LAMP Volunteers in the Recording Studio

August 6, 2021 |
by: Scott Meneely

LAMP/Library of Accessible Media for Pennsylvanians has many opportunities to bring books to life for patrons throughout Pennsylvania.  LAMP’s recording studio in Pittsburgh records select titles and then uploads them to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download), making them accessible and available for digital download to qualified print disabled patrons who are part of the National Library Service program in the United States.  Additionally, those books are available to print disabled patrons internationally in those countries who, like the U.S., have signed onto the Marrakesh Treaty which allows for the exchange of accessible books across borders.  

LAMP has a number of volunteers and their work in the recording studio really highlights the importance of their efforts.  A book volunteers work on recording can become accessible to readers all over the world and in perpetuity.  While the majority of titles selected for recording are made in accordance with our normal standards of essential criteria – local interest and/or authorship – we became aware of the publication Bound in the Bond of Life: Pittsburgh Writers Reflect on the Tree of Life Tragedy (DBC 17524) through our volunteer Diane. 

In addition to the aforementioned criteria, we also find it important to select books that will impact our patrons’ lives. Bound in the Bond of Life: Pittsburgh Writers Reflect on the Tree of Life Tragedy (DBC17524) is one such book that deserves special mention, not only for its subject matter, but also for the way in which it was completed. The interview below speaks of a concerted effort of our LAMP Volunteers who, under special pandemic conditions, worked tirelessly to guarantee we could get this book completed and circulated to patrons.  

Things have been different all over for the past year and a half due to the pandemic, and now at LAMP, things are also different due to our current renovation.  These differences, like our building being closed, also affect volunteers.  I have written about our wonderful volunteers before, and for some volunteers, even with our building being closed, the work continues.  I recently caught up virtually with 3 of our volunteers: Joe, Sue, and Diane.  It was great to speak with them and to hear about the work they are doing around a specific book:  Bound in the Bond of Life: Pittsburgh Writers Reflect on the Tree of Life Tragedy (DBC 17524).   

First of all, how many years have you all been volunteering with the library?   

Joe: Since 2011, 10 years.  

Sue:  Since 2008, 12 years.   

Diane Since 2006, 15 years.   


During the pandemic, you all have been volunteering from home.  How has that been?     

Joe: First of all, thanks to Mark Sachon this is the most meaningful assignment I’ve been given, to narrate this book. It’s an honor and something I’ll never forget. Collaborating with my friend and fellow narrator Sue was great for me. 

Sue:  Thanks Joe, it was also great working with you.  Working from home was good, but getting the sound right was hard.   

 Can you explain the process of working on this book? 

Sue:  Joe narrated most of the book, but there was a lot of Hebrew language without translation.  I narrated the wavs (files) with Hebrew.  Joe has a studio at home, and I don’t, so I did the ones with Hebrew involved.   

Joe:  One section I was doing had a large Hebrew Dialog, and Sue graciously took that on.   

What does this book mean to you, as people from Pittsburgh, the community where this terrible tragedy  occurred?   

Joe:  It was so meaningful to hear the reactions of the tragedy by the various authors, which mainly consisted of Rabbis and teachers, members of the congregation, and journalists from the Post-Gazette. To hear their interpretations of this tragedy was heartbreaking. Delivery was hard. Stacy Smith (KDKA journalist) was asked how you present tragedies. He had to do 9/11, flight 423 in Hopewell, and the Tree of Life. He mentioned a wall he has to put up without emotionally showing it. As narrators, we’re voice actors and we have to put up that wall too.  We feel the emotions, but we have to stay composed when reading.     

Sue:  For some reason, certain things get to me. I guess because I didn’t do the whole thing, I only narrated parts of it. It was difficult in one sense, but in another sense, it  showed me how the entire Pittsburgh community rallied around the Tree of Life.  They now have a chain link fence surrounding the building with pictures that were drawn from all over the world. Wherever there was another mass shooting, people sent these drawing and what it meant to them. Besides touching the Jewish community, and besides touching the Pittsburgh community, this tragedy has touched people all over the world.   

How is volunteering at home?   

Sue:  I would much prefer to be in the building. I miss walking in and seeing people, whether they are the staff or other volunteers like Joe or Diane.  Right now, my morning is taken up with my 2-and-a- half-year-old granddaughter.  Mark Sachon and I are thinking of doing another book until we can get back into the building. 

Joe:  I enjoy recording books at home, but I loved getting out of the house and going to the library three days a week. I liked working with all of the people there. Hopefully around September this will change when the library renovation is complete. 

Diane, who is also a library user, worked on quality assurance for this book. 

How was the book? 

The narration was really good.  I thought this was a professional NLS narrator.  Joe and Sue did an excellent job.     

What should our patrons know about the books we make and the effort that goes into them?   

Sue: There’s a lot of passion that goes into every book.  I cry at the end of almost every book I read.  These books are very meaningful to us. 

Joe:  I agree with everything Sue just said.   

This was just a small portion of the interview.  We are very grateful for the work of Sue, Joe, and Diane, as well as the hard work and dedication of all of our volunteers.  Right now, the LAMP building is closed due to our ongoing renovation, but if you are interested in volunteering in the future, keep an eye on our volunteer page.     

Bound in the Bond of Life was an important book for our local readers.  There are many books and topics of local interests that are also important for our patrons and community.  We value local history, local sports, local architecture, local cuisine, and even local fiction or poetry.  If you know of any titles that have a connection to Pennsylvania, please let us know! You can let us know by using the Recommend a Book feature on, or you can contact us at 412-687-2440 or  We are always on the lookout for important Pennsylvania titles, authors, and subjects that need to be made accessible to our patrons.   

The interview was conducted by Scott, a LAMP Reader Advisor, who also works in the Recording Studio.