The word "cool" might be dangerous, but that's what makes it so fun! I'm not sure if this is widely known or not, but a few months back the Libraries purchased a Flash Media Streaming Server. What that means is that we now have the ability to stream high quality Flash video and sound, a huge improvement over our previous Real Media setup. Generally speaking, roughly 98% of people have the Flash Player, under 50% have Real Media Player. Furthermore, the quality and delivery methods are superior with Flash (think YouTube).
Now that we have this fantastic piece of technology in place, it's time to brainstorm cool ways to use it. I have three ideas I think could be a lot of fun and that could really help our patrons out.
30 Second Reference Screencasts
I basically pass out while watching 5+ minute screencasts. And as I watch most library screencasts, I think I could maybe last for 30 seconds. My Web 2.0 riddled brain just can't handle a monotone voice on top of a library website, and I'm guessing many our patrons may be on a similar wavelength.
30 Second Reference videos would be extremely short, concise tips on how to find different materials in the library. They would be sortable and searchable, covering generic topics like "How to find a particular Journal" or "Selecting the database that's right for you!" We could build out a database of these screencasts, and then incorporated them throughout our website in helpful places.
Get Inspired! Series
The highest quality work happens when people feel inspired in some way or another about the project they're working on. That feeling of inspiration is so difficult to replicate for students in Academia because most of the assignments handed out are B-O-R-I-N-G. However, what if we could turn that boredom into excitement? How, you ask? Engaging their imagination by showing them really interesting stuff in their field!
For example, check out this video from NYPL:
I know I'm a designer, and that this video appeals directly to my senses, but how many cool things are going on in this video? They talk to successful people in the field from the local community. They show off great & exciting parts of their collections. They highlight how badass and helpful reference librarians can be. They inspired me to want to hit up the NYPL and stare at typography books! Wood typography, nonetheless!
I've been thinking about how our Library can be really helpful to students, more than just a useful place to find information. If we provide interesting videos highlighting cool collections, perhaps we can awaken some students out of the essay coma they're normally in. If we could show history students studying Nevada the awesome pictures we have in the Boomtown collection, or design students the amazing outfits the Showgirls used to wear, or Architecture students the swank old buildings around Vegas, or science students the types of sustainable building that's taking place around Vegas. Those materials really could act as sources of inspiration to get ideas flowing, rather than simply filling in 750 words to complete the assignment.
We have some this stuff on the web already, but a video could quickly engage patrons in a way a link to the information can't.
UNLV Students Rock! Series
Have you ever gone to a University Website which has a "Spotlight on a student" part? When I attended the University of Montana I used to look through the "Faces of UM" all the time. People are naturally voyeurs, and we like to see what others are up to, especially those in our community who we see around campus.
There are some amazing students who produce incredible works of art, poetry, music, design, dance, etc. We could create a "Spotlight" series, where either a librarian or Peer Coach goes out and shoots a bit of film highlighting outstanding student activity, such as a concert or art show, and do a quick video expose on that person. Young people seeing other young people in their community doing cool stuff might inspire our students to become more active and engaged themselves.
Whatever the case, we should really be thinking about different types of videos we can make. Videos that engage and inspire students. Some that are perhaps a bit less fun to watch, but very useful and to the point. There are a ton of ways we can use this technology, and these are just three ideas I've come up with. I'd be happy to hear your thoughts as well!