Everything is (still) better in Silicon Valley

Hello (again) again!

I’m going to do my best not to get carried away this time. For those of you who are just joining me, I spent my last entry talking about Denver Public, after announcing at the start that I was going to share some thoughts on the Sunnyville Public Library podcasts which I never got around to. Thus, without any further ado:

The title of this entry may be meant as a joke, but Sunnyvale’s Bay Area credentials remain immediately evident on noticing that the podcast digest URL is “librarypodcasts.org.” While it’s not as though bookmarking a longer address is especially difficult, it still stands to reason that these guys were probably very near the first to begin delivering content like this. Equally telling is the absence of any design credit at the bottom of the page beyond “© 2006 City of Sunnyvale, California.” This layout seems to have been built in-house, the merits of which are debatable (see again my last entry), though the implication that the creative force actually knows what they are doing is invaluable.

Although they only seem to publish once a month on average, and have been mute since June of this year, the general interest content on offer from Sunnyvale is largely spectacular. It’s predominantly local, as well; if the library offers a public seminar on money matters, or a notable guest lecturer stops by, the recording makes its way to this website, usually clocking in between one and two hours. Entries are tagged either as children’s or adult, with the occasional video broadcast, and the right-hand column suggests a teen services category which doesn’t appear to be used. Each mp3-format podcast has an embedded flash player below its synopsis on the front page, as well as a direct download link, and the rightmost column includes both an RSS feed and an iTunes subscription.

Though I’ve already said as much, these are some extremely high-quality shows. While only being incidentally related to the library, they do an excellent job of showing, rather than telling, what’s going on in the Sunnyvale community, and the recording is quite professionally done. I think there exists a stigma which suggests that a library podcast can only be book readings or library-related news. Sunnyvale pierces right through that with what is essentially NPR material.

For the record, amidst the ongoing debate about the degradation of the public library, I don’t see any problem at all with Sunnyvale’s initiative. Breaking down the divide between libraries and community centers has only been a good thing up to now, and this is no different.

Interestingly enough, the link to sunnyvalelibrary.org available from the sidebar instead redirects to a rather unfortunate-looking .gov domain whose broken CSS is only sort-of apologized for by the assurance that the site will look much better in Internet Explorer 5. This, the library’s primary website, is yet among the best I’ve ever seen, offering several events to take place this week as well as a public service announcement about RFID on the front page. It’s clear, meanwhile, that the layout itself is caught up in some bureaucratic purgatory which prevents the aforementioned enterprising webmaster from doing justice to its content.

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