The Wonderful World of Library Podcasts

By Gwen Vanderhage, MLIS

Pod·cast (ˈpädˌkast)shutterstock_793877530


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.

Lost in the StacksBy 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 Cyberpunkinvaluable 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)

BookRiotThe 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!


Librarian-Hosted Podcasts:

All Booked Up

All Booked Up features truly funny librarians from Buffalo & Erie County Public Library who talk about books and movies.


Bellweather Friends

Bellwether Friends centers on a couple of fun librarians talking about pop culture, particularly music.



The Librarian is in

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


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

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


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?


Gwen Vanderhage - 2.5 x 3


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.

The Library: The Ultimate Resource for At-Risk Teens

By Melissa Perkins, MLIS, M.Ed.shutterstock_790842256

Teenagers really haven’t changed that much over the decades. No, really! Even in these modern times, they’re still fighting acne, questioning established rules, craving acceptance, seeking entertainment, searching for purpose, and secretly yearning for sound guidance. Regardless of today’s youthful mastery over high-tech toys and tools, adolescents continue to need meaningful, positive relationships and learning experiences.

Over the years, many public organizations, private organizations, and agencies have assisted with the educational and social development of older kids. These groups have created special grants, projects, and organizations to help meet the developing needs of teenagers. So in the realm of young adult development, what role should the library play as a community resource? Is the library a place for teenagers? Is the library cool enough to attract today’s trap music-loving, selfie-snapping, Twitter-following teenager? Well, the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

Libraries still have what it takes to attract and hold the interest of young adults. In fact, this technology explosion we’ve been experiencing has made young people even more reliant on libraries. As the world becomes increasingly driven by data, software applications, and the Internet, those without the means to attain the necessary technology and communication services turn to the library for the resources they need. In underserved communities, where many teenagers are considered “at-risk,” the availability of technology via the library has become crucial.

However, access to computer workstations isn’t the only service that at-risk teenagers find useful and attractive. Many libraries located in underserved regions offer programs aimed at providing local teenagers with fun, positive, and productive activities and projects. The following are just a few examples.

Helping Incarcerated Youthshutterstock_709809799

Many of our at-risk youth are serving time in juvenile detention centers. And although libraries are often heavily involved in prevention and in early intervention programs, the “cradle to prison pipeline” trend continues to exist. Nevertheless, after kids have been placed in the custody of the justice system and the department of corrections, libraries can still play a role in the rehabilitation efforts that help these youngsters find a healthy path in life.

For example, in 2016, the Glen Carbon Centennial Library District in Glen Carbon, Illinois, established a successful Therapy Dogs for At-Risk Youth program for the Madison County Juvenile Detention Center. The library system partnered with the Got Your Six Support Dogs organization to create a program that uses therapy dogs—in conjunction with the library’s Great Stories Club activities—as physical and emotional support for teens at the detention center.

Nurturing Future Leaders

In addition to creating outreach programs for incarcerated teens, libraries support and strengthen relationships with those ambitious youngsters in underserved areas who are developing leadership qualities and skills. For instance, Queens Library in New York has developed the Youth-to-Youth Teen Leadership Council, which combines civic and community service with youth development. The Youth-to-Youth Teen Leadership Council provides 14-to-21-year-olds “positive ways to discover their voice, explore social-cultural differences and create lasting change within their community.”

Providing Digital Learning

shutterstock_763448002The Chicago Public Library has 12 branches that house and operate YOUmedia programs. YOUmedia Chicago is a digital learning space program for teens. The program focuses on teaching digital media and STEM subject content, while making use of Makerspace activities and projects. The kids engage in projects that can involve graphic design, photography, video, music, 2D/3D design, and STEM subject areas. The program provides at-risk youth with the opportunity to acquire new skills using digital technology to enhance their math and science aptitudes.  The program also promotes critical thinking skills and creativity.

Teen library programming is a significant component in manifesting a vibrant and effective public library. The following website links list several helpful resources for libraries looking to establish fun, educational activities and programs for the youth of the community:

Melissa Perkins - 2.5 x 3


Melissa has worked in an assortment of academic, corporate, and public libraries. One of her major passions is sharing the magical world of stories, information, and ideas with the masses. Click here for more.

Everyday Library Advocacy

By Stephanie Campbell, MLIS

shutterstock_1038850933They say there is no such thing as strangers, only friends who haven’t met—and the same goes for library users and library advocates. There are potential new ones all around you, every day. Several mentors in my career have talked about the importance of using everyday opportunities to make a case for your library or the concept of libraries in general. The simplest interaction could have a profound impact on someone’s life and expand the library fan base. With funding an ongoing challenge, we need a strong base of community advocacy and support to help keep libraries viable.

The good news is that, conceptually, libraries are an easy sell. Society tends to value equitable access to resources. But let’s face it: competition for funding is fierce among federal, state, and local infrastructure and services. And competition is also fierce in how the public chooses to spend its time and money.

Librarians need to be prepared to articulate value in any way they can to a variety of audiences, particularly non-library users. But conveying the library’s day-to-day value, particularly to the uninitiated, can be challenging. Elevators, public transportation, waiting rooms, cashier lines, filling out a loan or rental application… each and every time you are asked where you work or what you do is an opportunity.

When strangers I meet learn of my occupation, their reactions generally fall into a few broad categories. Some are immediately on board with platitudes: “I just love that I can download e-books for free!” Some are indifferent or irregular library visitors: “I used to take my kids there when they were young.” Others are struck dumb that libraries/librarians still exist or they have antiquated or bad memories: “Who needs books anymore?” or “You mean you get paid to do that?” We have our work cut out for us.

shutterstock_526073965There are lots of resources available to help you generate your own elevator speech and talking points. To the layperson, however, these can sometimes come off as too formal, rehearsed, and/or preachy. I prefer to think about library advocacy in terms of teachable moments.

We all know that the key to being a good conversationalist is discovering and engaging in whatever it is that people like to talk about. I often think about what kind of people I may encounter and what I could tell them that might be new or interesting about libraries.

Interactions involving any of these topics offer fertile ground to plant a library seed. Here’s how I choose to position the value of libraries with respect to particular topics, although there is no definitive right answer for any of them.

  • Caregiving—Free entertainment for all ages, through items to borrow and programs to attend
  • Sense of Community—Gathering with like-minded individuals through book clubs, knitting groups, author appearances, writing workshops, poetry readings, musical performances
  • Do-it-Yourself—Those great how-to books you see at the home improvement store are free
  • Education—Professional materials and books for the classroom
  • Health—Resources for diet, nutrition, cooking, exercise
  • Home Decorating—Paint colors and techniques, upholstery and textiles, accessory ideas
  • Hobbies—Perfect your skills, study up to decide on new pursuits
  • Literature—Informational, recreational, scholarly reading
  • Local History—Genealogy, rare books, census records, historic photos, yearbooks
  • Newcomers—Opportunities to engage in interesting activities or meet new people
  • Makers—Digital media labs and studio spaces
  • Minimalism—Access over ownership
  • Places to go—Libraries are one of the few free, open places where people can go without being confronted with expectation to buy
  • Saving money—Why buy when you can borrow or share?
  • Taxes—Anyone paying taxes should want to get their money’s worth
  • Technology—Those either permanently or temporarily on the other side of the digital-divide need to fill out on an online applications, apply for unemployment, print, fax, scan
  • Traveling—Country and state guidebooks, road trip guides, passports

This is just the tip of the iceberg. What can you add to this list?

Then there are always the tough sells. It pays to be prepared with some “pro” arguments to combat the “cons” associated with libraries.

How would/do you respond to the following?

“I don’t really read…”  Response: That’s okay, do you like to learn?

“I find what I need on Google/YouTube…” Response: But sometimes, don’t you need more?

“I can afford to buy my own books…” Response: But you could afford other things if you took advantage of free resources.

“I don’t want to wait for the newest book/movie…” Response: (Again, the money aspect…)

“I just go to RedBox…” Response: RedBox can’t match the library’s collection depth.

 “I don’t want to pay to park.” Response: It’s a small price, plus you’re supporting your local community.

Questions along the lines of “I don’t know what the library has…” or “I can’t find anything and don’t like asking for help…” are tough ones to respond to, and they reaffirm the universal need for library marketing and merchandising strategies.

Remember, not all battles can be won. Just try to give your audience something to think about. An impression of you as a person is also an impression of the profession you represent. Somewhere down the line, someone may simply remember that they met an interesting librarian, and who knows where that may lead?


For more information:–Not-Good-With-Elevator-Speeches-Try-Taxi-Chats.shtml




Stephanie Campbell has worked for more than 20 years in public, academic, and special libraries. She is an avid gardener, bicyclist, and kayaker. Click here for more.