Making Library Videos

Seven simple steps to visual marketing

November 1, 2018

Dispatches, by David Lee King

Are you ready to create fresh and engaging promotional content about your library that doesn’t involve typing on a laptop or printing out posters? If so, consider making videos.

Video marketing popularity has surged. According to Cisco, video comprised 73% of global IP traffic in 2016, and by 2021 it is expected to increase to 82%. Your patrons are already consuming videos, so it makes sense for your library to create video content for them. Making videos can be an effective way to share what your library does, and thankfully, it’s easy. Here are seven simple steps to help you get started:

1. Figure out the content. Spend 20 minutes answering these questions: “What’s new and exciting at the library?” “What do we wish patrons did more of or used more?” “What’s happening next month at the library?” At the end of this brainstorm, you will have compiled a list of videos to make.

If you have just started a new service, make a video describing how useful it is. Maybe you just built a new makerspace—create a short video that shows off the equipment and invites people to visit.

Find the best option that works for you. Maybe you don’t like acting, but you have a knack for interviewing. Start with quick, one-minute-long book reviews with one or two colleagues who love to read and ask them to describe the last book they read.

Or consider making a list of your library’s most-used services, frequently asked questions at the reference desk, or maybe the top 10 things you wished your library patrons knew about the library. Brainstorming will help you decide on what content you want to feature.

2. Schedule it. Start slow, perhaps by planning one video per month. Add these projects to your calendar and schedule help as needed, factoring in the time to find a camera operator, on-screen talent, and props.

Try to keep your video under two minutes—more people will watch it all the way through if it’s shorter.

3. Shoot the video. You don’t need fancy video equipment. A smartphone will work, but another option is a point-and-shoot camera, like the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II or Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 Mark VI. To capture clear audio, place yourself four to five feet away from the speaker and consider investing in a lavalier microphone, like the omnidirectional BOYAS BY-M1. Give the person in front of the camera an outline of what’s supposed to happen. To make the video more engaging, ensure he or she is looking directly at the lens.

4. Edit. Using a mobile video editing tool like iMovie or Adobe Premiere Elements, remove the extra space at the beginning and end of the video. Scroll through the footage and delete filler words like “um” and “ah.” Your goal is to make people sound like they do in real life (with fewer pauses). At the end of the video, add your library’s logo and your website’s URL so viewers know where to get more information. Try to keep your video under two minutes—more people are likely to watch it all the way through if it’s shorter.

5. Post. You’ll probably want to share your video in a couple of places. First, upload it to YouTube and embed it on your library’s website. Then share the URL on Twitter (with a screengrab image from the video). Upload the video file separately to Facebook since that platform favors native video.

6. Respond to comments. Within the video, ask viewers to comment. Once it receives feedback, respond promptly. If nothing else, say something like, “Thanks for the comment” or “Thanks for watching!” People appreciate the acknowledgement.

7. Repeat. Why stop at one video when you can create consistent content for your customers? Put yourself on a schedule (see step two above) and start making videos regularly.

You are now well on your way to providing customers with useful, engaging video content!


Screenshot from University of Minnesota, Morris's "Welcome to Briggs Library," featuring the school's cougar mascot, Pounce.

Pounce into the Spotlight with a Library Introduction Video

University library provides tips and best practices