Designing Streaming Video Services: Challenges, Opportunities, and Working Models

Presenters: Susie Breier and Jared Wiercinski

Submitted by Adam Baron

Although streaming videos has been around for a number of years, it is only recently that libraries have begun to acquire them for their collections. Consequently, the session “Designing Streaming Video Services: Challenges, Opportunities, and Working Models” was a superb introduction for libraries looking to improve their streaming media options. Concordia University Libraries’ Susie Breier, Reference and Selection Librarian for Anthropology, Sociology, and Women’s Studies and Jared Wiercinski, Digital Services & Outreach Librarian discussed how they were designing and implementing streaming video services at their library.

At the start their presentation, Jared and Susie provided the context and assumptions that influenced how they designed the service.  In particular, they were largely acquiring streaming video documentaries for an academic library and were working on the assumption that DVDs are heading towards obsolescence. It is hard to define precisely when a format is considered obsolete as it tends to be a gradual process and what appears to be obsolete for some is not for others.

At Concordia University Libraries, videos can be searched in the library catalogue and can be filtered by format: VHS, DVD, and streaming. As not all streaming videos are included in the library catalogue, there is also a page on the library’s website with links to the various online video databases. When a streaming video is required viewing for a class, it is also possible to include a link to the video in the course content.

The majority of Concordia’s streaming videos are hosted on external servers provided by the publishers; however, Jared and Susie have begun acquiring videos for hosting on Concordia University Libraries’ streaming media server Helix. Content on Helix includes purchased digital files, as well as digitized content from Concordia’s collection; digitizing content originally on VHS or U-matic is important for preservation and increased accessibility. For copyright reasons, content on Helix is limited to Concordia users.

There are many models for acquiring streaming videos. For film collections, the speakers discussed the standard purchasing and subscription models common for other electronic resources; however, they also mentioned that some providers offer pay-per-use or per-circulation models. For individual films, a library may purchase or license a digital film to be hosted on an external (e.g., the publisher’s) or internal (e.g., the library’s) server. There is also the option to purchase a DVD with rights to create a digital file to host and stream locally. If the library already owns a copy, it may be possible to purchase the digital rights to convert the DVD or VHS to a digital file to host locally. Lastly, under the Canadian Copyright Act, it is possible to create a digital copy if the original is deteriorating or in a format that is becoming obsolete and a commercial copy is not available.

The presentation concluded with a Q&A session and audience members were interested in how they could start up their own streaming video server and the options available for hosting files on external servers.

Image

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
L to R: Jared Wiercinski, Adam Baron, Susie Breier