Audio and the modern LIS professional

Claire Beecroft, an information specialist, on why modern Library and Information Professionals need to be wired for sound.

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In a world where video-based content is fast becoming the dominant online medium, it's easy to forget that audio is still as accessible, relevant and engaging as ever.

In my role as an information specialist and university teacher, I have become increasingly involved in the creation of multimedia content for a variety of purposes. This includes promoting the library and information service, generating tutorials for information skills and digital literacy, applying for conferences, promoting online courses and providing feedback to students. While I have gained a lot of experience producing videos, and still value this fantastic medium for communication, I think there's still a strong case to be made for the use of audio.

When we think of audio and the Web, the first word that might spring to mind is "podcast". What some might think of the podcast as a slightly updated online medium, in fact the world of podcasting continues to thrive and flourish.

Five key benefits of audio

1. Audio is ideal for the camera-shy

Audio is an ideal medium for those of us who are a little camera shy, and are nervous about appearing visually online. If you would like to make videos but are too nervous, producing audio content is a great way to start and build confidence. It’s easy to practise your delivery and listening back to recordings is very revealing about how you use your voice, and how you sound! This can enhance not only your future audio recordings, but your ‘live’ delivery as well, so it’s well worth taking the time to record some short pieces, if only to have a chance to hear yourself as others hear you.

2. Audio files are small (ish)

Audio files are much smaller than video files, making storage easier and downloading less draining on precious download limits for users, especially on mobile devices where users may have to choose carefully what they ‘spend’ their download allowance on. It also makes it easier to share files with others as many audio files are still small enough to send as an email attachment; something that is often impossible with video. This makes distributing your audio content widely a much easier prospect.

3. Audio is mobile

Audio is a mobile medium; while it’s not realistic for our users to watch video while walking to work, audio is a great medium for learning on-the-go, and can be accessed during times when other mediums are not accessible. As we become increasingly aware of how we use our time, being able to access content on-the-go can be a real bonus to users. It is also very easy to create audio content on mobile devices using apps such as Audioboo, meaning that content creation is not tied to a particular computer, or even to our office/work environments.

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