The photo above was taken by commonwealthlibraries.
Out next stop on the Commonwealth tour? Lets head to the land of kangaroos, coral reefs, and hip librarians. Welcome, once again, to Australia and their National Library, located in Canberra.
The National Library of Australia Home Page
The National Library of Australia’s home page provides its users with a wealth of information organized within three columns. The home page contains mostly textual information and a few photographs. Its design is clear, crisp, and organized with an abundance of hyperlinks.
However, the home page of the National Library of Australia is not as simple to use as it first appears. The website contains five main pages labeled ‘our collections,’ ‘our services,’ ‘library news and events,’ ‘visit us,’ and ‘about us.’ These pages do not expand when the computer mouse is placed over them – causing users to be unsure of what they will find on the page. It is also a challenge to locate the library’s catalog, one of the main elements of a library website. See the little black bar in the screenshot above taken at their home page? To search the library’s catalog, users must locate and click on this small link.
The National Library of Australia provides its users with a wealth of social media tools. Users can easily find the library’s main social media tools on their home page. As seen in the screenshot above, in the middle of the library’s home page are icons for the library’s blogs, podcasts, Twitter, and Facebook. There is also a little ‘social media’ link which will take you to this page:
Users may access the library’s YouTube account once they are on the page shown above. Thus, locating the library’s YouTube account requires a fair bit of hunting and dedication from the user.
How does Australia use YouTube?
The National Library of Australia uses their YouTube channel for multiple purposes. Their channel provides videos on instruction at the library (ie: how to use microform, as seen in Saving Microform Images (2011) video), to promote events and exhibitions, and to provide entertainment for its users. Thus, the National Library of Australia is able to balance both education and entertainment on their YouTube channel.
Let’s take a closer look at their use of entertainment. The library does an excellent job in creating thought provoking, visual, and stimulating videos for their exhibitions. Take, for example, these two clips:
I’ve mentioned in the past how a library’s use of social media is able to lead individuals to travel great distances in order to see their exhibits. I feel that these two videos, so expertly created, are able to do just that. I know that I would make a stop at their library if I were in Australia anytime soon.
Yet, the National Library of Australia also uses YouTube to entertain its users in a different way. Take, for example, this very entertaining video:
A librarian kicking zombie bum? Yes, please! If anything, this video shows that librarians can have fun playing with the stereotypes society places onto them. While this video does not break the stereotypes associated with librarians (ie – shushing ladies with hair buns and glasses), it does poke fun at these popular conceptions.
The National Library of Australia’s YouTube channel is easy to use for individuals who do not have a lot of experience with technology. Once a user has arrived on their channel they are presented with a list of the library’s videos on the right hand side of the screen. They may select what they wish to view based on the video’s title and a small thumbnail photograph. Users may also select if they wish to view the library’s most recently added or top rated videos on their channel.
I do not think I would use this tool if I were a patron of the National Library of Australia. I have a feeling that the exhibition videos may have been placed on Australian television prior to their exposure on YouTube as they are of such high quality. I find that it is a fun resource which may provide entertainment for users anywhere in the world. David Lee King states in his post Poking Around in YouTube Insights, hosted at David Lee King, that most people watch a library’s YouTube videos when they are already on YouTube and are surfing the site. I think that users would be more prone to stumble across the library’s videos while surfing YouTube due to the nature of the National Library of Australia’s videos, such as their dancing librarians. The videos at the National Library of Australia are entertaining and well made, but are not necessarily something I would be interested in as a user of the library. I feel that I would be more prone to explore their channel if I were planning on taking a tour in the area.
The National Library of Australia could improve their use of YouTube by creating an easier mode of access. Why does their home page not have an icon for their YouTube channel? With the high quality of the promotional videos that they produce, it is a shame that the library does not advertise their channel to a full extent. The National Library of Australia could also provide videos which are related directly to their patrons. For example, their YouTube channel could contain more videos with information on how to use the library’s services.
And those other tools?
Their Twitter and Facebook accounts are updated very frequently and provide direct communication with their users. Twitter is updated numerous times a day and contains information on current events and the library. Their Facebook account is used to discuss exhibits and provides links to the library’s blogs.
The library’s blogs provide its users with information on how items are preserved and collected by the library (Behind the Scenes Blog), on the library’s publications (The Eloquent Page), and news on their latest exhibition (Handwritten).
Unfortunately, the National Library of Australia’s YouTube channel is not incorporated into the library’s other social media tools. While Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are all interconnected, their YouTube channel seems to stand apart. However, their YouTube channel is essential in providing an impetus to travel across the Commonwealth and partake in Australian national treasures.