PR/Marketing Award Final Report on “Stanley the Pug Library Videos”

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Jenny Parker, MLIS, Reference and Instruction Librarian
Sue Leibold, MLIS, Library Director
Clarke University

  Introduction

In the fall of 2015, the Nicholas J. Schrup Library at Clarke University was awarded the ILA/ACRL PR/Marketing Award to complete the “Stanley the Pug Library Videos” project. Despite a maternity leave, and updates to our library catalog, University webpage, and major databases, we completed this project in the fall of 2017. As described in our presentation at the ILA/ACRL & IPAL spring conference, the project came together with the help of many parties across campus. Most notably, our undergraduate student intern, Megan Kane.

As way of background, in the spring of 2015, two library staff positions were eliminated, which was 40% of our library staff. While this left us stretched quite thin, when the opportunity arose to apply for the ILA/ACRL PR/Marketing Award shortly after, we were even more motivated to secure this award to communicate to our University community that we were fun, progressive, and open to new ideas.

The idea to use a dog in a series of library videos was born out of the friendly pet culture at Clarke. The counseling center holds pet therapy sessions twice a week when school is in session. Jenny Parker’s dog, Stanley, has been a popular guest at several pet therapy sessions. In addition, every summer the University hosts bring your pet to work day, where dogs, cats, and even hamsters attend. The pets have a chance to socialize and there is a BBQ lunch out on the front lawn. It was during bring your pet to work day when a Clarke colleague suggested the idea of creating library videos featuring Stanley.

  Stan, a black pug, sitting on the floor at the Nicholas J. Schrup Library at Clark University during finals week, May 2016, as part of the unversity's pet therapy program.

 

Timeline

Summer 2015

With the idea of Stanley videos in mind, we applied for the ILA/ACRL PR/Marketing Award in the summer of 2015. We proposed using a GoPro camera, and dog harness to capture footage of Stanley utilizing different library services and recruiting students to serve as Stanley’s “voice”. Later that summer Jenny’s pregnancy was confirmed.

Fall 2015

In the early fall of 2015 we received the award. One of the stipulations of the award was to use the funds within 12 months. We quickly realized that in order to complete this project, considering Jenny’s maternity leave, we would need some help. The decision was made to hire a student intern to assist with the project.

We worked with several parties across campus to set-up the internship. Career Services assisted in lining up the internship for credit. The chair of the communications department was also very helpful. He brought up several concepts that we hadn’t considered, including story boarding, plot arcs, and more. He also recommended the student that we ended up hiring. We posted the internship, interviewed, and hired undergraduate student, Megan Kane, a communications & philosophy major. We also requested and received an extension on the award timeline.

Spring 2016

Megan Kane kneals between library bookshelves with Stanley the black pug on a leash.

In the spring of 2016 Megan started her internship for one credit. Since Jenny would be unavailable to bring Stanley in for filming, Megan spent her time writing the storyline. She developed a five episode series where Stanley is an incoming freshman who receives an assignment for a research paper. Stanley makes friends with a library student worker who connects him to the librarians and the writing center. We won’t spoil the ending, but it is a really great storyline. With the help of a faculty member in the drama department, Megan lined up two student actors, one for Stanley’s voice, and one as Stanley’s friend. However, one of them fell through and in the end we hired two actors to play Stanley’s friends, and one as Stanley’s voice.

Fall 2016

Four Clark University students pet Stanley, a black pug.

During the fall of 2016, we learned that that we were migrating to a new library management system and that the University webpage would undergo a major update, all within the next 12 months. Megan had planned to complete all of the filming this semester, but because the changes would not be completed until the summer, she spread her two credits out between the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017. The awards committee was gracious enough to grant us a second extension to accommodate these updates. Stanley was brought in for filming several times during the semester and Megan completed the first episode.

Spring 2017

Three Clark University student workers stand with Stanley the Pug.

After viewing the first episode, we realized that there were some things that we hadn’t communicated to Megan regarding our expectations. It was our preference that the remaining episodes would be under two minutes. We were also more explicit about what information we wanted communicated in the videos and had more of a hand in writing the script. Stanley was brought in several times and the remaining scenes were filmed.

Summer 2017

By the summer of 2017, Megan had completed all of her internship credit and she volunteer her time to edit the videos. We had originally planned to use some of the award funds to purchase Camtasia software for video editing. However, Megan preferred using the University’s and her personal editing software (Final Cut Pro), so we had additional funds to compensate Megan and the student actors.

In order to deal with all of the updates, Megan had the idea to keep things as simple as possible. We didn’t show the library webpage, just mentioned that resources were available through the library website. The new databases through Gale were not shown, and instead student actors discussed types of articles, instead of specific databases. With our new catalog, we briefly showed the search screen, but opted not to show any searches, results lists, or item records as we were still working on clean-up late into the summer. Megan completed editing episodes #2-5 at the beginning of August. Since not many students were around over the summer, we decided to wait until the early fall to release them. We worked on getting them uploaded and captioned later in the summer.

Fall 2017

Clark University students attend the Stanley the Pug video release party in the R.C. & Celeste Wahlert Atrium.

During the second week of school, we held a release party in the Atrium, a central space on campus. We looped the videos on a large screen TV, and Stanley was available for belly-rubs. All of our student actors were able to stop by and we had puppy chow available. We also handed out cards with the link to the videos so students could watch the videos later. It was a lot of fun!

Lessons Learned

Throughout this process we learned that when working with student workers it is important to continuously communicate specific expectations. In addition, since we spent so much time and energy on the videos, it would have been nice to have a built in viewership. We plug them whenever we can, but if we were to do it again, it would be nice to build it into a class like Cornerstone, our first year research and writing class, to ensure students see them. Above all, it was important to remain flexible. Many things came up during this process that were out of our control, but we needed to make connections across campus and keep an open mind to possible solutions.  

Quotes from Undergraduate Intern, Megan Kane

"I've learned time management skills through this process, and if I were to do this project all over again, that is something I'd be more efficient about. Balancing school, a job, and an internship was no easy task, but I'm proud of the work that was completed... I learned how to adapt to any situation that may come up. There were plenty of bumps along the way on this journey, but with the help of Jenny, Sue and the Communication Program at Clarke University, we made a successful 5 episode series starring the oh-so-lovable Stanley."

Conclusion

This project began as one we envisioned completing over a summer during our down time. But due to maternity leave we needed to reach out and ask for help and hire a student intern. Instead of being a project that we toiled away at over the summer, we ended up providing a unique learning experience for our student intern and student actors. We are grateful for all of the connections we made in order to complete this project and also thank the ILA/ACRL awards committee for the receipt of the award and the continued flexibility with the timeline.

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