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Podcasts and Libraries

Well, the most recent report from The Pew Internet and American Life Project tells us that the downloading of podcasts by Internet users has grown almost 75% in about 6 months. 12% of Internet users have downloaded a podcast according to their survey in Aug. 2006 compared with 7% in Jan/Feb 2006. Find the PDF (4 pages) here.
Interesting data. What does it mean for libraries?
First, we know that our Internet users have different profiles than our walk-in clients. So we might want to promote different containers for different users. For example, an audio-book users is more likely to be a commuter (highway driving, train, etc.) and might need different marketing and services.
What are the uses of podcasts in libraries?
– Library Tours (can even be downlaoded to smart phones)
– Story hours / Story Time (record your kiddy librarians)
– Information Literacy and Research Help (check out the many already in iTunes, etc.)
– Library updates and library news
– Colldecting and indexing good free podcasts (found through the podcast search engines)
– Local history (collected from veterans, pioneers, local characters, etc.)
– Teen book/DVD/Game reviews (collected by the circulation desk)
– Music collections
– Audiobook collections (ON iPods and MP3 players)
– Library events (like Science Fair help, Literacy nights, author readings)
– Library debates
– Archiving class lectures
– Library marketing podcasts (how to use RSS, databases, VR, etc.)
– Training
– Library gadget petting zoos (for staff and patrons)
– Public speaking training (partnering with groups)
There’s an interesting list of links on the Library Success wiki.
All it takes is imagination and a microphone that costs less than $20.
Of course, you’ll all remember that a podcast is, simply put, an MP3 recording posted to a blog, which allows it to be broadcast through an RSS feed. Do the same thing with a digital video and you’ve got a vodcast.

Posted on: November 22, 2006, 1:52 pm Category: Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Kathryn Shaughnessy said

    Thanks for the notifcation of this report; I will pass it along to my fellow bibliocasters.
    From a cursory glance, I fear that comparing the Aug and Feb reports is akin to comparing apples and oranges, but as someone who is trying to forge podcasting in our library, I choose to take heart that at least 1% of internet users are regular “downloaders.”
    It is possible that the reported increase is due to the 2 changes in data gathering. In addition to sticking with the somewhat controversial wording of questions that ask about “downloading podcasts” (where the phrase covers both getting the audiofile automaticaly from a subscription-feed as well as downloading an mp3 file off of a site), this time they also included webcasts and vodcasts in with “downloading podcasts” (i.e.: have you downloaded a podcast to listen or “view” at a later time) — they also broadened the pool of respondents to this question (before they only queried people who responded yes to owning a portable MP3 player, now it was open to all internet users).
    I’d be very interested to see what the results might be in another 4 months, if they’d only stick with the same questions and respondent criteria!!