Amber Woodard is the Library Technical Assistant at the Vise Library at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. As one-half of the “Vise Squad,” Amber is constantly trying to think of clever ways to draw students, faculty, and staff into the library. She’s 26 going on 15 and can be reached at awoodard[at sign]cumberland[dot]edu.
I worked in the public library world for close to two years, so I was used to summer being the busy season. When I began working in an academic library, I experienced a bit of a culture shock. The Monday after graduation was S-L-O-W. We have a fair amount of students who take summer classes, but somehow the appeal of sitting in a study room for the entire day is not as great as taking a laptop outside to the gazebo. In between our “must do” projects, such as weeding the Reference collection and shelf-reading the stacks, I, along with Reference and Instruction Librarian Claire Walker, decided to make a couple of videos about the library.
We wanted our first video to be geared towards the students and would help them learn more about a library service. I absolutely love parodies (imitation, sincerest form of flattery, and so on), so we chose to have our video parody those “4 out of 5 people recommend this product” commercials. In this case, our product was going to be EBSCOHost, and the “4 out of 5 people” would be our professors. Cumberland has five academic schools, so we chose a professor from each school. Next, we had to work on a script for each professor. We wanted to highlight the idea that students could find scholarly full-text articles that professors would accept as research sources. We also wanted to make sure that the “fifth person” did not dismiss library resources but still stay within the theme of 4 out of 5 people agree. Using a borrowed video camera, I began filming. Our professors were great ad-libbers (especially our education professor!) and came up with good material Claire and I did not consider. The filming went very smoothly thanks to having a clear concept and plenty of time to plan. After filming, we embarked upon the monumental task of editing, including adding music and captions and adding an introduction and conclusion from yours truly. The editing process only took about a day-and-a half, and though I may be biased, the final product is fantastic!
Our second video was for the faculty in-service at the end of the summer. We wanted to tell them about library services without standing at the front of the room and lecturing to them. We knew which services we wanted to highlight but we did not know how to present the concept. After a couple of days of brainstorming, we came up with the Good Idea/Bad Idea concept. This video would show faculty members a good way to utilize the library and a bad way. The good ideas were easy, but the bad ideas were a little trickier; we wanted them to be humorous and clearly horrible ideas, but we did not want to offend any faculty members who may have actually done some of these things. We finally thought of ideas that were either outlandish or neutral enough not to offend faculty but that could still show our point. Claire and I filmed this video in one day. Thanks to my theater background (and inability to feel more awkward on film than I do on a daily basis!), I did most of the “acting” in this video with cameos from Claire and Justin Bradford, former Alumni Relations and Online Media Coordinator for the university. The faculty enjoyed the video and we saw an increase in the usage of services highlighted.
Recently, Claire has begun making video tutorials, which is a nice addition to our quirkier fare. Her first foray was a tutorial on using Ebooks, and she has plans for more over the next few months. I would also like to make another video during the next summer semester. It has proven to be an easy process, and I feel it makes a better impact than telling patrons about our services. We have considered a library rap video, so that may be our next project. Check out our other videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel to see what we come up with next!
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