or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk




Reference Question of the Week – 7/18/10

   July 24th, 2010 Brian Herzog

In honor of Thursday's Libraries in Videos post, I thought I'd do this week's reference question video-style.

My brother-in-law turned me on to Xtranormal.com, a text-to-movie website - you type in your script, select actors, animations, camera angles, etc., and then it builds a little video for you. It's worth it to read about their free and paid options before you spend two hours fine-tuning the perfect video, only to learn it's going to cost you $5 to post it (oops).

This is a made-up reference question, but one I think everyone will recognize. I'm the one on the right - enjoy:

Alright, I admit it's dorky, but it was fun to make, and what can I say - I used all the free options. But this would be a cool way to make instructional library videos, because editing is super-quick, no cameras or mics needed, and is a boon to the camera-shy.

By the way, I chose to upload this video to YouTube and embed it from there, but the Xtranormal video page allows embedding and lots of other sharing options.

Thanks, Mike!



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Libraries in Videos

   July 22nd, 2010 Brian Herzog

Librarians go GaGa videoLast week, Huffington Post featured a library-related video round-up entitled Librarians Go Gaga: 9 Of The Funniest Library Videos Ever.

Some of them I'd never seen before, but all of them were enjoyable to watch. However, the Library Girl song wasn't there, and they also left out David Lee King and Michael Porter's Library 101 project. I guess that one isn't meant to be funny ha-ha, but I was making a funny face in it.

However, my favorite video of this type, which is more Web 2.0 than library, is Are You Blogging This?, which David made in 2006:

I still occasionally find that song going through my head, even when I haven't watched it in awhile. Since libraries have been declared the Next Big Thing (via), we'll probably see ourselves in much more media - after all, we are pretty hip.



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YouTube Shortcuts

   May 18th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Fast Forward buttonI am by no means a YouTuber, so the tips I just figured out might be common knowledge, but I thought I'd share anyway.

Do you ever want to link right to a specific spot in a YouTube video? Say a video is five minutes long, but the part you want to highlight starts at 3:14 - I knew there must be a way to start the video right at 3:14 so people didn't have to sit through the beginning portion.

After a bit of web searching, I found two ways to do this - one for a link, and one for an embedded video. And to give my examples some context, here's our situation: You have a video of ten book reviews, and the review you wanted to link to (for Neil Gaiman's Interworld) starts 1 minute and 11 second into the video.

Link to Video
To create a link to start at a specific spot in a video, just add #t=0m0s to the end of the regular link url. Then, change the 0's to the minute and second you want to link to.

Embed a Video
Starting a video embedded in your webpage at a specific spot is a little more work.

  1. Grab the embed code from the video's YouTube page and paste it into your webpage where you want the video to appear. The code will look something like this:

    <object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ep9MI5Mc7tU&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ep9MI5Mc7tU&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="640" height="385"></embed></object>

  2. Put &start=71 at the end of both URLs shown in the code:

    <object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ep9MI5Mc7tU&hl=en_US&fs=1&start=71"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ep9MI5Mc7tU&hl=en_US&fs=1&start=71" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="640" height="385"></embed></object>

  3. Update 2/2012: YouTube also uses <IFRAME> to embed videos. In this case, the code will look like this:

    <iframe width="550" height="330" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/yyy8gYkU2TY#start=227" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

  4. Notes:
    • You have to translate the start time into just seconds - so 1 minute and 11 seconds becomes 71 seconds
    • A lot can happen in 1 second, so the content you want might actually start in between 1:11 and 1:12 - I don't think you can fine-tune any more than seconds. Another hiccup could be the way video files are encoded, so the start point might not always be exactly split-second precise every time
  5. Enjoy:

The next logical step for this example is to also set a stop time. YouTube doesn't seem to have a native way to do that, but both Splicd.com and Apture.com's Builder provide this feature. Neat.



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StoryTubes 2009

   January 27th, 2009 Brian Herzog

storytubes videoLast year I learned about a video-based book review contest for students called StoryTubes. It's happening again this year, and the deadline for submissions is fast approaching.

I think this is a great idea for any librarian or teacher with creative kids and a video camera. All the details are available on their website, but basically a kid makes a video reviewing a book they've read, the video is uploaded to teachertube.com or YouTube.com, and then submissions are judged and the winner announced. But more importantly, kids are involved with creating something that is their own.

And this idea goes along with my "Information in Context" push, in that any video created can be embedded back into the library's website to showcase the kids and their reading - and hopefully encourage more kids to read and review books. If you are able, make a video and enter the contest. Or, at least keep tabs on the entries - last year's were quite entertaining.



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Video Everywhere

   November 6th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Too Much Joy's Donna Everywhere videoIn the last few weeks, I've seen a lot of announcements concerning video content being added to online resources. Both InfoTrac and NewsBank have recently made email announcements about content they've each added to their databases.

InfoTrac added many full-text resources to the General and Academic OneFiles, some of which include video segments. NewsBank's announcement was more thorough - here's an excerpt from the email:

In response to the rising demand in libraries, NewsBank is adding video news content to our online news resources-at no additional charge to our customers. The complete package from respected media distributor Voxant includes the following sources: The Associated Press, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, local affiliates of ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox, as well as coverage from Canadian Broadcasting, Agence France Press and more. Your institution will have access to video clips from all or a select group of these sources, depending on your subscription.

Beginning on Monday, October 20, the videos clips will be added to NewsBank resources. Users will be able to:

  • Play news videos within the NewsBank interface, in the same space used to display text articles
  • Select specific videos from a comprehensive results lists that also includes NewsBank articles, or restrict their search to "video only"
  • Access recent and archived news videos at your institution or remotely
  • Email links of specific videos to friends, or embed them in a presentation

I find it curious that they say this is in response to demand from libraries. From the few tests I did, most of this newly added video content is already available free online, so I'm not sure where this demand was coming from (or why the vendors choose to listen to this particular demand instead of other things libraries have been demanding).

If a patron wants to watch a news show online, I can't see myself showing them how to navigate the library website to find the right database, log in with their library card, navigate the database for the right title, and then find the episode. It is just easier for me and the patron to use the station's own website or YouTube as a resource.

And speaking of YouTube, Library Stuff linked to a YouTube announcement on c|net today: "YouTube will begin offering feature films produced by at least one of the biggest Hollywood movie studios possibly as early as next month." Combine that with Hulu.com and other websites, and that's a lot of available video content.

For the database vendors though, I would prefer they concentrating on making their resources more user-friendly and useful by "uniquing" them, instead of providing content that is already available from other sources.



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Library Investigation

   July 16th, 2008 Brian Herzog

WHDH-7 logoOne of the local television stations in Boston, WHDH 7, just aired an investigative story into libraries:

Theaters and video stores usually require an age of 17 or older to see or rent an R-Rated release, unless there is parental permission. But something altogether different is going on in some local libraries. 7News' Jonathan Hall investigates.

Read the transcript, or watch the video.

This is similar to the situation we had here a little while ago (except without the undercover investigators), which prompted us to put label ratings on VHS and DVDs when possible. And it looks like the Boston Public Library, "in line with American Library Association guidelines," is on the same page as us.

Libraries do not raise children, we provide access to information. Parents raise children, and we do what we can to support that need - while at the same time supporting the informational and educational needs of everyone else in the community.

I found this news report interesting, but a bit sensationalized. I'm sure as long as there are parents and children (and news outlets in need of ratings), issues like this will never die.



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