Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Library Tips in Movie Clips

by Ian Boucher

I became a librarian to apply my knowledge and skills in media studies and production toward information literacy education. This semester, at a time when the importance of reliable information is more apparent than ever, I took a cue from popular online culture in the tradition of videos like CinemaSins to create a series of icebreaker tutorials called “Library Tips in Movie Clips.” As it turns out, movies have way more library references than you’d think!

As it turns out, movies have way more library references than you’d think!

When our college’s website was updated in the fall of 2016, the library’s video tutorials needed to follow suit, and I was looking forward to using our Media Production Lab to create a more engaging generation of tutorials. My first priority was to make a video on information literacy and the CRAAP Test I had recently heard about, a deft search strategy that is both appealing and memorable. When I began writing the script, I planned on featuring a student with fun pop-ups. But when I included three movie clips for a funny introduction, I thought, why not keep going? Why not see how many movie moments I could use to convey the CRAAP Test and make information literacy even more relevant and engaging? Thus, “Library Tips in Movie Clips” was born.

With Final Cut Pro, a YouTube downloader, screencasting software, DVDs from the library and my personal collection, and royalty free music, I was able to bring together the media I needed to make this invigorating new statement. I aimed for a balance of films recent and classic to create a comprehensive experience that would quickly appeal to as many people as possible. I used the YouTube downloader to gather high quality clips that had already been posted online, and I used screencasting for clips I could not find on YouTube that also did not require sound. I cited each clip meticulously. To hone the tutorial further, I asked for feedback from students, colleagues, and friends, and cast a student to provide the narration, bringing my Blue Snowball microphone from home to record.

The tutorial—and its spot-on narrator—have received an incredibly positive response from students, faculty, staff, and beyond, earning almost as many views in two months as several of our previous videos have received in a year:

The next installment of the series is about the importance of citing reliable resources, and the tools libraries provide to help students maintain this standard in their lives. The narrator was delighted to reprise her role, and we worked together to build on our formula. In this video, I was able to include more real-life examples, a more comprehensive selection of films—including a few “sequel” clips—and more upbeat music. I also used Motion to create a fun handwriting effect. This video has so far been viewed at a higher rate than the first:

There are certainly many challenges that come with creating any video. Video editing is work that takes time and practice. It can also be expensive. While our library is fortunate enough to have Final Cut Pro and Motion, I have also heard good things about the free software DaVinci Resolve.

Remember when I said video editing takes time? Well, it takes a lot of time. Even though I was able to create each of these videos between my other library tasks within a week, I had to solve a variety of technical challenges along the way. Furthermore, creating a professional video requires making sure that your clips, text, and sound are the best they can be before posting (and even then, sometimes you’ll still notice mistakes). The timing of your video is also important. Although you want your video to move efficiently, you also need to ensure that your viewer has time to internalize the information. Finally, when you use excerpts of media that others created, copyright is crucial, and the United States has Fair Use. I combined previous media to make an educational point, but I also made sure to respect the original creative works.

I combined previous media to make an educational point, but I also made sure to respect the original creative works.

The benefits of video far outweigh the challenges. Information literacy may be needed now more than ever, but librarians have more capability than ever to be heard, to use their creativity, resources, and networks to spread the word, to speak the languages of their communities and bring the conversation about the value of libraries to where the people are.

“Library Tips in Movie Clips” has sparked a conversation. One of my colleagues provided helpful content for our LibGuides referencing the original CRAAP Test. Professors are using the tutorials in their courses. Librarians elsewhere are sharing them with their communities, since these tutorials aren’t branded until the end. Most of all, our students are remembering what the videos say—even quoting them—and want more.

Whatever shape your voice may take, use it to stand up and spread the word on reliable information. In the meantime, as our narrator says, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!


Ian Boucher_Bio pictureIan Boucher has a background in television production, film studies, and communication theory, and earned his Master of Library and Information Science at Kent State University to become a librarian to advocate for information literacy. His primary research interests include the roles of motivation in information seeking behavior and the roles of film and superhero comic books in cultural discourse. Continue the conversation with him on Twitter @Ian_Boucher

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