Podcasting has become an increasingly popular communications tool for education and entertainment.
Since 2018, Johnson County Library has offered its own podcast, titled “Did You Hear?”
These digital recordings have proven to be a fun and creative way to share Library staffs' passion for what they do. Episodes offer a behind-the-scenes exploration of Library services, events and the collection, revealing how the Library is so much more than buildings with books.
Ninety-five episodes have generated nearly 20,000 downloads, averaging 200 per installment. The most popular, about the U.S. Census, garnered nearly 1,000 downloads. Other popular episodes include interesting topics like K-Pop, Return Bin Finds, Notable Books, the MakerSpace, Community Matters and Library Hacks. They are all available on the Library's website.
Interviewees have included an astronaut, award-winning authors, civic leaders and popular chefs. The 20-minute conversations, released monthly, take listeners on an audio journey of discovery.
Co-Hosts Dave Carson and Charles Hower make a great team and are excited for 2023.
“We really found our swing this year, our stride,” said Carson, who launched the podcast project in June 2018. The program has had several co-hosts but has built continuity and momentum since Hower signed on in early 2021.
Carson and Hower each bring unique skills to this endeavor. Carson has a master’s degree in educational technology and has been with Johnson County Library for almost 15 years, concentrating on web content development and multimedia production. In 2018 he realized podcasting could enhance what the Library was already doing with its website, videos and social media.
Hower was hired as a Monticello clerk in 2018 and became an information specialist at Central in March 2020. He has a music recording background and is an avid podcast listener.
Their first episode together in 2021 focused on what patrons could still do through the Library, despite COVID restrictions. The “Did You Hear?” podcast, available through the Podbean hosting service to all sorts of podcast apps, provided great Library outreach during the pandemic.
“It was connecting patrons to those resources, saying ‘Hey, we’re still here,’” Hower explained.
Hower personally learned a lot. “Getting to speak to people about their jobs and find out their backgrounds, I really enjoyed that early on,” he said. “Now, I think my favorite part is that it feels like I’m hanging out with friends and I get to chat with them.”
Carson appreciates how the Library's administration has supported the initiative, providing equipment for high-quality audio.
“I’m a lifelong learner like everybody is here,” Carson said. “All the different people who come in here, we have a general sense of what they do, but when you get into the specifics, that’s where the real meat of it is. It’s so enjoyable.”
They began 2022 by interviewing a Library staffer preparing to retire and another newly hired, comparing their perspectives. Other installments shined a spotlight on summer reading and the Writers Conference.
They are excited for 2023 and are planning their next installments. They would love to hear your feedback through this brief survey.
“If we can help people see everything that the Library is involved with, I think that helps break down stereotypes,” Carson said, “showing who the librarians are and what a modern library is and can be, and your unique and personal relationship with it.”