Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thing 62. The Creative Librarian

Photos & videos are a great way to engage library users and the community in what happens at the library. You can document events like the summer reading program finale. Post photos or videos of  author talks. How about a "sneak peek" of what goes on behind that "Staff Only" door? A photo booth with fun backdrops might be a hit at a teen night at the library. A family portrait day (special guest or not) is fun.

It has never been easier to be creative with photos and video. Digital cameras make taking good quality pictures simple and inexpensive. No more taking the film to FotoMat & waiting a week only to find out you have a lot of blurry pics to store in that shoebox with the others. Digital cameras let us instantly evaluate the pictures, retake as necessary, upload the pictures online or to our computer, print them out, or store them online. In a flash, you're ready to show the world your events. Flip & similar pocket-size video cameras make documenting those action events at the library almost as easy.

Once you have a collection of digital images, there are many Web 2.0 tools that will help you manage and display them. Online tools let even the least artistic among us edit and display our photos and videos for the world to see. Think how you can use some of these tools to spark up your website or other resources. People like to see what's been going on.

iPhoto & Picasa can help you organize, label and rate images, view and edit metadata, and navigate using the folder structure of your computer. Web-based services like Picasa Web Album & Flickr offer easy ways to share your photos with others by storing them in the cloud.

Once you have your originals saved in a safe spot on your computer or online, you can play around with the photos and then upload the new versions while keeping the original for another project.

Picnik is a great (free & premium versions) tool that lets you improve the quality of your photo and add special effects like color changes, blur effects (we want those now!), frames, captions, and more. For videos, Macs come ready to edit with iMovie, while Windows machines offer Windows Movie Maker. Take advantage of this benefit to put together a few video clips or a full-length movie.

BigHugeLab and other sites like Dumpr and PhotoFunia let you put your photos into posters, puzzles, games, and more. Everyone wants to be on the cover of Rock Star!

Now that you have a set of cool photos or video--nicely edited to eliminate red eye, cropped to focus on the subject, and tarted up with text, frames, and effects, how do you share them? Save the new photos, print them out, and post them in the library. Or, for a more "modern" way to share, there are cool tools that help you easily create slideshows or animations of your photos or video. The tools generate the embed code, too, so you can easily post these to the library website or blog.

PictureTrail lets you upload your photos to create a "Flick"with many options for transitions, glitter, music, and more. Animoto automatically produces unique video pieces from your photos, video clips, and music. Both tools are fast, free and easy. Note that iPhoto and Picasa also offer a slideshows, but without the special effects.

Here are couple of places to look for help and ideas. The blog Free Technology for Teachers offers this Making Videos on the Web guide that is useful for media specialists and librarians. The ALA TechSource Take Pictures, Tell Stories is a multi-part series on photography for libraries.

The Fine Print
Librarians have been looking for legal/ethical guidance about taking and using photos in the library. Here are some sources to review, but be sure to check with the powers that be in your organization to avoid issues with posting photos or videos. Whatever the decision on photography, be sure to have a policy.
Libraries are creative places, packed with creative people. How have you used photos or videos to promote the library? What tools did you use?

Ann Walker Smalley, Metronet

Image: 'Kodak Brownie Starlet, 1957 - my first+camera'


Alice said...

The link to Making Videos on the web doesn't work

Ann WS said...

Thanks, I fixed the link.