This week you’ll learn about podcasts – what they are, how to find podcasts to match your interests, and how libraries are using them.
Listen to this week’s podcast (or read the Week 6: Semester 2 podcast transcript) and then read the info below. If you have any questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us – we’re happy to help!
What is a podcast?
“Podcasting is a simple means of distributing audio content over the Internet, taking advantage of the power of RSS. Content consumers (end-users) can subscribe to a feed of a producer’s audio content and receive automatic downloads of new content as it is made available online.” (from Podcasting: Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki) The term “podcast” was formed from the words “iPod” and “broadcast,” but you don’t need an iPod to listen to a podcast – any computer or MP3 player will do.
Watch this Common Craft video, “Podcasting in Plain English:”
According to a recent report on eMarketer, it’s estimated the total US podcast audience reached 18.5 million in 2007, and by the year 2009 that number will double.
If that’s the case, libraries might want to think about ways they can use this fast-growing medium to connect with their patrons!
How to find & subscribe to podcasts
There are some easy ways to find podcasts, one of which is simply to check out your favorite web sites to see if they have podcasts available. But you can also check the following sites that gather podcasts by topic or genre, so you can easily find podcasts that match your interests.
- iTunes – not just for Apple users! Requires a download of the free iTunes software.
- Podcast Alley
- NPR Podcast Directory
- additional podcast directories can be found on Podseek.net
In case you don’t run across these in your searching, here are some podcasts directed toward library staff which you might find interesting:
- LibVibe : library news
- OPAL Podcasts : Online Programming for All Libraries
- SirsiDynix Institute archived presentations
- Uncontrolled Vocabulary : a live discussion of news, trends, and topics in librarianship
Once you find a podcast to which you’d like to subscribe, just look for a “subscribe” button or link. Copy the feed URL into Bloglines or Google Reader like you did when subscribing to other RSS feeds in Semester 1 of Project Play and you’re good to go. (If you didn’t participate in Semester 1 of Project Play, you might want to take a look at Week 3: Semester 1’s exercises on RSS & subscribing to feeds.) If you’re an iTunes user, simply click on the “subscribe” button and you’re all set. You’ll see the podcast added to the Podcasts section of your iTunes.
How libraries are using podcasts
Many libraries have started using podcasts to syndicate their programming or to share other info like book or movie reviews. Here are my favorite examples:
- Boulder Public Library: Teen Webcasts
- Denver Public Library Podcasts
- PLCMC’s LibraryLoft Podcasts
- Worthington Libraries: Programs to Go
- Orange County Library System: Podcast and RSS
For more examples, visit Podcasting – Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki.
I found numerous examples of libraries providing audio and video online, but then didn’t provide a way to subscribe to regular offerings via RSS. New York Public Library’s Webcasts, Audio and Video is one example where there is fantastic programming available, but no way to subscribe (as far as I could see). It’s a great start, but they aren’t taking advantage of the push technology available with RSS, and that’s the most important component of podcasting, IMHO.
There’s really no end to how you could use podcasts in a library. How about a 1 minute booktalk every day (or week)? Record a book discussion and post it online for people who want to participate, but couldn’t make the meeting (and pair it with a blog, so that participants can carry on the discussion in another format). Author visits, guest speakers, tour of the library with an embedded PDF map of the building, staff training sessions, original stories for kids… whew! Podcasts provide a great way to be creative at your library.
Some libraries are even setting up podcasting rooms that provide equipment and training for patrons to create their own podcasts at the library. What a great idea!
How to create podcasts
Creating podcasts can be as easy as calling an 800 number and recording your podcast via the phone. This is how the Project Play team has been creating our podcasts each week. We’ve been using a service called Gabcast which is free and very easy to use. Visit our Gabcast channel and listen to all of the Project Play podcasts or subscribe to get them delivered to you each week.
If you want to do something a little fancier and add music or other sound effects, there’s a bit more involved. That’s beyond the scope of this post, but if you want more info you can visit CNET’s Create Your Own Podcast tutorial. It gives a good, basic intro to what’s required and the steps involved.
When creating your own podcasts, copyright issues need to be considered. You can’t read books for a storytime podcast if the book isn’t in the public domain or if you haven’t received permission from the publisher to do so. You can’t mix in music that isn’t in the public domain either. The good news is that there are sites like CCMixter and Podsafe Music Network that provide music you can use in your podcasts.
OPTION 1: Subscribe to a podcast in your RSS reader.
- Use one of the podcast directories included above to find a podcast to which you’d like to subscribe.
- When you find a podcast click on the RSS icon or “Subscribe” button for it and copy the feed URL.
- Open your Bloglines or Google Reader and click on “Add” or “Add Subscription.”
- Paste the feed URL you copied into the “blog or feed URL” or “add subscription” box and click “subscribe” or “add.” (Bloglines users will need to click on one more “subscribe” button to complete the process.)
Note to participants who didn’t do Semester 1: If you aren’t familiar with Bloglines or Google Reader, you can either do Week 3: Semester 1’s exercises to learn about them or choose Option 2 below.
Write a post on your blog about your impressions of podcasts and the ways libraries are using them.
OPTION 2: Create a podcast using Gabcast.
- Write a brief script for your podcast. It can be as simple as “Hello from a Project Player”, or a brief booktalk, or your child singing their favorite song, or whatever you like.
- Call Gabcast’s toll free #: 1-800-749-0632. (Note: If you hear a busy signal, it probably means the toll free number is blocked by your library’s phone system; try calling from a cell phone or your home phone instead.)
- Follow the instructions given to you by Gabcast. The channel number and password were sent to you in this week’s email message.
- After you have recorded your episode, you’ll be able to listen to it, publish it (for the world), or delete it and try again – just follow the instructions given to you by Gabcast.
You’ll be able to listen to your podcast and the podcasts of other Project Players at the Project Player channel on Gabcast. This part is not required, but if you would like to add a title, description, and tags for your podcast, follow these steps:
- Login to Gabcast with the username and password supplied by your system staff.
- Click on “Manage Episodes.”
- Click on “Published Episodes” on the right.
- Figure out which episode is yours.
- Click on the tag icon under your episode and enter title and description. Click SUBMIT button when finished.
- Logout when you’re done!
Again, this isn’t required, but if you’d like to embed your Gabcast podcast in your Project Play blog, here’s how:
- Follow steps #1-4 above.
- Click on “Player HTML”. (When you hover your mouse over this, you’ll see “Player HTML to embed/link your Gabcast episode right into your blog”).
- This will open a small popup window. At the top of the window you’ll see “Embedded episode player”, so click the “Highlight Text” button, and then press the Ctrl & C keys to copy the code.
- In a separate browser tab or browser window, log in to your Blogger account.
- In your Blogger Dashboard, click “Layout”.
- On the “Add and Arrange Page Elements” page, click “Add a Page Element”.
- Click your mouse cursor in the “Content” area of the window, and paste the Gabcast code in by pressing the Ctrl & V keys, then click the orange “Save Changes” button.
- View your blog to make sure your podcast is showing up on your blog the way you want it. Note: the title & description you gave to your podcast will show up on your blog.
- Log out of Gabcast when you’re done.
(Thanks to Joy for writing up those instructions for us! )
Remember to write a post on your blog about your impressions of podcasts and how libraries are using them.
While The Onion’s humor isn’t for everyone, it is definitely one of my favorite podcasts and usually gets a laugh out of me if not even a snort once in a while. How can you resist headlines like, “New Video Game Tied To Rash of Head Explosions,” “Nation Demands Easier Instructions,” and “U.S. Department of Over-Analysis Issues Rambling, Inconclusive Report”? If you’d like to subscribe to their podcast and get your daily dose of humor, here’s the feed: http://feeds.theonion.com/theonion/radionews.Tags: blog, Bloglines, copyright, feeds, Gabcast, Google Reader, iPod, iTunes, MP3, podcasting, podcasts, RSS, The Onion