LIS and podcasting

This is probably unsurprising to many of you reading this, but LIS as an industry seems pretty active in podcasting. I myself have never really listened to any podcasts other than a few episodes here and there. Not sure why, but I just haven’t gotten into them; which is weird because I like both talk radio and audiobooks. What got me thinking about LIS podcasting is that I was asked to be a guest on The Librarian’s Guide to Teaching Podcast. The hosts interviewed my co-host and I about the LIS Twitter chat we run, #LISProChat. For my first experience participating in a podcast, this was fantastic. Being a guest on a podcast has definitely got me more interested in podcasting in general; especially as so many of my classmates of been doing podcasts for their presentations.

The fact that there are so many library-related podcasts out there makes a lot of sense as I’ve found articles going all the way back to 2006 on libraries using podcasting as a tool. We all know that podcasts are very much a thing both in and out of LIS. This isn’t even the first time a hacker has written about them for HLS, as there’s a whole category of articles related to this topic. I don’t just want to give you another list of LIS podcasts, because that’s already been done by people who are more familiar with these podcasts than I am, though I want to learn more about them all. Check out this list from OCLC’s WebJunction for a great example that is current to October of 2020. What I want to talk about is a gap in the LIS podcasting market that I’ve noticed, and also the idea of scholarly podcasting.

So, let’s start with scholarly podcasting. What is it? Well, there’s a podcast explaining that actually. It makes me proud to know that the university where I work if at the forefront of this movement via our university press, which runs out of the library. They’ve done an entire mini-series of podcasts on the topic. They’re producing the first-ever peer-reviewed podcast series called Secret Feminist Agenda. This was a trendy topic in my publishing course this semester; and it came up a couple of times in our discussions. They’re pushing this momentum to grow the Amplify Podcast Network for scholarly podcasts. In addition to this, BC Studies has developed a scholarly podcast program which has an open call for submissions. One of the really interesting parts of this is the fact that these podcasts are peer-reviewed; and not just peer-reviewed, but openly peer-reviewed. Peer review is usually blind, and as I learned from a classmate’s assignment over the summer, it is a colonialist tool and has some problematic aspects. Siobhan McMenemy of the WLU Press, who oversees this project wrote a great piece that talks about the open peer-review process that they’re using for the project.

It pleases my open-loving heart to see alternative forms of scholarship like this taking off and getting street cred in academia and popular media.

But, why does this matter and what is that gap I mentioned earlier? We’ll look at the gap first. The gap I noticed is that there doesn’t appear to be any podcasts out there by library students for library students. We have our own openly published journals, but we don’t seem to have moved into the podcasting market. Given how much we librarians-in-the-making love learning about and using new technologies, this surprises me; especially given how I mentioned before that I know several students in my cohort who submit podcasts for their assignments whenever they get the opportunity. That’s also why scholarly podcasts matter. If they’re growing up out of the academic library world, then they’re something aspiring academic librarians should consider exploring and becoming familiar with. They also present another way to get published; which is a bonus that I think might especially interest those interested in public libraries given the prevalence of makerspaces in that sector (makerspaces are becoming more popular at academic libraries too, mine has a small one).

We have the tools and we have the knowledge; so why not develop the skills and really innovate within LIS? We love to talk about innovation in library school, but how often do we actually get the chance to innovate? Scholarly podcasting and open peer review could also be a fantastic step towards amplifying representation for more diverse voices – voices like those of The Book Women. We always need more diverse voices in LIS.

I admit I’m no expert on this topic. What do those of you out there who know more about podcasting think about this idea? Do you think I’m onto something here?


In addition to being a Contributing Writer here at Hack Library School, Lauren (she/her) is currently working towards her MLIS part-time, online, through the University of Alberta, she expects to graduate in Spring 2022. She holds an honours BA in English/Religion & Culture and a BEd, both from Wilfrid Laurier University. Her interests are copyright, open education; accessibility; and diversity, equity, and inclusion in LIS. Lauren is the Copyright and Reserves Supervisor at Wilfrid Laurier University, serving on the Library’s Accessibility Committee, and the Student Advisory Council. She also co-hosts a bi-weekly Twitter chat on library issues and trends (#lisprochat) and is a research assistant on the Opening Up Copyright project. Find her: @rendages, @lisprochat | about.me/laurenbourdages

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