Home > Recording Studio—Employment > Guidelines for Narrator Audtions

NLS: That All May Read

Guidelines for Narrator Auditions

Narration Style

The Library of Congress has established its aesthetic and interpretive requirements as follows:

The narrator must be attentive to the sense of the book, skillful in securing proper emphasis, and must avoid a stilted, mechanical monotonous delivery.  The emotional content of the voice shall be at all times appropriate to the emotional level of the book.  The narrator, by proper use of timing and inflection, must clearly differentiate between narrative dialogue, and between various characters depicted.  If character voices are utilized, each separate vocal characterization must possess the same ease, flow, and vocal range as the normal narrative voice.  Character interpretations, dialects, and accents that are strained, unclear, inconsistent, or overplayed shall not be acceptable.

Selecting Material for Your Audition

Choose two five-minute book selections, one fiction and one non-fiction.  In choosing material, avoid passages from magazines or newspapers, literary classics, plays, poetry, children’s literature, the Bible, books you wrote yourself, and other specialized material.  Excerpts from a novel are best for the fiction selection.  Westerns, romances, and mysteries are very popular in the NLS collection and can make for an excellent fiction selection.  The fiction piece must include dialogue with a minimum or two characters speaking/interacting (preferably more than two), to show the reader’s ability to differentiate voices from each other and from narration. Biography and history are good choices for the non-fiction.

Recording Instructions

TIP: After you have selected your audition material, practice reading it aloud before recording it.

At the beginning of your recording, state your name, phone number, and e-mail.  Record your selections in a small room without a lot of echo.  Read fairly close to the microphone of your recorder, but not so close that mouth and breath sounds, plosives, or distortion interfere with your voice coming through clearly. Since equipment varies, listen to your recording and find the optimum distance.

The reading should be relaxed, interested, and interesting; tell the story, and have a sense of flow.  It should be engaging without selling or over-dramatizing the material.

Listen to your work—When you are satisfied that you have made your best effort, send us your CD or MP3.

Your name must be printed, correctly and how you want to be known as a narrator, on the disc.

Library of Congress Home      NLS Home     Comments about NLS to nls@loc.gov     About this site      Legal     Comments about this site to the NLS Reference Section

Posted on 2015-05-05