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LibriVox Mellon Grant – Update

Posted on September 25, 2012 by | Posted in about LibriVox, News | Comments: 12 Comments on LibriVox Mellon Grant – Update

We are now 3 months and a bit into our Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded project to rebuild the LibriVox infrastructure. Some of you may be wondering: Where’s my new shiny LibriVox?

The answer is: it’s coming! Please be patient. Since most of the work so far has been “behind the scenes”, we thought we’d take a moment to bring the world up to speed on what’s been happening.

While the grant was awarded in April, we went through a rigorous hiring process to find the right developer and project manager for the job, and the team didn’t get finalized until June 1.

Since then a small committee of LibriVox old-timers (Jo Smallheer, Cori Samuel, and me) have been working with Val (our project manager) and Jeff (our developer), as well as Artom (systems admin) with input from a wider group of admin volunteers. The objective of “phase one” has been getting from “OK, we need to fix this bunch of things” to really pulling apart LibriVox’s existing software and workflow, so that the team can understand fully all the moving parts (of which there are many), and what the final outcome should be.

There are 3 paid staff members on this project: Jeff Madsen, developer, Artom Lifshitz, system administrator, and Valerie Bock, project manager, have logged about 145 hours, or about 15% of paid hours budgeted for this project.

Additionally, volunteers Jo Smallheer, Cori Samuel and Hugh McGuire have contributed time, probably roughly at the same levels, throughout this period, and other LibriVox volunteers have participated in a number of forum conversations as we did the spadework for the foundation of the new system.

Thanks to everyone’s hard work, we have:
* Obtained new server hosting (free!) through the Internet Archive
* Begun to migrate the existing system to the new servers
* Documented the current state of LibriVox systems
* Documented user stories which explicate current issues within the existing system and desired features of the new one
* Developed the initial database schema

In the weeks ahead we will be:
* Completing the server migration
* Developing prototype screens of the new project start and cataloguing systems for community commentary

We have all been impatient, Jeff most of all, to get to the stage of generating new system code, but we are confident that the investment in thoroughly understanding the current system and the community’s sense of it’s benefits and limitations will pay off in a truly user-friendly and efficient interface for all LibriVoxers. Now that we’re finally here, please stay tuned, there are great things to come!


LibriVox Mellon Grant Project Gets Underway!

Posted on June 25, 2012 by | Posted in about LibriVox, News | Comments: 4 Comments on LibriVox Mellon Grant Project Gets Underway!

We are excited to announce that work has begun behind the scenes to rebuild the LibriVox technical infrastructure and implement a new site design and catalog improvements. Thanks to the Mellon Foundation for providing the grant, and to the Internet Archive for administering the project.

A Project Manager and a Developer!

We are thrilled to have a couple of new faces, hired to move this project along: experienced technical project manager, Valerie Bock, and software developer, Jeff Madsen. Jeff and Valerie will work with a team of LV volunteers over the next few months making major improvements to the creaking LibriVox infrastructure, cataloging software, website and user interface.

Please join us in welcoming Val and Jeff to LibriVox! If you see Jeff (jmadsen) or Val (vbock) on the forums, say hi!

From August 2005 to Today

From our humble beginnings in August 2005 (30 audiobooks were completed that year) to today with 5664 completed projects in 32 different languages in our catalog, we are currently well on our way to reaching 6000 cataloged projects by the end of 2012!

Thanks to Everyone Who Has Got Us This Far

We have many people to thank for taking LibriVox from an idea of LibriVox founder, Hugh McGuire, to the largest online publisher of free audiobooks in the last 7 years. These include the core group of volunteers who have built and maintained the existing technical infrastructure, the admins who do all the cataloging, the book coordinators and proof listeners who help produce the books, the Internet Archive for hosting our books, and of course, the over 5000 readers who have donated their recordings to the public domain so that everyone can enjoy them for free.

Looking to the Future

It’s all worked amazingly well, and it’s a lot of fun, but we are looking forward to this much needed overhaul of our systems to ensure that LibriVox will be able to continue to grow so that our volunteers can produce more free audiobooks. Stay tuned for more news and updates as the project progresses.


100 Million Downloads and a Mellon Foundation Grant

Posted on April 5, 2012 by | Posted in about LibriVox, News | Comments: 26 Comments on 100 Million Downloads and a Mellon Foundation Grant, the world’s largest producer of free public domain audiobooks, and the Internet Archive are pleased to announce a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, on the heels of a recent landmark achievement: 100 million downloads free LibriVox audiobooks from the Internet Archive.

A Tech Infrastructure Overhaul

The Mellon grant will go towards rebuilding LibriVox’s technical infrastructure, and improving accessibility of the LibriVox website (we’re hiring a dev and project manager on contract, if interested, please apply, info here: LibriVox hiring).

“It’s fantastic to get this support from the Mellon Foundation,” said LibriVox founder Hugh McGuire. “It will be put to good use, helping our hard-working volunteers create many more free audiobooks. We’ve made 5,500 free audiobooks to date, and we hope to make many more in the future.”

LibriVox, a volunteer project of the Internet Archive, gets volunteers from around the world to make audio recordings of public domain texts, and gives those recordings away for free. All LibriVox audiobooks are hosted at the Internet Archive.

5,467 Free Audiobooks

Founded in 2005, LibriVox has to date produced 5,467 free audiobooks, in 31 languages. Popular audiobooks include “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” by Arthur Conan Doyle, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, and “Jane Eyre,” by Charlotte Brontë. In addition to novels, the LibriVox collection includes numerous texts of importance from philosophers such as Kant, Descartes, and Hume, political documents such as the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” and scientific texts including as Einstein’s “Relativity,” and Darwin’s “Origin of the Species.”

100 Million Downloads

“The LibriVox collection is one of the most popular on the Internet Archive,” said Brewster Kahle, Founder and Director of the Internet Archive. “100 million downloads is awesome. LibriVox is an integral part of our commitment to making important texts available to the world in the best format for people, and we are thrilled at the support from the Mellon Foundation.”

Cori Samuel, a long-time LibriVox volunteer, who has recorded some of the project’s more popular books, was in shock at the numbers. “It’s hard to believe that what started out as a small project among some passionate people on the web has turned into something so big. It’s incredible to imagine that we could have touched the lives of 100 million listeners.”

For More Information

For more information, please contact Hugh McGuire, LibriVox founder:


[UPDATE] Jobs! We hired a PHP developer and a tech project manager

Posted on April 5, 2012 by | Posted in about LibriVox, News | Comments: 9 Comments on [UPDATE] Jobs! We hired a PHP developer and a tech project manager

[UPDATE: We recruited in May 2012 and now have two great people on board for this project. We are not recruiting further at this time.]

LibriVox is very happy to announce that, thanks to a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we are undertaking a tech overhaul, and we are hiring (on a contract basis):

* a technical project manager
* a sysadmin/advisor
* a PHP/Ruby developer

Pay range is “starving non-profit contract price” … or somewhere between $35-50/hour.

The objectives of the technical overhaul are:
1. To implement a LibriVox website redesign
2. To improve LibriVox’s internal workflow systems
3. To improve catalog accessibility through API
4. To complete a security audit
5. To assess server infrastructure

We are looking for some great people. Maybe you?

(see very bottom for how to apply).

PHP & Ruby developer

about 25-40 hrs/week over 20-30 weeks

The PHP & Ruby developer will be responsible for:

  • Working with the technical project manager to define the scope of work
  • Doing a full code review of existing LibriVox software
  • Defining software engineering decisions and specifications for refactoring the work planned
  • Refactoring existing LibriVox code
  • Implementing a number of fixes and new features

You should have at least 2 years experience in software development, with expertise in:

  • PHP
  • Ruby
  • MySQL
  • LAMP stacks
  • WordPress

The ideal candidate will have a degree in software engineering or computer science, or significant experience in developing and implementing web software. You should be comfortable working in a distributed project. And we’re looking especially for developers with experience in non-profit and open source communities, with many extra points for having experience in the LibriVox community.

Scroll down to see how to apply.

Technical project manager

10-20 hrs/week over 20-30 weeks

The technical project manager will be responsible for:

  • coordinating work with the LibriVox volunteer community to better understand specific technical needs under the scope of the project
  • defining the detailed scope of work with the other contractors, in conjunction with Internet Archive staff and senior LibriVox volunteers
  • establishing a more detailed work plan
  • ensuring timely delivery of technical progress
  • establishing a detailed budget
  • ensuring the project stays under budget and on time
  • communicating progress to the LibriVox community (volunteers, listeners), to the Internet Archive, and to other stakeholders

Ideally you’ll have an Engineering or Management degree, or significant technical project management experience.

We’ll be happier if you’ve got experience working in non-profit, open source communities, and even happier if you have experience in the LibriVox community.

Scroll down to see how to apply.

Sysadmin/systems architect

The sysadmin/systems architect will be responsible for:

  • Evaluating the current LibriVox systems and server setup
  • Overseeing a security audit
  • Working with the developer and project manager to propose an ideal hosting solution, including reduced costs
  • Making a recommendation about longer-term hosting arrangements, with cost being a significant factor
  • Depending on scale of work, possibly moving LibriVox to a new server setup.

The ideal candidate will have 5 years experience running MySQL systems, with particular experience running servers with big installations of phpBB forum software and WordPress installations.

Scroll down to see how to apply.

How to apply!

To apply please send the following items to

1. a brief description of why you’d like to help LibriVoix
2. a CV with references
3. a comment on your favourite LibriVox recording


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