From Podcasts to Blogs and Beyond! Session

Scherelene Schatz, New Jersey State Library

JerseyCat ILL training online. What is it? It’s the statewide virtual catalog and ILL system. 700 multi-type libraries (school, special, academic, public; 95% of public libraries use JerseyCat).

Target audience? 2,000 people trained on the system. Webinars are really good way to quickly update & reach more people, because they can’t leave the library to go to training. Training reference librarians who deal with customers. Training of catalogers — who want to download the MARC records from the system.

In the past what was used? Went to hands-on lab in the state in person, and went through the particular lesson that day.

Now, using webinars. JerseyCat listserv.

Also, using Blog for the project. Slides shared there for presentations. Archiving webinars to view webinar later. Registration links provided there.

Why are webinars a viable option? Started with searching; workflow; tweaking search screen’s default settings; attaching journal articles to the ILL requests; vendor upgrades.

How do you set up, prepare, and conduct a webinar?

  • choose a vendor & platform — Scherlene used GoToWebinar
  • schedule the webinar: title, description, date, start & end time
  • how to provide audio? conference call on phone — provide a 1-800 number; OR VOIP
  • set up registration form that participants’ will fill out
  • evaluation form setup as well, to pop up on the screen at the end of the webinar or emailed to participants to ask for feedback for the session.
  • after setting up registration form, email & link generated for participants; also sends out reminders about the session, so no one forgets

How are the webinars going?

  • compared hands-on training to webinar training: very comparable; not much difference.

Performance reports, post-webinar?

  • shows participant info
  • polling questions answered
  • post-session survey responses

Final Tips

  • mark your calendar for the sessions that you as the trainer set up; you need to be at those sessions.
  • nothing substitutes for good preparation
  • have session participants mute their phones, etc.
  • send handouts to participants ahead of time; some people need pieces of paper in front of them.
  • use your polling questions (if you notice people wandering away, esp)

Jason Puckett & Rachel Borchardt Section

Podcasting for instruction librarians

Adventures in Library Instruction podcast

What’s a podcast? RSS + MP3

Like a radio show; it’s free to produce, create, and share, through the Internet.

Blog that has attached media files, almost always MP3s (but also PDFs, video files)

Don’t need a portable media player to listen to podcasts. Many podcast listeners view through a computer; more starting to listen on their smartphones or other devices.

RSS feed: if you just put the file up on a blog without RSS it’s like a monograph, no subscriptions. If you have RSS, it becomes like a serial and you can subscribe. People get this analogy.

Gearing up. A lot of money can be put into the equipment. If your campus has a media production lab already, take a look at those labs–you might be able to use those labs. But there’s also much cheapers way to do this.

Blue Snowball microphone (about $100) — records in 360 degrees + laptop + audacity. Great for portable podcasts. If you have a Mac, use GarageBand to record & edit; software comes with Macs. For music, use creative commons-licensed music to not spend much money.

Once you record and edit the file, you post the file.

WordPress has a plugin called PodPress. Other ways to get the files online.

Jason & Rachel’s first podcast: Library Survival Guide Podcast (original one; Jason & Rachel no longer at Emory; at different universities now). Did short episodes. Best practices: short episodes (5-10mins); never read from a script — sounds like you’re reading from a script; one person talking is a lot less interesting than 2 people talking; conversation instead of lecture; kept re-iterating why important.

Instructional Design & Marketing

Students not necessarily going to subscribe to the podcasts. Supplemental material during in-class instruction sessions. Put on library website; libguides.

How a podcast can succeed or fail is in the marketing. Let the students know about it, but also let the instructors know about it. Partner with the marketing department. Podcasts can be used for teaching and also for advertising what’s going on at the library.

Evidence of success

iTunesU shot the podcast into success, getting it to a broader audience. Podcasts can be difficult to assess. Can get the number of times the files have been downloaded, but don’t know who downloads. Always ask for feedback, but don’t get any.

Moving onto other jobs

Jason: “Library Insider” @GSU — learned you have to do this with others. Hasn’t been able to do one since August 2009. Hoping to revive it again.

Podcasts are free like kittens, not like beer. Have to feed podcasts, and take care of them.

Third podcast effort: ALI: Adventures in Library Instruction. Kept informal. Conversational style. Anna is the third person in the podcast. The podcast was started because Jason wanted to listen to an instruction librarian podcast — none out there, so that’s why the podcast started. T is for Training is another library podcast out there.

Tools to collaborate produce — no budget; all tools free

  • Skype
  • SkypeCall Recorder — or supposedly Audacity will record Skype calls (not sure if this true — heard this)
  • Audacity
  • Blogspot (publish)
  • FeedBurner
  • DropBox — to share files — ESSENTIAL — music shared there; interviews
  • (file put there)
  • iTunes


  • 300 subscribers to the podcast
  • Facebook presence
  • Never get enough feedback
  • No one isn’t necessarily responding

Other libraries out there using podcasts

  • Arizona State has great podcasts (video included); model podcast
  • Public Libraries doing this, as well, on various topics
  • University of Toronto used to archive events that occurred at the university; not doing this any more.
  • DeKalb County Public Library archives events.
  • Hopkinton HIgh School, Isinglass Teen Read Award BookTalks
  • Tours at Ohio University Libraries