addition to being a great resource for general considerations (especially 3. Technical Requirements of the Audio Recording), it can also be interesting for volunteers with professional/semi-professional narration experience, or those looking to get into professional narration/voice-over work.

Equipment

Computers/single-board computers

  • For libraries without access to computers to lend to volunteers, ability to use personal equipment can also be set as a condition of remote volunteering.

Handheld recorders

  • Handheld recorders can be a good way to enable volunteers without computers, or who are not comfortable with using computers, to participate.
  • Many handheld recorders are very simple to operate, and are able to record at levels that meet or exceed NLS-required specifications.
  • They are often much less expensive than computers or single-board computers (as computers usually require peripherals such as monitors and keyboards, and separate microphones).

USB microphones

  • As many potential volunteers may have access to computers, the internet, and a quiet space to record, providing them with a computer may not be necessary. However, the microphones that volunteers have access to may cause sound quality issues. While many handheld recorders can work as external microphones/audio interfaces, USB microphones can work as competitively priced alternatives.
  • As some USB microphones also have built-in headphone jacks, there is a potential to set-up a single board computer with a small LCD screen and perform settings to enable volunteers to record using a small-sized computer workstation.

Volunteer server

  • Microsoft SharePoint servers are very easy to use and can be set up and maintained by IT staff. However, as they are not designed to be used with larger files, they require some extra considerations. For more information, please refer to the File and data exchange section below.
  • For libraries with the necessary resources, setting up a designated server could allow for more customization, and mitigate potential issues with SharePoint.

Recruiting

There are two primary methods for recruiting: in-person and virtual.

In-person (On-site visits, Zoom meetings, etc.)

  • Often, local organizations, schools, or libraries can be a source of volunteers, and creating time to make visits and presentations can help spread the word about volunteer programs. Since many potential volunteers may be unable to come to the library during hours of operation, informing them that remote options exist can encourage participation, and recruiting local remote volunteers can make equipment and physical file/data exchange easier.

Virtual recruiting boards

  • Many free/partially free services exists for virtual recruiting, and one of the best is VolunteerMatch.org. This service can be used to search for volunteers by area (zip code), or can be set to accept applications from volunteers anywhere in the world. As listings automatically get pushed to Linkedin, one listing can get a great deal of exposure.
  • While virtual recruiting services allow a great deal of coverage, it may be a good idea to speak with your HR department prior to creating a listing. In some cases, volunteers who apply may not be eligible to participate, and adding conditions to listings based on HR guidelines is recommended.

Training

Making documentation on core processes (written, or video contents) available online can be a good way to introduce potential volunteers to work to be performed for each role, and enable current volunteers to access tutorials easily.

As some volunteers may need additional support, quick, focused tutorial videos or documentation can be created and uploaded to individual volunteer directories on the server. Once a resource has been created, it can be distributed to other volunteers who encounter the same issue, or used as the basis for creating more formalized contents.

File and data exchange

File and data exchange involve both physical and procedural considerations.

Physical considerations

Internet access

  • Clearly stating that the primary method of file exchange involves accessing servers in volunteer recruitment listings or presentations is recommended.
  • However, alternate methods of file exchange (i.e. exchanging USB flash drives through the postal service) can also be implemented for volunteers without internet access, or as a back-up to mitigate potential server issues.

Computer, supported smart device, etc.

  • As with internet access, the need for computer access should be included in volunteer listings/presentations.
  • For volunteers without computer, a library-supplied computer/single-board computer, or a handheld recorder can be used as an alternative. In this case, physical file exchange will probably be necessary.

Procedural considerations

Guidelines by file format

Recording Type Export Format Notes
Master Recordings .wav - Especially for SharePoint servers, it is recommended to have volunteers split/export .wav file recordings into separate files that are less than 1 hour in length prior to upload.
- In addition to reducing the upload time for files, it will also prevent potential upload issues, especially with SharePoint servers.
Review Recordings .mp3 - As .mp3 files are much smaller than .wav files, they are a good choice for reviewing, and upload of longer files (greater than 8 hours) can also usually be completed without issue.
- Use of .mp3 format also enables quick download by volunteer reviewers.
Marker files .txt, .midi - Exported marker/label files used to indicate major book elements and locations of corrections can also be exchanged very easily over the server due to small file size.

While the previous sections provide an overview of important general considerations, making every effort to ensure that processes are accessible is a great way to get end-users involved in the book creation processes and increase quality.

Accessibility-related information for individual software applications and equipment should also be consulted where applicable.

Accessible/Partially Accessible solutions can also be created in-house thanks to the wealth of documentation on coding and open source software solutions available on the internet. Currently, an in-house portable review station which includes marking/timestamp functionality (similar to DTB players) is in use at MBTBL. The review station was created using a Raspberry Pi 3b+ ( Arch Linux ARM), and the review program was written in C ( SDL2, SDL_Mixer).

remote_volunteering.txt · Last modified: 2021/09/07 12:51 by mn1a
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