Tuesday, 10 June 2008


It can seem like podcasts are everywhere - on our radios (Terry Wogan's best bits), in our newspapers (the Guardian's podcasts), even at the supermarket (Tesco podcasts). But what is a podcast and why would an archive have one?

A podcast is a digital audio recording that is made available over the Internet for users to listen to on their computer or on a MP3 player. They have been used by a huge variety of people and organisations to record information and present it to users in audio format and some reports suggest that 10% of all UK adults have downloaded a podcast.

Possible uses for podcasts in an archival setting are:

  • To share talks given by their archivists and guest lecturers at the repository with a wider audience.
  • To create regular news bulletins about new accessions or changes.
  • To provide audio guides for users about certain collections.
  • To give basic information about how to use an archive.

These are the kinds of activities that the National Archives have been successfully using their podcast series for which in March 2007 had been downloaded 8,000 times in just three months. By using podcasts they have widened the potential audience for talks given at the National Archives and the Family Records Centre and allowed users to better prepare for their research by listening to guidance before visiting or using online collections.

While podcasts are not as simple as a blog to put together it is possible and would be ideal for an archive that regularly hosts talks or lectures to record these and publish them as podcasts for a wider audience.


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