by Caroline Montgomery, Research and Reference Student
Video guides here at the National Library of Ireland
These days there’s a YouTube how to video for almost everything and libraries are no exception. Library instructional videos are becoming increasingly popular as a way to guide users through various aspects of library services. They are already used by many academic libraries across Ireland, the UK, America and Australia among other countries. But how can they help you?
With 487,683 items searchable online in our catalogue (that number rises daily), the National Library of Ireland is a treasure trove of Irish literature and history. As those who have visited the NLI will know, this material is not out on public display, but is searchable via our online catalogue. The catalogue is a comprehensive record of all the catalogued material that the National Library holds, searchable by author, title, date, publisher, category or call number – great, but for those who are not familiar with it, searching our catalogue can seem like a daunting dive into the unknown.
Never fear however, because the NLI's new YouTube channel is here to help. We have short and simple videos designed to help our users search our catalogue effectively, register for a reader's ticket, place online orders for material, search our photographic collections and find newspapers. Our catalogue, newspaper database, online order form and other online services at the NLI are there to make searching, finding and ordering items more efficient for you, our readers, and we've produced these videos to ensure that you are able to make the most of our services.
Readers need to be able to navigate the online features of the NLI both locally and remotely. You can now avail of most of our services from home or wherever you happen to be. By searching the online catalogue and placing an order before even coming into the library, you can save yourself time and hassle when you visit our Reading Rooms. By the time you arrive here, all you need do is present your reader’s ticket and the material you ordered will be waiting for you. However for readers who are new to our system, time spent figuring out the mechanics of our catalogue or online order form negates the efficiency of the service. In our Reading Rooms, friendly members of staff are usually on hand to show you the basics but for those accessing the NLI from home there is no-one to give on hand advice. These videos are a simple way to provide reader service remotely. (Of course, during opening hours you can always phone or drop us an email). The videos however are available online at any time of day so they can provide you with instant assistance, even if it’s 2am on a Sunday!
The videos are based on a learning by demonstration method of instruction. They give clear, concise, easy to follow instructions with visual demonstrations accompanied by step-by-step narration and notes. Whereas it can often be difficult to absorb a set of instructions the first time something is explained, particularly if the instructions contain a lot of “jargon”, the advantage of videos like these is that you can stop, start and replay the video as often as you need, meaning you can work at your own pace. Sometimes the best way to understand something is simply to be shown how to do it. Having a voice explaining how to do something as it happens on the screen has a more personal quality which we hope will make it easier for you to navigate your way through our collections and quickly find what you need.
You can check out all of the videos here, and please comment if you can suggest other help videos you think would be useful.