Culture & ‘Me’ @ Port of Spain

27 11 2011

Trinidad & TobagoThe photo above was taken by commonwealthlibraries.

The next stop in our tour of the libraries of the Commonwealth is Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  The Commonwealth Secretariat (2011) states that Trinidad and Tobago joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1962.  The National Library and Information System Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (NALIS), located in Port of Spain, provides users with a multitude of social media tools.  We’ll focus on their use of YouTube.

The Home of NALIS:

It is important to examine NALIS’ home page in order to understand the context of their YouTube channel.  NALIS’ website is highly organized due to their chosen arrangement of text and images.  The left hand side of the home page screen is composed of images related to programs and events at the library while the rest of the screen contains an organized list of links and an OPAC search feature.  There is no information overload, or under-load might I add, here!

As the national library for Trinidad and Tobago, NALIS’ website contains subject guides, databases, information on their organization in Port of Spain, and a list of other libraries within the country.  All of this information is organized under seven drop-down tabs.  The website recognizes a diverse user population through their provision of a large Google translator application at the top of their home page.  NALIS provides an accessible and easy to navigate home page for a diverse population.

NALIS’ home page also has clear links to social media applications.  The library uses simple graphics and a clean page to attract viewers to their larger images which provide links to social media applications.  Large icons depicting Twitter, Facebook, a WordPress blog, and a YouTube channel grace the middle of the home page.  Thus, it is easy to locate the library’s social media tools.

Vincent Flanders suggests in Biggest Mistakes in Web Design 1995-2015 in Web Pages that Suck, that website pages should be short and provide text which is large in size and simple in content.  Thus, I believe NALIS is able to live up to the expectations of a user friendly library home page.


It’s MY Library & Other YouTube-isms:

It is very easy to use NALIS’ YouTube channel.  NALIS uses YouTube for three main tasks: to increase public use of the library, instruction, and reinforce cultural identity.  All this and more is just a click away from their home page.


1. Increase public use of library

See the video on YouTube by clicking here (nalistrinidad, 2010).

NALIS uses this video to promote their library to all individuals regardless of their age, sex, and race.  The video stresses the fact that NALIS serves its users’ many different information needs, including entertainment, international connections, educational support, assistance for those with disabilities, and the provision of health-related information.  Every information need is seen as equal and all individuals are welcome in this promotional video.


2. Instruction

Click here to view the video on YouTube (nalistrinidad, 2010).

This video is provided by NALIS to instruct users on how to use databases.  It is long (just shy of ten minutes).  I enjoy NALIS’ attempt to bring a Caribbean focus to their services and stress the importance of not relying on Google for information.  However, this video is much too long, contains too many PowerPoint slides, and when the librarian finally shows us an active search on EBSCO Host the camera is too far away for a clear view of the screen.  Background noise from the library is also audible…. and sometimes much louder than the librarian herself.

I would not use this for instruction if I were a patron of the library.  I would become frustrated by the unclear screen and difficulty in hearing the librarian’s speech.  It would be much more effective for the library to create an instructional video which provides information while performing active searches on the database.  And, a quiet environment for filming would be much appreciated next time, please!


3. Reinforce cultural identity

Click here to view the video on YouTube (nalistrinidad, 2010).

NALIS provides its users with cultural information on Trinidad and Toabgo.  The above video depicts a segement from the Dimanche Gras 2010 festival and the Queen of Carnival.  Thus, NALIS also uses their youTube channel to promote the national identity and culture of their country to library users.



I would not use NALIS’ YouTube channel if I were a patron of their library.  Information on how to use their services is unclear within their videos.  Furthermore, their YouTube videos seem to promote community and nationalism more than information concerning the library itself.

So, how can NALIS address this problem?

NALIS could provide their users with a frequently updated YouTube channel.  The last time NALIS updated their channel was six months ago.

NALIS could also take in some helpful advice from David Lee King.  In David Lee King’s post Youtube – The First 15 Seconds on his blog David Lee King, he claims that YouTube videos must hook their viewers within ten to fifteen seconds.  The video must rapidly get to the point and provide a quick summary or a thought-provoking question.  This is where NALIS’ National Library Week 2010 video differs from the others.  This video is fast paced, clear, audible, and thought-provoking – just what is it that makes a library my library?  The other videos on NALIS’ channel lack these attributes… and thus suffer in quality.

NALIS Social Media in Context

NALIS also utilizes a blog and accounts on Twitter and Facebook.

NALIS’ blog, Share Your Views @ NALIS, does not provide adequate or up-to-date information.  Updated every few months with very short posts, the blog does a poor job informing users of the happenings of the library.  However, NALIS’ Twitter and Facebook accounts provide frequent and recent information on events and programs within the library.

How do all of these social media applications interact with each other?

A cohesion exists when all social media applications at NALIS are seen collectively. YouTube is a highly visual means to communicate with users, and thus the colourful culture of Trinidad and Tobago are best captured through film and audio.  After all, it is important that NALIS promotes national identity as they are a national library.  Facebook and Twitter, however, provide short textual information – a great means to broadcast information on upcoming events.  NALIS uses each of their social media applications to strategically address their users’ information needs.




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