Molly's 287 Blog

Emerging Technology Planning: Teen Podcasts at the Library

When I read about the Storycenter program, where libraries can purchase equipment to use to create podcasts, I immediately thought about how this might be a meaningful program for teens in the public library. The library where I work now has a Recording Studio program for teens, where they can come and record a song. This is a really great way to give teens an outlet and a mechanism for self-expression. I think that teen-created audio documentaries could be similarly beneficial for some teens. By giving teens a forum where they can share whatever might be on their mind, the library is sending the message that we want to hear what they have to say (which is not always how teens are treated in other locations/areas of their lives). We are also encouraging them to work together to create a finished project, which is an exercise in community-building. It turns out that plenty of libraries have offered programs along these lines, so it would be possible to do some research to figure out what has worked well or not so well for librarians who have offered similar programs in the past.


Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

  • Building Community
  • Giving Community Members a Voice
  • Teaching Teens how to Create and Edit Audio Programs/Podcasts and how to Create Compelling Audio Narratives

Description of Community you wish to engage:

  • Teens who Visit the Library

Action Brief Statement:

Convince teens that by sharing their stories and working together to create audio programming they will touch and inspire other teens and adults which will build empathy and community because the library is a community-focused organization.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:

  • Mission: To provide a mechanism for teens who visit the library to share their stories and build community with other teens who visit the recording program while also reaching potential listeners who might be enlightened/informed/ discover something new through listening.
  • Policies/Guidelines:

– Age restrictions? It might make sense to limit participation to teens only, so as to make it attractive and relatable to teens.

– Would teens need to sign a waiver giving permission for their audio recordings to be shared publicly? Are there privacy issues surrounding this? What about using names or other identifying information? Perhaps this ought to be discouraged.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

  • One time outlay of money for the equipment, which could cost anywhere from $1000 – $7000, using this “all in one kit,” (which includes an Ipad with extra storage, editing software, and potentially tech support access)
  • Staff would probably be needed to run the program in the library, but it should not take an excessive amount of time. Staff might need some time to figure out how to use the software prior to running the program, time to promote the program, and then time to regularly run the program. This would not need to take a huge amount of time.
  • If there is a Teen Programming budget, perhaps it would cover the cost of the equipment. If not, perhaps grant funding might be available.

Action Steps & Timeline: 

  • First, securing funding for the equipment would be necessary. Once the equipment is secured, it would not need to take long to get the program off the ground.
  • The person in charge of the Teen Services for the library system would probably have to approve it. It might need to be approved by the Branch Manager as well.
  • If the answer is no because there is no funding source available, perhaps an equipment substitution could be made, using laptops already owned by the library and some kind of free podcasting software.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

  • I think that only one staff member would need to be involved in running the program, once it is up and running. It might be a program that is offered on a recurring basis (say, monthly) for a two hour period of time. This seems like a manageable amount of time.
  • Using teens themselves to carry out the work associated with creating a podcast would be the goal. Teaching them to edit and create audio documentaries would allow them to do so without much staff time or assistance needed (potentially).

Training for this Technology or Service:  

  • The Teen Librarian implementing this program would train themselves on how to use the software to create audio documentaries.
  • Another staff person could be trained as a backup, in case the Teen Librarian is out on a day when the program is scheduled, so that it can still go on.
  • The Teen Librarian would offer training to the teens who are interested in the production of the podcast. Eventually, the teens themselves might be able to train new teens.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: 

  • Within the organization, I think it would be great to promote the program by providing a high quality example, as a demo (a particularly compelling story or audio documentary, created by teens). This obviously would have to happen after the program is already up and running, when an excellent example can be found.
  • Outside of the organization, I might want to talk with the teens who I already have relationships with, find out if they are interested in participating and why or why not. This information might help me tweak the program to make it more appealing.
  • Solicit Teen input on topics for discussion, questions to ask, etc.
  • Flyers, outreach, etc.
  • Might let teacher contacts know that this is something their students might benefit from/be interested in. Perhaps teachers might be willing to offer extra credit for participation, which might help get teens in the door the first time.


  • Attendance Statistics, Level of Interest among teens.
  • Solicit feedback from the regular attendees. Does the software and technology work well? Is it easy to use or frustrating? How might they make it better?
  • Is there an audience for the podcasts? Might they be asked for feedback?
  • If successful, this program could be offered at other library locations within the library system.
  • Perhaps it could be offered as an adult library program as well.
  • Stories I am envisioning telling about it: Teens who are engaged and excited by the process of using the technology and collaborating to create a finished piece of work, teens who have an opportunity to share something meaningful or important to them and be heard and possibly acknowledged, teens who connect with each other as a result of the process of creating the audio documentaries or as a result of listening to them.

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