In the past 10 years, the quantity of digitized or born-digital media, especially video, has skyrocketed. Librarians are constantly navigating this digital shift and helping their patrons find their way through it.
Media is a complicated format for librarians: Issues involving fair use limitations and allowances, individual versus institutional rights, closed-circuit rights, public-performance rights, streaming rights, licensing details, and copyright and access questions are ever-present. Finding titles in a required format can also be problematic. The payoff comes in the many video resources available, both for free and through fees, that are ideal for library instruction, research, outreach, and use within the curriculum by way of content and learning management systems.
Instructors and researchers are demanding video. According to Ithaka S+R’s US Faculty Survey 2012, academic faculty rate audiovisual resources at the same level of research importance as reference materials. Always an engaging supplemental resource, video is also gaining prominence in primary scholarly research, especially as more special collections and archives digitize their film holdings.
The survey asked different departments how important film and video resources are to their research. Close to 40% of the humanities faculty responded that these materials were important; less than 20% of the social sciences faculty and only 10% of the sciences faculty answered affirmatively. When asked about the types of materials used in teaching and assignments for freshmen and sophomores, again the disciplines varied. Film, video, and other nontextual sources were used often or occasionally with lower-level undergraduates by close to 85% of humanities faculty; in the social sciences it was about 70%, and in the sciences about 35%.
The Pew Research Center’s Online Video 2013 report found that the percentage of internet-using American adults who watch or download videos had grown from 69% in 2009 to 78% in 2013. Video-sharing sites like YouTube are largely responsible for the increase. Since 2006, the percentage of online adults who post, watch, or download videos has grown from 33% to the current figure of 71%. Rates of online video viewing are highest among users ages 18–49 and those with higher household income levels.
According to the July 2012 edition of Library Journal’s “Patron Profiles: Public Library Edition,” DVD borrowing in public libraries has fallen sharply: 17% of respondents said that streaming services—from providers such as Netflix, Hulu, Apple, and Amazon—were their primary source for movies.
The 2013 Horizon Reports released by the New Media Consortium, both the K–12 and higher education editions, confirm that the role of online or blended learning continues to “come of age.” Video is no longer exclusively for distance and traditional learners; students expect it to be in the curriculum. Lectures, primary content, methods of analysis, and instruction are in nontextual formats. The flipped classroom, currently a popular pedagogic model, uses video lectures and materials outside the classroom so that faculty can spend more time on active projects and student engagement.
Librarian skills are needed in this changing sphere to help faculty, students, and patrons find, evaluate, and use these quality video resources—while respecting copyright law.
JULIE A. DECESARE is assistant professor and head of education and research at Phillips Memorial Library, Providence (R.I.) College. This column is adapted from her April 2014 Library Technology Report, “Streaming Video Resources for Teaching, Learning, and Research.”