The other day I wrote a post describing a two-part plan for a publishing platform for public libraries, and two days later I discovered that much of what I described has been prototyped in Escondido CA in a project called LibraryYOU. This is worth paying attention to. LibraryYOU is the first iteration of something very important for public libraries. This project is the work of Donna Feddern, Digital Services Manager of Escondido Public Library, who I was fortunate to catch up to on the phone today. She agreed to answer a few questions about LibraryYOU for the PLA Blog.
Donna, can you explain a bit about what the LibraryYOU site is, and why it makes sense for a public library to host such a service?
The LibraryYOU site hosts How To videos created by community members that they have either created themselves or made in our library’s new recording studio. It’s also a place to get tips about making your own multimedia web content. Libraries have always supported literacy and people communicating through the printed word. We now want to help our communities communicate through video and audio formats, which are just other ways to convey information. My first job after library school was as a trainer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s library program. I believed in our mission to help those without access to computers and the Internet be able to connect to the world at their public library. This just feels like an extension of that. We’ve provided computers for years. Why not provide multimedia tools to keep helping our communities learn about using the latest technologies?
I’ve also been hearing a lot of librarians talk about how the library’s strength (over Google, for example) is that we bring our communities together. You could argue that people watch a How To video on Youtube, but we’re calling attention to our local experts so they can connect with their own communities. Also, many of our LibraryYOU contributors do not have the knowledge of or access to the recording equipment to make their own videos so we’re helping them with that.
How did LibraryYOU come to be? Who made it? Who paid for it? This looks like it was a lot of work.
I love going to conferences because they always inspire me. I came up with the rough idea for LibraryYOU at Internet Librarian 2010. Presenters were just starting to talk about libraries being content creators and I was in love with Chicago Public Library’s YOUmedia project. I had originally envisioned patrons making videos as part of a library advocacy campaign, but realized it would be better to focus on How To videos. The contributors see the benefit of this because they can share their expertise and embed the videos they make on their own websites and it also helps us add to our collection. If you look up a topic in our catalog, you may find a book or a LibraryYOU video.
My boss asked me to come up with something for the California State Library’s Pitch an Idea LSTA grant and since I had been playing with this idea for months, I wrote up a proposal. Everyone liked it, so I wrote the grant and received the funding.
I then did the research and created the website. I am now maintaining the website and doing cataloging, outreach, and training. With the grant money, I was able to hire a part-time Recording Studio Coordinator who helped finalize the list of equipment for the recording studio. His main responsibility is to film and edit the videos and podcasts but he also helps manage the talent (our LibraryYOU contributors) and helps with networking and outreach. Luckily, our Digital Services Librarian position was unfrozen at the beginning of the grant and now I have more help with the LibraryYOU website. And we’re about to hire a high school student with grant money to assist in the recording studio. So yes, it is a lot of work but I am lucky to have a lot of excellent help!
How can I get something like LibraryYOU for my own community? What tools did you use to make this?
All you really need is a digital video camera, a computer with video editing software (Windows Movie Maker, iMovie) or a webcam, and a place to host your videos (Youtube, Vimeo, etc.) That would be the bare bones way to start the project. Then of course you’d need to have staff who knew a bit about filming and editing or would be willing to learn.
We did a little more than that. We took over an office as our recording studio, then bought an iMac with iMovie software and some recording equipment (digital video cameras, microphones, backdrops, lighting, etc.). You can see a more complete list here.
iPad 2s are also fun for movie making. They have a quality built-in video camera and you can get the stripped-down iMovie app to edit your videos. We plan on using the app to teach our patrons basic video editing skills.
I’m happy to talk to anyone who is interested in starting their own LibraryYOU. You can get more information at The LibraryYOU Project site.
If you were to do something differently, extend, or improve LibraryYOU, how would you do it?
I would have loved to use Omeka to host our LibraryYOU site. It is an open source tool created for libraries and museums to host digital collections, but it uses LAMP and we don’t have that kind of server. Instead, we are using the mojoPortal CMS which is what we used to redesign our library website. I’m familiar with it so I didn’t have the learning curve which would have really slowed me down. It works out well for us.
I’d also love to extend this program by having a YOUmedia grant or Library Lab to give more people access to equipment and a chance to collaborate and teach one another.