Library Podcasts

what is a podcastWe’re approaching summer and for many of us that means vacation time- and sometimes… road trips! 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=843.

Take a Break and Be More Effective

There’s no doubt about it. This is a busy time of year! As you work to jugglejuggling the many personal and professional demands the final months of the year bring, it’s important to remember to take breaks, too. Research has shown that taking some time off actually makes us more effective. In her upcoming Infopeople course Managing Digital Overload, instructor Crystal Schimpf discusses the importance of taking breaks from technology, too.

Breaks from technology are beneficial and necessary. Breaks help us manage information better and help our brains to renew and recharge. Research shows breaks can help clear our head, making us more productive and creative when we return. A recent study shows the benefits of taking a short walk once a day at work.

In the course, Schimpf will share a number of specific ways we can effectively take breaks, including tools that can help! Here’s a sneak peek at a few of her suggestions:

Stand Up and Stretch

  • Gently stretch the wrists and hands to relieve tension from repetitive motion.
  • Develop a sequence of stretches to do once daily, such as these stretches from the Mayo Clinic.
  • Download a free app like Big Stretch Reminder to get pop-up reminders on your computer to take a stretch break.

Exercise Your Eyes

  • Prevent eye strain by periodically looking away from your computer and focusing on a distant object. Use the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, stare at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Try using Eyeleo, a free computer app that reminds you to give your eyes a break and offers suggested eye exercises at regular intervals.

Turn Off the Technology

  • If you don’t need your technology, try turning it off (or putting it to sleep) while you work on other things.
  • Freedom is an app that freezes your screen so you have to take a break from technology. The app is free for a basic plan, and additional paid options are available.

Are you a busy task juggler, ready to tackle the challenge of keeping up crystal_schimpfwith all of those blogs to be read, apps to be tried, tasks to be completed, and emails to be read, too? Sign-up for this course to discover strategies and tools… and also for affirmation about the importance of taking a break now and then, too!

Course begins December 8th. Space is still available and registration is open at https://infopeople.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=535

 

Public libraries, the Affordable Care Act, and news in 2014

With the initial healthcare insurance enrollment period, and the attendant media running up to and during those months, just fading in memory, it’s already time to use what we learned and improve on the remarkably smooth Covered California/California public library interfaces we began to build a year ago. WebJunction has been pursuing the study and documentation of public library processes and lessons in various states. Reading their report on the California experience offers insights on what worked here and why.

The second open health insurance enrollment period is scheduled to begin November 15. The Affordable Care Act includes many directives besides this particular and complex one. Now is a good time to review the various aspects beyond insurance coverage that might be affecting your community and be prime to target by library staff as local information development needs.

This year at CLA, a program featuring Covered California, the community aware staff at Alameda County Library who gave a star performance connecting community to Affordable Care access and information the first year out, and Infopeople, which continues to update and provide free access to the independent online series Affordable Care Act @ Your California Public Library, is slated for Sunday afternoon.

Do you have programming experiences around Affordable Care you’d like to share? As WebJunction notes in its report, our collaborative capacity is a California library strength.

National Archives and Wikipedia

The continuing development of the US Open Government Plan, first promoted in 2010, and leading, in 2011, to the naming of a Wikipedian in Residence at the National Archives (NARA), is set to go the next step. All of NARA’s digitized content will be loaded into Wikipedia. Already 100,000 images from NARA are available freely and readily via Wikimedia Commons.

This is another alert to us in the library world that we need to take Wikipedia as a serious reference source, help develop our community members’ understanding of how to evaluate its content, and use it ourselves for some serious research.

This new open data reality can save us time and collection money. It furthers our capacity to bring vetted, primary sources to local users. It doesn’t mean that Wikipedia is close to perfect. But it is a strong indication that we need to move our professional discussion of best practices beyond the yes/no evaluation of resources to discover, learn and teach the how and why of discovering the best resource available to respond to the user need.

 

Librarians going beyond Google

In a continuing series of engaging panel discussions hosted by American Libraries, AL Live, the episode presented last Thursday offered a rich mix of observations, insights, and big questions about how library staff–most particularly reference staff–out-Google Google’s popular reputation as the resource par excellance. Going Beyond Google  worked through such concerns as utilizing Google web crawling to reveal library contents for user discovery; recognizing reference staff’s shift from fact-finders to evaluation guides; teaching students the difference between the wisdom of crowds and authentic data; and, most especially, the seemingly irreplaceable role human interaction–conversational communication–plays in getting the person with the question to infomation that best responds to addressing it.

The live webcast itself epitomized the very values being named and addressed throughout it. Panelists engaged each other, through Dan Freeman’s fast paced hosting, rather than announcing positions held individually outside the influence of the ongoing conversation. Virtual participants added meaty remarks, with Dan turning to these text chatters frequently enough to keep the preset discussion questions fluid and evolved under the comments added extemporaneously.

Among the takeaways from this model reference engagement process was the citing of an ACRL document authored by Megan Oakleaf,  The Value of Academic Libraries, which provides–and importantly for public and other libraries beyond academic ones–replicable charting methods for displaying how libraries, and librarian-provided services, provide institutional value.

Other takeaways included the restatement of reference (and other library provisions) in a “Google world” as being one of fruitful addition, wayfinding, mentorship, and authoritative balance rather than an unfruitful competition between librarian and search engine. The incomparable worth of communication–between librarian and information seeker–was highlighted as the epitome of library added value to any knowledge search beyond the identification of simple fact. And to that end, the webcast itself was a model of communication among librarians about where and how to get beyond Google.