The following was written as the afterword for the Recirculated ebook of transcripts by Dolly “The Artist Formerly Known as Moehrle” Knight, who has been a big supporter of the show for a long time. Listen to us on Withdrawn; someone has to, because Dolly herself won’t be listening.
I don’t listen to podcasts.
I’m not just being funny here: I’ve always struggled with listening to people talk. (I welcome your jokes.) I don’t listen to audiobooks or talk radio and your Terry Gross jokes are lost on me. Sometimes I get lost in my own thoughts, sometimes I get distracted by a shiny object, but either way the outcome is the same: I lose my place and get discouraged, then move on to something else. Sorry, world. Sorry, Steve.
When I first heard of Circulating Ideas, I nodded sagely and thought, that sounds good. There are podcasts for every conceivable subject, and a podcast made by a librarian, focused on library topics, seemed like the perfect way to combine the library scientists’ love of new trends and tech, with an exciting focus on the work real library professionals were doing. I even found myself, to my great surprise, actually listening to episodes; I consider Circulating Ideas a form of professional development, and usually listen at my desk.
One of my favorite things about Circulating Ideas is the laid back interview style. No one is ever put on the defensive; there’s a lot of pausing for laughter, and the conversation can meander from subject to subject organically, because unlike talk radio, Steve’s goal isn’t to play “gotcha” or have a debate with anyone. The interviews make you feel like you’re in a coffee shop with Steve and Cory Doctorow, and you’re not eavesdropping, you’re part of the discussion.
When the first Kickstarter came around, to get Steve some new equipment and to get me some stickers (I think that was what it was for), I was impressed by the love shown to Circulating Ideas. When librarians love something, they support it, and they definitely showed up for the first Kickstarter–it was nearly 150% funded by the time it ended.
As much as I might harangue Steve Thomas for my own enjoyment, Circulating Ideas is a spectacular project. Even with all the love for it, I don’t think we truly appreciate what he’s done here–he’s created a living breathing portrait of what this mysterious entity known as “librarianship” looks like in this era. Interviewees run the gamut from librarians working in youth services to consultants, managers, directors, and authors. They work in traditional libraries, they work in special libraries, or they don’t work in libraries at all; but everyone has their own perspective on the work they do and the transitions they’ve experienced.
When Steve told me he wanted to do a second Kickstarter to fund transcripts of existing Circulating Ideas episodes, I was very excited to think of how much this would open the interviews up, not just to people like me who prefer not to listen to podcasts, but also to students (who might not be able to sit through multiple hours looking for the topic they’re researching), deaf and hard of hearing individuals, and others who struggled with the audio format. There are a lot of podcasts I wish had transcripts, because I’d love to be able to share them with people who for whatever reason don’t listen to podcasts, but I know that the time and expense of creating transcripts is prohibitive. But now, thanks to this Kickstarter and the generosity of those who funded it, the interviews of Circulating Ideas are more accessible than ever.
Thinking about Steve’s interviews, and knowing that now anyone looking to find out Nancy Pearl’s thoughts on whether libraries have gotten too tech focused, or learn Buffy Hamilton’s feelings on social media, will be able to read their interviews and cite to them–actually makes me feel pretty sentimental (for someone who doesn’t even listen to podcasts). Knowing that this resource will be available in an even wider format is a great achievement.
My hope is that you will share the interviews, and this eBook, widely, and that two hundred years from now when students in the new field of “Information Science” want to know how libraries were in the early 21st Century, they’ll turn on their brain link to databases comprising the entirety of human knowledge, sit back, and listen to Steve say, “This…is Circulating Ideas.”