Swahili version of audio tour is now complete

Our library’s podcast tour is now available in Swahili. This is the first translation of our tour into a different language. We’re hoping to add Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and others as soon as possible. Since we’re relying on volunteer effort for the translations, our time frame for making other translations available is definitely very flexible. All current versions of the tour are available for download from our website, and if a patron does not have an iPod, they can check ours out at the reference desk.   One of our local papers just published a nice story about the tour which gives the library some pretty good publicity as well.

Librarycasting SE

This is sweet! Librarycasting SE: Screencasts, podcasts, tutorials and titles for the sciences and engineering.

Librarycasting SE is a compilation of selected educational and information resources for the sciences and engineering, with a strong emphasis on new media and communication formats such as screencasts (pc screen video), video, and podcasts (audio). Resources covered include those produced at Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries, the VCU campus community, and the extended sciences and engineering world community beyond.

A major goal of Librarycasting SE is to make available a range of brief screencast and podcast tutorials answering specific questions, and demonstrating specific techniques, relevant to the sciences and engineering. Conveniently access these resources at any time from your Firefox browser bookmarks or RSS aggregator, through the subject-specific, automatically updated RSS feeds provided at this site. These tutorials are in constant production at VCU Libraries, and your suggestions for new tutorials in this format are always welcomed!

Pete Kirlew, Ph.D., MLIS
Reference Librarian for the Sciences and Engineering
VCU Libraries

This truly is awesome, Pete. This serves as a great model for other subject specialists. It’s a blog, it’s a podcast, it’s a screencast. No, it’s super-duper subject librarian outreach!!! Fantastic! Makes me want to go out and make some screencasts of business databases. Thanks for the inspiration, Pete.  You’ve got me thinking of new ways to expand my Business Blog.
Link via Library Marketing.

Tweaking our Podcast Tour

Greg contacted me via IM last week, and the conversation with him helped me to flesh out some ideas for the podcast tours. He writes that a podcast isn’t really a podcast without an RSS feed, which I happen to agree with. One of the things that were lacking on the podcast tour page was a dedicated feed to the podcasts. My initial thought was to use the podcast tour page as an index of all of the podcast tour files, and not really worry about having a feed there. In talking with Greg, I decided to link to our pocast feed from our Newsblog on the podcast tour page. I’m currently running the podcast feed through our Newsblog, as I really didn’t want to devote a whole separate blog to our podcasts. I followed the directions in the WordPress Codex article on podcasting for making a dedicated podcast feed:

Dedicated Podcasts

To create a dedicated podcast feed:

  1. Create a category in the Admin > Manage > Categories panel for your audio files and call it something like “podcasts”.
  2. Assign every post containing an audio link to your “podcasts” category.
  3. If your blog is at example.com, your podcast feed will automatically be available at:
http://example.com/wordpress/?feed=rss2&category_name=podcasts

I also put some explanatory text on the podcast tour page explaining how to subscribe to the feed, and where to go for more information.  Hopefully this will help to get our users listening to our podcast.  I’m working on some content for future podcasts, and I’ll write about that when we’ve got more content to listen to.  Thanks again to Greg for helping me flesh out some ideas to fine-tune our podcasting efforts.

A First Try at Podcasting

On January 5, our library launched a podcast version of the library self-guided tour. This is the first publishable draft of the podcast, and we’re continuing to get feedback that we’re incorporating into later versions. It’s a little too early to tell how successful the tour will be, but I can tell you that the mp3 file of the podcast has been downloaded almost 30 times since the 5th.

We began the project by transcribing our Self-Guided Tour (originally written by librarians) into a less jargony (and hopefully more hip) podcast script written by students. We knew that students would be the primary audience for the podcast tour, so we had some of our reference desk assistants help us with the wording of the tour. When the script was fine-tuned into a manageable form, we took the script and recorded ourselves as we walked around the library. We felt that it was important to actually walk the tour while recording in order to get the timing right. The voice in the podcast is Sherri Saines, one of my colleagues in reference. She narrated the tour while I followed her around with a laptop and a microphone. We just used Audacity and a cheap headphone microphone to record and edit the audio. Probably the most time-intensive part of the project was re-writing the tour since we requested (and received) a lot of feedback from our students and library staff. I believe that Sherri did an excellent job of harnessing all the different ideas into a very good script.  Recording the tour of all seven floors of the library took only about an hour as Sherri had a good deal of practice reading the script beforehand. Editing and splicing of the audio, uploading the files to our web server, and making a blog post and web page for the podcast were all done in about four hours or less. (And that’s mostly because I didn’t quite know what I was doing at the time).

We’re currently working on a version of the tour that is led by a student, and we’ll give our users the choice of who they want to lead them. Future versions of the tour will include versions in other languages. For starters, we hope to have Chinese, Korean, Malay, Thai, and Swahili versions to help assist our international student patrons. We don’t really have a deadline for these versions yet, but I’ll let you know when they’re posted. Finally, we’ve got an iPod on order that we’ll check out to patrons to use with the tour, so users won’t have “no iPod” as an excuse to avoid taking our tour.

The tour is designed to hit the high points of the library, not to overwhelm with every little detail of the library. The tour hits all seven floors of our library and points out the collections and cool things to do throughout the building. Our basic theme of the tour is that the library can be a big and confusing place (we as library staff are very aware of that fact), but we are here to help at any time, any place, to make your visit to the library an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Only time will tell how successful the podcast tour will be. I have high hopes, as it seems that 2 out of 3 students have an iPod. If the podcast tour is a hit, I want to use the success of the podcast tour to persuade bibliographers and other departments to start podcasting. Our Archives and Special Collections department has already expressed an interest in using podcasts to highlight various events and collections, so this might be a good start to getting others on board. Perhaps this is a little ambitious, but you sometimes have to aim high to be able to hit any sort of target at all.