So yeah, I launched this new podcast thingy. You should check it out, I mean, you should if you like podcasts and libraries and tech and stuff.
But I wanted to write a little about the podcast itself because it’s a sort of experiment for me that has a bit of meta built into it. See, on Cyberpunk Librarian, I’ll be talking about things like library tech on a budget, open source software, and how to do nifty things with stuff you might already have lying around. Thing is, the open source bits of Cyberpunk Librarian relate right back to the creation of the podcast itself.
I’m a big believer that libraries and librarians can do some pretty amazing tech things without a whole lot of money. As any librarian can tell you, libraries are hurting for cash and dropping tonnes of money on various projects may not be realistic, especially when it comes to programming, advocacy, and outreach. So what do?
Well, I’m geeking out and happy to explain that Cyberpunk Librarian is a 100% free and open source podcast. I’m recording it on a Kubuntu Linux platform (which is free), using the Audacity DAW (which is also free). Moreover the podcast is edited and produced in Audacity and delivered to you in MP3 format via Archive.org, a great proponent of free online information sharing. I thought about making a version of the podcast in the Ogg Vorbis audio format because that too is a free and open source audio specification. The only reason I didn’t is because MP3 is essentially the standard for podcasting and podcatching. No worries as Audacity exports to MP3 with no problem at all. Finally, the podcast is hosted here, through the open source WordPress blogging platform.
The computer I’m using is a Toshiba Satellite laptop. It’s three years old or so and the most expensive part of the operation. However, the hardware isn’t as important when you’re running Linux and, indeed, you could set up a podcasting studio on an older computer that you might already have around the library. As a side note, Audacity works in Windows too, but in case you don’t have a Windows license for a given computer, Linux is quite free and Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu are all very easy to install. The microphone is from a Rock Band video game and is the common USB variety. It’s plug and play with Audacity in both Linux and Windows and required very little adjustment. (By “adjustment” I mean “I had to select the microphone as a source in Audacity.)
All the editing and stuff is handled in Audacity. I used samples from my own songs and I wrote the opening theme. Yes, I used open source programmes for that. The “bumper song” is a piece called Tesseract, and it was recorded and produced through, you guessed it, Audacity. The theme song is a thing I wrote for fun and it’s called Optimus L’chaim. It’s produced through LMMS, the Linux Multimedia Studio.
So, the big investment in the podcast is the equipment, most of which I owned already. The laptop is mine, the microphone is mine, and while I borrowed a mic stand, I’ll be buying two of my own very soon.
My point is, there’s nothing stopping you from doing something like this for your own library, or your own library programme. Got an idea for a show? Try it! The only thing you really need is a half-way decent computer (something made in the last five years would be fine) and a microphone. After that, it’s all software and the software is free. Give it a try, I think you’ll find it to be incredibly fun!