By Gwen Vanderhage, MLIS
A digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.
Verb To make (a digital audio file) available as a podcast.
I am an avid podcast consumer. I listen to podcasts about cooking, economics, politics, entertainment, and technology. During the time it takes me to refresh my download feed twice a day (addict), it has somehow NEVER occurred to me to seek out book-centered or library podcasts! While reading the blogs of BookRiot or Read-Aloud Revival, I have never thought to myself, “I should really check out this podcast they mention here.” It seems pretty crazy in hindsight.
Guess what? It turns out information professionals love to share information! (I’ll bet you knew that.) And readers love to talk about books—even to an invisible audience! I have found dozens of interesting podcasts, running the gamut from a librarian rock ‘n roll show, to best practices in training library staff, to pure book love. As I have listened the past few weeks, it has been truly satisfying to dip back into areas of librarianship I haven’t touched since becoming a children’s specialist. Like most librarians, I consider myself a lifelong learner—I just love to learn about the ins and outs of the library.
Here are some of my favorites.
By far the coolest show I have listened to is Lost in the Stacks from WREK, the student radio station at Georgia Tech. Broadcast on Fridays and re-broadcast via podcast, the show features library topics interspersed with eclectic music, all based on a weekly theme. They call themselves, “the one and only research library rock ‘n’ roll radio show and podcast,” and they are truly unique. I recently listened to an episode featuring The Kitchen Sisters, the folk archivists popular on public media. Not only did it remind me of the beauty and value of archiving stories, music, and objects, it also featured a rockin’ playlist. (Episode 372)
An example of a tech podcast that would be completely invaluable to a public reference librarian is Cyberpunk Librarian: “Bringing you the ultimate in talk about high tech and low budget.” I listened to an episode about helping patrons access academic research papers by finding free ways around expensive paywalls and databases. I also learned all about Firefox web extensions and tried out the web browser, Vivaldi, based on the host’s recommendation. (Episode 53)
The BookRiot podcast is a terrific blend of publishing insider news, book and author talk, and topics of general library interest. It’s a bit like a deep dive behind the stories in Publisher’s Weekly, so if you’re already into the publishing world, this is a great show for you. Recent episodes have dipped into the on-going #metoo news in publishing, Marlon Bundo, the difficulties of large-scale readers’ advisory, and other topics impacting librarians. BookRiot is a rich hub of book news, with many podcasts and blogs. The site features podcasts for various genres, as well as general new books. Find them all here (some listed individually below).
Podcasts on Library Topics:
The Public Libraries Podcast, hosted by the Public Library Association, features very current topics in public libraries such as homelessness, bed bugs, fine forgiveness, and serving the children of incarcerated parents.
T is for Training is coming up on 10 years of episodes about strategies, techniques, and topics for training within libraries. It is useful for both in-house staff training and library programs, or any kind of group training and presentations!
All Booked Up features truly funny librarians from Buffalo & Erie County Public Library who talk about books and movies.
Bellwether Friends centers on a couple of fun librarians talking about pop culture, particularly music.
The Librarian Is In: Librarians from the New York Public Library mostly discuss books, but other library-related topics sneak in, such as actor Sharon Washington’s experience living in a NYPL library as a child.
Podcasts that Interview Librarians in the Field:
Beyond the Stacks features interviews with librarians in non-traditional information careers at places such as Pandora, New Balance, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Circulating Ideas features interviews with library leaders around the country. Discussions focus on innovation, relevance, and library advocacy.
PaLAunchpod features interviews with Pennsylvania librarians doing interesting things in their libraries and communities.
Podcasts about Books:
All the Books is BookRiot’s podcast, featuring discussion and recommendation of new titles.
Book Club for Masochists bills itself as “A Readers’ Advisory Podcast about becoming better library staff by reading books we hate! Every month we read books from a new, randomly picked genre; then on the podcast we discuss our reading choices, experiences, opinions, appeal factors, and other related topics as friends and library workers.”
Reading Envy podcast is set in a pub and gives listeners a book group experience without leaving the comfort of their earbuds. It focuses less on new titles and more on genre fiction.
Smart Podcast, Trashy Books features discussion that revolves around romance reading and writing, sexuality, and other bookish topics.
Podcasts for Youth Services:
Books Between features book recommendations, author interviews, and tips for serving children between the ages of 8 and 12—that tricky middle grade span.
Hey YA, the Young Adult podcast from BookRiot, features all topics around Young Adult publishing, crossing into graphic novels, along with tons of book recommendations.
Lifelines: Books that Bridge the Divide This timely new podcast features conversations among librarians, educators, and readers discussing books that can bridge the cultural divide between children.
YA Cafe is a roundtable discussion of one young adult novel per episode. One unique feature: the program starts spoiler-free, then delves deeper into the novel, so those who might just be looking for recommendations can drop out before any big reveals.
Speaking of Youth Services, have you ever dialed in to a library’s story line? Many public libraries offer dial-a-story programs for young listeners. While not exactly a podcast for kids, the program does introduce the idea of listening on demand. Rather than listing the phone numbers of public libraries around the country, I would suggest you search for “library phone story” in your favorite search engine and try calling some of the libraries that pop up in the search results. They can range from one story per week to a whole menu of rhymes and stories in English and Spanish.
If you would like to sample any of the podcasts I have featured, they should be available to stream or download through the search feature in your favorite podcasting app (Stitcher, Downcast, Overcast) or iTunes. You can also click through the links here and listen online.
Tell me, what library-related podcasts am I missing? What do you listen to on your jog or while you’re cutting out flannel for storytime?
After spending many years as a children’s librarian and collection development specialist at Denver Public Library, Gwen joined Brodart to share her passion for children’s literature with as many different libraries as possible. Click here for more.