Studio Resources

Narrators of NLS talking books have been hailed as the “rock stars” of our program, and many patrons select books not by the author or the subject but by the narrator—which is easy to do in the NLS Catalog and on BARD when you use the first and last name of the narrator in keyword searches. You can also learn more about most of our narrators who often share some of the favorite books that they have read over their careers.

NLS narrators follow rigorous standards for both the technical quality and the narration of its talking books. Pronunciation of words and names “borders on obsession,” as Ray Hagen, who narrated more than 500 books for NLS, once put it. Hagen was the driving force behind Say How?: A Pronunciation Guide to Names of Public Figures, which lists more than 11,000 actors, musicians, politicians, and other notables. Hagen explains how NLS determines correct pronunciation of names in C'est What? An Introduction to Say How?.  NLS also produces The ABC Book, a guide to pronunciation of acronyms, brand names, and corporation names.

Both Say How? and The ABC Book are updated regularly. To alert us to an error or suggest an addition, email Media Lab narrator Laura Giannarelli at [email protected].

How Does Someone Become an NLS Narrator?

While NLS primarily contracts with commercial audiobook publishers and recording companies for book production, we also record about 100 titles each year in our Media Lab, which includes the professional NLS studio. The NLS studio and other production studios that are awarded NLS contracts generally recruit and hire professionals, highly skilled in The Art of Audiobook Narration External. Currently, NLS has recording contracts with American Printing House for the Blind, Potomac Talking Book Services, Astoria Media, Books to Life, and Talking Books Publishers.

While many NLS narrators are also professional actors and/or voice-over artists who have won awards in their fields, many network libraries use volunteer readers to record materials for local use, some of which are circulated to the larger NLS network as downloadable from BARD. Someone interested in becoming a narrator also might find organizations that need narrators in our Directory of Producers of Accessible Reading Materials.

To learn more about NLS narrators, their backgrounds, and activities outside of NLS, visit the NLS Narrator page.

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