Texas A&M University library

A surprisingly good library video...


In some of the workshops I run there's a section where we look at marketing with video - and people suggest good and bad examples of the art of library video. We watch a few, critique them, try to extract something meaningful we can apply to our own future videos.

Last time I did this, for UKeIG this month, someone posted a video I'd not seen before - Texas A&M University Libraries' take on Pharrell's video for Happy. I'm sure you've heard the song Happy - the video for it has 519 million views at the time I'm writing this and will probably have a million more by the time I hit 'Publish'. (It's a great song, but I love Wierd Al's cover of it more.)

I must admit I was expecting the worst (another Librarians Do Gaga - something which librarians, rather than library users, find funny) but it turned out to be really good, and an excellent way of showcasing a tour of Library facilities in a different way.

Here's the video:

This is what I like about it:

  • First and foremost, it's very well done. A LOT of planning has gone into this! The choreography is great, the dancers perform well. Even the librarians on camera move nicely! Great camera-work, good production all round. I can't even imagine how much time they must have spent prepping each (long, continuous) take
  • It taps into a cultural meme. It takes something popular and puts its own spin on it to capitalise on the interest. And it worked - the video has had a massive (by Library standards) 65,000-odd views on YouTube, which is about 64,000 than most of the other vides on their chanell. 312 likes, too, and lots of comments; people aren't just passively consuming this, they're engaging in some way with the creators
  • It serves a useful purpose. This isn't JUST a well-done video that draws on pop-culture - it's a tour of the Library. You get to see round the building, see the facilities, see what they have to offer. It's learning by stealth! You think you're watching a dance video but you're actually on a virtual tour
  • It doesn't get hung up on copyright. A lot of libraries would be too po-faced to take an in-copyright song and use it without permission (I'm assuming this is what has happened; I might be wrong of course but I'd be amazed if they approached the record lable for permission to reproduce Pharrell's work) but they do it here and it's fine. When you upload a copyrighted song to YouTube as part of a video, it recognises the song, and puts in a link - either to buy the song from iTunes or, in this case, to the original artist's own YouTube channel. It's the modern version of copyright (and surely the only viable future for it) - we won't stop you doing it, but we'll try and monetize it for the copyright holder. Everyone's a winner.

That's a nice happy note to end 2014 on! This will probably be the last post for this year (on library matters, anyhow); thanks for reading, see you next year...