King County Library System readers, who consume more digital materials than readers in any other part of the country, have made KCLS the number one digital-circulating public library in the U.S. To support this passionate use, KCLS just launched a podcast called “The Desk Set,” co-hosted by KCLS librarians Emily Calkins and Britta Barrett. The podcast features author interviews, book reviews, literary conversations, and encourages listeners to expand their reading horizons.
“We’ve noticed incredible growth in both audiobook and podcast listening,” said Barrett, Online Library Services Librarian. “Creating a library podcast felt like a perfect way to connect with that audience.”
In the past three years, KCLS’ audiobook circulation has increased 193 percent. The Pew Research Center reports that since 2006, the number of Americans over age 12 who listen to podcasts has grown from 11 percent to 44 percent.
The first season of The Desk Set, which began October 26, covers a range of topics, from the art and science of taste to the #MeToo movement in the literary world. Each episode is based upon KCLS’ annual reading challenge, 10 to Try.
“10 to Try encourages readers to push their boundaries and to read outside their comfort zones by asking them to read a book in 10 different categories over the course of the year,” said Emily Calkins, Readers’ Services Program Coordinator.
Local authors featured in the first season include Kristin Hannah, author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone; Matt Ruff, author of Lovecraft Country (being adapted for an HBO series); Kate Lebo and Sim Ligon, authors of Pie and Whiskey, plus others. Other episodes feature authors like Rebecca Roanhorse, Hugo award-winning author of Trail of Lightning. Upcoming episodes, to be published in November and December, will talk about the Best Books of the year as voted on by KCLS staff, announce the 2019 reading challenge, and share tips for making reading a priority in your new year.
The Desk Set is recorded in one of the soundproof rooms at the new ideaX Makerspace at the Bellevue Library, using podcast recording equipment. “It’s exciting that anyone who listens could be inspired to make a podcast of their own, using the same library tools we did,” Barrett said. “The library Makerspace recording studio is open to the public, and we offer free access to services like Lynda.com, which patrons can use to develop audio editing and production skills.”
The podcast can be downloaded from iTunes, Google, Spotify, and Stitcher. Listeners can visit kcls.org/deskset for show notes and lists of books featured in each episode.