by Camille Gamboa, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Director, SAGE Publishing
“I’m convinced this turn towards listening could be enormously valuable for scholarship in expanding the range of ways in which we talk about, share and engage with ideas.”– Mark Carrigan, Sociologist at the University of Cambridge
The number of podcast listeners has been growing consistently over the past 15 years; as of 2021, 41 percent of the U.S. population listens to them at least monthly. Libraries, publishers, and research institutions are taking advantage of this and using it as an opportunity to communicate expertise, new perspectives, and support to their communities.
I’m an avid podcast listener, and while it is true that I learn by listening, I’m also entertained and absorbed into the conversations I’m listening to (I forget I was even folding laundry). If you are interested in adding to your podcast queue or find yourself podcast-curious, here are a few related to our industry from a variety of different perspectives.
The Authority File from Choice (the publishing unit of ACRL), has been a go-to of mine for years. For the most part, it is made up of four, 15-minute episodes dedicated to a single topic going out over the course of a month. While topics do range widely and some are less relevant (they are chosen by series sponsors), the host asks the right questions for the academic community. A recent series on Ethics and Integrity in Educational Contexts is definitely worth a listen.
Library Punk describes itself as a “leftist library worker podcast” and delivers well on this description. It’s a podcast with spunk (imagine eavesdropping on a conversation of some of your coolest colleagues), your occasional not-safe-for-work conversation, and consistent NSFW language (not one I listen to around my four-year-old). Topics range widely and go far beyond academia – for example, check out these episodes on prison librarianship and information services for incarcerated people.
LibVoices shares perspectives from librarians of color speaking to successes and challenges of their careers with lessons that any working professional can benefit from. In an interview with Holly A. Smith, college archivist at Spelman College, their November episode tackles how to make sure that institutional diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are not performative as well as how to exhibit radical empathy in the library. (For tweeters, their Twitter channel is worth a follow).
Lost In the Stacks is a clever and informal podcast from the librarians at Georgia Tech that mixes an eclectic music playlist with a library-related topic of the week (and usually there is some creative association between the two). I started with an episode from the summer 2021 that interviews Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch about (surprise!) retractions. I keep listening when I’m in the mood for new perspectives, lots of banter, and – because you feel like you are in the room with the speakers – nostalgia for in-office, inter-colleague conversations (which I haven’t had in years).
Road to Open Science, from Utrecht University, covers all things open – OA publishing, open data and software, etc. This podcast is new to me, but I enjoyed their December 2021 episode which tackles – “Who are these Open Science people, anyway?” – addressed by some historians of science (spoiler alert: open science has many faces, and exploring them brings some interesting insights to light).
While not regularly updated, The Scholarly Kitchen podcast (from the Society for Scholarly Publishing blog of the same name) has some helpful episodes for those early in their publishing/library careers or those transitioning into them. For example, I’ve bookmarked these timeless episodes on open access publishing – an OA explainer and one that goes more in-depth – and give them to new members of my team.
The Skillset Podcast comes from the School of Information Science at the University of South Carolina and Publishers Weekly. Their spring collection of podcasts was dedicated to the topic of collective care and highlighted such topics as exploring morale in the workplace, mindfulness, and the power of diversity and equity. The episodes were recorded in the spring of 2021, but I learned a lot listening in the winter of 2022 and would recommend a listen to empower yourself to prioritize wellbeing in your workplace.
Velocity of Content is, for the most part, for and about the publishing world, including trade publishing, but many of the interviews are both very good and relevant to academia. (Full disclosure: it’s a podcast from the Copyright Clearance Center, led by their head of content marketing but it puts the content marketing efforts of most to shame.) They also do a weekly publishing roundup in partnership with Publishers Weekly. Their first podcast of the year shared a 15-minute Gen Z explainer and in late 2021, a colleague of my own shared the findings from a largescale survey of academic librarians on the future of the library-patron relationship.
I would be remiss if i didn’t mention the Charleston Hub’s own podcast, aptly named Against the Grain. While the format is largely your traditional question-and-answer, the perspectives are varied and conversations meander in interesting ways while remaining relevant. To get a good flavor, listen to the interview with Greg Eow, president of the Center for Research Libraries – e.g. this quote, “build collections and content that empower folks to ask many, many kinds of questions.” Some episodes are recordings of top Charleston Conference sessions you might have missed.
I’m aware that there are many more podcasts in this realm worth listening to (someone recently sent me this incredibly long list from the Library Lab blog which I recommend for podcast addicts). What podcasts have you listened to that have helped you in your own professional life? Or what podcasts help you best escape from work? If you have your own recommendations, please share.
About the Author: My name is Camille Gamboa (she/her) and I’ve joined The Charleston Hub’s blog to write about all things communications. I am the corporate communications and public affairs director at SAGE Publishing, where I employ various communication strategies to brand SAGE amongst the scholarly community, media, policymakers and public. I also work with groups in the US and across the trans-Atlantic to demonstrate the value of social and behavioral science to those outside of academia.