Thursday, November 19, 2009

This One Is Going Out to All Those Erstwhile Librarians Down in Dubuque

THING 21: Podcasts

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a DJ. This was when a DJ was Wolfman Jack sitting in a glassed-in room with twin turntables, spinning 45 rpm vinyl, pushing buttons, holding up a finger to silence anyone when the mic was live, running back and forth to the platter library (yes, that's what they had back then) looking for someone's request or the tune that was going to go with the next reflection on life and love. The job of my dreams. I'd think up radio program themes, I hung out at radio stations, I listened to radio all the time, even AM. My first boyfriends were DJs (ill-advised, but there you go). Top 10 Christmas present ever was the little transistor radio with the single earphone, secreted under my pillow so that I could drift off to sleep listening to the debut of Steely Dan, the Sounds of Philadelphia and Detroit, a bustle in your hedgerow, a little Nilsson in the night...

Fast forward. Podcasts. When I have time I can make that radio show. I can make a whole radio station! The list of podcasts on is testimony to the thousands of radio show ideas that folks out there have, information they want to share for education and entertainment. (It's pretty amazing that podcastalley is created and maintained by a single person, one 26-year-old Chris McIntyre.) Podcastalley has decent searching and sorting features for anyone looking for podcasts in particular topic areas, and in the spirit of "wisdom of the masses" the most popular podcasts overall and podcasts in topic areas are listed. As a reference tool for those who prefer audio to visual, this is a fun site to poke around.

The podcast that I most often listen to comes out of the Cooperative Children's Book Center, a children's literature research library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The weekly "show" features one of the CCBC's librarians booktalking one or two or three Books of the Week, current items in all categories of literature for children (picture books, fiction, nonfiction). These are the great reads that will eventually show up in the annual book published by the CCBC--Choices. There's nothing like hearing the enthusiasm of the librarians, though, to get you hooked and looking for that gem to pass on to the kids in your life (guiltless admission: or to curl up with on your own before passing it on). The podcasts aren't broadcasting every week at the moment, since the recent departure of the CCBC's podcast maven Tessa Michaelson, but they will be back. You can find them on the CCBC's homepage (

Most of the links in the 23 Things podcast page are dead, which continues to be a frustration with the 23Things site. Only the and two of the "how to create a podcast" links are still living and breathing. Doubtless there are other tools for locating podcasts, which could be added to an updated THING 21...?

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