Libraries and Podcasting

what is a podcastWe’re approaching a long weekend and for many of us that means – road trip! If you’re like me, one of the best things about those highway hours is listening to podcasts. I’ve been known to spend a fair chunk of time curating just the right options for a family journey. And I know I’m not alone in my podcast fandom. Their popularity continues to steadily increase. According to the 2018 Infinite Dial Study by Edison Research and Triton Digital, 44% of Americans (age 12 and over) say they have listened to a podcast.

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Libraries not only help people find relevant podcasts, but they can use podcasts for engagement with their communities, too. In her upcoming Infopeople course about Community Engagement, instructor Barbara Alvarez suggests there are countless opportunities for libraries to create podcast series.

Some of her ideas include:

  • Storytelling with community members
    Partner with local historical societies or genealogy groups to interview and record stories from community members, including senior citizens, about memorable occurrences in the community.
  • Entrepreneurs
    Host an entrepreneur series in which you interview local business owners who decided to become their own boss. Ask about their story, what their recommendations are for people who would like to follow in their footsteps, and what the future is for entrepreneurship. (Take a look at an entrepreneur podcast series Barbara created as a Business Librarian).
  • Booktalks
    Encourage local organizations, businesses, and community members to participate in a monthly booktalk podcast in which you discuss a book (or movie or topic), and get a local expert’s (business owner or organization) input into how that theme relates to the community as a whole. (Barbara’s library hosts a monthly book discussion and has a blast doing it! Listen to their episodes).
  • Informational Interviews.
    Curious about a certain field, profession, topic, or theme? Create a podcast series exploring oddities, curiosities, and unknown people, places, and things in your community. (Barbara and a colleague hosted an informational series as part of the virtual conference called The Library OnConference. Listen here.)
  • Local happenings
    Partner with the Park District, Chamber of Commerce, local government, schools, etc. to talk about exciting events going on in the community, and how people can get involved. Interview community members about their participation, too.
  • Creative communities
    Use the podcast as a platform for local writers and creatives to share their poems, songs, stories, and more. Think of it as an “open mic night” on air.
  • Armchair travel
    If there are patrons at your library who enjoy traveling, ask if they are willing to share their experiences so fellow members of the community can travel from the comfort of their home.
  • Job seeker series
    Support the local job seeking network by partnering with job seeker programs or organizations to share best practices, tips and resources that job seekers can utilize during their career transition. This is also a great opportunity to highlight library resources and tools.

Did those examples get your creative juices flowing? We hope so! Using technology for community engagement is all about building new or stronger community relationships using virtual technology, spreading the library’s and the community’s message to a larger audience, particularly those who are unfamiliar with library and community resources, and showcasing aspects of the library and the community that may be overlooked or unknown.

And there’s more good news… you do not need fancy software or expensive equipment to create a podcast series. You can use your smartphone or tablet and free software!

Does your library create podcasts? Can you think of a potential podcast series for your library and community?

In Community Engagement: Building Connections with Technology, Barbara walks learners through process of creating podcasts and videos, too. She also helps learners discover how to broadcast live events, making it possible to share library events virtually. Additional information and registration are available at: https://infopeople.org/civicrm/event/info?id=785&reset=1.

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