• Define audio applications and provide examples (e.g., Audacity).
• Describe best practices in audio production.
• Identify features of digital audio.
• Identify and provide examples of web-based audio tools.
• Define and use file sharing sites for audio (e.g., Voki) to reach library goals.
• Define podcasts.
From bird calls and special effects to music and spoken word, there are endless ways applications of audio in the library environment.
Sounds are a simple way to add excitement to a learning situation, interest to a program, or meet the needs of a visually impaired library user.
It’s possible to record your own sounds or use computer-generated voices and music.
Many easy-to-use software packages and online tools make audio an easy addition to the library environment.
Built-In Audio Applications
Most operating systems for computers and hand-held devices have basic built-in options for recording audio.
In Windows OS, you can use Sound Recorder to record and save audio files.
In Mac OS, open the QuickTime Player and choose New Audio Recording. It’s an easy way to record audio files.
Similar tools are available for mobile device operating system such as iOS for the iPhone or Android for other devices.
Free, low cost, as well as expensive software is available depending on your needs.
Audacity is an example of free, open source audio software. It’s easy to download and use to record or edit audio.
Apple GarageBand is an example of a proprietary software tool for audio production. It’s available for the Mac OS.
Many professional tools are available for all computer platforms from inexpensive to costly depending on your needs.
Try Audacity. In addition to the basic download, be sure to download the LAME MP3 encoder so you can export as MP3.
Options for Audio Recording
You don't need much technology to get started producing your own sounds.
Option 1. Use pre-recorded sounds. For instance, you can use public domain, online recordings.
Option 2. Use the microphone built into your computer or add an inexpensive microphone that can be plugged into the microphone port on your computer. Locate existing software that has a record option. For example, you can record sounds inside Microsoft PowerPoint, Kidspiration or Inspiration, and KidPix. There's no need to edit, simply delete unwanted sound files.
For the specifics on adding audio to Microsoft PowerPoint, use the Microsoft PowerPoint Help page.
Option 3. Use free or inexpensive sound editing software such as Audacity or Apple GarageBand. These tools allow you to record and edit audio file, add music, rearrange segments and product high-quality programs. You might also want to buy a quality external microphone for higher quality and recording situations such as singers and interviews.
Option 4. Add additional elements such as audio mixing software, high-quality microphones, and external mixers. Public domain tools such as Mixere allow you to mix audio clips and adjust sound levels. On the high end, you can add external mixers and recording devices.
In addition to software, it’s useful to purchase a quality microphone. Although the built-in microphone may work well for your needs, a professional quality microphone is useful if you plan to create audio blogs or record music at your library.
Keep in mind that there are copyright restrictions on sharing some music. Before you record a performance, be sure to check permissions.
It’s also useful to purchase computer speakers. Before buying, think about your presentation rooms. You may need more powerful speakers if you want your library filled with music.
If music is popular in your library, consider creating a small production studio with padded walls, a quality microphone, and a computer with audio editing software.
If you don’t have funding for a studio, it’s easy to set up a temporary studio in a conference room with a computer and microphone.
Sound Production Ideas
You don't need a fancy sound studio to produce high quality sound. In most cases you can simply sing or talk directly into your computer. However if you're working in a library setting, it's nice to have a small, quiet area set aside for production. An old study carrel, a small room divider, or a blanket all work fine. Although they may not help with the sound, they'll make the actor feel more comfortable.
The term Foley is used to refer to the reproduction of everyday sound effects. They can enhance book trailers, audiobooks, and other types of recordings.
A Foley-stage is a place designed for creating sound effects. Think about the objects you could collect that will help create desired sounds such as jingle bells, a door knob, aluminum foil, cellophane, book, shows, cloth, gloves, water, and marbles.
What would you include in a box of materials for making sounds?
Best Practices in Audio Production
From narrated stories to music, sounds can be used in many different ways in libraries.
For instance, book trailers are a common way to promote new library resources. A wide range of tools can be used to combine visuals with audio. For instance, still images can be used along with music created in GarageBand and audio added in iMovie. For lots of other examples, do a search for "book trailers" in YouTube.
Library tours and tutorials can be created by adding audio narration to a PowerPoint presentation. This project can then be exported as a PowerPoint show or movie.
Audiobooks are an important library resource. Projects like LibriVox use volunteers from around the world to record public domain books. Users can then download these MP3 audiobooks for use on computers, iPods, other mobile devices, or burn them on a CD.
Listening stations continue to be popular in libraries. Young readers listen to audio narration when reading a picture book. Those learning English as a second language also benefit from audio recordings.
Web-based Audio Tools
There are a growing number of websites that specialize in storing and sharing audio files. Some are free and others are premium services. Most of these websites allow you to upload files, then embed them in your blog or other locations.
Vocaroo is a very basic and simple to use recording service.
Voki is effective because you can record your voice. Or, you can type your words and have the computer read it aloud in the voice of your choice. You also get to create your own avatar. These short audios can then be embedded in any web page including blogs.
To embed Voki on a web page or most blogs, you need to embed code. When you PUBLISH your Voki, you'll see options for sharing on various social media sites, copying a link, or grabbing code for embedding. Copy the code and follow the directions at your website to add the embed code.
Audioblogging, podcasting, MP3 blogs, and audio sharing are ways to add sound content to the Web. Because sound files are simple to produce and deliver, audio sharing is great for many applications. When audio files are incorporated into blogs, it's called audioblogging. These audio files may supplement text blogs or be mainly audio journals.
Podcast combines the words "iPod" and "broadcast" to create a word that describes sharing audio recordings through Internet rather than the airwaves. Podcasts use an episodic approach to audio sharing where listeners can subscribe to a service and stream or download files through web syndication. Although they are generally audio files, podcast sometimes refers to video or other types of multimedia files.
Using tools such as Audacity to record audio, developers upload the audio (generally MP3/MP4) to a website, then create audio links from a website. These recordings can be downloaded to computers, smartphones, or other handheld devices. From poetry readings to language learning, there are many possibilities for audio blogging and podcasting in learning. Companies are jumping into the podcasting craze.
Go to podcasting services at IUPUI to learn about options available.
Both desktop and web-based applications are available for audio recording and editing.
Libraries have developed both professional-quality recording studios as well as informal audio recording areas.
Podcasts are audio segments that can be shared through audio blogs or as part of a regular text blog.