Podcasting. What is it? According to Wikipedia, the definition of a podcast is "A multimedia digital file made available on the Internet for downloading to a portable media player, computer, etc." Sounds complicated and a bit boring, but the reality is much more fun.
Essential equipment for podcasting includes a microphone, computer, internet connection, headphones and recording/mixing software. Audacity is a popular choice for the recording/mixing software and it is free to download at their website. There are many options for microphones and it pays to do a bit of research on them. The better quality microphone the better the sound on the podcast.
Depending on the format that you choose for your podcast show, the length will vary. As a beginner, start with about ten minutes. It seems short, but ten minutes can be a long period of time if you are unclear about your message, content or how anything works. Practice often.
For libraries, podcasts can be a great way to reach the community and let them know about what is new at the library. For librarians, podcasting can be a way of networking with your peers about what everyone is doing and catching up with each other, particularly to share best practices in a virtual manner. For those who cannot make meetings, podcasting with call-ins can be a way to inexpensively produce meetings that can be listened to at a later date.
Understandably, libraries need to know the communities that they serve and podcasting could be one more thing in the long list of "cool" technologies that they have no time to learn. It is worth thinking about however, since it functions essentially like a radio show and can be one way to disseminate information to a wide audience for very little money or time. Most podcasting setups can be had for less than one hundred dollars plus the time it takes to put the show together and then edit the final product.
In the realm of technology, this can be a really fun way to engage the community. Can you imagine an old time radio show type podcast featuring detective stories introduced by a Sam Spade sound-alike? Make it fun and there is no telling how many people will flock to the airwaves to hear your show. If nothing else, the staff can really have fun with it and who couldn't use a bit more fun at work?