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

Livestreaming Library Chicks

   July 20th, 2017 Brian Herzog

Here's something kind of neat we're doing in my library: our Children's Room has eggs in an incubator so the kids can watch them hatch, and then our IT person got the idea to livestream the eggs (and subsequent chicks) to our website.

The eggs came from a farm in Western MA, and the chicks will go back there a couple weeks after they hatch. In the meantime, the incubator has been sitting on the Children's Desk - and of course has been very popular with kids (and the local paper).

After they hatch they get moved into a larger cage, and that's when the livestream should get more interesting (watching eggs isn't actually that much fun).

Here's our setup - the incubator is inside the cage, along with water, food, and a heater for after they hatch. Maybe a bit "hands-offy" for my taste, but you know kids, I guess.

Setting up the livestream was surprisingly easy too. First I contacted our webhost to see if they had any issues with this or any suggestions, and they said the best route for them is to use YouTube's livestream feature. That way, we're just embedding a video, and not really bogging down their servers.

I found some instructions for YouTube Stream Now and first verified our YouTube account (which was a click of a button). Next our IT person installed an encoder (he chose Wirecast Play) on the computer we were going to use to host the camera. We decided to dedicate an extra computer to this, so it didn't slow down a staff desk computer.

Next on the YouTube livestream dashboard, we could edit things like the stream title and other basic information. This is also where you get the key for the encoder, and also where you get the embed code (like any other YouTube video).

The one change I made was to make the embed code permanent by including our Channel ID, based on a StackOverflow article:

The embed URL for a channel's live stream is:

https://www.youtube.com/ embed/live_stream?channel=CHANNEL_ID

You can find your CHANNEL_ID at https://www.youtube.com/account_advanced

Our IT person did all the hard work of installing and configuring the encoder, and setting up the computer with the camera, but really, none of this was difficult. Nonetheless, I was still amazed when I embedded the livestream code and it just worked:

Neat. I was also thoroughly entertained coming up with a title for this post that sounded click-baity yet accurate. "Live Nude Chicks" was my second choice.

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