A Note from the Editors:

While Podcast Alley was the preferred tool for this module, its site has been under construction and some of its contents are unavailable at the time of this presentation. Since the goal of this module is to learn what podcasts are and how to find podcasts, with an optional activity to create a podcast, we have chosen additional websites to assist in achieving our goal.

National Radio Foundation Microphone. Found on the Wikimedia Commons website. Stock image and royalty free.

What is Podcasting?

In this module, we will be learning about podcasts, both as a tool for personal enjoyment as well as a tool to use within libraries. We will explore some podcast directory sites and even take a tour of a website that allows you to create our own podcast.

According to Wikipedia, a podcast is a “type of digital media” file most often audio, but they can also be a video. Podcasts are available for subscription or for downloading onto a computer or a portable media player. The name is a combination of “pod” (as in iPod) and “broadcasting.” The name reflects both its use – an audio file broadcasting an episode on any subject – and its delivery – a digital file that can be used on a digital device, such as a computer or an mp3 player.

In this day and age of greater access and information sharing, podcasts are have become a great way to deliver information, both audio and video, through the open and often free Internet. Podcasts are used to share stories, music, news and talk shows, as well as instructional material. Libraries have started to use podcasts in numerous ways, including audio tours of the physical building and for recording programs for both adults and children. Since the content can reach a larger audience via the Internet, many libraries are participating in this forum.

For a good, basic introduction to podcasting, please watch this Podcasting in Plain English video from Common Craft.

Aside from iTunes, here are a few good places to find podcasts:

  • Podcast Alley: is a great site for a large number of podcasts of a variety of subjects. As of this project, the software needed to download podcasts from this directory is not available.
  • Learn Out Loud Podcast Directory: a membership-based site for a large number of educational podcasts. Memberships are available at no cost and at various subscription rates.
  • Podseek.net: a member-based podcast directory.

A good online forum to create and upload podcasts:

  • Audioboo: is a free podcast creation site, which allows you to create and upload a podcast on both computer and mobile device.

What Can Podcasting do for You?

The subject content of podcasts varies greatly and the number of available podcasts and podcast creators are even greater. Since podcasts are easy to create and access and can reach a large population, many people use podcasts as a means of sharing information.

This can be beneficial to libraries as a way to build interest in programs and to share what is available at a particular library. When there is time, the know-how, and a great desire to share with others, podcasts can bring the library to someone who might not otherwise have access. Getting the word out and providing to access to everyone is a common goal among us library and information professionals.

Who is Using Podcasting?

Libraries are using podcasts for numerous reasons from promoting adult and youth programs to point-of-interest discussions. Some examples are below:

Free Library of Philadelphia, Podcasts and RSS

Hopkinton Middle and High Schools Library in New Hampshire, Ininglass Teen Read Award Booktalks

Library of Congress, Podcasts

Lincoln City Libraries in Nebraska, Podcasts

PLCMC’s LibraryLoft, Podcasts

Springfield Town Library in Vermont, The Children’s Room

Let’s Give It a Try!
Activity #1: Reflective Blog Post

Please write an entry about your thoughts on podcasts and how they relate to libraries. Would this be a good tool to use to help promote your library’s mission and programming? Why or why not?

Activity #2: Find A Podcast

Take some time exploring the directories, searching subjects that interest you. It doesn’t have to be library related. Then write a blog entry about your thoughts on podcast directories. Which directory (or directories) did you use, if any? What did you look for and why? If you already listen to podcasts, share with the group what some of your favorites. As I shared in my bio, I like Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and Fresh Air.

OPTIONAL: Activity #3: Create A Podcast

This activity is optional because creating a podcast takes hardware and software. So each person’s access with vary from where they are working and on what computer they are working. Not only do you need to find the appropriate audio tools that best suite you and your podcasting needs, but – most importantly – you will need a microphone.

For this activity, I used Audioboo. It is free to use and is available for both a mobile device and a computer, either PC or Mac. To get started, sign up and then go to the Getting Started with Audioboo page.

Additional Reading and Resources (optional)

Libraries and Podcasts:

Podcasting for Public Libraries White Paper by Anne Mickelsen

Podcasting Resources for Libraries presented by The Colorado Department of Education

Podcasting Index prepared by Library Success (a Wiki)

LibrarySpot.com has a page dedicated to podcasts from numerous libraries. It describes itself as a “virtual library resource center.”

Podcasting Software:

Podcasting Tools, a fantastic resource about all things podcasts.

This Learning 2.0 module was originally designed and implemented by students in Dr. Michael Stephens‘ Transformative Literacies class in the Spring of 2012 (LIBR 281-12).  This class is part of San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science curriculum. It was authored by Shannon Sedell for Bethlehem Public Library. It is available for use for other libraries or institutions.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.