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Monday, July 25, 2016

RA for All Guest Post: Sonia on Book Talk Videos

Today’s guest post is my friend and colleague, Sonia. Sonia was inspired by one of my talks about booktalking. She was also feeling a little bit angry that all of the popular “BookTubers” [people who post longer book talks on You Tube] were NOT from libraries. So instead of simply complaining, Sonia decided to just give it a try for herself.

Sonia took a trial and error approach as she developed her book talking videos-- from deciding what to talk about AND the technical difficulties of learning how to film, edit, and post videos.  She graciously offered to share what she has learned to help all of you.

On a personal note, I am so excited for Sonia. She took this idea and ran with it. She didn’t let not knowing how to make or post videos stop her. She knew she was a good book talker and she let that guide her. She is truly illustrating what I say in my talks-- just let your skill as a RA librarian guide you as you take your services into virtual spaces. Trust in your training; the platform issues will get resolved as you move through. Sonia is proof that it works.

At the end of her post, there is a link to all of her videos.

Now here is Sonia....

Hello RA FOR ALL!  I am going to share with you how we at Stickney-Forest View Public Library went about starting up book talk videos (also known as BookTube), and you can do it, too! 

I am Sonia, Reader’s Advisory Librarian (under the department of Popular Services).  I have been a devoted RA FOR ALL disciple for the three and a half years that I’ve been in RA, and I have been inspired by Becky’s Blog in many ways, especially when she speaks about the power of sharing books.  

I myself love watching Booktube videos, hearing someone talk about a book that they are excited about or getting introduced to a book that sounds awesome that I had never heard of.  But could I make my own videos?  Would I need special equipment?  How would I go about it?   

I took this idea to my boss, Leighton Shell, Head of Popular Services, who was looking for ways to increase our library’s social media presence.  He was all for it, and began to put a plan in action:  I would write up an outline, and do a practice run that he would record on his iphone, and then we would do the real recording and he would edit it with Camtasia, which our library purchased.  He asked some good questions:  How many books are you going to talk about per video?  Would they be new books?  How long would the videos be?  10 minutes?  How frequently do we want to do them?     

Becky was very helpful when I reached out to her for her opinion, convincing me to talk about backlist titles, preferably ones that our library owned.  I decided to talk about three books with a common theme, and aim for a running time of 5 to 6 minutes, and do this once a month. 

The Technicalities:  One of the main concerns is lighting.  You want to be well-lit, and the first two videos that we put out don’t look as good as the subsequent ones when I had more lighting.  We didn’t have professional equipment for this and it wasn’in the budget to buy some, so I brought a lamp from home—a multi-head floor lamp, with adjustable goose-necks arms, so you can shine all three bell-shaded heads in one direction, like mini spot-lights.  This lamp was from Target and it works really well for video lighting for booktalking purposes. 

The other small adjustment in the latest video we made was for sound.  To get louder sound, Leighton filmed me with the library’s iphone and recorded the audio on another iphone (his) which was placed closer to me, to better pick up my voice.  Then when he imported the video to Camtasia, he muted that audio and imported his audio file and synced it to the video.  It was slightly louder, but didn’t really make too much of a difference.  A booktalker with a loud voice won’t need it, but one with a soft voice might want to have this option.  Finally, we upload the video to our library’s youtube channel and share it on our library’s Facebook page. 

The Books:  I have found that the amount of preparation for me, the booktalker, is 1 to 2 hours.  Sometimes picking the theme and deciding what books to talk about is the hardest part, especially because I try to only talk about books we have here at the library.  Once I pick the books, I skim through them to refresh my memory.  I keep in mind to choose diversely for my booktalks, in regards to ethnicity of the authors, ethnicity of the characters, gender of the authors and gender of the main character.  Depending on the theme, if you can throw in different genres, that is great.  For instance, in my booktalks of “Books that became movies,” I chose three different genres.   

A few more tips:  It looks best when the booktalker is in front of a shelf of books, so I recommend this.  If you want to use notes, try putting them on a whiteboard and placing it behind the camera.  This is a better option than looking down at a notebook.  (In preparation for our first booktalk, I wrote my notes on a white board, but found I didn’t use it).  Also, before recording a booktalk, do a test recording of a few seconds and then watch it, to check your appearance.  You want to make sure your hair is not looking crazy and your blouse is not bunched up, etc…I recommend wearing some eye make-up, and some powder, especially on the forehead for a matte look.  You don’t want shine.  I also wear foundation on booktalk days, but everyone will have their own preferences.  Finally, I always pick books that I really like, so my enthusiasm can grab people’s interest.   

As you can see, this process is fairly easy and anyone can do it.  Heed Becky’s advice and “Booktalk every chance you can get” and spread the joy of a great read.  

To watch all of our book talk videos click here

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