’Toban Listens: Fiction or Non-Fiction

A public library podcast from cyberspace

The idea of what a library is and how it functions differs from individual to individual. Public libraries have had to adapt and come up with new creative ways for patrons to participate in activities and programs in recent years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that any new content from a digital branch that experiments with a different platform, like a podcast, should not come as a surprise. 

One of these new initiatives enters in the form of Fiction or Non-Fiction, a podcast created by staff at the Windsor Public Library (WPL). As the name suggests, the library is based in Windsor, Ont., and has several branches under its belt. 

The podcast is a part of the library’s digital branch — a digital version of a traditional library branch that’s accessed online — which debuted in July of 2021. It features online activity programs, as well as catalogues with digital books, magazines, newspapers and even music, television and film available for streaming.

The charm and originality in Fiction or Non-Fiction comes from how down-to-earth and humble it is in its production and airtime. 

There are 18 episodes in total, and the first few involve the creators figuring out the show’s voice and piecing together what topics to bring in for discussion, the overall atmosphere they want to go with as well as what a podcast from a public library looks like. Fiction or Not-Fiction follows its hosts Adam and Dave as they do some in-episode myth-busting of stories and concepts from various sources in an attempt to figure out if they are fiction or non-fiction. 

The atmosphere of the series is laid-back, and while it feels as if Adam and Dave are following a script, their conversations still come off as natural and fun, even if somewhat awkward from time to time.

The progress Fiction or Non-Fiction has made from its debut to its most recent episode is noticeable. The first episode does not have a very cinematic opening but works with what it has — a little showtime jingle and excitement for the future. 

While some would consider the show’s stumbling start to be a flaw, its initial lack of polish is a reminder the that the listener is hearing something that was made with the love and dedication that can only come from a public library. 

However, later episodes greet the listener with more blended music, and the hosts introduce subject matter in a more experienced way. The podcast is no longer struggling to find its voice, and listening to that growth is a meaningful part of tuning into a series like this. 

 WPL has made other podcast attempts in the past such as Reading for Pleasure, which has a single episode that closely examines holiday romances. Its Spotify podcast library even features an audio version of a catalogue navigation tutorial. 

While Fiction or Non-Fiction is the series that appears to have stuck for WPL, its other projects are worth a listen.

I am drawn to the hard work and passion shown by librarians, technicians and staff at public libraries. 

This hard work and passion is what is being represented in this podcast, and it’s why I recommend Fiction or Non-Fiction.

Fiction or Non-Fiction can be found on Spotify and the Windsor Public Library digital branch at https://www.windsorpubliclibrary.com/digital/.