miNYstory: A Podcasting love affair

How many stories can one block tell? Before there were skyscrapers and yellow taxis, there were a multitude of different New York Cities. Listen-in, above, for a mini-history of the busy corner of 34th Street and 5th Avenue.

I’m not sure if I can consider my Reference class from this past semester to truly be a surprise hit, but it was definitely one of the best classes I have taken in library school. In all honesty, I love reference. I love utilizing reference librarians, I love making Libguides, I love teaching library instruction (when I’ve had enough coffee) and I relish in any opportunity to work with students, staff or faculty. Reference, like research, is a treasure hunt. A choose-your-own adventure through history and space! Honest!

My Reference class in library school followed this discovery model. In class each week we would get ‘briefed’ (aka. 2.5hr long, in depth lectures and discussions) on a multitude of different resources and tools. Outside of class we worked on RefQ’s: guided quests that mimicked references questions and which often ended up spilling out to over 30 pages.

The semester culminated in the creation of podcasts in small groups. Our guidelines were to tell a story related to New York City history, to abide to copyright laws and to utilize a variety of different resources. The podcast above is one of the two podcasts that my group produced, and it is the one that I narrated and wrote the script for. The miNYstory project  was a great way to take advantage of all of the archival resources available through the web from so many famous and inspiring New York institutions. Some of the research highlights included images of the Empire State Building’s construction from the NYPL digital gallery and city government papers such as a detailed description of the Murray Hill neighborhood from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. I can definitely see the benefits of podcasts for the instruction of research methods and tools (they’re fun, share-able and, with Garage Band and a quiet room, very easy to make) but I also think that they’re a great way for librarians to tell stories and share reference materials in a dynamic, fast and relatable package.

Bibliography and credits
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