In my last post for the ALSC blog, I wrote about downloadable and streaming audiobooks. With our strengthening focus on media mentorship in ALSC, streaming video is another new media format that needs our attention for promotion and incorporation into our regular programs and services.
By now, the main streaming video vendors are well known. For more commercial and popular entertainment, Overdrive, InstantFlix and IndieFlix (Recorded Books) and Hoopla (Midwest Tapes) are the strongest options, and many libraries have subscribed and licensed these products. I also would like to include various online mixed media resources like Tumblebooks, the Scholastic Flix products (BookFlix, TrueFlix, ScienceFlix), and BrainPop, an interactive educational resource that has games, quizzes, and short films on science, social science, and history topics. Studios like Weston Woods, Dreamscape, and of course PBS, have made much of their catalog available for libraries. Kanopy is a promising new streaming service, mainly used by universities, but has a strong classic, world cinema, and independent film focus; I found more than a few children’s titles in their catalog.
Often, my first experiences of watching films took place in the library. I still remember the joy watching films like The Red Balloon, Kes, or any the National Film Board of Canada films with my classmates. It would wonderful to see a new generous of children watch those Czech films, from directors like Jiří Trnka, that I loved–and that are so hard to find now. As well, to see a new generation of parents learn about and expose their kids to new children’s films from all over the world. (Good news is that the Norwegian government has given funds to help digitize many of those classic Czech films. Let’s hope they make it into our streaming video services.) This is why I hope streaming video gets adopted into regular children’s programming and is not just treated like something for kids to watch at home.
Streaming video is not without its issues. Wifi is not accessible or affordable for many communities, and quality wifi services are a requirement to take full advantage of streaming video. Tony Marx, the President of the New York Public Library, wrote an op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times highlighting this issue and the ways libraries and communities are trying to rectify this inequity. But, with streaming video services becoming more user friendly and adding higher quality content, this should be more of an incentive for us to advocate for better internet access for all of our kids.
In the spirit of media mentorship, please share any ideas in the comments on how you are adding streaming video to your services, programs, and collections. Please share links to any recommendation lists or calendar of events that highlight the incorporation of streaming video.
Michael Santangelo is the Assistant Director of Acquisitions for BookOps, the shared technical services department for the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library, and the current chair of ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee.