In this week’s blog post, guest writer and co-host of the The Library Pros podcast, Chris DeCristofaro shares his story; how the inspiration for a library technology podcast came to him, the pod’s early days and what it evolved to nowadays.
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Why library technology?
People who do not dwell in the world of Libraryland always seem to ask me, “why did you start a podcast about library technology?”. My answer is always the same; inspiration. Something can inspire one person while to others, barely generate a shoulder shrug. It depends on what that “thing” is. I have always been a bit of a tech nerd, teaching classes and attending monthly meetings and conferences of library professionals and adaptors of new technology.
After purchasing a brand new iPhone 4s (my first foray into the world of smartphone technology) in 2012, I was trying to find a way to stand out amongst the sea of part-time librarians trying to find that full-time “forever home”. In exploring this new Apple world, I thought it would be interesting to see if there were any podcasts discussing technology trends shaping the future of libraries. There were some pods available that had hosts with the loveliest speaking voices although topics covered there did not light a spark. Others had good content, but the quality of their audio was tantamount to an AM radio broadcast from 1933. In short, there wasn’t anything that would grab my attention. Now, being a fan of talk radio growing up, I always thought it would be fun to attempt something along those lines. Then one night at the reference desk, it came to me. Inspiration. I was looking for technology information, trends, experiences, innovators, and anyone willing to talk about what worked and what didn’t work in libraries. What I decided on that Friday evening at the reference desk, was to create something that I could not find on iTunes (now Apple Podcasts); a podcast about libraries and technology. Inspiration was born.
Libraries and podcasts
Podcasting can be several things, from entertainment to opinion or information. There are a great number of comparisons that can be made between libraries and podcasts. Both entertain, inform, instruct, conversate, serve and inspire. So, the answer to the question posed earlier should not be “why did you start a podcast about library technology?”, but to the converse, “why wouldn’t you start a podcast about library technology?”. Finally, the task began and as much as I would like to regale the tales, trials, and tribulations of starting our podcast The Library Pros, the details are too voluminous to memorialize here.
After our first episode (which needed to be re-recorded because I neglected to turn on the mics), my co-host Bob Johnson and I realized our tech configuration of one USB microphone for 3 people was just not going to work. We re-imagined the tech and had what I had always envisioned, a mic and headphones for every guest. The rest is history. As we traveled to local libraries with our equipment and recorded discussions with people, we learned that local library folks were doing some innovative things.
During or after our talks something amazing seemed to occur. When you interview innovative people in this profession, usually they are curious. That curiosity then sparks conversations about where the podcasting idea came from. Like coming full circle, inspiration then spread amongst our guests and sparked their interest in starting one too. Some libraries have endeavored to pursue podcasting as another medium to provide information service in one way, shape, or form. Some took the shape of author interviews, others centered on local history, and yet others focused on teen related podcasts with teens as hosts. The idea kept flourishing, spreading the work that libraries do, informing, educating, and inspiring.
From conversations to collaborations
As we continued having conversations, it became evident that there were more people out there like myself, and many of them were not local. So, we endeavored to seek them out. Movers and Shakers, and innovators from near and far. Through the magic of video conferencing, we were able to reach people from other states and even other countries. From New York to Texas, Oregon, Idaho, and California. From the UK to Norway to New Zealand and Australia. Talking about inspiring uses of technology in libraries has developed relationships and even collaborations between libraries from across the world; building a network of people who were truly a community of innovators. What is the best part you may ask? Sharing what we all learned from the conversations, and maybe having a laugh or two along the way.
And so it began, fulfilling what I had perceived as a hole in library podcasting. Never could I have dreamt this idea would have turned into a community of people that have benefited from our show. We have heard that even tiny morsels of information from our podcast have been developed into useful programs, social media, library services, and tech acquisitions that have enhanced patron/user experience. Library podcasting benefits all of us because the profession always supports collaboration and inspiration, these are the engines that help us innovate. In the end, I am humbled that my co-host Bob and I can share and have a good laugh along the way.