KCLS launched its first podcast called “The Desk Set.” The podcast is hosted by librarians Britta Barrett and Emily Calkins. Photo courtesy of “The Desk Set.”

KCLS launched its first podcast called “The Desk Set.” The podcast is hosted by librarians Britta Barrett and Emily Calkins. Photo courtesy of “The Desk Set.”

KCLS launches first podcast, The Desk Set

Librarians Britta Barrett and Emily Calking co-host new podcast.

The King County Library System (KCLS) launched their first podcast called “The Desk Set.” The podcast is hosted by librarians Britta Barrett and Emily Calkins.

“The Desk Set” is a podcast that encourages reading broadly through author interviews, book suggestions and interesting conversations on literary topics. The podcast follows KCLS’s annual reading challenge, 10 to Try. Each episode is based on the different challenge categories, which encourage readers to expand their reading horizons.

According to Calkins, there had been conversations of starting a podcast at KCLS for a while. It wasn’t until Barrett approached Calkins about finally starting the podcast. They were ready to combine their strengths and launch the first KCLS podcast.

“We’re always looking for new ways to reach our community,” said Barrett. “A podcast seemed like a perfect way to engage folks who listen to podcasts and/or audiobooks but may not already think of the library as a place to turn for that kind of content.”

“The Desk Set” released its first episode on Oct. 26. The librarians had the opportunity to record at the new Makerspace in the Bellevue Library. Barrett said if listeners are inspired to start their own podcast, they are able to use that library space.

The podcast currently has five episodes. In their first episode, Books Foodies Will Devour, the co-hosts chat with Chef Selengut about the art and science of taste. They also chat with store owner Lara Hamilton, who owns The Book Larder in Seattle.

Both librarians have been working with KCLS for some time now. Barrett has been working with KCLS for about two years now and her position focuses on creating digital content for social media, blogs and newsletters. She is also a librarian in online library services. Calkins has been with KCLS for nearly fives years and has been the Readers’ Services Program Coordinator for two years.

The podcast is named after a 1957 film starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey. In the film, Hepburn plays a research librarian who proves that the new supercomputers introduced at her workplace are no match for her wisdom.

“We believe that even (or especially) in the age of Google, Wikipedia and fake news, there are some things that a skilled trusted human can still do better than an algorithm,” Barrett said.

Barrett shared how trusted humans can connect readers with book recommendations and interview authors on nuanced and complex topics but at the same time, they’re embracing emerging technology and new tools to share what they do best.

So far, the response has been positive. The podcast has a perfect five-star rating on iTunes. The download numbers are quite strong considering they launched a few weeks ago.

Their hope is to continue reaching new audiences and help people discover their next favorite book. And to also help listeners learn something new and learn about library services they’ve never heard of to nurture their curiosity and interest in reading broadly.

To learn more about “The Desk Set,” visit kcls.org or download the podcast on all podcast platforms.

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