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Last February, Google purchased their first SuperBowl ad, the story of a romance told entirely in Google searches, starting with “study abroad paris france” and ending with “how to assemble a crib.” This inspired all sorts of parody videos, and a few months later Google introduced the Search Stories Video Creator, a simple tool that lets you create these videos very easily. You simple enter up to six searches into a form, choosing the type of search for each: Web, Image, Map, News, etc., choose background music from a menu, and you’re ready to preview your video, upload it to YouTube and share it.
Here’s a sample I made.
Admittedly, this is not much of a story, just a series of searches around a particular theme, but more creative librarians could have some fun with this. I have a couple of simple examples below. This could be a fun challenge for a group of kids or teens to try. It’s really easy and fast. The three videos I did here each took me between five and ten minutes to make. I did find that after you upload them to YouTube there can be a delay of several hours while these are being processed.
But what I really want is for all the library vendors to offer a simple tool like this to make it easy for us to make these search stories using our library catalogs, databases, ebook collections and more!
Melrose Public Library Searched Several Ways
Famous People from Salem, Massachusetts
The Stoneham Theatre opened its tenth season in September with Studs Terkel’s The Good War : A Musical Collage of World War II. Journalist Studs Terkel was known for his oral histories that reflected the American experience in all of its variety. As they prepared for their production of The Good War, the Stoneham Theatre reached out to local veterans and recorded some of their memories. These short films are on the Stoneham Theatre’s YouTube Channel, and are a lasting record of a few members of the Greatest Generation telling their own stories.
Here’s 1941 Stoneham High School graduate Ethel LaSalle, who served in the Women’s Army Corps:
This video shows several different celebrities speaking out in support of the New York Public Library. They reminisce about their childhood library visits and the role the library played in their lives, and talk about why libraries are essential to building strong communities.
I found Malcolm Gladwell’s words particularly moving: “My last book ‘Outliers’ describes success in terms of opportunities, and one of those opportunities is a library…Whenever I hear the words that libraries are being cut back, I feel like people’s lives are being cut back in a very real way.”
Most of us don’t have access to celebrities like Barbara Walters, Nora Ephron, Amy Tan and Bette Midler, but any library could make a similar video featuring local celebrities and members of your own community who could be equally eloquent and effective in delivering the message.
The New York Times has announced an oral history project called The New Hard Times. Readers are invited to interview friends or family members who lived through the Great Depression, and have them share their memories and offer their advice for surviving hard times.
A good example is this video conversation between 96-year-old business school professor at New York University and one of his students :
One woman who lived through the Depression has become something of an Internet celebrity sharing her recipes and memories on YouTube. 93-year-old grandmother Clara Cannucciari is the star of a series of videos called Depression Cooking with Clara, made by her grandson, filmmaker Chris Cannucciari. Clara’s old-fashioned, simple cooking and engaging manner have won her many fans.
These videos are also good examples for anyone interested in doing an oral history project for their family or their community. Many people freeze up in a recorded interview, but are more comfortable and natural when they are demonstrating a favorite activity, and the results can be more interesting for the viewer as well.
Depression Cooking with Clara, Episode 4 – Peppers and Eggs
- Great Depression Cooking with Clara — Clara’s website and blog
- DepressionCooking — Clara’s YouTube channel
- Skaneateles grandmother cooks up memories on YouTube — by Article by Sean Kirst in the Syracuse Post-Standard about Clara’s life and new fame
Animoto is an online service that makes it easy to create professional-looking animated videos from your photographs. The process couldn’t be simpler — you just upload a group of photographs or choose them from your account on Flickr or other supported site, choose a music clip from their the Animoto collection or upload your own, and click on Create. Animoto’s software takes it from there, analyzing your images and customizing the movement and special effects to match the music. It takes several minutes before the video is ready, but you can get pretty impressive results with very little effort. The video can be viewed online, mailed to a friend, or uploaded directly to YouTube.
This could be a fun “craft program” for kids or teens, who might enjoy making their own videos like the sample below:
Thirty second videos are free. If you want to make longer ones, you can pay $3 per video or $30 a year.
Libraries and other organizations can use this site to make simple promotional videos to post on YouTube and their own sites. Here are some examples:
- Teen Music Video — From the Leesburg Library in Florida
- Sparta School District — This one uses a custom soundtrack with words as well as music
- Read in 2008 — From the South Carolina State Library
Of course, there isn’t much skill or creativity involved in making videos this way — the software is doing all the work. It can be fun, though, and users who tire of this and want more control have lots of options for making their own movies using other programs.
Last night at the Computers in Libraries conference, the first annual InfoTubey Awards were presented, honoring outstanding library promotional videos posted on YouTube. YouTube has given libraries a new, low-cost, high-impact method of outreach, and it’s great to see Information Today, the publishers of Computers in Libraries and sponsorts of the conference, honor libraries who are using this new medium.
It was interesting watching the winning videos in a crowd of librarians, and hearing the acceptance speeches. The videos don’t look like typical professional productions made for TV. They are were all made using basic videocameras, and edited by inhouse using free or inexpensive software, and they fit the YouTube environment perfectly : quick to make and easy to share. Creativity, authenticity and sincerity count more than slick production values. Most of the winners talked about how much local attention and appreciation their YouTube videos were getting, and how much fun all of this was for both staff and patrons.