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Harvard College Library News: News from around the libraries

Award-Winning Video Screened at ALA


ALA "Best of Show" video, Charting Your Way through Maps, Media, Data and Government Information.


July 27, 2011 – In recognition for receiving a “Best of Show” award from the American Library Association (ALA) earlier this year, Harvard College Library’s video Charting Your Way through Maps, Media, Data and Government Information was screened recently at the association’s annual convention in New Orleans. The video was also included in the conference’s annual PR Xchange event, which showcased public relations materials that attendees can use as inspiration for similar projects at their own libraries.

“Libraries are reaching audiences more effectively than ever before,” said Therese Scherbel, co-coordinator of the 2010 Public Relations and Marketing Best of Show Awards for the ALA’s Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA), which distributed the awards. “We are seeing libraries employ new ways of marketing themselves using video and social media, and this year we decided we needed to recognize the great marketing campaigns libraries are creating with these new tools.”

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The video grew out of an effort by staff in the Maps, Media, Data and Government Information (MMDGI) unit in Lamont Library to create a brief presentation for graduate students that would explain how the various collections in the unit complement each other. As staff members took up the idea, it quickly became clear that a video was the most compelling way to deliver the information.

Led by Bonnie Burns, Librarian for Geographic Information Services, the project involved staff from each part of MMDGI. Environmental Research Librarian George Clark helped gather data and assisted in writing the script; Digital Cartography Specialist Scott Walker narrated the video and created a number of simulated digital images; and Multimedia Librarian Paul Worster edited the various elements together into the video.

“In discussing the project, we came up with a theoretical research project that a student might come to us with,” Worster said. “Examining the pros and cons of Cape Wind, the proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound, was a subject that would incorporate maps, census and environmental data, and video. It encompasses the full scope of our collections.”

Though the video was originally intended as an informational tool, it has also proven useful as a way for MMDGI staff to reach out to their users, and encourage them to explore more of the unit’s collections.

“This video is tremendously important for two reasons. First, it illustrates, in a very succinct way, what the possibilities are for students or researchers to bring this varied material together,” MMDGI Head Martin Schreiner said. “It also serves as a demonstration of the ways MMDGI staff can assist patrons when it comes to ‘writing’ with media. The use of media – whether it’s still images, video clips or audio – is a skill students will need to possess if they want to succeed. We can help give them not only the technical knowledge to work with a variety of formats, but we can help them understand how to put this content together to tell compelling stories.”