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Can Videos Change Perception that Libraries are Only About Books?

by on June 5, 2016

Perhaps the real question is how quickly can video kill the mistaken belief that libraries are only about books or libraries are simply lending institutions? “Not fast enough!” we might reply. ALA and PLA are wasting no time with their newly released library advocacy videos. ALA President Sari Feldman aims to shift the outdated perception people have of libraries by developing a series of videos through the Libraries Transform public awareness campaign. The six videos were developed to align with ALA‘s E’s of Libraries, a strategy to promote public awareness that, with expert assistance of library professionals, help facilitate education, employment, entrepreneurship, empowerment, and engagement for everyone, everywhere. Along with Feldman, the videos were developed with PLA President-Elect Felton Thomas, PLA, the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy, and the ALA Office for Library Advocacy so that libraries can use them in public awareness campaigns.

These outdated views of what libraries were create a negative impact on our libraries and tend to erode support for libraries with this logic: if libraries stand for books, and if books can be downloaded from the cloud at the drop of a dime, then why do we need libraries? Library members and frequent visitors know better. In fact, our regulars have been visiting public libraries for so long they have witnessed our transformation from pre-computers to free Wi-Fi and can testify to how libraries have impacted their lives.

Not only do the new videos align with the E’s of Libraries, they support the initiatives of Project Outcome, which focuses on outcome-based reporting favoring impact over numbers and helps librarians demonstrate to local funding authorities the difference the public library is making in the lives of their local residents. And if increased viewing, creating, and sharing of video content is the direction our society is headed (see Pew Research Center’s log of articles about online videos), then certainly our clever and creative use of these videos in our own libraries can be quite impactful.

So, how do we put these videos in the front of those who need to see them?

Because the films were intended for you to use in your library, they are devoid of library names or patron names, making them perfect for repurposing. Extend the E’s of Libraries brand by not only posting the videos to your existing media channels but also consider creating additional digital content. For example, when posting information about your library’s job events link to a locally created web page that displays the video created for employment and relevant statics[1] to accompany that video:

  • Every day, 300,000 Americans get job-seeking help at their public library.
  • In a year, 30 million people use library computers and internet access for employment or career purposes.
  • Ninety-two percent of libraries provide access to online job databases and resources.
  • Seventy-six percent of libraries help people complete job applications online.

Perhaps people who do not normally view the library as a place to get job help will think twice after seeing the video.

Consider using them in local PSAs, incorporate them into your talks and speeches, and play them at your next Friends meeting. The videos can also be created as a tool to request additional funding. For example, if your library is seeking to be that entrepreneurial spot in the community, show the video to your funders and let them know that you aspire to be that place, and that you need their support to get there.

The possibilities are endless! What’s most important is that you use them. If you found an impactful and powerful way to use the videos in your library or have some ideas on how you might use them, you are welcome to post in the comments below.


PLA Premieres Library Advocacy Video Series at National Conference

Project Outcome – Looking Back, Looking Forward

Public Library Association Conference in Denver showcases new advocacy series

Public Library Association Advocacy Videos

[1]Employment,” Libraries Transform, accessed May 18, 2016.

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