Program Videos: Boosting Your "Attendance" Statistics

Your library just presented a "one-off" program, and attendance was respectable.  However, you suspect that many people who wanted to attend could not, due to some exigency.  How could you reach those patrons without repeating the entire program?  Video-recording is the solution.

The easiest method is simply to video-record the program as it transpires.  You will need a decent digital video camera (most modern smartphones have reasonably good video capability) and a tripod.  Find a location in the program room where the camera/tripod will have a clear view of the action without being blocked or jostled by participants or attendees.  Start recording the video when the program begins, stopping as needed if there are aspects of the program that don't need to be filmed (e.g., when presenters are walking to and from the microphone, or when backdrops or furniture are moved to accommodate different content during the presentation).  This nearly continuous, single-shot camera style makes for a quick and easy video recording that can be swiftly edited in post-production.

Here are a few examples.

Celebrating a Century of Frank Inn
(portrayed by David Reddick)
by Mooresville Public Library (MPL) (2016)

Amos Rusie:  The Hoosier Thunderbolt
by Pete Cava (2016)
(MPL Program Video)

Portions of the program can be sliced off into separate videos, such as the keyboard intro to the Amos Rusie program (above).

Miss Teresa Plays "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"
(Amos Rusie Program Intro) (2016)

Question-and-answer segments may also be placed into a separate video.

Amos Rusie Q & A, by Pete Cava
(MPL Program Video) (2016)

A single continuous program recording can be quite long, and it might be unreasonable to expect patrons to watch the entire video from beginning to end.  As an alternative, long programs can be edited into compact, more easily viewed segments.

Michael Chabon & Richard Price: Research for a Novel
LIVE from the NYPL (2016)
(by The New York Public Library)

Outdoor programs can be video-recorded, too, although there are obvious drawbacks, such as traffic or wind noise picked-up by the microphones.

North Webster Cemetery Walk 2009
Featuring Lori Hickman as Myrtle F. Beezley Likens
by North Webster (Indiana) Community Public Library

That difficulty can be easily overcome, if your outdoor program can move indoors.

Abner and Lottie Gerrard
(portrayed by Clayton & Pam Koher)
(from the 2016 North Webster Cemetery Walk)
by North Webster (Indiana) Community Public Library

Once your program has been video-recorded and edited, and you've uploaded it to a hosting website (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo) or  to your library's website (or to social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Tumblr), then patrons may "attend" the program at their leisure.  Those viewer statistics can be translated into program "attendance." Arguably, patrons watching equals patrons attending.  Some might consider that an "apples-and-oranges" comparison better kept as separately listed statistics.  Still, viewership statistics are significant.  They demonstrate that your video ventures are reaching online patrons, and that's no different than any of your library's other online presences.  You track your website visits, your Facebook "reach," your Twitter "impressions," etc.  So why not track your video views, too?

Apart from statistics, program video-recordings enable a greater number of patrons to enjoy programs beyond those who could attend the event.  That's better patron service, something libraries constantly strive to achieve.  Capturing a slice in time preserves your programs, giving them greater shelf life at no additional programming cost.  They can be watched repeatedly, if the program was really, really cool.  Who doesn't enjoy favorite television re-runs?  But even though program videos will probably only be watched once, lots of different folks will be watching, so those "onces" quickly add up.

One final note from the legal department:  Of course, you should first obtain written permission from the program presenter(s) and participant(s) before audio-visually recording them.  We have a use authorization form that we provide as a guide.  Meanwhile, our lawyers remind us to say that, by providing this form here, we are not furnishing legal advice nor are we engaging in the practice of law. The form is for informational purposes only.  Each library should consult its own legal counsel regarding the legal sufficiency of any document.


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