Instagram and Snapchat Videos as Short-Form Library Tutorials

For those of us who like to use visuals to teach and learn:

[Librarian Cindy] Craig has a splendid new essay up in In the Library with the Lead Pipe, called “Modular Short Form Video for Library Instruction”; although it’s pitched at librarians, it’s useful for anyone interested in teaching multi-step processes.

[…]she focused on SnapChat, which allows 15-second videos, and Instagram, which allows 10 (and which also has the Boomerang app that lets you cycle images quickly back and forth). You can see the results here

Craig’s list of best practices is pretty sound:

  • Carefully map out the research process from start to finish. Don’t assume users will even know how to find your library’s website.
  • Break up the research process into smaller chunks. Think about where users are likely to get stuck or confused. Your videos should help users over these hurdles.

You can read the rest of Cindy Craig’s best practices in Jason B. Jones’ article on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s ProfHacker blog. Her library’s 10 Second Library Hacks page on Instagram seems helpful, although I agree with Jones assertion that free screencasting software would look more attractive to users than a smartphone video recording. Also, the article states that Instagram only allows 10-second videos. I believe this time was increased to 15 seconds, and then recently increased again to a full 60 seconds. Lots of time there for a quick tip or two.

I will try to replicate this on our new (and barely used) Instagram page. It will be interesting to see how law library patrons engage with video tutorials. I predict that half the battle will be making patrons aware that we have an Insta page. Many seem tethered to the idea that a law library = books-and-study-space only, and seem genuinely (but pleasantly) surprised when they learn we have social media, presentations, reference hours, etc.

Obviously, anything we place on our public social media will be findable for members of the general public, too. In addition to library-specific tutorials, it could also be fun to use that 60-second window of time to give user-friendly and plain language topical overviews, such as a 101 tutorial showing users how to navigate online self-help legal resources.

I found this article in the American Association of Law Libraries’ KnowItAALL newsletter.



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