McGill Library’s new orientation video

In order to improve the reach of our library orientation, this year we decided to supplement our traditional tours and workshops with a series of short videos. The first of these, the general orientation video, went live yesterday, and I think it is wonderful!

This video came out of the work of the Library’s orientation committee, of which I am a member. The committee is made up primarily of liaison librarians from across the Library, but also includes myself as well our communications officer. We began working on this at the start of the year (January? February?) and the result is far better than I had originally expected us to be able to pull off, especially since this is our first attempt at creating videos like this. Don’t let it be said that nothing good ever came out of committee work!

My personal involvement was mostly in the initial planning and story-boarding stages. We started by thinking about the kind of video we felt would be most effective: length, style, tone, etc. When then began to iterate through the content, starting with a brainstorming session of most of the things we could talk about but then reviewing and editing the content down so that we had only the key points that wanted to get across.

We then started to put that content into storyboards, to discuss the visuals and copy we would use to communicate each point. When we were done, we had the foundation for a good orientation video.

At that point, our communications officer took over the production process and worked with some of the very talented staff we have in the Library to get the images and video, record the voice-overs, and produce the final video that you see today.

(Full credits are listed at the end of the video.)

I wasn’t involved in the production process at all, and so only saw the video for the first time when it was almost done. I was surprised by how professional it was, not because I don’t think my co-workers are talented but because I know how hard video production is, how hard it is to get all the small details right. I also know how busy the people who worked on this are: video production isn’t their main job responsibility (not even close), and they all have so many other projects and work going on. It wouldn’t be too much of an overstatement to say they did this work off the side of their desks, which for me makes the accomplishment all the more impressive.

As I said before, this is the first in a series of videos to help people learn the ins and outs of the Library. Subsequent videos will be much shorted (around the 30 second mark, if I remember correctly), and will cover most of the main points that we would normally cover in our Getting Started workshop. If this first video is any indication, I expect these will be a big hit with students and will be a great resource that will see a lot of use throughout the academic year.


Dividing up the work of managing social networking channels

Last fall the Library began using Twitter and Facebook to share news and information with students. The accounts had listed for a while, but their use was adhoc, with occasional updates from some of the librarians working virtual reference. Our communications officer (Merika) and I sat down and planned out how we could use these channels more effectively.

We started by using them to support our orientation program in the fall. In this we were assisted by a few other librarians, and we worked together to draft a number of posts, scheduled the publishing of those posts (using a shared calendar in Exchange), and shared the responsibility of posting the content to Twitter and Facebook at the appropriate times.

Once orientation was over, Merika and I continued to use the calendar to prepare a ‘pipeline’ of content for these feeds, and each of us continued to post more or less the same content to Twitter and Facebook.

We had some success with this approach, but still have a long way to go to get our number of followers up into the range where we are reaching the number of people we would like.

This year I thought we would try something different. Merika is on extended leave, and so over the coming academic year I’ll be sharing the social networking duties with our current communications officer, Sabrina. As it turns out, Sabrina is more comfortable using Twitter, and I spend far more time using Facebook, so I thought to myself: instead of us both posting the same content to each network, why don’t we each take one channel and post content independently?

Of course, we’re still both working from the same announcements and trying to promote the same services, so there is and will always be some overlap. But each of us is free to write up the posts as we see fit, allowing us to take advantage of the particularities of the platform. For example, you can post more text with Facebook and images can be included directly in the news feed. More importantly, though, is that I’m hoping that each of us might develop a different voice, so that people will get a better sense that there is an actual person behind the feed, not just some bit of script pushing content out to all channels.

There is a risk that the voices will be different, but I don’t think that is all that important, as long as they are within the same ‘brand envelope’, if you will. It is ok for people to discover that there are different people working at the Library! In fact, I think it is very important that people get a better sense of the actual people who work at the Library, that these people come to represent the Library.

As I’ve mentioned before, we need to use the web not only to make information available to our users, but to create connections between our users and the people in the library. I’m hoping that this small change in how we manage our social networks will contribute to making that happen.

P.S. Please feel free to follow the Library on either Facebook or Twitter and let us know how we are doing!