Have you ever wondered what a podcast is, or how you can create your own? Podcasts are similar to radio shows in format, but can be streamed or downloaded at your convenience, so you can listen any time. With the right mix of equipment, instruction, and inspiration, anyone can make their voice heard in their very own podcast, and starting in October, the Northbrook Public Library can provide help with all three.
“Podcasting has really seen a resurgence of popularity and interest in the last few years,” said Cathleen Doyle, Digital Services manager. “Many people want to share their insights or expertise through podcasting, but don't know where to start. That's where the library can help.”
The Library will offer two inaugural podcasting programs in October. On Monday, October 17, aspiring podcast producers will have the chance to learn from two seasoned experts as they share their experience and offer advice on creating and maintaining a meaningful podcast. Robin Linn and Jason Saldanha spent ten years producing NPR’s “Sound Opinions” podcast before working on Michael Ian Black’s “How to Be Amazing” podcast. Linn also produces another beloved NPR podcast, “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me.” There is no registration required to attend the program, which runs from 6:00pm to 7:30pm in the Library’s auditorium.
“[Saldanha] and [Linn] have a tremendous amount of experience with popular podcasts,” said Doyle. “Last fall they gave a presentation to a group of librarians, who loved it. They were gracious enough to agree to come to Northbrook when we contacted them.”
Following this discussion, the Library will host a class that covers the technical side of podcasting and gives people hands-on practice with the necessary tools. On Thursday, October 27, the Library will host its first class on creating podcasts using Audacity, an audio editing software. While the October 27 class is currently full, the upcoming December 1 class has a few remaining seats available to those who register, and it is probable that an additional class will be held in February.
“I'm hoping they'll learn enough to feel confident in starting or improving their own podcast after the class,” said Doyle.
The Library’s new podcasting programs coincide with the opening of the new Digital Media Lab, which will officially open for use on Tuesday, October 25. To create the Digital Media Lab, the Library transformed one of the private computer rooms on the second floor by installing sound-absorbing tiles and equipping the room with essential podcasting tools. The lab has an iMac, a microphone, headphones, and editing software like Logic Pro, Audacity, iMovie, the Adobe Creative Suite, and more.
“We have always had the Adobe Creative Suite on our MacBooks, but we didn’t have a designated space before [the Digital Media Lab,]” said Doyle.
The new Digital Media Lab was designed to be the perfect space to create movies, edit photos, or make spoken-word recordings like podcasts. To use the lab, you can use your Northbrook library card to sign out the space for up to three hours at a time. Those without a Northbrook library card can register their card from a different Illinois library in order to be able to use the space.
“The lab is a great way to give everyone access to media creation tools that otherwise can be prohibitively expensive,” said Doyle. “It's also a wonderful way to teach yourself programs and skills that you can use in finding your next job.”
Between the opening of the new Digital Media Lab and the addition of podcasting programs to the Library’s repertoire, Doyle is hopeful that the Library will be able to help podcasting enthusiasts—as well as anyone looking to create digital media—get their footing.
“Sometimes, all it takes is some good information and advice to get the ball rolling,” said Doyle.