Librarians are not exactly the type of people one might expect to host an award-winning radio show, but that is exactly the case at one local station.
Airing regularly on CHLY is Librarians on the Radio (LotR), a radio segment that features interviews with librarians, authors as well as book talks and insight into what is going on at the Vancouver Island Regional Library.
Librarians on the Radio is hosted by VIRL librarians Jason Kuffler, Justin Unrau and regular contributors Emily Orr and Patrick Seabold.
“Libraries absolutely aren’t just about books,” Kuffler said. “They can support their communities in so many different ways.”
Recently, the radio show received the 2015 Advocacy and Marketing Merit Award from the British Columbia Library Association.
“It is an absolute team effort. The show wouldn’t be where it is without Justin and Emily,” Kuffler said.
“It is nice to be recognized by the rest of the B.C. library community,” Unrau added. “We’ve been doing some cool stuff.”
Librarians on the Radio was started by Kuffler in 2012 as a way to reach out to the community.
“I just wanted another way to connect with the community,” Kuffler said. “To try and speak to existing users. People that had no clue that we were doing the types of innovative things that are we are doing.”
Since its formation in 2012, plenty of guests have appeared on the show, including members of the Nanaimo Clippers, illustrator Jeremy Tankard, author Irvine Welsh and Missouri librarian Scott Bonner.
In December, Kuffler interviewed Scott Bonner, the librarian for the Ferguson Library in Missouri.
During the episode, Bonner was asked about how he was able to keep the library open during the infamous Ferguson riots.
“It was really amazing to get Scott on the phone and hear about what a library is able to do when a community is in turmoil like Ferguson, Missouri was, and I think in some ways still continues to be today,” Kuffler said.
The show’s most notable guest is author Irvine Welsh, who is best known for his book Trainspotting.
Kuffler says he and the team prepared extensively for their interview with Welsh.
“The lead up to Irvine Welsh I really had Emily and Justin help me,” he said. “We went out for beers a couple of times beforehand and really developed the questions.”
Although Kuffler had no formal journalism or radio training himself, he says he always wanted to do some form of broadcasting.
“I love it,” Kuffler said. “Obviously I haven’t had any training, but when I was younger I always wanted to go into broadcasting. So it sort of appeals to the part of me that wished I had always done that.”
Fortunately for Kuffler, his co-host and producer Unrau has some experience in radio.
Unrau studied journalism and eventually worked for the CBC in Winnipeg.
“More than 10 years ago I went to journalism school,” Unrau said. “It is actually neat because at University of Western Ontario their librarian school and journalism school are both in the same faculty. So that is where I got to know librarians as people.”
Kuffler credits Unrau for a lot of the show’s success.
“There is no way we would have won an award without Justin coming on board because his production skills just elevated it to a whole new level,” Kuffler said.
Librarians on the Radio airs at various times on CHLY 101.7 FM and can be listened to online at www.chly.ca. The show is also available as a podcast at www.virl.bc.ca/news/radio/archive.
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