Screencasting Patron POVs, a TTW Guest Post by Mick Jacobsen

I am currently developing screencasts for an exciting new project mpowwill roll out in the near future.

While looking at a stupidly designed, but very useful database, I thought “Why would any patron watch a tutorial on how to navigate this mess?  They want an answer to a question, not a walk through of a resource.” This idea was quickly followed by “I am going to design screencasts that answer common, representative questions.”  For example, using LegalForms by Thomas Gale (not the database I referred to as stupidly designed) I can show how to find a customizable job application in one screencast and an easily adaptable home renovation construction contract in another.  These screencasts will demonstrate different means of finding valuable resources, but not be about using LegalForms… overtly.

Carrying the idea of what I call patron-point-of-view (PPOV) screencasts a step further, why not narrate from the patron’s viewpoint?  I rewrote the introduction from “Hi, I’m Mick Jacobsen an Adult Services blah, blah, blah,” to “Hi, I’m Mick, the owner of Mick’s Pizza and I want to get the word out about my great…”.

Lets go even further, why not use the question as the title?  Which video do you think would be viewed more: Learn How to Search LegalForms or Find a Customizable Contract for Your Business? I think the latter.

While multiple screencasts of each database will be necessary, I believe they will provide a better means of showing the real value of library resources.  An added benefit is PPOV screencasts will be short. The PPOV screencasts answer questions. They don’t plod through each and every nuance of a resource.  Seriously, what patron will sit down to watch a 10 minute demonstration of a database?  I try to keep mine at a max of 3 minutes and even that is pushing it.

The shift from a sage on the stage librarian teaching databases to the PPOV has changed everything in regards to my idea of screencasting.  Try it, I think you will find it liberating.

Here is a recent screencast:

How to Find New Businesses from Skokie Public Library on Vimeo.

Click on these links for some good library orientated resources on getting started with screencasting.

Creation, Management, and Assessment of Library Screencasts: The Regis Libraries Animated Tutorials Project by Paul Betty

Paul Pival speaking doing a podcast for the SirsiDynix Institute

Ellyssa Kronski writing for the School Library Journal

Mick Jacobsen is Adult Services Librarian at the Skokie Public Library.