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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4. Audio is engaging

Audio gives precious meaning and context to our words that is often lost in print-based communication; this is especially useful when delivering feedback or communicating negative messages in more engaging and humane way, but is an enhancement to pretty much anything you might want to say in print. We have a tendency to be more economical with words in print, but in audio we can flesh out things in a way that gives our message meaning and value beyond the words themselves.

5. Audio is free (or at least!)

Recording and sharing audio can be incredibly easy and accessible. There are several free or very low-cost apps for mobile devices that allow you to record, edit upload and share audio content. My 3 favourites are Audioboo, VoiceRecordHD and Audacity.

Audioboo ( is available for iOS and Android and allows users to record up to 10 minutes of audio. This can then be uploaded to the Audioboo site and embed code can be copied and pasted into any web page, allowing your audio content to be easily place wherever you want it. I’ve used Audioboo both on my tablet and smartphone and found the quality to be excellent, providing I can record somewhere quiet. Obviously a better microphone will further enhance quality, but don’t let a lack of ‘specialist’ equipment put you off; it is really not necessary.

Many audio apps pose difficulties in that they produce audio files in obscure formats, but VoiceRecordHD ( £1.49 on iOS, free on Android) allows you to record your video and them email an MP3 file to yourself or anyone else. MP3 is the most widely accessible audio format across mobile platforms, so its a useful tool if you need to share your recordings with others but are not sure which devices they own.

Finally, try as you might to record your audio with no coughs, sneezes or mumbling, sometimes you’ll need to edit a recording. For that, I can heartily recommend Audacity, a long-standing and much-loved audio recording and editing suite for your Mac or PC. It is pretty simple to use and allows you to create very high-quality audio files, integrating content from multiple recordings including spoken work and music, for a professional result.  Download it for free at

Audio provides an easy in-road to producing multi-media content and can add a valuable human aspect to a range of online content. It’s usually possible to produce audio content at zero-cost, providing you have a smartphone, tablet or a microphone headset for your computer- a significant consideration at a time when budgets are stretched to the limit. For those nervous about producing video, audio provides an excellent first-step, and an opportunity to experiment with multi-media content production and gain vital confidence. So many forms of written content can be enhanced by the depth and context that the human voice can provide - go on, give it a try!

This article is an edited version of one originally published on the ScHARR blog.

Claire Beecroft is an information specialist from the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) at the University of Sheffield.

Image courtesy of nicolasnova via Flickr.

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