Librivox: Public Domain Done Right

LibriVox-SelectionsPublic domain books (whose copyrights have lapsed) are often more readily available for public consumption....but sadly, no works in the United States entered the public domain this year. Much like Creative Commons (of more recent vintage), public domain works allow for greater distribution and reuse of works, creating new media from bits of the old?

Want a great example of public domain in action? Consider Librivox.

Much like the Chicago Public Library's adoption of LibreOffice, Librivox takes a very open source approach to literature. Librivox provides free audiobooks of public domain literature, read aloud and recorded by volunteers (using software like Audacity), and provided free for download. (Think of it as a much more thorough version of Project Gutenberg). There's a great diversity of works provided on the site - you're just as likely to find classic science fiction (such as Triplanetary) as you would Victorian detective literature (where you can listen to Sherlock Holmes and his literary rivals, including gentleman thief A.J. Raffles...and don't forget, there are plenty of literary classics that are ripe for your listening pleasure.

(Granted, some of the volunteer performances can be....awkward, but you'll get a great gem. Just check out Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, or this particular version of A Princess of Mars)

Now you're probably wondering why the public domain matters...as well as why this matters for Chicago. As we struggle with creating digital (and other) literacy, tools which make information more readily available in easy consumed form provides great benefit to others. Much like Open Books, Librivox is taking a unique model in promoting literacy by making diverse works available in an easy-to-use, popular format. If Chicago is a city of "big readers", everyone must have a place to start somewhere, and Librivox is a great example of public domain done right. At its best, it creates derivative works that not only act as a resource, but promote and drive a much more literate, well-informed public.

Thoughts or comments? Please leave them below. If you wish to contact me privately, please feel free to do so either via Linked In or e-mail.

And as always, thanks for reading!

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