By creating a podcast, an individual or organization can distribute an inexpensively made audio recording of an event or a person. Libraries can use podcasts to record readings by popular authors, discussions of library events, or create virtual tours of the library. John Lang in his blog The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian, believes that podcasts are not only becoming common tools for the public, they are being used to provide specialty content for library users as well as instructional recordings for library staff who need immediate training in a particular area. He also argues that not all libraries need to have podcasts because that might not fit in with the needs of their particular clientele, but that all libraries need to know what podcasts are and how they might be used.
With this information in mind, I went to the SPL website once again in order to see if they utilized podcasts in addition to their other social services tools. After a quick scan of the site, I was able to find a link to their podcast archives in their prominently displayed quick links area. Much like how their blog is divided into information for adults and for teens, so are the SPL’s podcasts. Within this teen section there are clips from young adult authors doing interviews or reading excerpts from their latest books, but there are also a surprising amount of podcasts that are recorded by teens for teens. These cover a wide range of subjects, from issues regarding violence in video games, to what teens want the separate teen section of the library to look like. The designers of this site also made sure to create links to other related sections of the SPL site that teens might find useful, which includes resources for homework help and news stories for teens. Overall I was very impressed with how much the SPL was catering to their teen patrons, and that they not only created a strong focus on teen issues, they let actual teens record some of the podcast they upload to their site.
In comparison, I think the adult podcast section seems a little more subdued. It still has a variety of interesting podcasts that range from author readings to doctors talking about recent medical advances, but it lacks the personal touch that the teen area possesses. Another consideration for this section is that since the adult area caters to adults of all ages, some of which will not be very familiar with what podcasts are and how they work, I think the SPL could include a brief instructional section to preface the archives. It is fairy self-explanatory process to download a podcast, but there are still some individuals who will be hesitant to use this feature until they know what it is and what is required to use it. The SPL provide an introduction and quick list of instructions for their other downloadable content, like the e-books and their video archive, so it shouldn’t take too much time to create a similar one for the adult podcasts.