Monday, March 16, 2015

Lights and Camera In Action at Tampa Bay Libraries

By Ian Chant  |  March 16, 2015

Libraries in Central Florida are getting ready for their closeup. The Tampa Bay Library Consortium (TBLC), which represents 113 public, academic, school, and special libraries in the Sunshine State, has brought on a full-time videographer to serve each branch, and the consortium as well. Now special events, chats with authors, and even monthly newsletters from TBLC members are getting professional video treatment.

According to Jessica Riggins, the seeds for the program were planted in early 2014. One of TBLC’s member libraries rewrote the job description for a library assistant position into a job with more of a video production bent, hoping to start filming library events and share them more effectively with the public. It was an idea that resonated with TBLC staffers. There was just one problem, and it was a familiar one—money.

We knew that not many of our libraries could afford to have a position dedicated to this and thought that a ‘shared’ person could benefit many libraries in our region,” said Jessica Riggins, membership coordinator at TBLC.

The program kicked off with the hiring of video content producer Scott Patterson in October of last year, and TBLC member libraries have found plenty of work for him. If repeat customers are any indicator of success, the program is flourishing.

“We average about six videos per month and have filmed things with more than 12 of our member libraries,” TBLC assistant director Beth Farmer told Library Journal. “We have gotten a lot of positive feedback from members, and have often been called back by the same library to film additional videos after [its] first experience with us.”

Those projects have run the gamut of library content, from TED Talk-style lectures on the future of libraries to short videos highlighting the library-sponsored Manatee County Comics Convention. Ericka Dow, a librarian at Manatee County Library’s Central Branch, who helped organize and manage that event, Mana-Con, was delighted with the footage Patterson captured at the event, which featured plenty of costumed attendees and a robot-themed lounge space.

“Scott created a fantastic video with high quality production value and now we’ll be able to use it to promote Mana-Con 2015 coming up in October,” said Dow.

It’s not just visually interesting events like a comic convention that can benefit from video treatment, though, says Patterson. Short video pieces can breathe life into drier subject matter as well, and it’s something patrons are already looking for.

“Video reaches places that other typical media cannot. Close to a third of online activity consists of watching videos,” Patterson told LJ. “Video can take a seemingly boring topic and make it more appealing.”

That may be why TBLC has employed Patterson’s services to spice up their once traditional newsletter. “We have also begun doing video news segments in place of email newsletter updates to member libraries,” Farmer said. “These have been very popular and people are happy to see smiling faces instead of just reading text from their inbox.”

Once Scott receives the request, he works with the library to ensure the shoot runs smoothly. Scott shoots the event or promotional video, edits the work, and sends the preliminary video to the library to review before final production.

To get a video produced, member libraries submit a request through the TBLC website, giving Patterson a rundown of what they want recorded, for what purpose, the intended audience, and when and where the program will take place. Then, said Riggins, “Scott shoots the event or promotional video, edits the work and sends the preliminary video to the library to review before final production.”

The requesting library has the last word on what the “final cut” of its video looks like, and owns the result, though most vidoes end up also being posted to the TBLC YouTube channel.

For Farmer, the videography program is just the next evolution of the traditional consortium mission to improve and enhance the way member libraries operate by pooling resources.
“TBLC has always provided centralized services to help maximize resources by sharing,” she said. “We see the video program as the next wave of library service—reaching the user visually, where they are.”

That outreach is especially important in the digital age, where libraries have to keep up with modern media or risk appearing to be behind the times. According to Riggins, that presence isn’t just nice to have—it’s essential to meeting the expectations of patrons.

“Providing video programming content and video promotional materials gives our libraries the opportunity to stay current with their users’ expectations,” she told LJ. 

From: Library Journal 

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