A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Patron Generated Video Content at the Public Library

by on July 12, 2013

Lights. Camera. Action! These are not just orders bellowed by Hollywood directors anymore. Library patrons direct their own work thanks to the LibraryYOU project at Escondido (CA) Public Library. This project was the brainchild of Escondido staff member Donna Feddern. She attended the Internet Librarian conference in 2010 in hopes of getting ideas about website redesign. And in the process she heard presentations about adding user-generated videos to library websites. She loved the idea. Feddern did some research when she got back from the conference and eventually learned about YOUmedia, the digital media lab for teens at the Chicago Public Library. Armed with this information, she approached her supervisors at the time and they were supportive.

Creating the studio and the website were the two biggest challenges of initiating the project according to Feddern. “We had to figure out whether or not we needed to sound proof the room where we were doing recordings and figure out which equipment to buy. With the website, we had to decide whether to use a digital archive platform like Omeka or use a content management system to give access to the digital collection we would be creating. There were no big technical issues but we did learn through trial and error what worked best as far as equipment and processes when recording, editing, and uploading the content.”

The need to hire staff and purchase equipment was an issue, as well. In Escondido’s case, funding for the program was the result of a grant by the California State Library Pitch an Idea LTSA grant. In addition, local high school and college students have been a resource to the project by working the studio equipment. Documentation and policy creation is another important step in creating a project such as LibraryYOU.

Currently, Escondido Library’s LibraryYOU Project is administered by Viktor Sjöberg. Since January 2012, the program has produced 45 videos and 4 podcasts, with more to follow. The project has a recording studio, provides public trainings, and posts the videos on their website. Currently available for viewing are videos by community members about hypnosis for stress relief, Uganda safari, natural cleaning, and color theory, just to name a few.

The system is rather proud of the fact that not only do they provide this service for the community but that the resulting material is searchable within the library’s catalog. “Through LibraryYOU, we empower the members of our community by helping them become content creators. The fact that we also distribute the content and make it a part of our digital collection is relevant to that empowerment,” says Sjöberg. “Libraries have traditionally been very closely tied to a culture where a small number of people create content that is in turn consumed by the masses. Libraries therefore need to think just as much about creation of content as we do about consumption of content.”

The hard work has paid off for Escondido. Contributors—between the ages of 16 and 92—fill a need within their community through LibraryYOU. The feedback has been optimistic. A patron recently responded about a cooking video, “I watched it two times and felt that I could try making my own pasta now.”