Telling a Tale @ Edinburgh

2 12 2011

ScotlandThe photo above was taken by commonwealthlibraries.

How does a Scottish national library tell tales of history, culture, and good ol’ fashioned instruction?

Welcome to Scotland, part of the United Kingdom, and thus an original founding member of the Commonwealth of Nations.  The National Library of Scotland provides its users with a wealth of highly integrated social media tools.  Today we will explore their use of YouTube.

The National Library of Scotland’s home page

The National Library of Scotland’s home page astutely greets its users with the national colours of Scotland.  Blue and white are a theme throughout the website encompassing its text, title, and background.  Their home page is visually appealing and easy to read – the black and blue text jumps off of the white background.

Webreference, an online guide containing tips for using online resources and social media in businesses, suggests many useful ways to create welcoming and informative web pages in their article What Makes a Great Web Site?  Webreference claims that websites should be updated frequently, have well organized pages, and easy search functions.  How does the National Library of Scotland’s home page live up to these expectations?

The National Library of Scotland is a frequently updated resource.  I was greeted with an update from December 2nd 2011 when I visited the website today (click here to see it for yourself).  The website also houses recent announcements for events occurring in early December.

The library’s web pages are well organized.  The home page, while containing a lot of information and links, is short and concise.  Furthermore, all of the pertinent information related to the library is located within corresponding pages.

I enjoy a good search application just as any other university student (and the makers of Webreference I might add).  The National Library of Scotland provides users with a search box at the very top of the screen.  However, the real advantage of this website is its “more search options” button.  One click on this link and you are brought to Search and Browse National Library of Scotland Resources  containing digitized materials, newspapers, catalogues, and much more.  This is a library searcher’s heaven!

The library’s social media tools may be accessed through the home page.  Scroll down to the middle of the page and you will see large graphic links to the library’s Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and blog pages.  Finding the National Library of Scotland’s main social media tools is quite simple.  To view all of the library’s tools, users may go under the “About Us” tab and explore their Social Networking page.


How does the National Library of Scotland use YouTube?

Catherine-Gail Reinhard, a writer for Mashable Buisness, claims in her article 10 Killer Tips for Creating a Branded YouTube Channel that organizations should not use YouTube to post information which may be found elsewhere.  The National Library of Scotland is able to avoid this downfall through posting videos made specifically for YouTube.

The National Library of Scotland utilizes its YouTube channel to provide its users with archival footage and information on how to use the library’s services.  Thus, the library uses videos to promote Scottish history, culture, and instruction.

Take a look at these two videos which were created as a series to assist users on how to use the library:


A bit of history…
Click here to see the video on YouTube (NLofScotland, 2011).


Instruction heavy…
Click here to see the video on YouTube (NLofScotland, 2011).

The channel also hosts numerous archive videos but copyright forbids me to embed them here.  To see the National Library of Scotland’s archival footage The River Nith Floods Dumbfries in 1936 click here.  To see The Singing Street: Children Playing in Edinburgh (1950s) click here.  I personally love these videos, especially the second one.  Check them out if you have time.

So, is this tool useful for patrons?

The National Library of Scotland’s YouTube channel is quite simple to use.  Users merely follow the library’s home page’s links to their YouTube account in order to view all of the videos that the library has uploaded into the system.  A side bar on the right of the screen allows users to search the library’s videos and arrange them by the date they were uploaded, the most popular videos, and the videos which have been viewed the most by users.  Thus, it would be easy for users to search and find particular videos located within the system.

The National Library of Scotland also appears popular on YouTube.  Their videos have been viewed a total of 256,674 as I write this post.  The library also has a steady amount of YouTube followers suggesting that their YouTube channel is being used by patrons.

I find that the library’s YouTube channel is more of a source for entertainment and less so for instruction.  The videos that I am most attracted to are one’s concerning the history and culture of the institution and its surrounding environment.  I would use the National Library of Scotland’s YouTube service in order to view their archival footage and videos on their rare book collections.

My one suggestion?  I would love to see YouTube branch off into a folksonomy or some other type of categorization.  What if I wanted to watch videos that mentioned Robbie Burns?  I feel that the search function might not be able to retrieve the best results.  Additionally, there is little user interaction – the library’s channel only holds 17 comments from users.  The library should promote more user interaction with their systems.


Connections to Other Social Media Tools

As mentioned above, the National Library of Scotland has many other social media tools.  However, their YouTube channel is unique in that it is the only source which provides instruction.  The following will be a brief discussion on the library’s other tools.

The library’s Twitter and Facebook pages are perhaps some of their most interactive social media tools.  Their Twitter page has just under 3000 followers, is updated numerous times a day, and provides links to their YouTube channel.  Their Facebook account focuses on promoting events and programs which are hosted by the library.

The library also uses Flickr which, alike to their YouTube account, is full of historical content.  You can visit their Flickr account to view many primary source documents on Scottish history.  My favourite document is the First Atlas of Scotland.

Finally, the library has six blogs which are specialized to provide commentary on collections within the library.  You can visit their blog directory by clicking here.  While these blogs are not connected to the National Library of Scotland’s YouTube channel, they do help the library meet the information needs of their users concerning collections, resources which are new to the catalogue, and readers advisory.

Thus, the National Library of Scotland is social media rich.  They have utilized all types of tools in order to address the information needs of their users.  Their use of YouTube illustrates how organizations can use online videos to connect to users throughout the world, instruct local patrons, and feed a love of history.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: