“Lost in the Stacks” – the research library rock n’ roll radio show

Institution:  Georgia Institute of Technology Library

Overview

In January 2010, Georgia Tech’s User Engagement Librarian (Ameet Doshi) and the Library’s East Commons Coordinator (Charlie Bennett) collaborated with Georgia Tech students Jonathon Walker, Avinash Sastry and Kyle Tait to launch the first “research library rock n’ roll radio show” on WREK 91.1 FM Atlanta. WREK radio is operated by students and funded by the Student Government Association.

Conception

This collaboration began with the intent to market library events and resources via brief public service announcements. Eventually the idea morphed into a weekly program exploring various library-related themes. The radio show is called “Lost in the Stacks” and broadcasts live at noon every Friday. Each show is a mix of interviews with students, faculty and library staff and theme-related music. For example, a show with the theme of “The Library and Film” included interviews with the librarian who develops the film collection, undergraduates from the film club about how they use the library as a location for their films, and a professor about using the library’s scholarly film resources. Each interview is followed by a set of theme-related music. For the show about “Libraries and Film,” music included songs about films or filmmaking (for example: “Clark Gable” by The Postal Service). Producing each week’s show involves 2-3 hours of research and recording, as well as brainstorming about theme-related music.

Implementation

Obtaining a weekly slot on WREK’s schedule involved direct communication with the student leadership of the station. We were asked to submit a proposal and record a “pilot” episode for evaluation by the WREK executive board. Fortunately, many students indicated an interest in the idea and offered their production skills to help record the pilot and serve as board operators each week. Every program on WREK requires a student board operator controlling the technical aspects of the show. Because student schedules can be erratic we needed to recruit three or four back-up student operators willing and able to step in as needed.

Achieved and Desired Outcomes

We created a website (http://lostinthestacks.org) directing users to the show’s Facebook page. As of April 2011, the site has more than 550 fans on Facebook, and many are students actively commenting on the wall. A desired outcome for the program is wider distribution of the entire show, including the copyrighted music, via a podcast. Because of the complex legal issues involved, this requires additional research and resources before it becomes a reality. Nonetheless, the show has already garnered attention within the library community and at Georgia Tech.

Our listener evaluations suggest that the radio show has been a successful, low-cost, high-impact collaboration with student media helping to shape perceptions of the library and library staff in new and positive ways. The collaboration leverages existing infrastructure and uses existing low-cost marketing channels (such as Facebook and Twitter) to gain listeners.

To our knowledge, “Lost in the Stacks” is a unique concept in academia, though our hope is that we inspire other libraries to engage their users in similar “cool” ways.

Project type:  Project in Progress

Budget:  $500 – $5,000

Team members:

Charlie Bennett, Georgia Tech Library, East Commons Coordinator
Ameet Doshi, Georgia Tech Library, User Engagement Librarian
Jonathon Walker, Georgia Tech Student, General Manager WREK 91.1 FM Atlanta
Avinash Sastry, Georgia Tech Student, Primary Board Operator for “Lost in the Stacks” (WREK Atlanta)
Perry Shuman, Georgia Tech Student, WREK staff
J. J. O’Brien, Georgia Tech Student, WREK staff
Alli Low, Georgia Tech Student, WREK staff
Kyle Tait, former Georgia Tech Student, former WREK staff

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