Tips and Trends

Spring 2007

Tips and Trends, written by Instructional Technologies Committee members, introduces and discusses new, emerging, or even familiar technology which can be applied in the library instruction setting. Issues are published 4 times a year.

YouTube: Do You Tube?
By Michelle Jacobs

Overview and Definition

Video and photo sharing sites have hit the Internet in force over the last few years, but no application has been quite as popular as YouTube. YouTube is a video-sharing service that allows users to post videos clips, video diaries/journals, events, and other videos. It draws users into engaging content as commentators and creators, activities that heighten students' visual literacy (EDUCAUSE 2006). YouTube allows anyone to create a free account and easily upload video in a variety of formats. The quality and content of the videos varies, and inappropriate material is flagged and removed. Users can easily search the content of YouTube with keyword searches, save clips in their online account, tag them, embed them in a blog or website, and even post comments and have online discussions linked to the clips. YouTube hosts contests, offers video challenges, and encourages its users to act as a responsible online community.

Basis for Current Interest

As more and more focus is added to Social Networking services, YouTube is a great example that can be applied to library instruction. There are other web video services such as AOL video and Yahoo video, but YouTube (purchased by Google in October 2006 for $1.65 billion) is the most popular. The current generation of college students regularly uses YouTube for entertainment, as a place to share video clips, and even for research (with our help). More and more academic institutions are creating YouTube clips. Libraries have been using YouTube for two main purposes: marketing/outreach and as a research tool.

Current Applications in Academic Libraries and Higher Education

Uses: As a Research Tool:

  1. Is a great source for current content.
  2. Allows you to find unique content and commentary on topics, including political campaigns and satire related to them.
  3. Showcases content that might not otherwise be explored.
  4. Presents events from different points of view, both commentary and amateur video.
  5. Is free, easy to use, and familiar to undergraduates.
As a Way to Market or Showcase Library Services:
  1. Adds a personal touch to Library services.
  2. Reaches users in their domain.
  3. Demonstrates the Library’s “coolness factor.”
  4. Is easy to use and free.
  5. Makes your content accessible to wide audience.
  6. Allows you to embed content into your own website or blog.
  1. University of California, Merced
    * Tutorials and funny clips.
  2. James C Kirkpatrick Library CMSU
    * A silly and yet resourceful overview of the library building and all it has to offer.
  3. University of Wales Bangor: Finding books in the library
    * This video follows one student through her research for a paper.
  4. Williams College
    * Public service librarians at Williams College are depicted as a band of bibliophiles who "escaped to the Williamstown underground" and survive as "librarians of fortune."
Tutorials on Library and Other Resources
  1. EPSILON Tutorial Video
  3. Second Life

Potential value

Some particularly useful aspects of YouTube in Libraries and Library Instruction include:

  1. Personalizes the library
    * Whenever you reach out to your users in their domain, you get a reaction. So far at the University of California, Merced, we have received positive feedback and students have been volunteering to participate in future “clips.” The plan is to release a series throughout the academic year.
  2. Online Tutorials
    * These are short films with screenshots where students discuss how to use the library’s resources.

Potential hurdles

You can run into production issues. It is important to develop a timeline and expect it to take longer. Some tips for creating videos:

  1. Look at other videos: There are several libraries with YouTube videos; simply search for the term “library or libraries” or by institution name.
  2. Creating videos takes more time than you anticipate.
  3. Write a script.
  4. Allow time to edit the clip.
  5. Include credits.
  6. The quality does not have to be professional, but it should be decent.
  7. Follow YouTube’s instructions for properly converting files for YouTube publishing.


YouTube is more than just a place to post video clips; a community has developed within it. Users create profiles, rate clips, post comments and engage in discussions over the posts. Using YouTube in an academic context requires the instructor to keep an open mind. YouTube commentary and discussions are casual, unfiltered, and are only moderated by user reporting. A strong upside is relating to students in a media that they embrace and can be passionate about. As Chris O’Neal comments “having your own classroom discussion about the clips�is an incredibly robust classroom tool. Working with students to create and upload their own videos is an even more powerful application.”

Further Reading

  1. Baumann, Michael. 2006. Going down the YouTubes. Information Today 23 (8): 56.
  2. Doyle, Bob. 2006. “YouTube and iTV.” EContent 29 (9): 22.
  3. EDUCAUSE. 2006. 7 things you should know about YouTube.
  4. Farrelly, Michael Garrett. 2006. The possibilities of YouTube. Public Libraries 45 (5): 34-35.
  5. Green, Heather. 2006. Way beyond home videos. Business Week April 10, 64-65.
  6. Jones, Morris. 2006. Will news find a home on YouTube? Nieman Reports 60 (4): 52-54.
  7. Library Journal. 2006. Front Desk November 1, 13.
  8. Manafy, Michelle. 2006. The collective wisdom at work. EContent 29 (7): 6.
  9. O’Neal, Chris. 2006. A teacher’s tour of YouTube. Edutopia
  10. Palser, Barb. 2006. Missed opportunities. American Journalism Review 28 (4): 84.

Tips and Trends: Spring 2007
ACRL Instruction Section Instructional Technologies Committee


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