Outsourcing outreach

Wandering through the iTunes Music Store, I noticed multiple library science-related podcasts that have faded out of existence. Programs like Uncontrolled Vocabulary and LibVibe no longer exist as going concerns. Some programs seem to potentially still exist but have gaps between episodes ranging between seven and ten months. Library Geeks shows gaps of up to ten months between individual episodes. LIS Radio from the University of Missouri-Columbia has not released a podcast since February 2009 and their webcast calendar is currently devoid of entries. Prior to the two programs in February 2009, nothing was released between then and July 2008. The only graduate programs with any consistent presence showing in the iTunes Music Store were San Jose State University and Indiana University.

Online expression can be tricky when it involves more than just writing. Academic settings are not the easiest places to locate such efforts. While Journalism and Mass Communication programs are used to hosting the operation of student newspapers and student radio stations, other disciplinary departments may not be similarly equipped. There are ways around this.

One might imagine that the 2008 accreditation standards of the ALA for library science graduate programs might include a explicit requirement for community outreach. Such does not actually appear within the standards explicitly although it is referenced by standard III.2. There is a possibility for a service act, though, that would require hopefully minimal effort.

As most ALA accredited graduate programs in library sciences in the United States are located at state-owned and/or state-funded institutions, it is understandable that there are budget woes presently. Nevada's state institutions of higher education were facing 36% overall budget cuts as it was when the current budget haggling started in Carson City. The most recent news reports indicate legislators are trying to keep cuts to the teens but negotiations are stalled right now.

Some institutions hosting ALA accredited graduate programs in library science are also home to National Public Radio affiliates. LISNews Netcast Network programming is slowly but surely being made available on Public Radio Exchange for potential licensing by those same National Public Radio affiliates. Public Radio Exchange is the middleman system whereby small producers and independent producers can make content available for National Public Radio affiliates to pick over. Right now we have individual segments posted but do not have any complete shows yet. Due to the rigid network clock in use, the indeterminate length of network programs week by week makes it rough for us to regularly offer standalone programs on PRX. With some re-packaging perhaps, Tech for Techies and Hyperlinked History might fit into Morning Edition slots.

With this being a time of doing more with less, I can at least bring something to the table. A nice bullet point for status reports on service could be made relative to an outreach effort. Sending a memo or otherwise twisting arms at a campus connected National Public Radio station about broadcasting LIS-related content could count as attempting outreach efforts. Nothing says a graduate program has to produce the material itself as materials could be distributed from the ALA as much as the LISNews Netcast Network. LIS-related content is already out there on one National Public Radio station, KUOW, with Nancy Pearl's book reviews. Unfortunately her program is only available on broadcast and as a podcast but is apparently not arranged for syndication to other broadcast stations.

The cost of writing a memo is understandably far smaller than putting together a full new media production operation. The cost of production itself is already borne by the LISNews Netcast Network so the graduate programs don't have to. If a graduate program wanted to work in partnership with the network, that can be discussed.

Writing a memo is a small thing. It is a start, though. At the least, it is a cheap option.

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