Web 2.0: Video Sharing: Uses and Implications For Libraries

Note: This post was created for a graduate level class at the University of Alberta: EDES 501 Web 2.0 for Libraries. Warning: this one's a long one folks.

Have you ever made a movie?

You'd be surprised how easy the process is. Move over Steven Spielberg, the librarians are coming, and they're online!

Libraries are embracing video making and video sharing technologies. Video sharing involves posting to and viewing online media from a video sharing website. Examples of video sharing websites include YouTube, Vimeo, Slideshare, and Animoto. Each provides different services, but their basic mandate is the same: share information online. Most services provide the ability to tag and organize videos by content, and allow for commenting which encourages user involvement and the creation of communities. It presents information and learning in a different way, rather than just flat text or audio content, and may appeal to users with different learning styles.

YouTube is by far the biggest free video sharing website: 1.2 billion YouTube videos are viewed each day! YouTube provides free video hosting of short (up to ten minutes) videos, as well as a personalized subscription page where registered users can keep favourites, make playlists, and follow channels. Video subscriptions can be linked to Twitter, Facebook and RSS readers, and videos can be embedded into websites and blogs.
I have been using YouTube for years, but only to watch videos. I have numerous playlists set up, and often add videos that interest me personally. I have not used YouTube to follow or save professional videos. I thought it was time to set up a professional account, so I signed up for another account under a different name. I was very easy to sign up, and I was personalizing my page in no time, something I never bothered to do with my personal account. I found the site interface to be very intuitive and it was easy to add content and change the visual format of my login space. I also subscribed to a couple channels, an option I had never made use of before. On my channel you will also find the links to all the YouTube videos I have included in this post, under the 'Favourites' section.

Though I often watch videos, I wanted to explore the other end: creating and uploading. I have never made a 'movie' before, but figured the iSight webcam on my macbook must be capable of producing something. I discovered a program called iMovie already on my macbook, and watched the numerous video tutorials provided by Apple. It was very easy to create a simple video, although I can see how using advanced functions such as editing would indeed involve specialized knowledge and this was quite intimidating. Thus, I resolved to stick with simple video production of the 'point and shoot' variety. Mostly it involved getting the timing right, and clicking appropriate buttons. Once recording was finished, I was faced with the daunting task of actually getting my video onto YouTube.

However, much to my surprise, uploading the video to YouTube was even easier than making the video, as iMovie provides this option from the menu bar. A couple clicks and my movie is ready to be seen by millions of people online! YouTube also provides a way to upload videos from their site itself. I tested this process and it was also very simple and intuitive.

Here is my very first video, for your viewing pleasure, but please note this assignment is about the implications of video sharing for libraries, not about how to film and edit fancy videos (or how to produce an effective book review!). I think I need to take those classes too!

It is easy to create and upload a video, which makes YouTube a free, simple, viable option for libraries. Though the article "Social video videoblogging & YouTube" (2007) does state that smaller libraries do not have the time, staff or money for this sort of venture, I realized you do not need expensive equipment or specialized staff to produce online content. All it takes is a little creativity, and motivation to explore and learn about the technology already available. Plus, there are thousands of tutorials already on YouTube to help inexperienced staff get started.

Similar to the uses of photo sharing, the uses of video sharing in libraries could include:
Using video sharing technology is an effective way to reach the current generation of young, technologically capable young people (Ariew, 2008). These internet-savvy young people are using school and public libraries, and are attending colleges and universities. Ariew (2008) notes "the practice of finding, using, sharing and evaluating online videos has already entered the domain of information literacy and is likely to become an essential part of the educational landscape" (p.2057). By using a media that students and many patrons are already comfortable with, libraries can better reach their users, and can thus better act as educators as they disseminate knowledge. I really like the Arizona State University Libraries 'Library Minute Series'. So far they have over 20 videos on their YouTube channel that contain excellent information literacy resources for students. They are very well done, and exhibit obvious technical film making skills. Not only is the information presented in an accessible way, but each one ends in a funny/quirky quote also!

Catering to young people who are knowledgeable about the internet does create a digital divide. One might initially think that seniors would not often access video sharing, but "The new digital divide" (2007) argues the real demographic left out by online content is "the 30 and 40 something urban professionals, too frazzled from family, too washed out from work [who] are simply too tired and scared to engage and explore new digital technologies" (p. 110). I would disagree, noting that this demographics' use of facebook has grown recently, and one may assume these adults are also catching on to YouTube. Regardless, a library should consider that a portion of their population might not (by choice or by circumstance) have access to their online tools. Information must be made available in a number of mediums in order to reach all patrons.

The Association of College and Research Libraries posted a very interesting article on their blog about 'reinventing the wheel'. There are so many useful library videos out there already, should a library make their own or just link to others? Issues of copyright abound, and linking to others instead of making your own video removes the personal elements of each library. Is it worth saving the time, effort (and possibly money)? Will it have a negative effect on your community if they do not see 'themselves' in your library's videos? What would your patrons rather have? I personally am currently of two minds about this. I do think it is important to personalize content and make users proud of and involved with their library. However, linking to other excellent videos is another way to provide useful content to patrons, while saving local resources. It is certainly an issue to consider and comments regarding this issue are most welcome.

The concerns and issues regarding video sharing are similar to photo sharing. Copyright issues are always of concern. YouTube is able to bypass many infringements because users cannot actually download videos, only view them. However "file streaming can violate the copyright holders' rights to distribute works and their rights to perform or display the works" (Pike, 2007, p.16). I also think that embedding videos within websites and blogs is actually a form of downloading, and thus does indeed infringe on the copyright of certain videos that are not user created, or otherwise contain licensed content. YouTube does remove content that actively infringes on copyright if someone complains, and monitors and removes licensed content such as certain television shows and music videos (Pike, 2007).

How does this affect user uploaded content? Pike (2007) explains that by uploading their own material, users "are voluntarily exercising their publication and distribution rights using YouTube as the 'publisher' of the work" (p.16). Libraries certainly need to be aware of this: by uploading their videos, they are basically signing away their copyright, which gives online viewers free reign over how they choose to use the content. While this encourages sharing and the free dissemination of knowledge, I think libraries need to be aware of what they are sending out, and the implications of possible misuse online.

Once again one must consider privacy issues, especially when filming members of the public and children. Though it is unlikely libraries would post videos that are of a questionable nature, or that contain criminal activity, I think it is worth educating users about the dangers of their own personal use of video sharing. Another current trend worth considering is that more and more students and children are using YouTube to search for information for their assignments. Librarians need to be aware of this, and should strive to promote educational materials, perhaps providing users with videos about certain topics, as well as about how to search appropriately.

I think video sharing is an easy, and effective way to build community online between a library and its users. It was interesting to see so many excellent videos about libraries already on YouTube. Now that I know how simple it is to do, I certainly would consider video sharing ideas for my own library one day.

Ariew, S. (2008). YouTube culture and the academic library: A guide to online open access educational videos. Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, 45(12), 2057-2063.
Pike, G. H. (2007). Google, YouTube, copyright, and privacy. Information Today, 24(4), 15-16.
Social video videoblogging & YouTube. (2007). Library Technology Reports, 43(5), 52-57.
The new digital divide: Rebels against the future. (2007). Multimedia Information & Technology. 33(4), 109-110.
Webb, P. L. (2007). YouTube and libraries. College & Research Libraries News, 68(6), 354-355.
Useful Links:
(YouTube imaged acquired from Creative Commons.)