National Volunteer Week

Next week is National Volunteer Weekoriginally designated in 1943 to recognize “the vital contribution women made to the war effort on the home front”. Studies indicate that volunteers generally like to be thanked but I suspect that what matters most to many volunteers (like me) is the satisfaction of knowing one is making a difference in some way, big or small, to someone’s quality of life.

Today I am finishing the reading of my 35th book at the CNIB Recording Studio — Pumpkin Eater: A Dan Sharp Mystery by Jeffrey Round. The record I keep on goodreads doesn’t indicate the year I started volunteering: 2004.

I’ve written about my work there before, describing how the recording of Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese varied from how things are usually done. I’m writing about it again now is because I’ve reached a milestone in my development as a volunteer reader. I’ve been working solo.

The recording of an audio book usually involves two volunteers: a reader who sits with a book in a soundproof booth and a technician sitting outside the booth with another copy of the book and a computer. The reader reads (natch) and the technician signals the reader when to begin, listens for stumbles, errors, or extraneous noises that would compromise the quality of the audiobook, and hits all the appropriate buttons for recording, rewinding, starting a new page or chapter, etc. Going solo means the reader is monitoring his-or-her own reading and operating the computer controls him-or-herself.

My first solo session I made what I was told are common errors. My most frequent error occurred because of mis-timing my hitting the Record button and starting to read, resulting in the first word read being clipped. This can occur many times during a session — at the beginning of a reading and every time a reader resumes reading after stopping the recording and rewinding so a correction can be made. So you can imagine my delight when, after this problem was pointed out to me, I received this report on my second solo session:

CNIB Reader Report

Click to enlarge

“Take care to guard against complacency” the report says (a fair and justified warning) but isn’t it nice that CNIB staff choose to highlight the “thanks” part of their comments?  (click image to enlarge)

While we’re on the subject of thanks here, I’d like to say “Thanks” to CNIB for allowing me the opportunity, for eleven years now, to make a difference to Canadians living with visual impairment simply by doing something I love to do.

Share this post:

Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.

Kathy Stinson


  1. Janet Barclay on April 9, 2015 at 7:46 am

    Way to go! Your commitment to serving others is inspiring.

  2. Kathy Stinson on April 9, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Thanks Janet. But you know, it's not hard to make a commitment to something I love doing. 🙂

  3. Heidi on April 17, 2015 at 5:22 am

    Hi Kathy,

    As a fellow studio volunteer, I can relate well to your post. I too like the part where they thank us for our commitment to quality.

    But more importantly, I can't wait to tell my daughter that the author of "Red is Best" is a volunteer as well! She's 9 now, but your book was one of our favourites when she was younger. She loved when I used to read the little girl's reactions to her mother with the most sneery, attitudinal voice. These days, she's using that voice herself sometimes, so that was smart of me, eh?

    Hope to bump into you in the studio one day and maybe work together.


    • Kathy on April 18, 2015 at 4:34 am

      Very nice to hear from a fellow volunteer, Heidi, especially one who's a fan of Red is Best and clearly an effective reader too. I hope your daughter at 9 will find some new KS faves as she's move on with her reading. And yes, perhaps we will bump into each other at the studio some day. (My usual day is Wednesday.) Happy reading to both you and your daughter.

Leave a Comment

Please read my Privacy Policy before commenting/subscribing.