Today, I’ve got two more public libraries to discuss –both of which, I’m happy to say, trump Manchester by degrees. First, I’ll be talking about the Denver Public Library, whose podcast is targeted directly at the children’s department. After that, I’ll share what I think must be a well-kept secret: the podcast of the Sunnyvale Public Library. With a URL as iconic as librarypodcasts.org, the safest town in California led me to expect great things and did not disappoint, serving up content from visiting authors which rivals that of the excellent nearby FORA.tv series. But more on that later.
The Denver Public Library podcasts (subtitle: “Stories For Kids!”) are presented in a nice, readable blog digest format, with a very manageable seven tags and three external links, along with a full-text search, in the right column. The entries themselves are exclusively book readings, occasionally by the original author, along with a cover thumbnail, a cute little tagline, and copyright information. Production values are high, and because the speaker is either a children’s author or a children’s librarian, they’re very pleasant to listen to.
Not being able to identify a commercial-looking layout, I doubled down to the bottom of the page to discover a link to Liberated Syndication, a podcast-oriented CMS with hosting packages which range from $5-$60/month based on the amount of storage provided. Interestingly, they advertise that bandwidth is unmetered — strange, given that this is the main obstacle faced by many popular free podcasts. While I imagine that there is some level beyond which they’d have to renegotiate those terms, they seem to’ve been popular enough to merit mention in an actual book from as far back as 2005. I’m surprised that I hadn’t heard of them.
Now, I wonder about the extent to which this is used by Denver Public. My assumption is that the average library’s hosting needs are quite modest, and this service might be the logical next step when going to a podcast. The second most inexpensive hosting option allows for 250MB of uploads each month for only $12, and assuming you’re recording in 64kbps mp3 (which is terrible for music, but fine for speech), that’s eight hours of content — not a limit you’re likely to eclipse for less than it costs to employ a page for two hours.
On the other hand, I wonder whether a paid service is even necessary. I’d hope that somebody in the chain of command at such a relatively high-profile public library as Denver would know enough to install WordPress, if not a more sophisticated CMS like Joomla or Drupal (though I, like Nicole Engard, am of the opinion that the former meets most needs just fine, and is unfairly passed over as a blogging-only platform). As more libraries move to this digest model, enforcing the value of rotating exhibitions over static collections, we’re going to see smaller and smaller operations taking on this challenge. Still, homegrown solutions may prove less viable; know-how costs more than Liberated Syndication.
Oops – I got going for a while on that one. What do you say we leave Sunnyvale to the next post?
(Incidentally, this is why I like blogging – any other medium, and I’d have to go and edit the first paragraph. Here’s, it’s a happily misintentioned “stay tuned”!)