Screencast videos

While in-depth tutorials have merit, they can also eat time—mine bogged down in production and perfection and the attention spans of users who often prefer something narrowly focused at the point of need.

I prefer lightweight tools like Jing and Snagit. These produce simple, non-editable screencasts that nonetheless encourage creativity, like pulling in slides sneakily advanced on your desktop, with the video capture running.

Here’s a simple (short!) video demonstrating how to find articles on a topic, covering Boolean and back-door subject terms without actually talking about either. As such, it is entirely sacrilegious. But it’s not meant to be an edifice of librarian wisdom or an explanation of every database bell and whistle. It’s intended to help students find articles on a topic, hitting the major points in under 2.5 minutes.

I incorporate such videos in research guides. I also make them on the fly for emailed reference questions, targeted to a student’s exact question to reinforce textual instructions or to demonstrate an activity too complex to meaningfully render in a text description.

Go to the screencast