Twice a month for the past year, Longview librarians Elizabeth Partridge and Becky Standal put on headsets in a recording room at KUKN radio and talk about books.
Earlier this month, however, Partridge, Standal and other librarians took turns reviewing their favorite recent books in front of a live audience. About a dozen people listened to the Longview Public Library’s “Your Shelf or Mine” podcast live episode on Nov. 18.
The live show builds on the podcast’s goals: encouraging listeners to get more involved with the library, broadening what they read and building relationships in the community.
“When you listen to us talking, you feel like you get to know us, (which builds) that relationship with a human being at the library, instead of it just being an organization,” Standal said last week. “I’d hope that makes people feel more comfortable coming to the library.”
The podcast’s next episode will feature Standal’s and Patridge’s interview with The Daily News about their podcast. The episode will be available online Wednesday, Nov. 27 (see breakout box).
They record for free at KUKN and then edit the episodes, which often end up being between 45 and 90 minutes, depending on “whether we had coffee before or after,” Partridge said.
The first part of each episode includes the hosts’ recap about recent and upcoming community events. Information about events can be spread across many platforms, they said, so they want to be a place where people can hear about everything all at once.
Then, they move on to books. Each episode highlights a different book genre based off a reading challenge that Standal started a few years ago for library employees. She creates a new list of 25 categories each year. To complete the challenge, participants need to read books from 24 of the categories over a year. Genres can range from Amish romance to African-based science fiction to a book with an animal in its title.
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When Standal and Partridge began recording their podcasts, released twice a month, the reading challenge was a “natural fit” for something new to focus on for each episode. Before each episode, they read a book that falls under one of the categories, and then they talk about the books on the podcast.
On this week’s episode, they chose two self-published books: Raining Love in Dove Creek and Raining Love in the Highlands, both by Sharon McAnear.
“(Standal) comes up with these topics, and some of them I would never ever in all of my life choose to read,” Partridge said. “It’s great for me because it makes me reach way outside of my comfort zone and understand more about other people’s perspectives.”
By discussing a variety of books, they hope listeners also will try books outside of their comfort zones. Often, people who say they don’t like reading just haven’t found a genre or way to read that works for them, Standal said. There are many ways to read: paperbacks, electronic books and audiobooks.
“What it comes down to is just stories,” Standal said. “It’s the story and imagination that’s the important part of reading, more than specifically looking at paper — although, I do really love looking at paper,” she added with a laugh.
Discussing books with others, either at a library event or on a podcast, helps build understanding, Partridge said. It’s OK to not like everything you read, but it’s important to be able to articulate why you don’t like it, she said.
Standal said knowing she will have to talk about the book on the podcast forces her to read more closely.
“When you talk to somebody about art, it helps you see things in it that you might not have seen for yourself,” Standal said. “(Reading) builds empathy and helps (children) learn how to tell their own stories and be empathetic towards themselves but also to other people in the community and all around the world.”