In the past year, viewing and creating video for the Web skyrocketed to the top of many Internet users’ lists. The popularity of YouTube, Google Video, and other sharing sites, coupled with the ease of using video technology, has unleashed the hidden auteur in many people. Now, devices such as the Apple TV pull YouTube content into consumers’ living rooms, “viral” videos such as “Kitten Playing Piano” move around the world at lightning speed, and practically anything one might want to view is available on thriving video-sharing sites.
Libraries are tapping into this phenomenon in a number of ways: videoblogging, creating a library presence at sites like YouTube, and offering library users the chance to contribute their own video content. It’s all an example of that thread of participation we’ve seen with the other tools.
For more about videoblogging, including examples and links to resources, visit David Lee King’s blog (listed in the Resources box at the end of this chapter).
Recently we’ve seen viral videos such as OK Go’s treadmill music video, viewed by 20 million users, and the recent Democratic presidential candidates debate featuring questions from Americans via YouTube.3 This site—or community—is a perfect example of how the nature of promotion, reporting the news, and making personal connections has changed in the last year. How are libraries involved?
Videoblogging at Arlington Heights Memorial Library
Arlington Heights Memorial Library is one of just a handful of libraries providing a videoblog, which was established in December 2006. Videos of programs, “what’s new” segments, and interviews with AHML librarians discussing gift ideas, virtual reference, and ESL resources have been posted in the last few months. I interviewed Ingrid Lebolt, the library’s Web services director, on May 16, 2007, to find out more.
MS: What inspired you to pursue videoblogging?
IL: We were working with some goals that we wanted to accomplish: We wanted to be able to reach our users in new ways, we wanted to be able to do it 24/7, and we wanted to show them the breadth of our services. Some of the solutions that we considered were podcasts and videocasts and many other Library or Web 2.0 concepts. One day a grant opportunity came to our attention. The Illinois State Library through LSTA was offering money to explore emerging technologies. The timing couldn’t have been better. We were looking at new technologies, they wanted to provide money. A match made in heaven! We looked through the grant criteria—to employ technology as a means for library to deliver information and services to patrons—and the types of things that we wanted to do. We came up with a best fit—to explore videoblogging—a new way of getting the library message to our users and to increase our Web site visibility. We received the grant, and that was the start.
MS: How many staff are involved?
IL: That’s not an easy question. In many ways all staff are involved. All are encouraged to suggest topic areas and participate in any way they can (act, write, be an extra, provide props). In our case, the “standard” participants for a new production include:
- project manager and jack-of-all-trades
- on-camera performers
- Public Information Office (scheduling, graphics, man on street filming)
- Web personnel—preparing content for the Web
In our case we do have some people wearing more than one hat.
MS: What is the time commitment for a typical post?
IL: A typical new production at this point would take about 7 person/hours:
- scriptwriting, including blocking, etc., 1 hour
- filming, 1 hour
- on-camera personnel, 2 hours (We usually have two people in a video.)
- editing, 1 hour
- rendering, 1 hour
- preparation for posting and Web page, 1 hour
Our typical LibVlog is 2–5 minutes. Depending on the complexity of the piece, of course, this may be more.
MS: How did you create staff buy-in?
IL: We involved a lot of people from different areas of the library from the onset. We tried to tap into and unleash everyone’s creativity and aimed at getting the involvement of younger and more technologically savvy staff members in beginning—fresh eyes for a fresh approach. I can’t even begin to describe the amazing electricity in the room in those early days where we brainstormed and ideas just flew off the wall. Such energy and excitement—staff felt the excitement and became involved.
We filmed one “special” LibVlog when the Chicago Bears were heading for the Super Bowl. It was an exciting topic for all us and staff flocked to participate. We had so much positive feedback from staff. The project has had a totally unexpected result of boosting staff morale. We approached the project with a great degree of humor and tried not to take ourselves too seriously. If we wanted people to watch it would have to be interesting. And the more we did, the more interested staff became.
MS: How has your user response been? How did you get patron buy-in or use? How did you market the videoblog?
IL: Response has been good, but, of course, we’d like to see it better. We have approximately 220 views per day. People who watch the LibVlogs like them. But we need to get the message out to a greater portion of the community.
Our marketing was a soft rollout. We waited until we had a few under our belt and felt comfortable with the product and then advertised for a few days. We have also advertised since, after we won an InfoTubey award. Our regular Monday segment (a “What’s Happening” this week at the library segment) always starts with a Man on the Street Introduction from someone in the community. This has created a buzz—community members are looking out to see if someone they know will appear. We’ve been “blogged about,” which has created more buzz.
And a really cool thing we did was creating a banner to put on the bookmobile that advertised the LibVlogs.
We can directly correlate marketing efforts (advertisements, newspaper articles, blog entries, etc.) with viewership spikes. Something that has evolved from the beginning of the project, and is working toward marketing and user involvement, is a deeper integration into our Web product. For each LibVlog we try to add “value added” content to the LibVlog Web page. For example, a saving on taxes video was tied to other available resources in our library.
We are starting to “repurpose” video segments so that they appear on pertinent pages as well. For example, a piece on our ESL offerings pointed the user to our Literacy page. We put the video on the Literacy page, too, for those users not coming through the home page. We will be striving to add pertinent video components on all relevant pages in the future. We have also been evolving our pieces to contain more community content. For a recent local election, we produced a “meet the candidates” video, which received a strong response in the community. These timely community pieces have also proven to be popular and increase viewership.
Other libraries have discovered the power of the video-sharing community as well. The librarians at Gail Borden Memorial Library in Elgin, Illinois, recently hosted “Storypalooza,” which gathered user-created videos:
At the library web site www.gailborden.info/videoextras.html, we are using YouTube to help us tell stories about the library and reading. This January and February, with sponsorship from First Community Bank, we’re asking everybody in our library community to pick up their cameras and join the visual storytelling fun. People of all ages are invited to upload a 4-minute (or shorter) video to YouTube. Then send a link to us, for entry into one of two categories: “My Favorite Book,” will be for those who want to tell about their favorite book; or “Community Favorites,” about supporting the art of verbal storytelling. This should involve filming a short, uplifting piece about a person, organization or event that has made a difference in the community. Videos can be funny, poignant, clever or cool, and they must be library-appropriate.4
The Denver Public Library recently mounted a similar contest for teens. Teens were invited to create videos about their use of the library. The teen eVolver Web site explained the contest: “The theme of your YouTube video should be ‘How I have fun at the Library’ and should include the following: a scene in or outside of a Denver Public Library, the words ‘Denver Public Library,’ and mention of the eVolver site.”5
The Storypalooza and Denver projects tie together many of the principles of a 2.0 world: harnessing the collective, encouraging user creation of content, citizen journalism, and marketing. It’s a benefit in many ways for libraries to explore this type of endeavor: users are welcomed into library spaces to create content AND marketing the library becomes the realm of not just the publicity librarian, but everyone.
What of staff buy-in? The librarians just dove in after the okay from the library director. “After we were finished with the production we shared it with the staff,” Robinson said. He’s received very positive feedback from the staff and believes this is the best way to get buy-in. “I also hope that we have inspired other staff to give this a try. This was really the whole point. To show others that this can be done and that it is fun.
“I think the user response has been very positive,” Robinson told me as well. “People leave comments, and other organizations have asked how we did certain things.” He also detailed the library’s marketing strategies: “Marketing was a little interesting. We put the videos up on YouTube, but I also e-mailed people and asked them to check out the videos. I am lucky that I have some friends that write blogs that many people read, and they posted these videos on their blog. I also have a blog and posted it there. I think that this helped. I was very nervous about sending these requests out, but people have been very supportive and I think that after you have put many hours into creating something you really want to share it.”
For more about libraries and video visit the Library Videos blog (listed in the Resources box).
- Check out some of the videoblogs and library-produced videos at YouTube. Create a YouTube account to comment on videos and select “favorites.”
- View some favorites at a staff meeting and discuss the feasibility of creating video for your library. What events might you highlight? What interviews could you do?
- Look for ways to involve the community. If you can’t produce your own videos, ponder having a contest for library users to create videos about the library and submit them to you via YouTube.
Allen County Public Library Videos www.youtube.com/user/askacpl
Arlington Heights Memorial Library LibVlog Archive www.ahml.info/vlog/vault.asp
David Lee King: Videoblogging www.davidleeking.com/category/videoblogging
Denver Public Library’s eVolver Site for Teens http://teens.denverlibrary.org/index.html
Library Videos Blog http://libraryvideos.blogspot.com
“Ray of Light” Video www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrtYdFV_Eak
YouTube and Warner www.newmediamusings.com/blog/2006/09/youtube_warner_.html
|1.||Lev Grossman, “Best Invention: YouTube,” Best Inventions 2006, Time Web site, www.time.com/time/2006/techguide/bestinventions/inventions/youtube.html (accessed July 26, 2007).|
|2.||Ibid.,www.time.com/time/2006/techguide/bestinventions/inventions/youtube2.html (accessed July 26, 2007).|
|3.||“ OK Go—Here It Goes Again,” on the YouTube Web site, July 31, 2006, www.youtube.com/watch?v=pv5zWaTEVkI (accessed July 26, 2007); “Democratic Candidates Face Off in YouTube Debate,” National Public Radio, July 24, 2007, available online at www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12192896 (accessed July 26, 2007).|
|4.||Storypalooza Information, Gail Borden Public Library Web site, www.elgin.lib.il.us/storypaloozainformation.html (accessed July 12, 2007).|
|5.||Denver Public Library, “YouTube Contest,” last update Feb. 20, 2007, eVolver Web site, http://teens.denverlibrary.org/media/youtube.html (accessed July 26, 2007).|
|6.||Sean Robinson, interview by the author, May 26, 2007.|
All videos were output in QuickTime format for uploading to YouTube. We are also working on taking some of the videos and making them available for iPod viewing.
|Professional Video Equipment||“Amateur” Equipment|
|Production Equipment||• Sony DSR-390L DVCAM camcorder||• Samsung DV camera|
|• Vinten Vision 2LF tripod||• Sony HDR-HC7 HDV camera|
|• DVCAM tape X15||• Sony ECM-44B condenser microphone|
|• Frezzi camera light with NP-1B rechargeable batteries||• Azden 500 UPR portable receiver|
|• Sony ECM-55s lavalier microphone||• Azden 51 XT UHF transmitter|
|• Shure SM63 handheld microphone||• Shure E2c earbuds|
|• Audio Technica AT815b shotgun microphone||• tripod|
|• Behringer HPX2000 headphone|
|• XLR audio cables|
|Post-Production Equipment||• Sony DSR-40 recorder/player tape deck||• Apple Macbook|
|• Dual processor editing computer with dual 20″ monitors—300Gb||• iMovie ’06|
|• Maxtor 1Tb External Firewire drive||• Final Cut Pro 5.1 (for more in-depth/technical editing only)|
|• Avid Xpress Pro editing software||• Windows Movie Maker|
|• Inscriber CG Xtreme character generator plug-in for Avid Xpress Pro|
|• Sorenson Squeeze 4 compression software to create QuickTime movie templates for You Tube.|
|• Sony RDR-GX300 Set-Top DVD recorder|
|• Maxell Pro Series DVDs for give-away and promotional use|