Plogging for Poetry Month!
Helene Blowers over at Library Bytes posted some “Podcast Thoughts” last week where she made the case for libraries to podcast about current events, topics and culture. Helene’s thoughts mirror mine precisely. In fact, it is something that I have been thinking about for several months and it finally came to fruition on April 2nd with the official launch of the PPL Poetry Podcast Blog for National Poetry Month.
I wanted to call it the “PPL Poetry Plog” since it is a series of podcasts on a blog, but I thought that might be too confusing (and too much alliteration). I then wanted to call it Poetcast, but the folks at poets.org beat me to it. Not thrilled with the final name (last minute decision, just had to call it something), but I am thrilled with the results and how many readers we have had during the first 10 days. Our stats, in fact, are exceeding my expectations by leaps and bounds (over 225 viewers on most days and over to 2,000 views thus far). I know the statistics will get skewed by posting here, so I held off. I wanted to see how far we could take this with only local exposure and word of mouth. Others have found us already, such as the Book Blog at timesunion.com and that has thrilled me.
We have recorded 26 poets so far and hope to do a few more before the end of the month. The poets all come from the greater Princeton area and each poet brings a unique voice and perspective to the project. For instance, Paul Muldoon, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003, did a beautiful reading of a pantoum for us and Enriqueta Carrington’s poem was read by 2 poets in 2 languages while Judith McNally contributed a unique “microlouge”. We have many more surprises in store for the rest of the month, including some wonderful poetry by a high school student.
This has been a real team project and with me every step of the way has been Evan Klimpl. Evan is one of our Tech Aides at PPL and I simply must give credit where credit is due. I may have had the original concept and coordinated the project, but it is Evan who responsible for doing 90% of the poetry recordings, cleaning up the files to make them sound professional, uploading the files, preparing many of the posts and anything else that I have requested. I can not thank Evan enough for embracing this project with the such enthusiasm and dedication. Also assisting with this project and deserving thanks are Bob Keith and Romina Gutierrez from PPL. And last, but certainly not least, in the early stages of this project my good friend John LeMasney gave me some invaluable advice about how we could do this project for free (which was one of my goals besides promoting poetry).
This is an idea that I hope other libraries will steal, because it is a project that can be done without having to make any investments — except perhaps a decent microphone for recording ($35-50 maximum) if you don’t already have one. Here is how we did it (in a nutshell):
- We used Audacity from sourceforge.net to record and edit the .mp3 files
- The blog was set up at wordpress.com — this is the free version of wordpress and it works well for a project such as this
- Our .mp3 files are being hosted at archive.org
- The player that we are using to in the posts comes free with wordpress
- We took photos while the readings were being recorded to ensure consistency
This has been a terrific way for Princeton Public Library to experiment with how we want to implement podcasting in to our programs. We have lots of ideas and now that we have the process figured out we will hopefully be able to podcast more original content in the near future.