(Guide time: 1 hour.)
After completing this section you will be able to choose and download a podcast or tune from the internet and know more about downloadable audiobooks and libraries.
Being able to listen to or download audio is a common feature of the internet. This type of audio is stored on the internet and you can either listen to it directly from the internet (this is called streaming), or download it legally to listen to on your computer or audio file/mp3 player.
Digital audio books
There has been an increase in the number of library services subscribing to online audio books resources, so being aware of what’s going on is essential. York Libraries and Windsor and Maidenhead libraries are two examples of this. Members of the library can borrow digital audio books (as well as eBooks and often music too) for a limited period of time. Once this time has lapsed the digital file automatically erases itself from the borrowers computer or MP3 player. Other useful sites for digital audio books are:
- Project Gutenberg (Provides free audio books for download).
- Librivox (volunteers reading books in the public domain).
- 100 Useful Links for eBook Lovers (As well as providing good sources for eBooks, this list contains several providers of digital audiobooks, both free and commercial).
- Insight Radio (The Radio Station of the RNIB includes discussions about audio books and links to audio book sites).
For more information on e-audiobooks please refer to the e-book section.
Organising your music
The internet also provides a way in which you can organise your favourite tracks and receive music recommendations based on artists you already listen to.
The term podcast refers to audio files (mostly speech, rather than music) distributed over the internet and made available for people to download and listen to whenever they want. The type of podcast available varies greatly. Some only last a couple of minutes, others last much longer. Some have been developed professionally and others have been created in someone’s bedroom. They cover all genres and subject areas. If you have a long commute, regularly go to the gym or want something to listen to in your free time then podcasts might be for you.
A helpful explanation of podcasting is given in the following video from commoncraft: Podcasting In Plain English
The application most associated with podcasts and downloadable audio is Apple’s iTunes, but if you don’t have iTunes installed there are still plenty of options. For example,
- The BBC radio site allows you to listen to radio programmes live or previously broadcast and also lets you download podcasts. You can search the site for programmes you want to listen to and you can also subscribe to podcasts via RSS feeds via your RSS feed reader or podcatcher, keeping you up-to-date with the latest podcasts available from the BBC.
- The Open University (provides free video and audio podcasts for Open University courses).
- Podcastingnews (Provides a directory of podcasts covering a large range of subjects).
You can also subscribe to podcast shows that are regularly released using a podcatcher, which pulls together podcasts for you, depending on your criteria. If you want to try a free popular podcatcher, try Juice. Some podcatchers automatically transfer new podcasts to your MP3 player.
Creating your own podcast
Creating a podcast is beyond the scope of this course, but as a starting point, you would need to:
- record your audio (microphone and audio recording software)
- publish it in a podcast friendly way (ie text titles, tags and descriptions)
- use an online hosting site to upload the podcast to.
A useful starting point is the following tutorial: How to podcast.
Why use podcasts?
Podcasts can be used to quickly get a message across, whether it’s a promotional message to library users or a message to staff from the head of a library service.
It can be used to improve both internal and external communication (sometimes it’s easier to listen to something, rather than reading it).
How libraries use this
- Newcastle Libraries have produced podcasts of author events and discussions about library services.
- Hampshire Libraries have produced podcasts for visually impaired users and those who receive home services.
- The University of Limerick Library has created an audio tour to help guide users.
- Surrey public libraries created a literary walking tour of Guildford as part of the Guildford Book Festival. They used free podcasting software called Woices.