The Vernon Area Public Library District (VAPLD) in Lincolnshire, Illinois, is engaging with its patrons in a really fun way to promote this year’s Summer Reading Club (SRC) theme: Read to the Rhythm. We wanted to reach more adults, teens, tweens, kids, and babies. What we came up with was an SRC promotional video that parodied Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” featuring Bruno Mars. Within the first few days of our soft opening, we registered over one thousand people, including a large number of adults and teens. Most of these patrons enthusiastically complimented the video. The qualitative response overall has been fantastic, including an enthusiastic thumbs up from our library board. The best part of working on this video? It didn’t actually require any fancy equipment to do a professional-quality job! It was also a great way to incite collaboration within all the different departments at the library.
The video itself took approximately two months to make, from the initial concept to the finished product. Three Youth Services Librarians, including myself, were on the SRC promotional video team and we decided that a current hit would be a good way to engage all ages. Once we picked “Uptown Funk,” we had to write the lyrics! Youth Services Librarians are known for their creativity and silliness, and our crew is no different. We knew what main points we wanted to cover and filled in the lyrics to go with the original melody. We made sure to emphasize that it really was for all ages. We then recorded our lyrics on GarageBand and used a karaoke version of “Uptown Funk” as the main track.
At this point, it was time to storyboard, which turns out to be the most important element of making a great, professional-looking video. It’s also a great way to keep the filming process on track. You can google “storyboard template” for a variety of free templates. We had an idea of how to visualize the video based off our lyrics and then combined moments similar to the original music video. We used the library’s camera, a tripod, and iMovie and GarageBand on our library’s Macbooks to do the film and soundtrack editing. We didn’t use anything that most public libraries wouldn’t already have on hand!
For more creative shots, we used duct tape and taped our camera to a library cart for stability. We also recorded more footage than we needed in order to ensure that we had enough material to work with. How did we convince other departments to participate? By gently reminding them that “it’s for the children” and by bringing donuts for all participants as friendly bribery. We filmed for an hour before the library opened one morning, and for an hour after the library closed one night, with all participating staff paid for their time (something we had discussed with all of our department heads ahead of time).
One caveat of making a quality music track and music video is that you do need to have at least one person on your team who is comfortable working with or learning to work with iMovie and GarageBand. If no one on your library’s staff is familiar with this technology, you can use lynda.com for some training if your library has it available, or search on YouTube for instructions. Once you know the basics, you’re ready to make a promotional video that engages the library staff and your patrons. Plan ahead and you’ll have a rollicking start to next year’s Summer Reading Club!