Library podcast highlights staff, underutilized resources

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The first episode of ‘PardCast’ discussed the college’s plans for celebrating Banned Books Week. (Graphic courtesy of Nora Zimmerman)

With the library’s new podcast, called “PardCast,” Nora Zimmerman is turning her love for auditory media into a resource that students can use to learn more about Skillman Library.

As Lafayette’s digital repository librarian, Zimmerman created the podcast due to her own interest in podcasts as a medium.

“I just appreciate non-musical sound,” she said. “I think we’re in a golden age between the explosion of podcasts and increased availability of archival sound collections.”

Zimmerman also noticed a recent increase in library-centered podcasts, including podcasts from the Society of American Archivists and the Association of College & Research Librarians. She was further inspired to add to the campus podcast culture after listening to Colton Corner, an interfaith podcast hosted by Lisa Green ‘24 that discusses community members’ experiences with religion.

Currently, Zimmerman plans to release four to six episodes of the podcast per semester. Episodes will highlight programming, resources and people of the library. She hopes the podcast will change people’s perception of the library on campus.

“I think a lot of people might think of the library as just a physical space, or just a collection of stuff,” Zimmerman said. “The library is people as well.”

Zimmerman also hopes the podcast will teach students about aspects of the library that they might be unfamiliar with despite spending significant time on campus.

“For many students, they might have been going to Lafayette for years and not really encountered the library, the services that we have [or] the people that we have that can help you,” she said.

According to Zimmerman, the decision to provide this information via a podcast rather than another medium is because of the different sounds and emotions that audio can convey.

“You can get a sense of people’s personalities when they’re talking, so it’s really a way to almost humanize librarians and have that more tactile, sensory experience,” she said.

“People think of libraries as very sterile environments. They’re not. They’re very lively. There’s a lot going on here,” Zimmerman continued. “There’s a silence to the library, and the podcast is just a way for us to share a little bit more.”

The first episode of the podcast was released last month on Soundcloud. In the episode, which clocks in at just under four minutes, Zimmerman discusses the history and national importance of Banned Books Week, as well as related programming offered throughout the week at Skillman Library.

An upcoming episode will feature Zimmerman catching up with the staff of Special Collections & College Archives. Zimmerman hopes the podcast will be a low-commitment and stress-free way for students to learn about the library.

“I just think podcasts are great because you don’t have to sit there and read. It’s a passive thing to consume,” she said. “We’re trying to keep these episodes really short, like five to 10 minutes, so that it’s just a bite-sized bit of information.”

Zimmerman’s goal is to make students feel more comfortable reaching out to the library for assistance.

“Librarians are all people, and we all really want to talk to you,” Zimmerman said. “We have very different skill sets and different subject areas of knowledge, but we really want to help.”

You can listen to “PardCast” by visiting soundcloud.com/laf-lib.