User Generated Media Websites


JK Wedding Entrance Dance

How many people have heard of this video before? How many people have actually seen this video? This video showed up on Youtube in mid July 2009. In the three months since, it has had over 26 million views (1). This is the power of Youtube and many other websites like it.

What commonalities bind these websites together?

All these websites provide user-generated media content. User-generated media websites are internet websites with content that the internet viewing public can access and edit with their own creations. Users are the focus of these websites, and they can upload personal or professional video footage, photos, and images privately or publicly depending on the hosting website. Other users can then access this content and comment or provides links to it.

What are some examples of these types of websites?

Google Video
Yahoo Video
Deviant Art
Teacher Tube


Many libraries across the world use Youtube as part of their Library 2.0 repertoire, which is why I am going to focus much of my presention on it.

The Youtube creators discuss the website in their own words, “
Founded in February 2005, YouTube is the leader in online video, and the premier destination to watch and share original videos worldwide through a Web experience. YouTube allows people to easily upload and share video clips on and across the Internet through websites, mobile devices, blogs, and email. Everyone can watch videos on YouTube. People can see first-hand accounts of current events, find videos about their hobbies and interests, and discover the quirky and unusual. As more people capture special moments on video, YouTube is empowering them to become the broadcasters of tomorrow.” (2)

Another source, Helene Blowers on her 23 Things blog, writes,
“Within the past year online video hosting sites have exploded allowing users to easily upload and share videos on the web. Among all the web 2.0 players in this area, YouTube is currently top dog serving up over 1 million video views a day and allowing users not only to upload their own video content easily, but also embed clips into their own sites easily. (3).

In his remarkable video, An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube, cultural anthropologist Michael Wesch presented to the Library of Congress calls Youtube, “a platform.” He says, “In 1948, ABC started broadcasting and they became the third network to do so they were like the third major network. And if you think of this, this is 60 years ago… Those three networks, if they had been broadcasting everyday for every hour of the day for those sixty years, it would be over 1.5 million hours of programming, which is a lot, but Youtube produced more in the last six months. And they did it without producers; they did with...people just like you and me, anybody who’s ever uploaded anything to Youtube. (4)

What does all this mean? Youtube is an site where the public, i.e. people, control the content, which is an immensely powerful tool, especially for library and information science professionals. It is a portal to the people.

How can these user generated media websites be useful in libraries?

These websites can be used in a variety of simple and/or creative ways in the library as a digital space and as a physical space. These web 2.0 tools can help libraries engage patrons on many different levels from a much larger scale.

In their article, “Towards School Library 2.0: An Introduction to Social Software Tools for Teacher Librarians”, authors Jo-Anne Naslund and Dean Giustini discuss uses for Youtube, “students and teacher librarians can locate library orientations and other educational materials.” (5) Although this article refers to school libraries, this statement can be broadened for all libraries. Websites like Youtube can be used to help orient patrons to libraries through tours. Video or image tours are popular for many libraries: academic, public and school.

Another article also describes various uses for Youtube, “One of the possible uses for YouTube is a storehouse for instructional videos with a link that could take the viewer to the library's Web site for more information…Another, creative use of YouTube for a library can be as a method of introducing resources that are available on campus. In many incoming freshmen-orientation sessions there are training sessions on how to use the library. Why not combine a video added to YouTube with library services training?” (6)

Here are some other ideas:

  • Book talks or book discussions on Youtube by teachers
  • Children in school libraries can create their own book talks to share with students in their community.
  • Allowing students to share projects with other students, or reflect about projects and what they learned
  • Teaching seminars about Web 2.0
  • ”What’s going on at your local library” segments
  • Training for Library staff members
  • Training about using library facilities
  • Sharing stories from the community
  • Virtual FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions in the Library
  • Connecting with other libraries and their services
  • Sharing images or videos from events in the library (7)
  • Author sharing storytime (As authors visit, they can be recorded and uploaded onto library website)

Here are some creative examples where real libraries are using these websites:

The Denver Public Library provided a contest for young adults in their library. These 13-18 year olds constructed videos that answered the question, “How I have fun at the Library.”
Denver Public Library Youtube Contest

The Billerica Public Library created a short advertisement for their libraries.
Billerica Public Library Advertisement

During the 2009 Summer Reading Program, Woodhaven Community Library presented a fun introductory movie called, “The Haunted Library.”
The Haunted Library

Western Kentucky University’s Library has a Youtube video tour that not only provides the public with the history of this academic library but it also gives students an idea of the services and resources that the library provides.
Tour of WKU Libraries

The academic library at Williams College conducted a mystery tour for its students. They used the youtube website to introduce the tour to the students.
Library Welcome Video

Alexandrian Public Library posted pictures of its murder mystery called ‘Murder by the Book’ on Flickr.
Murder by the Book

Some libraries even have their own Youtube channels. The Library of Congress has a Youtube channel as well as a Flickr page.

There are many, many examples of libraries in the world that use Youtube. You just have to find them!

Are there any disadvantages to using these websites in libraries?

  • Permission for taking images or video
  • Privacy
  • Schools libraries may block these websites (Teachertube is a great alternative)
  • Who will keep up with these websites?
  • Youtube has some adult content

Where else can I find more information? This website provides a full list of video sharing sites. (Linked from 23 things) A great blog about web 2.0 and libraries This slideshow provides excellent suggestions for bringing Youtube into the Library sector.

End Notes

1. JK Wedding Entrance Dance [video], (2009) Retrieved September 28, 2009, from
2. Youtube: Company History, Youtube,

3. Blowers, Helene B, “23 Things,” Learning 2.0, Public Library of Charlotte and
Mecklenburg County,

Wesch, Michael, An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube [video], (2008)
Retrieved September 28, 2009, from

Naslund, Jo-Anne and Dean Giustini, “Towards School Library 2.0: An Introduction to Social Software Tools for Teacher Librarians,” School Libraries Worldwide 14, no. 2 (2008): par.46,;hwwilsonid=YJ2FXCJSX4G51QA3DIMCFGOADUNGIIV0.

Webb, Paula L, “YouTube and Libraries: It Could Be a Beautiful Relationship,” College & Research Libraries News 68, no. 6 (2007): 354-355,;hwwilsonid=DDSCQCKPTY3SLQA3DIMSFF4ADUNGIIV0.

7. CollegeDegrees, How to: Make Flickr Work for Your Library – 50+ Resources,

Works Cited

Blowers, Helene B. “23 Things.” Learning 2.0. Public Library of Charlotte and
Mecklenburg County.

How to: Make Flickr Work for Your Library – 50+ Resources.

JK Wedding Entrance Dance [video]. (2009). Retrieved September 28, 2009, from

Naslund, Jo-Anne and Dean Giustini. “Towards School Library 2.0: An Introduction to Social
Software Tools for Teacher Librarians.” School Libraries Worldwide 14, no. 2 (2008):

Webb, Paula L. “YouTube and Libraries: It Could Be a Beautiful Relationship.” College &

Research Libraries News 68, no. 6 (2007): 354-355.;hwwilsonid=DDSCQCKPTY3SLQA3DIMSFF4ADUNGIIV0.

Wesch, Michael. An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube [video]. (2008).
Retrieved September 28, 2009, from

Youtube: Company History. Youtube.