At nearly every conference I attend, there is a session on podcasting for libraries. And no wonder, as podcasting has the cost of producing episodes has declined while listenership has skyrocketed.
57 percent of Americans have listened to a podcast, according to a study conducted by Edison Research and Triton Digital. That same study found that the number of people who listen to a podcast has grown nearly 30 percent since 2018.
Dylan Posa works for the Lebanon Public Library in Ohio, which is located about 29 miles to the northeast of my home. We met at the Southwest Ohio and Neighboring Libraries Summer Planning Conference in January, where Dylan was presenting a session on podcasting.
The idea for LPLCast was born in the first days of the pandemic. “When our library shut down in March of 2020, the Director tasked each member of the staff to find ways that we could continue to reach our patrons and community while the doors were closed,” recalls Dylan. “My wife had recently turned me on to podcasts, so she suggested that the library create one. I immediately knew who I would choose for a co-host, as we had an easy rapport at work already.”
Dylan’s co-host is Barb Leitschuh, a Circulation Desk Supervisor at the library. Barb has been working at the library for more than 22 years and is a longtime resident of Lebanon. “She knows everyone on a first-name basis, and has a very snarky sense of humor, which makes our conversations that much more fun,” says Dylan.
The next step for Dylan and Barb was to set some goals for the podcast. Dylan knew that the work he was doing needed to align with his library’s overall strategic goals. “Our overall strategic goals have always been focused on community,” said Dylan. “For instance, we have never installed self-checkout stations because we feel it’s important to have contact with all our patrons whenever possible. Our goal for the podcast is to create a fun and informative environment where we can highlight library services while supporting our community.”
The first episode was published on September 20, 2020. Dylan and Barb keep to an ambitious publishing schedule, releasing new 30-minute episodes every week. “We feel like this is a decent amount of time to invest, from a listener’s point of view,” said Dylan. “The type of podcast we were creating wasn’t going to be serialized, and we didn’t want to inundate listeners with lots of detail and data. I think people would be surprised at how fast 30 minutes goes by when the talk is light and breezy!”
Dylan, a musician, and home recording enthusiast used his own equipment to produce the few episodes. Eventually, his library saw the value of the podcast and agreed to invest about $250 in equipment. “The first cost was the hosting site, “said Dylan. “I looked into several options, and the one I signed up for costs $15 per month.”
“The library had microphones and cables, so I got a 4-channel USB mixing desk that all inputs can go through,” continues Dylan. “Then I decided to use a free piece of software called Audacity that enables me to record, edit, and upload files to the hosting site. I use Garageband to create the ‘bumper’ music for each segment of our episodes; bonus points for also being free! You also need a piece of promotional. I used a free site called Adobe Spark to design something eye-catching.”
Barb oversees finding guests. In the beginning, she would just call patrons who she was already friends with and ask if they wanted to be on the podcast. But this task has gotten easier since Barb and Dylan have moved to a new format, which isn’t dependent on having a guest in every episode. “We started to open up our programming a bit, and we wanted to integrate more of the other departments into the podcast,” says Dylan.
“The first segment is an overview of what the library has going on over the next week – programs both passive and active, events, displays, etc.,” explains Dylan. “The second segment is now open for guests but is also a chance to talk to employees about whatever they want to talk about.” Each episode ends with book recommendations.
During the pandemic, Dylan would bring the equipment to Barb’s living room. But lately, they’ve been recording in their library’s training room. “We record about 35-45 minutes of material, and I edit it down to get rid of any weird noises or digressions,” says Dylan.” Sometimes a guest will ask to re-do a section, or I will have to get creative to work around some technical glitch.”
“It usually takes me about 30-45 minutes to get the episode published,” continues Dylan. “Between editing, exporting to a smaller file format, uploading onto the hosting site, creating the metadata, and double-checking to make sure I posted the right file.”
The next step is marketing each episode. Dylan says his library relies on bookmarks, which he says is… “the best marketing tool a library has! We also make sure to let people know when they check out books, and every week we post a link to the newest episode on Facebook and Instagram. We also rely on our guests to promote their own appearances to widen our exposure.”
So far, listener feedback is positive. “They have told us how fun we are to listen to,” Dylan said. “It definitely helps to have two people who like to talk to each other!”
Dylan has some advice for libraries thinking of starting a podcast. He says it’s crucial to figure out who your community is and create content that caters to their wants and needs.
Dylan also says there are lots of options for library staff to create a podcast even if they don’t have a budget or Dylan’s technical expertise. “I want to emphasize that a lot of this information is simply what works for us and our library – for instance, I definitely over-engineer our recording,” says Dylan. “There are a number of options for recording podcasts that exist as apps for phones and tablets.”
Dylan Posa is the head of the Lebanon Public Library’s reference desk and is also the manager of Acquisitions. Dylan uses his outside experience in the music business and retail industry to create new and interesting program ideas for his library.
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