By Catrina Stadler
About the Podcast
Brooklyn has so many stories to tell, and a lot of them start at the library. Brooklyn Public Library’s flagship podcast, Borrowed, brings you stories that start here and take you somewhere new.
Tell us about yourself/selves.
Borrowed is produced by a rotating team of library professionals who contribute to the content and sound of each episode. The senior audio producer and creator is Virginia Marshall, and our two longest-running hosts are Adwoa Adusei and Krissa Corbett Cavouras. Fritzi Bodenheimer and Ali Post are two of our newer hosts/producers. As a public library podcast rooted in the borough where we are made, one of our main goals is to help our listeners feel more connected to their community. We also seek to challenge our listeners’ notions of the public library, and of Brooklyn, too!
How did you get started with The Podcast?
Way back in 2018, BPL’s Chief Librarian Nick Higgins, VP of Marketing Robin Lester Kenton, Press Officer Fritzi Bodenheimer, and Director of Engagement Krissa Corbett Cavouras decided BPL needed a flagship podcast to tell the stories of its many branches and communities. They hired Virginia Marshall to create Borrowed, which launched in March 2019. Four years and over 70 episodes later, Borrowed is still making (sound) waves!
How would you describe your podcast?
Borrowed is a narrative podcast about superhero librarians, neighborhood stories, and what it means to be a free, democratic place in a changing world. Each episode dives into a different aspect of library services, highlighting the stories of our librarians and everyday Brooklynites who make the library come alive. We’ve told stories about libraries during natural disasters, intellectual freedom at the public library, the challenges of homelessness, and NYC’s fraught relationship with trash.
What’s the most challenging and most satisfying part of running a podcast?
Brooklyn is an enormous place, and our library plays so many different roles in our patrons’ lives. One challenge is trying to capture just what the public library means to the 2.5 million people who live here, but that’s also one of the most rewarding aspects of making Borrowed: we are constantly learning new things about our 62 branches and the many neighborhood communities they serve.
How did you get the word out about your podcast in the beginning, and how have you grown your audience?
At the start, we primarily promoted our show to BPL’s followers on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and our email list. We’ve since expanded by doing promotional swaps with other podcasts and submitting to awards. Borrowed won an Anthem Award for Education, Art and Culture, and was rated among the best book podcasts by Podcast Review and Town & Country magazine. We also submit our episodes to PRX’s public radio exchange. Thanks to them, Borrowed has been played on nearly 50 community and public radio stations nationwide, from Alaska to Maine to the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma. Recently, we took advantage of our status as a public library, and now all of our episodes are available to “check out” through the Libby reading app as an e-audiobook, which is very cool!
What’s one of your favorite episodes?
According to our listeners, Secret Lives of Librarians is our most popular episode (perhaps because of the intriguing title!) … but one of our favorites is our five-episode mini-series called “Building Brooklyn.” We got to use BPL’s large collection of oral histories to tell unique stories about four Brooklyn neighborhoods that have seen drastic change over the last 50 years.
Where can listeners find The Podcast?
You can listen right on our website (bklynlibrary.org/podcasts) by clicking the audio players. Or, subscribe to our show on any of the podcast apps. You can also occasionally catch us on local community radio stations across the country and listen to Borrowed on the Libby app by signing in with your Brooklyn Public Library card!