Streaming Media: Acquisition, Discovery, and Usage Data

This streaming media e-forum, held August 27–28, 2013, explored the streaming media acquisitions process, how access is established to optimize discovery and how usage information should inform each step of the process. Seven topics emerged from the discussion.

Acquiring Streaming Media

Day one began with the topic of acquiring streaming media. Several vendors were listed for subscription products and title by title purchases. Films on Demand, Alexander Street Press, Paley Media Center, Swank, Ambrose, New Day Films, Media Education Foundation, and Kanopy received mention.

National Media Market ( was listed as a place to determine video distributors and their streaming rights. Their conference is a place to negotiate deals and find content.

For those interested in implementing a media server several products were listed: Kaltura, ShareStream, Ensemble Video, Helix, Wowza, Media Amp, Avalon, and the open source solution Pomona College's Video47. This lead to a general question of why a hosting server was needed. Large video distributors tend to provide a hosting option, but some distributors require libraries to host it themselves. A library could even be required to create a digital file from a DVD in order to stream the video.


Many use ERMS and spreadsheets. There is a concern about tracking the renewal of multiyear licenses when access rights expire, particularly with locally hosted titles. The additional complexity is the multiple departments and individuals which are part of the workflow. There was an example of a physical copy + streaming rights requires handling by both the print/media staff and the electronic resources staff. The idea of using a task management program was brought forth.

One library uses an online form with various people assigned to a tab with an automatic email generated when the next step needs to be created. Kanopy Streaming suggested that vendors could be part of the workflow solutions with automated email notifications for renewal and switching expired videos to the preview mode.

Purchasing DVD + Streaming Rights

The third topic addressed the decision to purchase DVD + streaming rights. The question involved understanding why that decision was made. The responders indicated that the decision was made on a case-by-case basis and usually because of a faculty request.


In many cases there seem to be more questions than answers. Streaming media has evolved with multiple options but there is not a single solution. There is a difference in licensing material for the campus communities and licensing for course reserves. Several people mentioned the TEACH Act and fair use as a method for justified streaming of clips if a streaming license was not available especially as a way to address faculty requests for streaming for course reserve items.

New pricing models are starting to emerge. Different vendors are piloting evidence-based acquisitions, patron-driven licensing, and pay-per-view models.


The desire to make streaming titles and collections discoverable was evident in all of the responses at the begining of day two.

  • MARC records. When feasible, many libraries use MARC records as one point of access and discovery. These may be at the title level, the collection level, or both. The two common ways for title level access is via vendors supplying MARC records and via copy and original cataloging of records. It was noted that there is an inconsistency in the quality of MARC records, based on the vendor supplying them. One individual noted that their library offers separate records for the hard copy and streaming format of titles, when both exist in their offerings.
  • Databases. Streaming collections might also be cataloged as databases for discovery.
  • ERMs. Some libraries track titles and/or collections in their ERM for public display.
  • OpenURL link resolvers. Some streaming collections are discoverable via openURL linking, including Alexander Street Press.
  • Discovery tools. Some streaming collections are discoverable search tools such as EBSCO Discovery Service or Summon
  • Guides. Many libraries use guides for discovery and promotion of streaming collections. Some guides were offered as examples by e-forum participants:,,

Promoting Streaming Media

Ideas for promotion included librarians informing their faculty of streaming collections, the use of digital signage, promotional videos, links to guides, stickers on DVDs advertising the same content via streaming, and posters. Deg Farrelly from Arizona State University Libraries shared this link showing posters and a slide used for digital signage:

Streaming Media Usage and Assessment

It was expressed that there is a need for standardized metrics for and delivery of streaming usage statistics. In terms of vendor hosted streaming content, some vendors supply detailed usage reports, some provide mediocre usage reports, and some provide nothing at all. The preference for usage statistics to be provided dynamically was expressed, and the strong need for title level usage statistics was identified. In terms of locally hosted streaming content, platforms such as ShareStream were mentioned as offering usage tracking.

An archive of the discussion is available at: .

—Moderated by Sally Gibson, Illinois State University, and Susan Marcin, Columbia University


ALCTS e-Forums are two-day, moderated, electronic discussion forums that provide an opportunity for librarians to discuss matters of interest on an ALCTS discussion list. These discussions are free-of-charge and available to anyone who wishes to subscribe to the list.

ALCTS Newsletter publishes wrap-ups of e-forums in each issue. To see the schedule of upcoming forums and to sign up to participate, visit Previous sessions are archived at