I’ve been running a school library podcast for the past five years. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve really enjoyed helping to create it. The students are really involved with it and have taken it to whole new levels. I’m hoping to share some advice, things I’ve learned, and things that have worked and haven’t worked. I hope you find this useful in starting your own podcast in your library!
Give Teens Control
It can be easy to take over and “meddle” for lack of a better term, and I fully agree that you should have a lot of say and act as the manager of the podcast. But for the most part, you should give teens control. In our podcast, the students created the name (Booklings Chat), the intro music using their own instruments, and recorded the intro and outro. They also made their own artwork to use as promotion for the podcast. I love that this show is one hundred percent student made and operated.
I fully recommend giving them this kind of control as it will be a lot of fun and lets them know that they own this podcast. I also strongly encourage them to come up with all of their own material, although I definitely assist when I can.
Have a Theme and Focus
Our theme is obviously books but what its main focus is interviewing authors. We are very lucky that we can have some authors visit the school throughout the year. We take full advantage of them coming in and always ask if we can take 20 minutes of their time for the students to interview them. Of course, this does not have to be your theme. It could be current events or events around the school or something else students involved are passionate about. It will be more fun and easier to digest if you have a theme that runs through each episode. This will take some planning and discussion with your teens, students, or library users.
Create a Schedule
This can be tricky in both public and school libraries because people are busy and lots of different things come up all the time. However, creating at least a loose schedule with your teens can help a great deal and ensure they take the podcast more seriously. It will also give you and the teens something to look forward to doing.
We don’t have a strict schedule because author visits aren’t on a schedule but that doesn’t mean you can schedule yours every two weeks or even just once a month if that works. Consistency is key and you’ll have a better product because of it.
Find Equipment and a Good Hosting Site
You don’t need much to start a podcast; you can use something as simple a phone. My advice is to use a laptop and download Audacity. It’s free and intuitive to use. I think Audacity looks complicated when you first open it but it’s not hard to figure out at all. If you open Audacity, connect a headset, click record, you’ve got yourself a podcast.
There are also seemingly hundreds of different hosting sites out there. I strongly suggest Buzzsprout for ease of use. Other sites like Captivate and Transistor are also highly recommended. All three offer free hosting up to a point. If you are regularly uploading podcasts, there will be a cost involved in all of them so that is something you’ll need to consider.
One reason why I recommend Buzzsprout so much is because it is easy to use. The site allows you to upload, edit, and schedule your shows in minutes. Buzzsprout also provides tons of advice and information on how to make your podcast more effective and they give you step by step advice on how to get the show listed on iTunes and other directories.
Whether you are in a public or school library, there are lots of ways to promote your podcast and get people excited. In both types of libraries, you can create book displays with your podcasts logo or artwork surrounded by books that are related to radio, broadcasting, or podcasting, or books that are related to your theme. For example, we’ve created a display that contains the books by authors we’ve interviewed. It’s a great way to get the word out there.
If your library uses social media, you can create your own Twitter or Instagram or even TikTok channel specifically for your podcast. This is a very popular way to get more listeners. Another way is to create artwork on a free graphic design program like Canva and place a quote from a recent episode and then post this on social media.
Lastly, it’s important that you have fun with your podcast. This seems like it should go without saying, but if you and the teens aren’t having fun then you’ll need to establish why this is.
If you develop a good theme, find a good hosting site, and recruit enthusiastic teens, you will have a great podcast.