YouTube for Librarians

Hello, everyone! Spring break is over and I’m out of blogging hibernation! I will continue to write about the current unit, social entertainment, and today I will write about how libraries are using YouTube.

One of the readings this week featured a webpage created by librarians for librarians depicting 40 samples of videos of how different librarians are using YouTube to promote their libraries. They break down the reasons for using YouTube into five categories:

  1. Marketing the Library
  2. Depictions of Libraries, Librarians and Patrons
  3. Contests
  4. Instructions
  5. Just Plain Fun

I will write about one video that the librarians shared in each category. Keep in mind, this webpage was created TEN years ago, and then I will focus on a how a library today is using YouTube. For that part, my example will be The New York Public Library.

For the first category, marketing, librarians use YouTube to promote their library and to get their patrons interested in events and programs that they are hosting. An example video of this is the Denver Public Library posted a video to showcase a “summer of reading.” The video was about “Kitty” (a man dressed in a kitty costume) who takes a summer job, but would rather spend the summer to spend some time at the library. The video shows him reading, hanging out with librarians, and playing games. This markets what the library has to offer during the summer time.

The second category, depictions, portrays representations of libraries, librarians and patrons. One video to illustrate this category is from Weird Al Yankovic’s movie, UHF, and focuses on his character, Conan the Librarian. This depictions is more comical. For example, when a patron asks for books in astronomy, Conan the Librarian lifts him up and says intimidatingly, “Don’t you know the Dewey Decimal system?” This category is to show how librarians and libraries are viewed, seen or depicted generally or maybe even stereotypical.  Some of these videos poke fun, too.

The third category, contests, is another way to market a library, but also a way for patrons to engage and interact with their library creatively. This video, from the Columbus Public Library, was a video submission for Gale’s “Why I Love My Library” contest. Their video was was one of the top five finalists and the winner receives $100,000. The video uses pop-up book combining digital still images and live footage in 3 dimensional space. The video is about “discovering a new world” at the library.

The fourth category, instruction, is for librarians to show tutorials, how-to’s and basic instructions of using their services, databases and other educational and research matters.  For example, this video provides a useful explanation of using boolean operators in a library’s subscribed databases when conducting a search.

The last video, just plain fun, is self-explanatory.  The purpose of these videos are to show the “fun” side of the library–to engage patrons in a interesting and fun way. This video, from University of Illinois library, shows books being used as dominoes.

As I previously stated, this webpage was created ten years ago. So, let’s look how a popular today, The New York Public Library, is using YouTube today! The New York Public Libary’s YouTube channel has over 9,000 followers and about 645 videos.  Most of NYPL’s videos comprise of the first category, marketing their services, programs, events and the library itself. The NYPL has a series of videos called “Inside the Library,” which takes a closer look into different sections of the library, like periodicals, buildings, maps collections and other features. Their are videos on their programs, like story time for toddlers and short films of author talks. They also have a series of videos called “Library Stories” where people talk about inspiration, knowledge and lifelong learning.

YouTube can be a visual and interactive way for libraries to connect with their community and users.


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